eLearning: The intersection between people and technology

eLearning is not developed in a vacuum, nor is it implemented in a vacuum. In other words, technology is not people independent. This may seem like a very basic statement, but in my experience the intersection between people and technology is generally the point of breakdown for many computer based programs.

Obviously there are basic cases where eLearning programs are so marred by bad coding that the program doesn’t work at all. This can easily be avoided by doing some homework on the vendor prior to using their services. Furthermore, the customer should force the vendor to outline a vigorous quality assurance/testing process. Using rapid prototyping also allows the customer to test as the program develops, thereby avoiding major flaws being discovered during Beta testing.

Let’s assume that the majority of eLearning failures are not represented by the above case. What other issues could be causing failures? From a developer’s perspective the answer is pretty straight forward: people. People are involved in the development process, deployment process, testing process and support process. This means that you will need to draw on many resources within your company as well as within your vendor’s company to be successful.

The simpler your deployment platform the less issues you should experience. Deploying a program on CD is a lot easier and less complicated than deploying a program that requires interaction with network drive databases, learning or content management systems. The more moving parts your program has, the higher the risk of issues occurring. In other words the more complicated the program is the more moving parts you have and as a result the higher your rate of failure may be. Complicated programs also require the involvement of more people.

If you’re disheartened don’t be. Implementing an eLearning program can be complicated. The easiest way to avoid massive failures is to start with a small project. If this is the first time you’re using a computer program to train people then you need to start small. You need to develop and test your infrastructure before going bigger. Your company needs to build the necessary social and technological infrastructure and a small program is a great way to start. If you have existing computer based training programs then your people and technology network may be pretty effective already. Any eLearning program requires a strategy to deal with development, implementation, testing and maintenance. Select a vendor with experience and a willingness to work with your people. Ultimately any technology is only as good as the people that developed, deployed and supported it. eLearning is not developed in a vacuum, nor is it implemented in a vacuum.