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Driving lessons

Getting the measure of learning

I have a confession: it took me three

tries to pass my driving test. I just found

it really hard, and in the months leading

up to my final test, if anything I was

getting worse at driving, and when I

passed I wasn't automatically, suddenly

a good driver. However, when I did pass

and was able to drive about on my own,

I came on leaps and bounds. All I

needed was more freedom to practice

on my own under less pressure. The

conclusion I draw from this anecdote is

that there's no exact way of saying

when someone has learned to drive.

When you pass your test you are

considered to have learned to drive, but

I carried on learning for a long time after

passing the test, and there's nothing

wrong with that.

What we currently do in e-learning is

almost a miniature of learning to drive.

People take the training and if they can

pass the end of course assessment, we

consider them trained - but of course

their training has probably only just

begun. And as learning designers we

spend sleepless nights wondering, 'Did

it work? Did I make a difference? How

can we measure whether people

learned from the experience?'

Can we measure learning? Why do we

even want to? As a learning designer, I

want to measure learning because I

want to know if it's working; I want to be

better at what I'm doing. But even

though we would all love to follow the

Kirkpatrick Model to the letter,

measuring improvement in our learners'

performance or change in their

behaviour may in many cases just be

too difficult. There may just be too many

variables, too many different kinds of

learners, and no way of measuring

when something has actually been

'learned'.

Rosie Scott

Senior Learning Designer

Learning Pool

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