Some days ago, talking with an instructional designer about learning, he showed me Glasser’s learning pyramid again and I couldn’t help but explain a couple of things.




The first one is that, if what Glasser states is true, the e-learning we develop in corporate environments is completely useless. E-learning and training, in general. If about a 95% of what we learn we do it by teaching others, if about an 80% we do it by making, if about a 70% we learn it by discussing with others… we have our work cut out with learning… because, nowadays, at the utmost we read, have a look, and in some fortunate cases we listen and if there’s budget at stake and we have a courageous client, maybe we would end up discussing something all together… In brief, either we change the teaching methodology and we all start designing content in a “social network+ case studies+ some well-produced video+ maybe a little of gamification format” or we’re losing our time.

To change seems easy, what seems more difficult is that  big organizations accept changes… And there are lots of reasons, from the “I don’t want my employees to lose time in a corporate facebook” until “that’s bullshit, I want them to carry out a course more or less interactive” or  “that new methodology would require a follow-up that we cannot assume”. And, perhaps, they’re good reasons.



My opinion? Glasser didn’t have into account technological progress and only considered in-class learning as a methodology, because otherwise, these last ten or fifteen years, those who we devote our lives to e-learning have made a fool of ourselves, and, what’s worse, the students that should have learnt something with us haven’t achieved so, or they’ve done it but very little, or they have deceived us so that we leave them alone.

It’s true that the e-learning system has a problem difficult to amend… we happen to learn in front of a machine… there’s no feelings or anything resembling, and no matter how much we try in instructional design to look for some kind of formula that can amend this aspect, nothing that can supply it has been invented yet.

While it’s true that the future of e-learning is necessarily in line with collaborative and networked learning, this future is going to demand us all, and when I say all I mean all, to understand that we’ll have to dedicate much more time to the tutoring, and personal interaction between experts, designers and students… and as things now stand, it seems difficult that organizations commit to the optimization of learning and leave productivity at work a little bit aside . It would be desirable, but maybe it’s not the best moment.

In the face of this, and other difficulties, it seems clear that we should commit to other methodologies that may be more intrusive towards our personal life, but maybe much more effective too. And these other methodologies involve thinking beyond Glasser’s pyramid. It involves thinking about what is usual in our everyday life and understanding how are we changing among all our habits.

Think about it for a moment and analyze: Do you know WhatsApp? How do you relate to your equals through it? Do you know Twitter? Are you able to learn something in 140 characters?

The e-learning, as we know it, will have some new guests. It’s clear that gamification will be one of them; it’s clear that the redesign of new materials with different and more genuine interactions; it’s clear that collaborative teaching must take its place… but what is even clearer is that mobile phones will be in a very short time, the quintessential guest… Well, I’d say that it will be its ideal partner, the fellow that will make e-learning fall in love and make a great couple.

And the mobile phone is going to demand a new learning paradigm that adapts to our professional and personal reality. It will require learning to be as we do in it: quick, interactive, simple, enjoyable and, especially, short and direct.

This new paradigm, of which a number of experts have been talking for a few years now, will be microlearning. A new learning model that does not undermine the rest of them, it simply complements and improves them.

Furthermore, if we talk about microlearning in Spain, we necessary talk about Snackson… and if we talk about Snackson, we’re talking about microlearning.


I’d take the liberty of showing you what’s this about microlearning: if you like Game of Thrones, you’ll know that one of the main characters’ name was Ned Stark. You’ll know that he lasted about as long as pizza in a fat farm… He had an ephemeral leading role, we saw him over 9 episodes in the first season… we’re on the fifth and there he is, not present at all, but we all remember him. That will be microlearning, a short appearance in time but so important that we’ll always remember it.

Between you and I, Game of Thrones would be the traditional e-learning and Ned Stark would be microlearning. As you see, one is indispensable but without the other, it would never be the same. It remains to be seen which one keeps the Iron Throne. 😀


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