What is quality when it comes to e-Learning?

Does a good-looking course qualify as good quality? What about an ordinary course that brings about great behavioural change? I’m sure the argument can be extended to both sides. But my argument is to take the middle-path (very Buddha-like indeed, except I see no chance of Nirvana!).

As instructional designers, our primary responsibility is to bring about behavioural change, thereby, hopefully, also providing sufficient return on investment for our clients. At the same time, most of us are also looking to maximize our profits. So we need to strike a perfect balance between a good product that does not exceed budgets and a product that gets the job done: in short, the minimum we can do to get the maximum.

Where does that leave quality? Out in the open, in some cases, I’m afraid. If the client is happy, and we get our money, we seem to think of it as a job well done. Now, here comes the middle-path bit (let it not be said I didn’t warn you!)… that’s not enough! As conscientious professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that we provide a learning experience that the learner can enjoy.

Top Tips:

  • Quality is not about quantity: more interactions do not make for better quality
  • Visually stimulating products need to be backed up by well-thought out content chunks

A patient walks into the doctor’s chamber and advises the doctor on what line of treatment he would prefer. Alternatively, if you prefer scenario two, the farm owner walks into the office of the investment banker and advises him where he should invest the firm’s money.

If you think both are perfectly normal, then you may as well stop reading here – I’ve failed to make a point and there’s nothing more in this blog for you. However, if these two instances do strike you as a tad out of the ordinary, then I have a question for you: When it comes to instructional design, why is it that the clients often decide on what’s best?

Some instructional designers are quite happy to let a course go the way it is provided the client is happy. What’s wrong with that? Well, I’ve seen screens with visuals that make no sense, interactive screens with over 50 clicks that do not make one iota of difference to the outcome of the course, screens with amounts of text that would make even the great Leo Tolstoy cringe, and sentences that are longer and even more convoluted than this one!