I’m sitting at my desk watching the rain outside and wondering when it will stop. Maybe I need to learn how to build an ark. Seventy-five percent of Queensland has been affected by the floods so far, so it might not be a bad idea. So, being the nerd that I am, I Google “ark.” I scroll down page after page about Noah’s Ark, but I find no construction plans. Let’s try “Ark building.”
Lo and behold, there’s a company in Curl Curl, NSW, who has a listing for building arks. Now, if I were to build an ark, I’m stubborn enough to want to do it myself, not just pay someone else to do it for me. Bunnings doesn’t even have a DIY class on the subject. (Yes, I asked). Where’s the e-learning course on ark building when you need it?!
That made me wonder about that company in Curl Curl. I wonder how they teach their guys to build arks. Maybe they team up a new guy with a seasoned pro to show the newbie how they do things? What if they had an e-learning course on the subject? How many of the old timer chippies would know how to use a computer? Well, my father was a master builder and he would scoff at the idea of using a computer to learn something that should be hands-on.
In his estimation, if you can’t feel the wood, you can’t learn how to talk to it. Personally, I can understand what he meant, but can’t see why a guy new to the game couldn’t learn through simulation first and then go off to try his hand at it.
So, is there a limit to what e-learning can teach? Well, I wouldn’t want my surgeon to have only just studied his trade in online courses and via simulation, but not actually done any practical work-at least, dissected a few cadavers under a teacher’s guidance. All the study part could be done via e-learning though, because there could be simulations and if the university is switched on enough, they may even have a 3D world where the student could do some early practicals.
I would still want my doctor to have had experience with real life practicals, because things look so different in real life, compared to pictures. It is also a profession where it’s best to get a feel for the work, as gruesome as that may sound. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the lab work in Anatomy class the most.
Going back to the ark builders in Curl Curl, I believe that if any company has training sessions that are mostly tutorial and little practical, they would be well suited to converting those training sessions into e-learning courses. Even though those guys in Curl Curl are carpenters and we think of carpenters as people who just hammer bits of wood together, the reality is that they do have induction training that comprises some guy standing in front of the class (or one-on-one, depending on the size of the organization) talking. Do you know how many of those guys actually listen to what is being said about safety in the workplace? About none of them and what they are thinking is that they’d like the guy to shut his mouth so that they can get to work. “Blah, blah, bloody blah” is what many think and the others are thinking words too salty for me to repeat here.
Instead of a talking head, why not convert to a course that’s more engaging to the student and/or employee? E-learning courses get the learner to think in ways that other training can’t and they can be tailored to the target audience. For example, those chippies would probably be more interested if they could have visual aids and some interactivity. What comes to mind is a cartoon showing someone putting a nail through his hand with a framing gun because he wasn’t using proper safety techniques. Given that carpenters are usually male and we know that men are more visual creatures who rather do than talk, why not have a course that’s tailored to them so that they would actually learn the material?
Most organizations have at least some training that is tutorial in nature, whether they are inductions or new employee training, compliance and ethics or new procedure courses. These are the kinds of things that could be more efficiently taught as e-learning courses. I think having those courses done via e-learning would help companies maintain a record of the training given and be able to assess each employee’s understanding of the material. In the case of dangerous industries like construction and mining, it could actually improve the company’s safety record!
I’ve decided against building an ark, because we haven’t got a zoo nearby for me to get two of every animal. Not to mention it would be cliché to build an ark for a flood. What would the 21st century version of an ark be? Maybe a hovercraft? So, what am I going to do with the pallet of sleepers in the garage now?!
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