Trump: The real alternate facts

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There, got your attention from the serious stuff in this magazine.

And, I promise, that is the only mention of the current POTUS in this article (unless I think of a cheap joke that I can slide in subliminally. If you notice it. There, a cheap joke. Told you. Wasn’t even subliminal. Or was it?)

Trump (oops) is a divisive figure, you may have noticed.

A bit like e-learning. (Now that’s a jump-cut worthy of Stanley Kubrick. Have I lost you yet?)

E-learning is seriously harmful to your company.

Okay, so it isn’t but it can be very harmful if not used correctly.

I must own up here. As a company we do not offer e-learning. We offer the stuff you see in our “advert” which is mostly trainer led, though we also write manuals and self-learn material for companies but we do not offer e-learning. Why, I don’t hear you ask? Because (and never start a sentence with “because”, as we don’t teach in our report writing programme) it’s not our specialism. I would love to say “we don’t agree with it” but it’s not that. We could do it but we wouldn’t do it very well so leave it to the specialists as it really is a different beast to what our skill and experience lends our services to offer.

“It’s cheap, it’s accessible but it does not cure all known ailments. Like an American President.”

But (there you go again) I noticed a comment about this on LinkedIn, you know, the carbon paper of social media, and it set my mind thinking of a couple of experiences we have had recently.

The future is, of course, “blended learning” (the future? It was how I was taught at school back in them good old black and white days) it just wasn’t called that then. On this we agree. When we are invited to help a company, we normally deliver classroom style training but always urge the use of other means to get results (coaching, mentoring, reading, video learning and even e-learning) for the simple reason that most professionals all should know: everyone learns in a different way so offer a menu of options as a solution, not just a one-of choice of meal.

What you shouldn’t do is just offer one sort because, and here I quote, “it’s the cheapest”.

A few years ago I decided to stop trying to earn money for myself (i.e. people stopped using us!) so I went into “gainful” employment with a large, and I mean really large, retail software company. They are American. When we decided it wasn’t working (after 9 months of banging my head against a very shut door) and we had our de-brief, my American manager asked why we couldn’t sell enough training for our products (as that turned out to be my job). I pointed out that there were many reasons, the main one being that there were only a few retail companies that were really driven by training and therefore have a learning culture.

“You mean like us,” said my boss, let’s call him Robert, and not as a question, hence I didn’t put a question mark at the end of the quote. (He didn’t do questions, he just did orders; maybe that’s just the American way?)

I paused before I responded and if you take out the expletives in my reply it was just a simple “no”. At this point Robert mentioned that we have e-learning, of which he sounded very proud.

“E-learning does not give us a learning culture!” I may have shouted. Just before I left the room and the company.

This simple thinking (and we did offer some excellent trainer-led programmes for the software I have to say) arises a lot, i.e. e-learning is some sort of 24/7 panacea for educating people. It isn’t; it has its place but it is only partially effective. And it never worked for me.

E-learning, like a book, is brilliant for people who like to read to learn. But books and e-learning can’t give you the nuances that real life throws up. Let us, again, go back to the “person who should not be named”. There is NO WAY (my capitals by choice) that his presentation style would ever, ever get into our programmes on presentation and oratory skills. So, what do we know? He only went and won, didn’t he?

The point is there are rules and the exception that proves the rule. And that can’t come across in any one-way learning medium.

And, even more importantly, people just don’t seem to like it.

This year, in an organisation which should know better, one or two delegates on a programme (okay, it was all of them) wanted to discuss e-learning during a train-the-trainer programme. I asked them simply what they thought of it. Everyone disliked it, not because it was poorly designed or similar but because, well, they didn’t like to learn that way. And it wasn’t effective for them.

Being a professional (I get paid, makes me a professional, right?) I argued on behalf of e-learning (which does have a place) but… really, you must listen to your employees sometimes.

Some myths still surround e-learning.

E-learning is quicker (it isn’t), cheaper (only in monetary terms) and results can be easily tracked (though they often aren’t).

E-learning has its place (no, not in the bin, you cynic!) but it doesn’t work for every topic and doesn’t work for every learner. Indeed, it seems to not work for most. And, just so you know, this seems not to be an age thing in my straw poll of people. You may have thought in this age of the tablet people would find this way of learning easy. But they don’t necessarily. Why? Because trainees need and want some human interaction to help and support them. Which e-learning often does not offer.

(This was my experience in that large American company I mentioned. When I joined the company, I was given a link to e-learning and left to my own devices to learn about stuff. That’s a technical term. It didn’t work. The link did, the learning didn’t.)

Of course, correct use of e-learning will involve human support but that often doesn’t happen, at least not in that place I like to call the “real” world, from what I hear.

So, take it easy on the e-learning. It’s cheap, it’s accessible but it does not cure all known ailments. Like an American President I said I wouldn’t mention again but have at least three times, if you were counting.

But he mangles the truth, mangles OUR language bigly and… he got elected.

And, talking of the English language, let’s end with what we know and what we don’t.

Simple: “I before E except after C”.

Which is how e-learning might put it.

But only 44 words in the English language follow that rule; 923 don’t. Try getting that across using e-learning.

Though that may be fake news as that man I cannot name again might tell you.

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Len Horridge

Training Design & Delivery of topics such as Customer Service, Note Taking, Business Writing, Presentation Skills, All Management/Team Leader areas, Sales, Sales Management, all tailored and run in-house for your personal requirements. Also, coaching and mentoring.

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