Content is not Training!

Watching a demo for yet another elearning module management product, I feel a rant coming on.

I learn a lot from watching videos and presentations. But if the subject at hand requires my changing what I DO, then I (and, researchers will tell you, almost everybody else) need to practice the thing I watched, preferably in front of somebody who already knows how to do it.

So to watch a demo in which the salesman-learner watches a presentation about the nifty new features of of product x, and then remarks “Now that I am fully trained…” makes my blood BOIL.

No, sir, you are NOT now fully trained. And I sure do hope I’m not the first customer you talk to after you have completed this poor excuse for actual training.

There are those who think that the kind of practice involved in training to proficiency is one of those things that is necessary only for surgeons and pilots like my pal pictured above.  You know, folks who may have really serious and pretty much unexpected things go wrong and so need a lot of experiences to teach them how to recover.

But I don’t think that’s true.

At the karate dojo, we do often have somebody who knows the move demonstrate it for learners. But that is STEP ONE of a multi-step learning experience which features a whole lot of practice, refinement and further practice, under the eye of somebody who has already mastered this skill.  If that’s what it takes to perfect a simple kick, might it just take a touch more than exposure to the latest information to prepare somebody to communicate the benefits of a new product to an audience of prospective customers?

Come on, people, let’s please stop fooling ourselves. Beautiful, engaging presentations are a good thing. They raise awareness of elements which individuals can then choose to incorporate into their standard operating procedures. But unless you ask people to practice these new skills, you won’t get this stuff in their brains for long. And unless you have somebody watch their performance, you won’t know how well (or for that matter, whether!) they are changing their behavior.

A system that serves up content, however beautifully, manages information, not training. If you want one which actually tracks training, you’ll have to pay attention to more than content management.