Friday, June 17, 2011

Real Returns

“Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.”       
            -    Bill Gates
What is the real measuring stick in learning?  Of course, it is a change in behavior that improves a learner's work life.  So why do we insist on collecting "smile sheets" - those evaluation forms - at the end of each class?

I'm going to say something controversial - don't do it.  They are useless for measuring learning performance. 

In fact, in my opinion they are harmful.  They hurt our effort to be better learning designers because they give us a false sense of success.  If you look at results and comments, almost everyone rates a course excellent or good.  And in most cases they are grading on their subjective entertainment experience in class.  They aren't telling you if they actually learned and applied new skills - they're telling you how they liked the cookies and coffee.

So I say ditch the forms and put in place some sort of survey at least a week after the session but no longer than three weeks.  Ask people important questions, like: 
  • Did you use your skills?
  • What skills did you find most helpful?
  • What skills did you just not get?

Now that's a real measure.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Embrace Change

“Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. 
        -  Alphonse Karr, Novelist
As I prepare to talk about social networking and learning next week at the eLearning DevCon 2011, I can't help thinking that a lot of what we call new isn't really new at all.  Most of the things we do today are rooted in what traditionally works when people interact.  And after all, that's what Learning is in most cases: people interacting.

Even when you consider the notion of self-p[aced or computer based tutorials, those were still designed by a person to be consumed by another person.  it's still interaction, albeit asynchronous.  Some day maybe computers will be smart enough to figure out what a learner's information needs are without human interaction on the design side, but probably not in my working lifetime.

The real fun and excitement in this industry for me are the new tools however.  I am a self admitted "geek," and the new bells and whistles hold my attention like a fish and shiny lure.  That's why I am so excited about the DevCon.  There will be a lot of shiny things.