Are we REALLY in the “learning” business? Really? (my Inigo Montoya moment)

Many favorite lines from The Princess Bride movie – one of them is when Inigo Montoya says to Vizzini, “You keep saying that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”  And I had that line race through my mind in a series of conversations with some colleagues.

Some background … I’m working on a project seeking to deploy mobile learning in the organization – focusing on BlackBerry devices since these are the standard in the organization. I’ve got a pilot in the works – where one of the departments has content they want posted online for use by their field agents, who nearly exclusively use their Blackberries. There are many questions to be answered and problems to be solved in all of this for the organization at large; so, using this as our first test case seemed to make a lot of sense because it is simple … in fact, it looks like the content will be organized as a series of web pages where the field agents would use a well-designed table of contents to jump to the information they need in the moment. … … In other words, we’re creating a web site that will be used for performance support.

“But we don’t design web pages or web sites,” says a colleague.

Fair enough … and I would definitely agree when the intent is to sell a product to a client, or to act as a news portal and the like. But that’s not what these web pages are going to do (hopefully).

And that’s when the Inigo’s line from Princess Bride came into my mind …
We say we’re the learning design professionals … that we’re in the learning business …

So, if we truly think that a series of well-designed and purposeful web pages is the best way for these field agents to learn what they need when they need it, then I say – Go for it!

But in the push-back of, “We don’t design web pages …” I get the impression that although we claim to be in the learning business, what we really mean is that we’re in the training courseware business. And might this be one of the reasons (perhaps the main reason) that instructional designers are seen as more an impediment to innovation and the need (yes, need!) to adopt web 2.0 in our work?

Fortunately, I have some more meetings set up with colleagues to pitch my thoughts about this pilot. I think I can make a good case for us to move forward with the design of the web pages for these field agents.

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About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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