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What If We Reviewed e-Learning Courses Like We Reviewed Movies?

by Edmond Manning, Senior Instructional Strategist

What if there were e-learning critics just like movie critics? What if learners decided whether to attend our e-learning courses based on the quality of what we produced and critical reviews instead of being 'forced' by company mandate?


Engineering's Avengers Unassembled 1.5 stars

Yet another lackluster summer 'blockbuster' from the Engineering department. Yaaaawn. Do they realize the goal is to be *awake* by the end of the training? If you saw last winter's "Hazardous Materials: the SOP Strikes Back" you'll recognize the same boring plot: you're responsible for blah blah blah, which is why you need to know blah blah blah.

Impossible, ridiculous consequences are supposed to scare us into following government regulations without giving us a meaningful context. "What if you fall asleep at your job while a hacker steals some passwords and..." Oh, please. And here I thought Harry Potter had cornered the magical fantasy market. 

The final credits name our own Regulatory group as the Executive Producers, and their heavy-handed censors smash any semblance of engagement like the Incredible Hulk. Do they know the meaning of the word 'readable sentence?' When it comes to training, I sometimes wonder if our Regulatory group secretly works for our competitors. Now, there’s a plot twist!

X3: New Employee Orientation's Jurassic World half star

Where to find your AOP forms? What's the phone number and department code for IT support?  Who was the CEO in 1974?

I sure don't know the answer to any of these questions after completing this course. But I can counter with a question of my own:

Who cares?

Even if the answers would help me outrun a rogue T-rex, I still wouldn’t care. There was no character development to help me understand why any of this was important to me. Why present me with a list of a dozen phone numbers – is there really an expectation I'd remember them? A fourteen-bullet list of what the EAP does? Seriously. Here I am, a new employee, wondering about my first three months and whether I'll have to work weekends, and they want me to understand why 1955 was a critical year for our patents. Ugh. Where are the voracious raptors when you need them? Please chew off my arm so I have a reason to quit going through this e-learning.

Also, there was not enough development on the important themes. If the company values innovation and creativity so much, where was the innovation and creativity in the design? “We value these things,” the e-learning says, but then obviously, they don’t. That’s like the beginning of the movie when the protagonist announces, “Security is so tight here, there’s no way these dinos could escape.” Insert eye roll.

If I could have found the Exit button, I would have quit.

Lake House: For Sale 1 star

I haven't seen a romance this implausible since Glitter. The scenarios consisted of customers meeting our cheerful, yuppie sales representatives and are almost immediately won over by their charm and quality of our products. (Would it kill the e-learning department to find a graphic of a sales representative who doesn't have celebrity good looks? Quite frankly, most of us in the world are pretty average looking.)

The plot consists of the far-too-interested potential customers asking wooden questions such as, "What is the value-added benefit you bring? How could I learn more about your product?" If a customer ever asked me those questions, I'd laugh out loud.

I found myself longing for a true romance the way it happens in the real world―we WORK on the relationship over time and sometimes it pans out, sometimes it doesn't. This Candyland version of our sales world made me wonder if the folks at Pixar had a hand in animating this fanciful dream-to-life concoction.

Only log in if you're looking for some good chuckles. (Check out Customer 4's ecstatic glee upon discovering our product insurance policy. You'll laugh off your chair.)

Brokeback Accounting 2 stars

Yeah, that's what I'm going to have if I add on all the extra tasks Management think I can do in a day: a broke back. Why is it that every new training initiative never accounts for how users like me really spend my day? They just say, "Now you'll do this in addition to everything else," as if a declaration sentence like that automatically adds 30 minutes to my work day.

I'd love it if just once, the Director would talk to us to find out how we spend the day and what would have to change in order for us to accommodate new tasks. Some days I think it would just be easier to be a Wyoming sheep herder.

I realize the color scheme matched our corporate colors and standard website conventions. Yeah, yeah... corporate branding. But did you realize that our corporate colors are boring? Next time, get a set designer who can create something visually interesting. And oh—there are more interesting ways of presenting e-learning than the country-western two-step: screen, screen, quiz, quiz. Screen, screen, quiz, quiz. It’s time to retire that old tune.


CLICK TO TWEET: What If We Reviewed #eLearning Like We Reviewed Movies? @customelearning 

CLICK TO TWEET:  Blog: Spoof on movie reviews and four examples of what #elearning reviews might look like @customelearning 

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About Author

Edmond Manning
Edmond Manning

Edmond Manning, senior instructional designer for Allen Interactions, has more than 20 years designing interactive e-learning experiences on instructional topics including: software simulation, medical ethics, supervisory skills, and selling/presentation skills, and gosh, a whole bunch of others. He has helped mentor and grow e-learning departments, worked as a business consultant, independent contractor, and instructed the ATD e-Learning Instructional Design Certificate Program for more than a decade. Edmond has a master's degree from Northern Illinois University in instructional technology.

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