I recently listened to eight (!!) presentations from Learning Solutions and Ecosystem 2016 Conference that took place in Orlando, Florida in March.
To mention a few presenters, Connie Malamed, the lady behind the popular blog The eLearning Coach, gave an excellent crash course on visual design and Julie Dirksen from Usable Learning talked about the science of attention, willpower and decision-making.
My favourite presenter however was Sean Bengry from Accenture who discussed how to achieve Zen in eLearning projects.
Sean asked an interesting question from the audience: “What if money wasn’t a barrier?” In other words, if you had enough money to do what you want in an eLearning project, where would you spend that money?
Despite, or rather because of, the fact that I wasn’t sure how to answer this myself, I realized this was an absolutely brilliant question.
As an eLearning professional I am expected to find the best learning outcome on a limited budget and schedule. While trying to balance project resources for writing, media production, graphics and client meetings, I often find myself asking, “What is good enough”? When is writing, interactions, graphics, video and other media on a level that promotes good learning, blends in with the rest of the organisation’s image, but is still manageable within a project budget?
According to Bengry, if presented this question most people will still want to spend money on great graphics and better quality videos. This is understandable, as the visuals are often the components that stand out quickly and that people can comment easily. From a pedagogical viewpoint this is interesting since better media doesn’t equal better learning outcomes.
If not media and graphics, then what? From a pedagogical angle I would of course spend money on analytics: pre-studies of how much people already know, and post-studies on how their behavior changed after they took the eLearning. I would spend ample time on defining the current problems, creating a business goal for the training and defining the means to measure it. I guess if being presented with absolutely no barriers in the budget, I would focus on – well, solving the business problem!
Bengry was along the same lines. Quoting one of my favourite logo designers and illustrators of all time, Ivan Chermayess, Bengry said wisely: “to design is to solve human problems”. Like Bengry, I’d like to believe that when keeping that in mind you are on a path leading to Zen.