when should wbt should be a memo?

Snappy title, no?

I’ll give you my opinion on the title’s question:  All. The. Time.

Going back a few posts, I outlined the time that I had asked for information, heard it was in a WBT and was immediately deflated by the idea of watching a 20 minute WBT to find an answer I was looking for.  Word, annoying as it is, is at least searchable.

But the idea itself has sat inside my brain like a seed.  Why do we even use WBT as a community?    When I research this, I come up with some interesting themes.  It seems as though WBT was developed in response to the costly nature of live, instructor lead training.   The lure of lower cost, flexibility, and mobility is strong, and compares well to live training.  But it seems as if no one ever asked themselves – but could an email or memo have sufficed?  Seems there are different, overlooked “delivery channels” that might fit the criteria that makes WBT so great.

Deconstructed, WBT is a message with visuals, an avatar or more, and some scenarios (at best).  Could we not continue to do that in email?   Instead of a 20-30 minute WBT on our privacy policy, let’s say, why not a quick email:

Folks,

Here’s the policy on privacy.  Here’s what it means practically, and for those of you who still do not get it, here are some examples of how you might use it in the workplace.  

End email with a read receipt.

Or, even better, attach or include a handy-dandy job aid.  Maybe, in this case, we send them a MOUSE PAD that sits by their computer that reminds them of the policy.  Maybe, for other things, a checklist or instructions.   For so long we’ve rolled up our learning professional noses at such  child’s play – memos, emails, job aids – and dismissed it as “not learning” that we have created an entire industry of people who produce learning that isn’t engaging at all and that our learners hate.

So, for your annoyance or reference, the following is a list of things that we might offer our learners, clients, or partners instead of the incredibly useless WBT:

  • email or memo
  • job aids (mouse pads, checklists, instructions, cards, etc.)
  • videos (if your argument is that reading is boring – I challenge you to do two things.  one is to double check how much reading there is in a wbt and the other is to see if you could take your boring 20 minute WBT and turn it into video that lasts less than 5 minutes.  i’m almost positive you can in 99.99% of circumstances.

I just don’t think avatars and clicked-on text boxes are interactive, engaging, or useful.  And as a learner, I *hate* them.  Just tell me the policy and I will do it.  Don’t convince me with your scenarios, don’t make me click on boxes to see what some avatar says about it.  Just tell me.  Treat me like a grown up – an ADULT learner.

Oh – and stop making smaller WBTs and calling it micro-learning.

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