Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Cathy Moore on Saving the World from Boring eLearning

Adobe Connect session hosted with Allen Partridge, Adobe eLearning Evangelist

“The extraordinary, the radical, the amazing Cathy Moore…”

How does one navigate this field and become a professional in this space? How did you arrive here, Cathy?

When I started out there was no ID degree (in the early 80’s). Job was to help people in libraries who needed to learn how to use computers.  Was a technical writer, tech support person…(while she was a student)…eventually got into elearning for k-12.  Bachelors degree in English and that is it! ID training is on the job and self taught through the wonders of the Internet – reading theory and research online. 

Cathy is big on self-taught.  “I learned by observing what worked and didn’t. I was highly motivated to write instruction that would keep people from calling me.”

Also spent some time as a copyrighter and being a marketing consultant – about communication…

How can we save the world from boring elearning?

Boring experiences that make people suffer isn’t going to change anyone’s behavior. 

Moving from information dumps to more problem solving formats.

Giving people a safe place to fail.

Stuffing information into people doesn’t make them learn it!  (And yet we have an obsession with delivering information.  Instead we need to focus on what the learner need to do with it?)

Is lack of knowledge really the cause of the problem? What can we do to give the learner the experience to learn through success and failure.  We learn by: experiencing things, drawing conclusions from the situation, so we build a “case” in our own minds.

As IDs, we need to find the courage/strength/political power to push back on clients who want us to just push the information. Instead ask, “what do we need the learners to do?”  We need to redefine our roles in organizations from converting infomration in a course to becoming performance consultants.

If we evaluate our elearning and see if actually changes performance on the job.

Make more examples available of experiential elearning.  So that the default ID of what elearning is (screens full of elearning quizzes) broadens to include other things…(the default elearning course that’s info screen, info screen, quiz question…)

What is Action Mapping?
1. The Strategic Goal. Start with a measurable goal for your project.  Why does this elearning deserve to exist? How will the org benefit in a measurable way? (the bulls eye)


2. Real world actions people need to do to reach this goal. (the green triangles)

3. Practice activities – to practice what people need to DO. (the orange hands)

4. Crucial information needed for that activity. (the blue dots)

(You should only put in the course that which the learner needs to use – everything else should go in the job aid!)

At the beginning ask “Why does this project need to exist? What do they need to do? What do they need to practice? What information do we need to include?”

Allen mentions the gated corporate environment that most IDs have to work in – the lawyers who want this, the compliance officer who wants this, etc. – all of these stopping mechanisms…

Get all of the stakeholders and subject matter experts involved from the inception of the idea – so they’ll work together for a common goal.

Action Mapping is a way to brainstorm the activities.  Then you can use whatever delivery format works best for those activities – could be face to face or online.  Ideally, what we end up designing feels like a series of activities rather than an information dump.

Low text scenarios – one scene scenario with a compelling, complex questions.  You see feedback from your decision.  You see someone get bloody because you passed them the scalpel in the wrong way.

So how long does this take?

The hardest part is identifying the strategic goal and what you need to do.   Those first two rings are the most challenging – but you can do it in a two hour call. 

You often end up producing less because you put the information into PDFs, etc – less time making boring information look slick.  More time on creating activities.

“But I’m really a fan of the low-tech scenario.”

Look at examples of problem-based learning and case-based learning.  (Search on Cathy’s blog for multiple choice questions)

Have Instructional Designers and eLearning developers become doormats?

Stakeholders, clients come to IDs with a pile of PPT slides and say “turn this into a course.”

To raise our profile in the organization – to become like the marketing dept which no one wants to live without – we need to understand how what we do fits in with the strategy of the organization. 

Are you providing value or are you a servant to this experience?

Don’t get distracted by the graphics, the bells and the slick – instead focus on the content.


Jennie Thede said...

Excellent and inspiring info. I love how Cathy frames this as a quest, with the empowered ID as the navigator/keeper of the map. It does feel like a topsy-turvy adventure sometimes, trying to convince well-meaning stakeholders that information dumping won't ultimately accomplish the goals of engaging the learners and helping them retain the essential details.

Cathy Moore said...

Cammy, thanks for your comments in the chat and for your summary here!

Kelly Meeker said...

I appreciate the tips on how the ID/elearning developer can use this info to raise their profile in the org - not just make better courses!

indigoj said...

Likewise! Thanks for this summary! It was a fast moving time and very interesting!

Jason said...

i am develop elearning courses i am useing articulate. this is really great help. thanks.