Poor content

Hi There, I would like to hear your views on the following. I have been asked to design business writing skills courses for my organisation. The SME has provided me with poor content. I am not happy having to create content that goes against my grain of not applying best learning practices in order to design cheap content. Have any of you been in this situation and how have you dealt with it.

8 Replies
Belen Casado

Hi Lindsay,

I think I have had this all the time and it's a difficult thing to deal with.

What I usually do is:

  1. To ask for further information, references such as books, websites, in order to enrich the content by myself. Then, ask again, and again. SMEs usually don't get at first what is what you don't get, it's all so clear in their 30 slides deck... but where it's clear is in the information they have in their brains when they read the deck.
  2. If the subject matter is tough, I try to involve the SME asking concrete questions about the content, so they have to ellaborate on different parts of it. It's useful to approach the content as if you were the student: then you realize where the flaws are and you ask better questions.
  3. Bad content, good design. I try to make it as visually engaging as possible when the client insists on not changing even a comma of a poor content.

Hope this is helpful. Sometimes we just have to go on. Clients are always right, you know.

Belen

Lindsay Wedel

Hi Belen

I am in a situation where we provide our clients with a quotation. My boss quoted on the content. Here quote was underquoted by about 70%. I am being wrapped on the knuckles for not adhering to the quotation (due to the fact that I don't feel its right to provide a client with a glorified PPT) - If the learner is not engaging and learning from the experience as they should in an online course - then I might as well provide them with a PDF. (The impact will be the same). It's difficult because I am spending more hours than I should (I want the learner to learn from the course material, but my boss keeps telling me, give them what they paid for) It's really difficult - Do I go against my own integrity just to please the budget of the client?

Thanks for your response.

Regards
Lindsay

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Belen Casado

I really understand you, Lindsay, you can't imagine how much, as this kind of situation could lead to demotivation and disbelief in the benefits of e-learning. But after working for years in this industry, I can see that this saying applies: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."

It seems that Voltaire said it first, meaning that is better to get the 80% with the 20% of effort than doing the extra 80% of effort to reach excellence -and then run out of budget. ;)

What do you think?

Anyway, you can always work with whatever you receive and do the best you can with it. This is what you can control, your responsibility. You can't control others or outcomes (especially the client). Maybe they only asked for a glorified ppt...

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Christian deTorres

I've been in this situation, and in your seat. Having the benefit of hindsight, I believe the best thing is to give the client what they asked for, as quickly as possible (ideally without your name on it), and move on to the next project.

It is certainly demotivating and depressing, and there's no way around that. But, it's even worse when the final outcome is still mediocre, and you've spent way too much time on it. It's just not worth the amount of effort required to create quality output with poor resources and a lack of interest or appreciation by the stakeholders. Also, it's mind-boggling, but many people actually want and expect what you and I would consider a glorified PowerPoint--they want the elearning to which they're accustomed.

Be aggressive about planning upcoming projects, since the earlier you get in, the more likely it is that you can influence the expectations and goals, especially if your boss and clients don't quite understand the idea and importance of learning outcomes and performance goals.

Take some comfort in knowing it's not just you and I, and this issue affects many e-learning professionals. Good luck!

Bob S

Lindsay,

Take heart, you are not alone.  This is indeed a common challenge in our world. My advice mirrors some of the above but with a caveat...

Stakeholders/clients love options. Concrete, vivid options they can grasp as clear choices; not a laundry list of twenty things that might be possible.  So knowing this, you might try the following approach...

Given the needs you've expressed there are two choices I would like to present. We can use the currently available content and approach, package that accordingly and the end result will be A,B&C....   Or we can augment the current content, create more interactivity to cement the learning, and improve the sequencing and layout. The result will be X, Y and Z.   Which of those is more in line with your objectives for this project?

Present both as positive options, If appropriate, you can even present your recommendation. But in the end, if the stakeholder/client opts for option #1 then provide them exactly that.... in the most timely manner and with as little fuss as possible then move on.

Remember as much as we want to save the learner/world from bad e-learning, at the heart of it we are a means to a business end.  Put on your business pragmatist hat and understand that we exist to serve business needs...... or we don't exist at all.

Good luck!

Tristan Hunt

I had a similar experience last week. Health, Safety and Wellbeing want a policy putting on the LMS with a huge very hard to navigate excel spread sheet with multiple pages sheets etc  

So of course I am "this is terrible for the learners" and "lets look at how we can make this easier for them to consume" ... but after meeting with the HSW guys and breaking it down to learning outcomes they don't actually care they just need to tick the box for compliance.

So at the end of the day a terrible "course" is now compulsory for all learners on the LMS... a very backwards step from all the work we are doing to revamp the old courses to make them much more engaging.

Going forward I am building a course that will really show case what can be done with e-learning and just hope that once people start to see it they will see how bad theirs are in comparison and want theirs brought up to the same standard... We shall see what happens lol

 

Lindsay Wedel

Thanks for the response, it is exactly what happened.....the client just wanted to get content online.... We go through years of training and develop our skills to make the experience for the users better, but the client at the end of the day isn't interested in our expertise....

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