Wednesday, 16 October 2013

7 Reasons for not providing good quality e-learning

I have been in and involved with e-learning for many years and see the same excuses for poor quality now as I did when I first started, so I thought I would give seven of them an airing:

1) Time limitations
Nothing new here:
Time limitation must surely be the main reason for poor quality in the planning, constructing and presentation of e-learning.  It may also be one of the many reasons for poor support, not only of learners but also of teachers.

How much time do you have to rewrite your course (or part of it) to e-learning and support your learners while they are on it?

2) Quality costs money
Time is money – a classic phrase that Total Quality Management sought to answer in the 1970’s.  It is a poor excuse, 40 years later, for not getting the quality right in the first place.

There is a simple answer to this apparent puzzle.  Just ask how much it costs to correct poor quality later on!
Now ask who will do it!

3) Being called a perfectionist
Related to the time issues:
Getting something right takes time and we can be accused of being a perfectionist in order to ‘chivvy us along a bit’.  It’s as if it is something to be ashamed of when really it’s that time issue getting in the way of getting our course right first time.  It is a thin line between practicality and perfectionism but I would rather have the course right than spend time later correcting things.

I am a practical perfectionist and proud of it.

4) Not understanding what quality is in e-learning
Of course it all depends on who is defining quality:
To the Subject Matter Expert, content, correctly presented and assessed is quality. 
To the Instructional Designer the software, functioning perfectly, the interactivity used as designed and the multimedia approach are quality. 
For management it is when the time and money allocated is not exceeded.
For the learner it is access, information, availability of support. 
For the teacher, quality is when everything works together – or just works!

So who defines quality in your courses, blended or fully online?  Are the learners involved?

5) No support from colleagues
Online and distance learning courses are often on the edge of an institution’s provision, they are often seen as an add-on, just look at how many are blended into taught courses.  It seems unlikely that such part-courses will be constructed by anyone other than the course teacher.  In this respect, those who are familiar enough with educational technology are still in the minority, the rest have to struggle on with what they know, in the continually changing scene created by the enthusiasm of innovative software engineers.  

Where is the help and support for teachers in this shifting landscape?  

6) It’s just one small part of a large course
Thinking about blended learning here:
If our colleagues see e-learning as something removed from the normal classroom; our managers see e-learning as nothing different – just normal teaching; we can all do it.  Why then should teachers need any further support to teach online?

How much time to you waste correcting poor e-learning in the classes that follow?
What should really be happening?

7) New educational technology
Added to the time it takes to plan, construct and present e-learning must be the time it takes for teachers to become familiar with the technology surrounding the course.  Learners who struggle with the technology will turn to the person they see as leading the course to find answers.  If you are not familiar with the technology how can you provide the support your learners need?

Have you the time and skills to keep up with the technology?

Looking back at this blog, these reasons all relate to the time available.  I am sure there are many more reasons for poor quality in e-learning: I have tried to list the main ones as I see it. 

Perhaps you could add a few more?

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