Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Instruction eLearning 2.0 and Quality

On my post Quick Wins, I received some questions around use of Web 2.0 in the workplace (really they relate to eLearning 2.0). My quick example of one strategy that I've seen repeated successfully in several organizations:
  • implement a small Wiki that has performance support materials that goes along with your eLearning on that new software application
  • at first have it only editable by the authors
  • then open it up to edit the FAQ and Common Issue pages by your help desk
  • and then open up editing to end-users
  • and to more pages.
The comments are interesting to see and discuss:
Can anyone tell me where QUALITY comes into play with these collaborative enterprise 2.0 technologies? Or does anyone even care about that anymore?
Later they say:
Invariably, quality will mean very different things to different elearning providers. Also, different needs will necessitate different solutions.

My quality concerns: Is it instructionally sound? What about the user experience? Above all, what are the learning outcomes? At what point do lowered standards become the standard?
This is partly the same instruction vs. support question we've had all along? If we provide information in the form of performance support, reference material, etc., then how do you know if the instruction was successful? The answer has always been:
Is the person able to perform?
Force marching someone through something that is high quality "instruction" - something deemed to be instructionally sound - doesn't make it any better and could be far worse since they probably won't actually go through it, will forget, etc. This will be highly variable on a case-by-case basis and really on a learner/performer basis. This hasn't changed. But our desire to move stuff to performance support has definitely increased and is more and more often the appropriate approach.

What has changed in my example is that the learner / performer or people who support the performance (e.g., the help desk) are able to change content in the support materials.

I'm not sure, but it seems that the commenter is making an assumption that this lowers quality. It theoretically could. Someone could add total garbage. But what's their incentive to do that. This is certainly something being discussed with revenge of the experts being pitted against the wisdom of crowds. I personally look at it in each case and consider what quality issues we are really talking about. Is it contributions by end-users that may be wrong? Do you have people monitoring? Maybe that gives us a great opportunity to intercept information that otherwise is being transmitted today in channels that aren't monitored. To me, it's often better to have it visible and discussed. In fact, I would claim that
Worries over quality is not something that should hold you back.
What really got me to post about this is the last question - "lowered standards" ... What? How does this equate to lower standards? The person who left the comment is expressing something I hear a lot at presentations and in client organizations. It's not at all the reality that goes along with most eLearning 2.0 implementations.

If you are going to worry about something, worry about lack of participation. Worry about lack of skills. The quality issue is a lot of hot air.

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