A Lesson Plan for eLearning

cisco_eLearningI came across Harold Jarche‘s blog today where he discussed, a brief history education delivered via The Internet, see Learning is Connecting.  Check it out.

He also shared a link to an article from Fast Company in 2000, Cisco’s Quick Study that discusses using the Web to reinvent training inside the world’s most Internet-centric big company, Cisco. I have included a snibit of the article below that discusses what Tom Kelly learned about eLearning back in 2000 and how it’s changing the style and the substance of training at Cisco Systems. What great incite Tom Kelly shared in 2000 and these are still trends and issues that we are discussing in 2014.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine written by @AnnaMuoio.

A Lesson Plan for eLearning

Tom Kelly, VP of worldwide training at Cisco Systems, works inside the world’s most Internet-centric big company. So it’s no surprise that he champions Web-based education — “e-learning” — and that he and his team operate at the cutting edge of the field. Kelly may be in the early stages of his work, but he has already learned some important lessons.

Small is beautiful
One problem with how most companies deliver information is that they expect people to spend too much time at one sitting. We work in a world of limited attention spans, unlimited demands on people’s time, and endless multitasking, Kelly says. Learning programs have to reflect these realities: “Most e-learning is still anchored in the mind-set that learning means going somewhere for 8 hours at a time to study a 40-hour curriculum. We may have a 40-hour curriculum, but we deliver it in 20-minute chunks, or even faster. That makes it easier for people to build learning into their workday.”

Blends are powerful.
“E-learning does not imply the absence of human beings,” Kelly argues. “We recently did a workshop where there were 40 people in a physical classroom, plus 60 people online in other parts of the United States and Europe. All 100 people were engaged in a lesson with a live instructor at the same time. It was a real classroom combined with a virtual classroom. We took the outcome of that, digitized some of the video and audio, and put it online so that people who couldn’t participate could later access the information and ideas. The best solutions are often blended solutions.”

Measure what matters.
“The real measures of success here at Cisco do not involve training issues: ‘Do our people learn better?’ They involve business issues: ‘Is Cisco performing better?’ There’s certainly no arguing the altruistic side of education — that well-trained people are more valuable than untrained people. But that’s kind of esoteric. If customer satisfaction goes up because we have a more knowledgeable sales force, that’s not esoteric. If technology adoption occurs faster because the sales force is better-trained, we have real business impact that’s measurable. That’s the real benefit of e-learning, and that’s what we have to measure.”

New technologies require new leaders.
“One real problem with e-learning is that traditional training people are in charge of it,” Kelly says. “You’ve got people who have spent 20 years in lecture-lab environments, and now they’re deploying e-learning inside their companies. No wonder it doesn’t work! Can you imagine if the post office was in charge of email?”

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About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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