Tired of tools talk?
Geez I’m tired of all this techy tools’ talk. A large portion of the e-learning industry has decided to become experts on DIY tools rather than experts on learning. Hundreds of the damn things are being showered upon us, discussed, and of course, mostly ignored and discarded. A huge amount of energy is being diverted towards techy tools, which are largely toys for the boys, the trainspotters of the e-learning industry.
There are many reasons for calling time on this stuff, but here are four for starters:
1. De-accelerating progress
If we devoted more time to actually delivery, rather than endless speculation about the means of delivery, we may accelerate progress. There’s definitely room for experts in this area, such as the excellent Jane Hart, but we don’t need to dominate discussion with tools talk. It’s mostly a diversion.
2. Distracts from mainstream tools
What’s worse is the fact that this obsession distracts many from looking at, and using, the tools that have already become de facto standards. Word, PowerPoint, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, YouTube, iTUNES, Google Docs, Email, Messenger, Skype – these are tools with hundreds of millions of users. Remember, we’re in the stone-age technically in learning. We don’t even record lectures for Christ’s sake!
3. Tools need skills
Most tools offer only the 'promise of productivity' as they ignore the time taken to become proficient. While recommending this never-ending torrent of tools, few discuss the need to learn how to use them, the actual skills base and the distracting effect this can have on actual delivery. We’re like those people who’re always fiddling around with cameras, tripods and lenses, but never really get round to being a photographer.
4. Diminishes e-learning
Tool up by all means but don’t get obsessed or worse, addicted to techy tools. It makes us look like learning geeks, and places us in a dark corner where we’re more likely to be by-passed and ignored.
Let’s get back to the business of learning, the psychology of learning, performance, change management and the real business issues in education and training, before we bore everyone to death with these ‘tools of a tired trade’. Turning e-learning into a giant B&Q or Wal-Mart is to caricature the industry.