Every day I read a post or article that talks about how to make e-learning compelling or engaging. Advice ranges from using different typefaces, sizes or colours to the use of gamification or the latest training trend or technology. But as I’ve mentioned before, in most cases I believe this is simply putting lipstick on the pig. Because despite all the cosmetics, underneath there’s still a pig – that is, a “solution” that has been imposed upon a group of individuals.
This problem usually occurs because the course is designed top-down around learning objectives with very little reference to the individuals involved themselves (or at the very least assumptions being made about them). This often means that the resulting e-learning is ineffective in addressing the actual underlying business problems, and leads to dissatisfaction from the individuals concerned, as it doesn’t suit their working life or preferences – so they do whatever they can to avoid it!
However, in my work with organisations around the world, I am now seeing a new design approach that is focused on creating relevant and meaningful solutions to performance problems; one that uses an inclusive, collaborative process with the target audience (or representative sample thereof) to (a) identify the actual performance problems being experienced, together with measurable performance outcomes (rather than learning outcomes), and then (b) agree a range of solutions that best suit the problem and people concerned – which may involve instructional (e.g. e-learning) elements, but could also involve informational resources, social collaboration activities, or even just changes in current procedures or practices.
I call this process Synergistic Performance Design (SPD), where synergistic is defined as ..
“acting together / working together in a creative innovative and productive manner) done with or working with others for a common purpose or benefit; “a cooperative effort”
In other words SPD is about working together in a creative innovative and productive manner to solve performance problems. Where this process has been used, solutions have been far more successful as they are both relevant for the performance problem concerned and meaningful to the users, and therefore adopted far more willingly.
Want to find out more, and how to use SPD in your organisation? Join my next public online workshop: Modern Workplace Learning: Moving Beyond E-Learning runnign 2 March to 3 April.
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