In another post some weeks ago I said I’d report on the survey I carried out for recipients of the email newsletter my colleague and I send out across the organisation to people with an interest in online learning in all its forms.
The feedback was sobering. The newsletter is a PDF attached to an email going to around 100 people who had voluntarily subscribed to it over the last couple of years. We hid the link to the survey in the PDF itself to see who actually opened it. After 7 days we’d had 9 replies. We then sent out an email to the same list with a link in it to the survey. After another week we had a total of 19 replies.
We’d asked about the newsletter, and the forum in the Learning Management System in which we tried to have followup discussions about some of the articles. Of the 19, all but 1 usually read the newsletter, but ‘how often do you visit the forum?’ brought back a mix of ‘once a month’ and ‘never’.
Although the small group of responders liked the newsletter and its contents, only a third had been able to implement any ideas from it. The others said it wasn’t relevant to their role, or they weren’t empowered to do anything new. They all said they wanted the newsletter to continue but were split between wanting to continue with ideas from ‘the outside’ and tips for authoring system use and using the LMS. All the responses came from ‘do-ers’, none from anyone in management.
It was a depressing picture, but not unexpected. The online learning community of practice was brought together in a bright and optimistic time when we had a director of learning who was enthusiastic about technology and we were able to launch the community in a face to face event with said director and Charles Jennings. Since then, we’ve had two more directors of learning, a restructure framed by outside consultants, a new production and maintenance model of tongue-biting complexity and a new LMS which has sucked every brain in the learning function into its hideous vortex. (Yes this is where the disclaimer about opinions comes in!)
So what did we do? We decided to ignore our customer research and continue offering the newsletter! Why? Because we believe that online learning in its widest sense is important to the company and that it’s our duty to present ideas that challenge the perception of our colleagues about what eLearning can be – so the ideas of Clive Shepherd, Tom Kuhlmann, Cathy Moore, Will Thalheimer and others aren’t bounced off the corporate firewall. We don’t know that we’re doing any good, but, well – call it faith.
Post script: Having made the decision and announced it in the latest newsletter we got a couple of emails of encouragement. And so we continue.