Monday, July 16, 2007

July's big question: selecting tools

I've been away from work for a week at a conference, so I'm coming a little late to the party for the big question for July, which focuses on the selection of tools.

I guess the way you tackle this one depends on your situation. If you are the in-house provider, you are less likely to rise up the popularity stakes if you keep changing tools. However, I work for an organisation which scopes, designs, develops and implements learning solutions for client organisations. In our situation, I would consider it unwise to go into a project with a pre-conceived idea of what tools you're going to use.

The selection of tools must be dependent upon the learning requirements of the client, the characteristics of the audience, the system constraints. Once we have a picture of what needs to be known and the people who need to know it, we can turn our attention to how they are going to come by that information.

We are privileged to have on our team, one person who dedicates his time to investigating new tools, as well as at least one person whose radar is permanently on full alert. So, when it comes to the discussion about the means by which to deliver the online components, they usually have a few good suggestions.

But (for me, at any rate) the decision is always most heavily influenced by the profiles of the sort of people who are going to make use of a resource. If it doesn't work for them, they won't use it. And if they don't use it, no amount of argument about the sophistication/whizziness/flexibility of the solution is going to change the fact that it has been a (sometimes monumental) waste of money.

In other words (with apologies to the makers of Field of Dreams), if you build it, and they don't come, you could lose the farm...

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