Costs to Learning 2.0

Posted by gminks in corporate_training | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

I started writing this as a comment to a post on the Silence and Voice blog. That post is about where are all these users who are supposedly chomping at the bit to use Web 2.0 in educational settings? My comment was getting so long I decided to turn it into a blog post.

I want to add a technical slant as well as an instructional design slant to this discussion.  Just because we have the “L 2.0” tools doesn’t mean that learners will automagically use them. Similarly, just having the new tools doesn’t mean those tools are the best ones for every instructional situation. These technologies are still just that – tools. To me, this means the use of the tools will require design work.

We have started discussing how we will use these tools where I work (developing and delivering technical training). There is a great potential to use the tools to solve all sorts of problems our audiences face. However, for the transition to be effective and smooth there is also alot of design work that will have to happen up front.

One thing I think is being left out of the conversation is the cost of these new tools. There is a human resource cost: instructors and developers must be taught about the tools, how and when to use them effectively, etc. The audiences must also be  retrained, I think especially in a fast-paced corporate setting. For years and years and years they have been taught to come to class, get info dumped into their head,  and take a test to prove that taking time off to go to training was well spent. After years of this conditioning, we are expecting them to just suddenly act completely the opposite: Be open, be collaborative, feel free to make mistakes, etc. In some industries, undoing that culture of control is going to be a challenge.

There is also a cost for machines, for bandwidth, for software. Is it really any wonder that  E2.0 made it look like this change will happen tomorrow? All of  the vendors presenting there  (including my company) are selling the physical tools that will make this new world happen.

I am working hard to help my organization start to think about how we can use these tools. I’m always surprised at the objections I hear. Some are very valid from a systems point of view, and are things I hadn’t thought about. The things I am learning in my class this semester are helping me to think of ways to overcome the objections, but there is still alot of work to do.

5 Responses to Costs to Learning 2.0

  1. Peter Quirk says:

    Good post Gina.

    One of the things that’s hard to estimate in advance is the value of user-generated content. The old Web 1.0 system had none. The longer your web 2.0 system runs, the more value it accumulates through contributions from its users. In fact, the users will push you into areas you had thought too difficult (i.e. requiring you to train the trainers before it can be done.)

    You’ve seen how easy it is for people to create useful videos on the company’s social networking site, despite the fact that the initial vision for the site didn’t really embrace video.

    It’s probably useful to think of the initial expenditure as being startup capital for the whole community, rather than the cost of doing business for the corporate training department.

  2. gminks says:

    Thanks Peter. My blog’s focus is on education – so I am beginning to think about (from an education lens) things like do we *expect* users to create content as part of an education process?

    If so, who is responsible for purchasing the hardware, software, and bandwidth to host the content? Who pays to support the systems the new content lives on, and to manage the resources managing the physical equipment required? Does it (must it) remain behind the firewall? If so, who is responsible for maintaining the security of that information?

    And how does it fit into a systematic learning program? If it is an important way of learning, how do we encourage others to create the content? Do people who have the knowledge in their head need some help learning how to create the content that needs to be shared?

    Lots of questions, all of which have answers that involve a real world cost.

  3. Gina, some really great thoughts here. I did not know I encouraged you to explore this more deeply!

    With all the control organizations like to have with things on their networks and the variety of technologies and accessibility issues organizations have, I am starting to wonder if there is instead a growing divide between the people who are fostering new technologies and those who just want to get the job done.

    I have found the status quo to be unbearably powerful, and making a business case to try something new when “what we have already works,” especially given the lack of evidence that newer Web 2.0 applications produce any measurable ROI, then they tend to go into more cutting-edge workplaces, but are not often ready for prime-time, so to speak.

    Of course, here we are discussing this on a blog via RSS feeds. Go figure . . .

  4. gminks says:

    Jeff I am starting to think the only answer to “what we have already works” is going to be a combination of (1) identifying a gap that can be closed using the tool, and then (2) piloting small projects based on these tools. Once there are several of those up and running, the value of moving to the new tools may become obvious.

    Or not — I think it will depend on whether these tools are the appropriate instrument to use to close specific gaps in performance.

  5. Pingback: Silence and Voice » Blog Archive » Learning 2.0 = ROI?

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