A couple of colleagues and I attended this one-day course last week, given by Neil Lasher. Although we've been experimenting a little with audio and video at work (and I've been doing a little video editing at home) we had little concrete knowledge to go on, living as we have been in a world of text and (small) images. Not that anyone's actually told us our intranet is opening up to allow more media, it's just that other people have started to do it and not been slapped down. Not yet anyway.
Neil is an engaging man but one with strong opinions, and there were lots of interesting digressions into the history of elearning since the early 90s (he believes we're coming full circle into a re-appreciation of the simple page turner) and the questionable delights of SCORM. Neil's company Trainer1 has invested a lot in research into the views of users of elearning in the public and private sector. Some of it will be published, some not. But we went fully into the different file types and formats of video, and their advantages and disadvantages, and various useful bits of hardware and software were demonstrated. It was a good use of the face to face training session to breathe a bit of debate and controversy into what might have been a dry topic on a blog or information site.
One topic he emphasised repeatedly, preaching to the converted in my case, was brevity. Videos and elearning modules don't have to be 5 or 10 minutes, but the environments in which they're deployed do not lend themselves to anything longer, even 'immersive' training that really is engaging. If you're going to do the practice and 'rehearsal' that will make new information stick, then among other things you need freedom from distraction, and in most places I know that simply isn't available. Learning Centres and cybercafes seem so last decade and they probably are, but the 45 minute elearning module belongs there, not in a busy office or – worse – the customer-facing desktop. So the move towards using these media for motivation, overviews and short practice scenarios is appropriate.
Course over, I came home and today responded to an email telling me of some Mandatory Training that had to be completed by today. It had sat in my to-do list for three weeks. ('Mandatory Training for Q1' is such a motivator, isn't it?) I found myself entering a module estimated as taking 30 minutes, followed by a test. After 10 pages I hadn't found anything relevant to my role, except in terms of ' you work in a bank so you should know all this ', so I ducked out and took the test, achieving 19 out of 20 with ease by following the giveaway cues. A world away from the kinds of things we'd been talking about with Neil, and a long way to go. At least they hadn't given us a 30m video.