Sharpening Your Axe
There was a woodcutter. He used to work incredibly hard to ensure a good livelihood, but he always felt that his work was not giving him enough output. Every day he would decide to work harder and longer, but at the end of the day he would find his pile of wood smaller than the previous day.
One day, when he was busy as usual, he noticed a bigger pile of logs with a woodcutter sitting next to it. He asked, “How can you have a bigger pile than me in less time, and how can you relax so early in the day?”
The other woodcutter replied, “I take time off to sharpen my axe.
I first read this story in a blog post by Ryan Tracey and it’s stuck with me ever since. In Ryan’s post, he talks of manager’s not giving their teams time to ‘sharpen their axes’ and how this is a short-sighted approach. However, whilst I agree with his view, I also believe that all eLearning ‘woodcutters’ should find the time for sharpening rather than waiting for our workplaces to give us the time. In our field, it’s important for us to sharpen our axes to not only be more productive but to be better practitioners.
Most people – if not all – transition into the (e)Learning field and while there are many creating eLearning, only a small few actually do it well. If you pick up a guitar and strum the strings you’ll hear sound. But there’s a big difference between producing sound from an instrument and producing music. Creating eLearning is no different in that there’s a big difference between creating an interactive content dump and something that has impact and helps people to perform better.
Generally speaking, eLearning has a poor reputation for being an effective solution for workplace learning. One of the reasons for this is that anyone can buy an authoring tool, maybe complete a course in how to use it, watch some tutorials and then call themselves a developer. However, the tools in trying to make eLearning creation easier, have unintentionally created a false sense of competence in many users. By this I mean that just because someone can easily insert some text and pictures and interactive objects into a tool and then click a few buttons to convert it into a SCORM file for uploading to an LMS doesn’t mean that they can really create useful, meaningful eLearning. Using an authoring tool and an LMS is a start but there’s many more skills required.
Everyone is busy and many people believe they don’t need to improve (or don’t realise they need to) because they can already do it but it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s up to all of us to DO something regularly to hone our skills. The only people who can improve our industry are those working in it – you and me. So, what can you do to sharpen your eLearning axe?
Here’s some ideas:
Firstly, spend some time reflecting and note the areas that you’d like to improve. If you don’t have any areas for improvement, look for ways to share your expertise with others.
Read some blogs, here’s some suggestions.
Listen to podcasts, check these ones out.
Read some books, here’s some of my favourites.
Join a community such as E-Learning Heroes.
Connect with other practitioners on social media – LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Facebook.
Attend a conference.
The important thing is to do something regularly, actively and make it a habit. If you look at anyone who is good at what they do regardless of their field, they continually develop themselves. We should be no different.
What do you do to sharpen your axe?
Image source: Morguefile