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The Conversation of Ultimate Disambiguation

ImageAs an instructional designer, I’m having many conversations lately with people to explain why I’m not going to do what they want. These conversations are happening because we’re making a big leap in the quality of our elearning offerings. We’re making the transition from order-takers to designers, and my director has tasked me with leading that charge. What people often want me to do is to take the PowerPoint file that they have carefully prepared, add the multiple choice questions they have written, and upload it to our LMS.

Instead, I’m treating that PPT as a jumping-off point. I’m asking many questions – and sometimes suggesting other, non-elearning solutions. The most important question I’m asking is, “What problem are you trying to solve?” And often that answer indicates that elearning is not the best (or at least not on its own) way to solve that problem.

Elearning has a strange reputation in this organization. Everybody dreads “LMS modules” but committees and managers repeatedly identify them as a way to solve behavioral, cultural or procedural problems. It is as if people simultaneously believe that elearning can teach nothing and solve everything. So I have to begin with education about what elearning is and what is can (and cannot) do well. In an organization of over 8,000 people, that has to be done over and over, often group by group and even person by person.

And it involves saying “no” politely, diplomatically, constructively, and repeatedly.