‘This time, Nigel,’ Vivienne insisted, ‘we want some different and special and not the same old, same old that we can get from any other elearning provider.’ Michael, a senior manager at the same management consultancy was equally demanding: ‘When it comes to the test, for heaven’s sake don’t call it a “quiz” (which sounds as though it’s something trivial, we need to test their ability to apply what they’ve learnt and not simply to repeat phrases from Schwab’s The Fourth Industrial Revolution.) We need consultants in the field who can do so much more than simply talk the talk – that’s the added value that our clients are paying for.’
How best to respond to “We’d like just nuggets, please”?
Am I right to feel a little uneasy when a customer or potential customer (I can’t bring myself to use the ugly term ‘prospect’) says that all they want is ‘just nuggets’?
In the back of my mind there’s a kindly relative asking “Just nuggets, Dear? Really? That doesn’t sound like a nourishing meal to me! “
“Are you sure you’re eating properly?”
Well, who wouldn’t want to be? Agile, I mean. Given that there are so many antonyms of ‘agile’, including dull, ignorant, inactive, lazy, lethargic, lifeless, rigid, slow, and for good measure, probably sluggish too.
My background is in software development and traditional IT classroom training on topics including programming and project management. I gained twenty years’ experience as a software team leader and programmer before my involvement in instructional design at Saffron, which commenced about fifteen years ago.
Ruth: “Nick, When do you think you’ll have your proposed blog entry ready?”
Nick: “I’m hoping to be able to sketch you something soon.”
Ruth: “Is ‘something soon’ your target?”
Ruth: “It doesn’t sound all that SMART a target to me.”
Ruth is, of course absolutely spot on; my suggested ‘target’ was neither SMART nor was it smart. You’re probably familiar with the acronym SMART in the context of setting targets – it’s the idea that targets must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely in order to be successful. Using this checklist, you can see that my target was too vague, and therefore bound to fail.
I’ll start with a shameless plug: Learning Technologies 2012, conference and exhibition, takes place on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th of this month at Olympia – and I’d love you to come and visit us on stand 33. We’ve brought together our ideas on serious games, learning on-the-move and assessment into a single engaging mobile app. If you haven’t yet registered for the exhibition, you can do so for free here: http://www.learningtechnologies.co.uk/register-now/.
Now before you start thinking this post is going to be full of sour grapes, let me explain that I’m quite happy with the awards Saffron has won in the past. I’m also looking forward to pitching along with our client to win an LPI 2012 award for which we’ve just been short-listed. And that’s enough self-congratulation too.
What do we mean when we talk about assessment in the context of e-learning? Too often, I’d suggest, we mean the test at the end of an online course. Perhaps we’ll call it a ‘quiz’ in the hope of making it more palatable for the learner, but all that does, I suspect, is make the learner feel still more patronised. The purpose of such a test is to determine whether the learner has, or has not passed the course.
That’s English composer Cornelius Cardew’s title, not mine. It’s also the title of a Confucian text, as translated by Ezra Pound, the first chapter of which Cardew uses within his composition of the same name. It begins as follows:
What The Great Learning teaches is – to illustrate illustrious virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence.
Someone came onto our stand at the Learning Technologies the other week and asked, ‘OK, so you people at Saffron know social learning. What about anti-social learning?’ That intriguingly sly question got me thinking about what our role is in facilitating learning in our customers’ organisations: what exactly is it that we be should aiming to design and implement?