I regularly rant about the quality of the learning designs we see. Knowledge dump and information test, I rail, is not going to lead to meaningful outcomes. Consequently, I work to promote more learning science in what we do. However, I have to acknowledge that frequently, the problem isn’t in the designer, but in the requester. Too often, there are RFPs (emblematic, they’re equivalent to the internal request for ‘a course on X’) that are asking for designers to take content and essentially put it up on the screen with a quiz (and window dressing). So we need better RFPs, please.
Ideally, RFPs would be expecting a good process. That includes a number of steps, from analysis through to deliver. For instance, to expect due diligence in analysis, with either clear metrics of success, or expectations of an appropriate process. That latter would include where appropriate individuals (experts, supervisors, performers) work with the team to identify ideal performance, gaps, and the causes.
Similarly in design, there’d be an expectation of iterative development and review, with testing. Where’s the expectation of meaningful practice, where the lowest level of practice is mini-scenarios (better written multiple choice questions) through full scenarios, to even serious games? We need identification of misconceptions and specific feedback as well.
Yet, the RFPs that come out often focus on cost, visual design, and an expectation that PPTs and PDFs are a sufficient basis to build a course. I recently suffered through a droned presentation of bullet points and unclear diagrams, followed by quiz questions that a) focused on random knowledge that wasn’t emphasized during the presentation and b) provided as feedback only ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Let me assure you that little meaningful learning came from that experience.
While we need to push ourselves to be better, we also need to educate our clients (internal or external). They need to educate themselves, too. Orgs will get the courses they ask for. However, will the ask have any impact? Too often, unfortunately, the answer is no. There’s a quote in the article The Great Training Robbery that estimates suggest only 10% of the multi-billions spent on training has any impact. That’s a staggering loss. While there are many contributors, it behooves us to try to address them all. For one, can we have better RFPs, please?