Opinions Posted by David McDermott

At a recent account review meeting, one of our clients talked passionately about his mobile learning apps, video bites and e-learning modules. He acknowledged our contribution to providing many of them and customising their content to his organisation.

“This has to be the way forward”, he said, “Generation Y and its technology are the future – the classroom is dead!” His vehemence was such that I decided not to challenge it directly at this point.

Later at a coffee break, we resumed a private topic of conversation that we have shared over many years – that of our children, now all teenagers. His son had asked for driving lessons for his upcoming 17th birthday. He’d been promised a car if he got good exam results. We had a good-natured exchange on the spiralling cost of raising children.

However, I took the chance to suggest that he could save money on lessons by simply downloading a driving simulation for his son’s iPad. He responded with a long silence and a quizzical look, so I clarified the issue – “Are you saying that you wouldn’t consider getting him to sit his test without taking lessons?” I asked. “That’s how Generation Y learns, is it not?” I added with a wry smile.

Of course, I could have gone on to ask him if he’d be happy having a heart bypass operation from a surgeon trained wholly by e-learning or boarding an aircraft with a pilot who had simply read the aircraft manual. But he agreed the point had been made. There is an essential difference between knowledge, what to do and how to do it, and skill, the ability to do it effectively.

Organisations confuse these two at their peril. No learning app will develop the skills required to pitch for that all important account, manage that dysfunctional team or have that all important critical conversation.

E-learning and m-learning are particularly effective for knowledge-based training, such as learning about financial products or legislation. At edoMidas we use them as for pre-course reading to reduce classroom time and also for post-course reinforcement. They do not, however, provide delegates with the skills necessary to perform certain roles.

Skills are best developed through classroom interventions with expert feedback based on proven best practice and coaching.

Relying on e-learning alone is undoubtedly heading for that car crash!

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