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Beware the Lemming: The Most Destructive Trends in E-Learning

1173214_hamster.jpgFirst off, let me ask you this.  Does anyone know what a lemming is?  Well, I’d be happy to enlighten you!  See a lemming is a small rodent type creature that has a tendency towards mass suicide.  It works like this.  When the population gets too large, lemmings will throw themselves off cliffs in huge numbers.  It just takes one to get things started and then this seemingly never ending wave of tiny rodents voluntarily tosses themselves down into the sea.  It’s one of those things that is horrifyingly interesting to watch.

So here’s the question.  How could lemmings possibly relate to E-Learning? 

Simple.  The E-Learning community tends to have a very lemming like mentality.  That is if one person or group is trying or using a method or idea, the industry as a whole is quick to take notice and give it their own spin.

Here’s the problem.  These trends aren’t always positive.  In fact, they can be downright destructive.  So today we are going to look at a couple of these destructive trends and outline how you can avoid making the same mistakes of those around you.

Cut the Lectures

1380002_auditorium_2.jpgPowerPoint is a fantastic tool, but it has it’s weaknesses.  This is something we have covered time and time again and we aren’t going to go back over that same old ground.  Instead, today I’d like to point out what I believe to be the true trap that most PowerPoint users fall into.  They use it to outline a lecture.

Let me guess, right about now you are thinking, “Well, duh!

Here’s the problem.  Lecture based learning falls into the category of “pedagogy.”  Why is this a problem?  Because pedagogy literally means the art of teaching children.  The newest researching is proving time and time again that adults learn very differently than do children.  And, if you want to teach effectively teach an adult then you have to engage them in the process, give them some control over their learning process and motivate them.

You don’t lecture to them.

Beware Social Networking

Social networking is known to be a powerful platform.  So why is market researching showing it to be pretty flat in terms of ROI?  Mostly because it is often used improperly.  Many people, and the E-Learning community is no different, have fallen into the trap of “if we build it, they will come.“  The problem with this is that just having a social networking presence guarantees you nothing.  It’s how you use it that makes the difference.

When using social networking as an E-Learning tool you have to ask yourself, “What’s in this for my participants?” Are you merely checking a box, or are you offering them a tool they can use to achieve a specific goal?  Remember, adults like instantaneous, specific results rather than activity for activity’s sake.  Building your social networking presence around this idea will increase effectiveness and enhance the overall experience for your participants.

1230252_explosion.jpgDon’t Be Destructively Creative

Have you ever been on a Wikipedia page and found that so many people had added a piece here and a sentence there that you could hardly follow what they were talking about in the first place?  This is very much a danger for those who both deliver and create E-Learning initiatives.  What we all have to realize is that there comes a point where too much creativity is a bad thing.  And, if your participants can’t follow where you are leading then your initiative has failed.

So stick to the point.  The key is to always ensure that your initiatives meet the goal they were designed for in the first place.  If you can do that, then everything else has a tendency to fall into place.

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