Myths, mysteries and mighty strange sightings
Since we started sending out copies of The Little Book of Big Tips for Online Learning, we have been asked a number of questions about Coracle’s Skills Spider and our assertion that standardising training across an organisation doesn’t necessarily lead to savings (in financial terms) or that everyone even receives the same information.
All may not be as it first seems : the myth
The myth has developed in the same way as the mistaken belief that the more signal bars your phone shows, the better your signal. In the case of your phone, the signal bars represent the distance you are to the nearest network tower and as such they don’t take into account important aspects such as how many other people are using the network.
So why is the theory that standardised training in an organisation means better distribution and understanding a fallacy? : the mystery
Consider a digital camera. Many people believe that the more megapixels, the higher the quality of the photo. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. The quality is determined by the size of the megapixels, not the quantity. It’s all to do with the amount of light reaching the sensor. It’s a mystery as to why the industry insists on marketing more megapixels = better. Oh wait, it’s not a mystery! It’s a marketing ploy that works over and over again.
Similarly, the level of understanding from training offered in an organisation depends on the starting point of the individuals and their receptiveness to new ideas, not the pure volume on offer. The quantity of previously seen material has a direct impact on their receptiveness. Where there is a high degree of repetition or irrelevant content, this can lead to disruptive practices such as 'completion as a competition'.
Where a programme is offered to everyone on the same basis, there is a danger that an underlying assumption creeps in that says that all people must review the complete suite of material in order to make progress. This is like the concept that you should only charge your phone battery when it is empty. In today’s world of lithium rechargeable batteries, the problem of ‘battery memory’ has gone. And so it is with learning: it isn’t necessary to make everyone start from scratch every time.
How to produce a learning experience tailored to an individual, within the confines of the overall context? : a mighty big question
The answer lies in creating Individual Learning Plans (ILP) and this is the job of the Coracle Skills Spider - identifying skills gaps and producing customised programmes to suit the user.
The Skills Spider works by comparing self-certified responses to assessments on the topics in question. The resultant spider graph gives an easy to understand representation of the candidates skills level, versus their self assessment and your pre-determined requirement. Where work is required the user is automatically given access to the appropriate content. These modules may come with target completion deadlines and other reminders: particularly useful where the topic is a compliance issue or similar.
What's Elvis got to do with it? : strange sightings
Seeing a picture of someone dressed up in an Elvis costume to go skiing doesn't make us believe that Elvis has returned. It is simply an illusion, an impression: the projection of an image, albeit in the Elvis example a somewhat tongue-in-cheek one. Illusions challenge our perception and inject fun into life. Seeing Elvis is a strange site that no-one takes seriously, but which everyone enjoys.
Offering a one-size fits all training package across an organisation is like an illusion: one in which everyone is supposed to fit the same mould. The only difference is that it isn't amusing or thought provoking.