Thursday, January 28, 2010

Allison Rossett: ELearning Isn’t What You Think It Is – Not Yet #tk10

My live blogged notes…ASTD TechKnowledge 2010 in Las Vegas, NV.

Allison Rossett is a Professor of Educational Technology at University of San Diego and noted author.

Recap of her recent article for ASTD: e-Learning – What’s Old is New Again

When you say you’re doing elearning what are you doing?  The big names talk about how web 2.0 is turning courses on their heads (Downes, Rosenberg…)

Here’s how Rossett created survey:

Step 1: Defined what’s in and what’s out

  • what are people doing today?
  • what are aspirations for the future?
  • barriers to elearning today?
  • (didn’t ask about quality, efficiency, satisfaction)

Step 2: Defined the options

They constructed 26 snapshots (options derived from literature, conferences, blogs, etc.) – e.g., “Our programs are delivered in a virtual classroom.    Employees join an instructor and classmates at a scheduled time.” or “Our programs are delivered on mobile devices.”

Step 3:  Piloted and edited

Step 4: Solicited participation from 5 sources – elearning guild, learning circuits,, ISPI,

This is not a random sample, but rather opportunistic!   Self-selected people who are already out in tech circles.

953 respondents to survey.

The results are suggestive and provocative. Take them home and engage in conversations with your colleagues.  Use this data to advance dialogue within your organization.

So what do you think is typical of practice today?  Are you doing any of these in your organization?

  • ecoaching
  • personalized learning programs
  • tests of skills and knowledge
  • online discussions after class
  • mobile devices and delivery
  • virtual classroom, then archived and available as needed
  • scenario-based online programs

Top 5 practices (these are the most common, but still not that common – showing there are no typical practices!):

  • Our programs included test of skills and knowledge
  • We use computers as part of classroom instruction
  • Our programs present content and opps to practice and receive feedback.  Employees work on these tutorials at a time of own choosing.
  • Our programs use visuals with an audio track. Ees watch and listen at time of choosing.
  • Our programs are based on realistic scenarios which presss employees to make choices and learn from the results of those choices.

Bottom ranking practices:

  • Mobile devices
  • Virtual classrooms.
  • Authentic, realistic and immersive, like Second Life
  • Include access to e-coaches
  • Include expectations that employees will participate in online discussions as follow up to a class. [The problem is that we focus on the event - ‘the event’s the thing.’  Need to make expectations clear – this is not just a nice to have, but an important part of the story.  Rossett grades students’ papers, but also their comments in the discussion board.  Don’t ask ‘what do you think of article?’, instead ask to ‘compare and contrast’, make question useful and real ‘how would you sell this into this market?’…]

What of you? Which best describes you as  you think about the many possible manifestations for e-learning?

  • We are using technology in many ways
  • We are doing a few things, but not many
  • We do one thing

What of blended learning? (Blended = some of this, some of that, bound together)

  • Lots going on
  • Some
  • Not so much

Why blends?  -- it’s like a good dinner,  multi-modal, has variety and autonomy…

Rossett’s best reason for blends:  lessons, information and support (performance and coaching) goes where the need is – into the workplace  (need to keep your blend from flopping around).

What of the much touted 2.0?

  • Lots going on
  • Some
  • Not so much

[Data of the crowd in the session is matching data from her survey results.]

Second Life – figures debating the benefits of first life: Very fresh!

Top 10 Aspirations (out of 26) – asked to pick your top 3 aspirations:

  1. Personalized learning (21.4%)
  2. Problem solving, Knowledge Construction (21.3%)
  3. Measurement for Program Improvement (19.4%)
  4. Mobile Learnng & Support (18.4%)
  5. Employee generated Content (17.2%)
  6. Online Networks & Collab (16.3%)
  7. Authentic & Immersive Experiences (15.1%)
  8. Performance Support (15.1%)
  9. Assessment Point People to Relevant Programs (15%)
  10. Scenario based ELearning (14.3%)

But looking at results – there is no cluster.  Web 2.0 is high on the list…


  1. We can’t afford
  2. Difficult to move people to learn in new ways (Rossett thinks the issue is the employees we train, but the # one key figure to get more out of tech – supervisors/manager).
  3. Our tech is not up to these approaches
  4. Employees hesitate to contribute to social networks and communities
  5. Our customers and clients prefer classroom instruction

Current professional practice does not match what we hear at conferences, on blogs, etc. 

Clayton Christenson  ~ “we incrementally improve what we’re doing today, we tinker with courseware, instead of taking advantage of learning disruption that is happening all around us!”

Current practice is more additive than supplantive (disruptive) – we add a podcast to a current course.  Don’t start with the status quo and then make it a little better…

Look at great practice and tease out what great managers do:

Are we over cautious – should we do MORE?

What does it mean?

  • Instructional design is still alive.
  • Scattershot practice – no one way, few shared habits.
  • Little of 2.0 yet.
  • Where are the mobile devices? eCoaching?
  • Preference for individual strategies (more than ‘social’) – more excited about individualization – a program just for me…
  • Leaders reported more of everything than practitioners

What are YOU going to do?  What are you going to do differently?

Weigh in please – http://tinyurl.elearningpractice -- Add your data to the set, see what the 26 snapshots are, etc. Make Allison’s dreams come true – sit around with your colleagues and talk about the 26 snapshots, talk about the opportunities…

For the record, Allison Rossett is an awesome presenter!! Funny, engaging, opinionated and lots of expertise.

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