Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Don Draper on e-learning

BBC Four has just finished the first series of Mad Men. If you haven’t caught this drama about advertising execs on Madison Avenue in 1960, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Super-cool creative Don Draper opens the climactic pitch to Kodak with these bon mots:

Technology is a glittering lure. But there is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash”.

He was talking about the slide carrousel (1960, remember) but today he could have been talking about e-learning.

Many people are drawn to new technology applications because of their “glittering lure”. Elsewhere, I’ve described this as the “gee whiz factor”. But just because technology is impressive doesn’t mean it’s going to work for e-learning. The reason certain applications engage the e-learning public is because they are effective tools to create interactive learning experiences. And that derives not just from the intrinsic properties of the technology, but also from how imaginatively the learning experience is designed.

I’ve seen some great technology applications that offer simulations, games, 3D panoramic images, avatars, dynamic mind maps, and all sorts of other techno-doowhackery. Without exception, each vendor believed theirs was a world-beating product, but most of them turned out to be no more than a “glittering lure”. The successful ones partner with learning and development professionals, if they want to get beyond flash and engage learners.

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