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Because quality matters

I was reflecting on some of the actions my colleagues and I take.  These are, in particular, colleagues that have been contributing to the field for a long time, ones who know what they’re talking about and that I therefore respect.  I retweeted one who called for being careful of the source in message. I’ve supported another who has been on a crusade against myths.  And I joined with some others to promote quality elearning.  And it led me to wonder why.  Why care?  Why take risks and potentially upset people?  And I realized that it’s because I care; because quality matters.

So what do I mean?  For one, it’s about money.  To the extent that people are misled by claims, they can misinvest their money. They might be persuaded to buy products that can’t really deliver what’s promised. They might pursue programs that aren’t going to have a real effect.  We see this a lot, initiatives that don’t achieve the desired outcome. There are lots of ways to fail, but we do know lots about how to do it right. Yet we still see strategies limited to courses, and courses designed poorly, and thus money being wasted that could be doing good.

Yet really, it’s about people.  It’s about giving them the right tools to do their job, whether in their heads or in the world.  In particular, I think that a field that’s about learning is about helping people improve, and that’s a noble pursuit.  Yet, too much of what’s done is under-informed, if not outright misled.  We need to do  better.

And it’s about us.  If we’re to be professional, if we’re going to hold our heads high, if we’re going to have a meaningful impact, we have to do what’s right. And if we don’t know what that is, it’s incumbent on us to find out.  And be smart about it.  Be critical in our investigation of messages (including this one ;). We need to have enough background to be able to sift the wheat from the chaff.  And we need to continue to educate ourselves on the science that is behind what we do.  We need to be responsible.

We need to recognize that changing what is arguably the most complex thing in the known universe (the  mind) in persistent and predictable ways is not simple.  And simple solutions, while appealing, are not going to do the job.  They might meet one particular metric, but when you look at the big picture, aligning improvement with respect, you need to have a rich solution.

And I think awareness is growing. We are seeing more people interested in improving their learning designs despite considerable budget and time pressures.  And we’re seeing folks looking beyond the course, seeking to create an approach that’s broader and yet more focused on success.  Finally, we’re seeing people interested in improving. Which is the first step.

So you can continue to expect me to work for quality, and back up those who do likewise. Together, we might make this field one to be proud of.  I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but it’s within our reach. We can do this, and we should.  Are you with me?

If you’re interested in getting started, and would like some help to get going faster and further, get in touch!

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