Hackable training content

Nearly 10 years ago now, I was responsible for customer training for a new piece of equipment we had produced. (Actually, I assumed responsibility about 1/2 way through the project.) After training our first customer, I sat down with the training crew to see how we could make the next session better, as I had seen and heard some things that weren’t correct, or could be better.

Silly me.

Our training vendor politely informed me that the training material was what it was, and it couldn’t be changed after it had been approved. In fact, they seemed shocked that I even brought the idea up, as if it were some sort of training community heresy. I was not, and am not, a “training person” so the attitude was a bit surprising to me.

“What do you mean, you don’t want to make your training product progressively better as you learn more about it” was what was going through my mind. (In fact, I went to my project manager and told him he needed to fire the training vendor we had and get someone who “knew what they were doing.”) I’ve since learned that this was not an isolated incident; on the contrary it seemed to be the standard.

In a post today titled Learning content should be hackable, Harold Jarche makes the case for content developers to take a lesson from what’s going on in the rest of the digital world.

However, there is one principle that is not taught or followed in instructional design that would really reflect the nature of the Web. There should be a principle of making learning content hackable, so that it can change with the times, the needs of instructors or learners. Licenses such as CC-By-NC would allow remixing. Perhaps we need a special “CC-Education Remix” license.

Anyway, if you want your content to live a long, healthy and even diverse life; make it easier to hack.

Good advice for any content developer, but especially for learning content developers.