>E-LEARN 2005 thoughts – Thursday PM

>Quite a full afternoon of events, starting with the Networking lunch. Each table had a specific “subject/topic” and I probably could have sat at 3 different tables and enjoyed each experience. At my table (Courseware Development & Authoring Tools) were attendees from New South Wales TAFE (Australia), Limerick University (Ireland), Sweden, Carnegie-Mellon University (USA), Foreign Service Institute – US Department of State, the BC Institute of Technology (Canada), and yours truly . It was quite interesting to see the different approaches taken to designing, developing and delivering courses in the online world. Some common choices of tools, to be sure, but the overall thought processes were markedly different. Some were focused on blended learning, some were looking at dedicated self-paced options. We all faced similar challenges with adoption/awareness and buy-in, as well as challenges with just getting content developed and maintained. Common issues with no geographical barriers.

I felt quite badly for the presenter who was stuck with a Mac/PC issue and wasn’t able to get her presentation on the Learning Object Life Cycle. Heinz Dreher from one of my morning sessions was in attendance and we had a rather thought-provoking chat on the way up to our respective rooms. We discussed some of the issues from her presentation as well as the panel discussion before lunch. That panel had obviously touched something in him, because he observed that a lot of people are “missing the point” about all this learning development. “We’ve forgotten why we’re doing it and who we’re doing it for,” he said. He’s right, of course. As designers, a lot of us tend to get lost in the tools and the technologies and we really forget about the learner experience. Do we know what they want? Do we care? Should we? Again, more food for thought.

I love the little sidebar discussions like that one. I get a lot more out of those than I do from some longer presentations. Its she sheer rush of those little “eureka!” moments that truly make this job worthwhile.

Finally, I had the opportunity to sit through another award winner, Diane Newton’s presentation on the role of the Australian Army instructor in the e-learning process. As a former military person, I had a personal interest in her presentation, but I was really surprised to see both the breadth and depth of content that the Australian Army’s Training Command had created and made available to its soldiers. Not surprisingly, there were some cultural challenges with taking this approach and I can see a lot of the growing pains, but I can also see some real advantages to much of what they are trying to accomplish. The depth of her reasearch work was excellent. Almost makes me want to go back to the consulting world and make nice-nice with the folks at DND.

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