Move over "seat time" - Competency based training duration is here
I have penned down a few thoughts that occurred to me on the topic of how long an e-learning module should be.
We find ourselves asking this question quite often: Is seat time for an e-learning module still a necessary metric?As the training industry progresses and new advancements happen, the trend is to pass on more controls to the learner. After all, the learner is supposed to be in charge of his/her overall learning experience and it is the learner who should decide how long he/she needs to get trained on a particular topic!
A couple of weeks ago, I overheard two people talking about a training module that was mandatory in their unit and how to make sure it was "completed". I certainly was interested and kept my ear out for the details.
The discussion went something like this:
Mark: Hey... did you finish those mandatory e-learning modules that we have to do to improve the way we manage our time?
Bill: Yes I did, it was a walk in the park for me!
Mark: Really? How did you manage to go through the 120 pages and complete the quiz at the end - all in just an hour?
Bill: It's very simple, just click on the 'Next' button till you complete about 90 or 100 pages, it doesn't matter if you read anything on any of the screens. That will mark your course as attended in the system.
Mark: Oh yeah? What about the quiz? The results are automatically sent to my manager!
Bill: Relax, I have that covered too... I will give you a cheat sheet with all the answers, just spit them out in the quiz. And hey presto... you will have completed the course quickly and the quiz with above minimum passing score.
The conversation really hit me hard. I began thinking, what can be the motivator for Bill to take this training seriously? Not the subject surely, which was supposed to help him better manage time. Maybe it was the threat of a minimum passing score that 'inspired' him to find this so called wonder solution.
After pondering on this a bit more, I have come to an opinion that the seat time (XX hours) could be the key reason. In the above situation, if the course is offered in a tailored manner to each person, would the situation have been different?
The answer is probably not very cut and dry; it would involve having a detailed study of the learner's competency in the topic and then administering only those areas which the learner needs more help on. It is definitely not the immediate answer, but I feel it is surely the beginning of a different way of thinking how training should be offered in a corporate or educational environment.
As training developers, let us rely on the SMEs and training development experts to tell us what the seat time of a course or a module should be.
As learners, we should speed up the module in topics or areas which we already understand or have knowledge of and spend more time of new and complex topics in the module/course.
To conclude, ideally, the seat time can be used as a guideline and the learners should control the speed with which they go through the module depending on their knowledge and comfort in the particular topic being covered. However, since no two learners can learn at the same pace, collaboration and knowledge sharing is recommended but that's the topic of some other blog at some other time.