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What’s Your eLearning Class Size? October 13, 2010

Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning, Theory.
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4 comments

Can you make elearning that successfully serves 100 students?

When I think about my experience in college classrooms and, as a parent, about my children’s classrooms, ideal class size has never been 100.  My daughter’s elementary school averages 18 students per teacher according to Trulia. Although, that ratio, 18:1, might mean that a class with two teachers could have 36 students. With elearning–self-paced, web-based training–there is no teacher, so the ratio is imaginary and moot. But is class size insignificant?

Seth Godin Blog Getting Smart Dreyfus ModelThis week, Seth Godin’s blog referred to the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. The Dreyfus model shows how learners acquire skills from various training. It reminded me that the more students you aim at, the more vast their skill levels. And with elearning, the skill can be with three elements:

  1. the learner’s skill with the content of the training
  2. the learner’s skill with the computer on which they view the elearning
  3. the learner’s skill navigating the elearning itself

When elearning is developed for 100 or more, how can it serve all the different skill levels of the learners? Does such elearning even cover a significant percentage of learners? Can we call elearning a success if it serves only 70% of the learners? How about 60%, 50%, or 40%?

More and more, I think elearning must suit its audience. So, I get a little freaked out when I’m told that elearning is needed for a team of 200, or even just 100 people.

Perhaps no elearning should ever be made for as many as 100 people.

When elearning is developed for large audiences, it seems to end up as two things: generalized for most and annoying for most. When elearning is that generalized, washed out,  or otherwise watered down, it might be better just to send a long email. Perhaps with a couple of links or job aids.

What do you think?