Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pick any three

There's a saying that I heard in relation to mountain bikes:

"Strong, light , cheap: pick any two."

I think you can attribute it to Gary Fisher or Klein or Bontrager - one of those hoary, stringy hippies that helped to invent the beautiful pastime.

I love the simplicity - any way you cut it, it works. Titanium XC bikes are feather light, and will write off the thoughtless Volvo that cuts you up at the roundabout, but, by Christ, will you pay for it! An equally strong steel frame will barely set you back a skinny double latte, just don't go out in winter - you may never get out of the mud alive! Okay, a WC downhill rig is neither light nor cheap, but then you balance it by saying, "well, it took a double helping of strong" and balance is restored to the universe.

So I thought, surely there is an equivalent neat triangle for elearning. After all, you have a balance of cost, time and effectiveness.

So, is it a case of, in the parlance of the times:

"Timely, under budget, fit for purpose: choose any two."
Dan Roddy, Nov 2006?

Well, er, no. For as any project manager will have spent a day of their PRINCE2 training learning, time and cost are linked, or in another, rather simpler fashion, "time is money".

So you are stuck with a relatively simplistic cheap/effective binary opposition, which is neither satisfactory or very useful. We have all seen examples of elearning that are neither cheap nor effective. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in the L&D field - this appears to be the form for most corporate classroom training events.

Similarly, there are examples of learning events that can be highly effective, cheap and almost instant. This is usually termed experience, or learning from your mistakes.

It is fair to say that there are a great many people out there who would love to define elearning as some form of science. That a mix of X, Y and Z in the right amounts will produce the same results each time. But the fact is, every learning environment is different and changing - they are not the sterile locale of the laboratory - so you have only a rough idea of the success or otherwise of an intervention before you try.

Summarising elearning in a pat little phrase like that above is just an idle game for the commute for now.
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