Sunday, April 17

The instructor is egoistic. And now the learner is too.

It has often been said that the web allows us to better understand and tailor experiences to ourselves. Online dating services let us take detailed personality profiles to better reveal our hidden selves. We love ourselves, and can't get enough about us. Web citizens are encouraged to be egoistic (and sometimes even egotistic). Even educational simulations are all about us. It is better to be the President than to read about someone else being the President.

Training and educational programs have always been themselves egoistic. "We know something that you should know," they tell us. This is even more true of programs with certification, and even more so with degrees. This is often a good deal, by the way. I graduated from Brown University. People, at early job interviews, didn't have to trust me - they could just trust my alma mater.

This clash of ego vs. ego explains a lot of the angst in not just e-learning and online education, but all formal education. The instructor/course says, "I have the answer." And the student either says or wants to say "Great. I have a different answer."

But ultimately the synergy of the two forces should lead to better experiences for all. Here's an example. When helping clients with rebuilding new employee orientation programs, I start the day with the new employees talking about what seems not great about their new organization. After all, the new people were hired for a reason, and this might be the last chance to get some free, unbiased consulting.


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