What’s the Best Way to Learn?

This topic was prompted by a discussion with Ellen Gottesdiener who is one of the Catalyze leaders and founder of EBG Consulting.  Ellen’s company recently introduced a new eLearning course, Roadmap to Success: Foundation for Requirements and Development, to their suite of training offerings for business analysts.  This new module is an introductory fundamentals course for business analysts or employees who need to know more about this function as it is related or adjacent to their jobs. EBG also offers this course blended with an instructor-led course on Analysis Modeling.

Ellen introduced me to some new ideas and philosophies around learning.  One of these is Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Behaviors.  While Bloom’s Taxonomy is not the only system or hierarchy in training, it is easily understood and is one of the most widely used.  Essentially, Bloom says that there are different levels of learning and the goal of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to motivate educators to focus on all aspects of learning which will result in a more holistic form of education.  Also, some topics are better suited to instructor-led courses and others are more readily picked up by reading a book or participating in an online or eLearning course.

Bloom identifies three types of learning:

  • Knowledge (or cognitive) – mental skills
  • Attitude (or affective) – growth in feelings or emotional areas
  • Skills (or psychomotor) – manual or physical skills

Each of the three domains is further broken into subdivisions.  You can learn more by Googling Bloom’s Taxonomy and researching the topic on the Internet.  If you are designing courses, you definitely need to understand this in more details.

In some pre-launch beta-tests, Ellen timed how long the eLearning course for different levels of participants.  Experts completed the course in 4 to 5 hours, the average user took 7 hours and novices took 10-12 hours.  The same course which has been delivered by an instructor takes 1 day. 

Converting an instructor-led course to an eLearning course is not necessarily an easy task and you cannot simply copy and paste material from a Powerpoint into a learning management system.  Ellen used a Flash/HTML media designer, an instructional designer, a copy editor, professional voices, and she acted as project managers and content expert.  The eLearning course also incorporates multi-media and has mini-quizzes called Quick Checks where you can test your knowledge at any given time.

Some of the benefits to participants who take eLearning courses include:

  • Cheaper
    • Generally a little less expensive than an instructor-led course
    • Save on travel costs
  • More efficient
    • Can take at your own pace
    • Spread out learning over several days
    • Easier to fit into your schedule

Not all courses fit neatly into an eLearning environment and some types of learning and skills can only be learning by working with a live instructor.  The big takeaway is I think we’re going to see the availability of more eLearning in the very near future – especially for introductory courses.

In case you’re interested in learning more about eLearning, here are some additional resources to track down:

eLearning Guild – www.elearningguild.com 
Elliott Masie – www.masie.com
Ruth Clark – www.clarktraining.com

I would be interested in any comments from people who are delivering eLearning courses and from people who have taken eLearning course.

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