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Technology Training, E-Learning and Documentation for New York Law Firms


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Productive e-learning

There are lots of books and resources about e-learning.  The problem is, most of them are too generic for law firm use. 

A couple of chapters on effective simulations of safety training means very little if your need is to give lawyers a fast way to learn the ins and outs of the new document management system.   The same goes for the online learning available from online universities Ė the techniques that go into developing those materials really donít apply to us.

I'm told an exception is E-Learning for Law Firms, by Steven H. Gluckman and Peter A. Glowacki, which focuses primarily on CLE (Continuing Legal Education).

So what goes into productive e-learning?

For the user

The e-learning must be easy to use.  Lawyers, especially, don't want to spend time figuring out how to use the application.

It needs to be interactive.  E-learning that amounts to a lecture can work in a private environment with lots of time, but not when you have only a few minutes to spare.  The general rule is that every 3-4 "frames", the user should have to do something.  E-learning simulations make that easy.

It needs to be short.  30-40 frames max, and no more than 7 minutes to do.

The e-learning should provide feedback.  If users respond to a question, they should be told if they got it right.

For the administrator

If you're going to create your own courseware, an easy-to-use authoring program helps a lot. You need one that records mouse clicks, etc., and creates instructions automatically.  That said, don't expect it to be that easy.  (See Comparing TutorAuthor and Captivate for more on this topic!)

You need to be able to monitor students' progress, and you need an easy way to report on it. Especially if you're just starting e-learning at your firm - you'll get a lot more acceptance if the powers that be can see results.   Even if you don't survey students in classroom training, you may find it useful to send out surveys following a rollout, for example.  If the survey is well designed, you'll get useful information, and have something solid to report to your management.

You need the supporting technology - server space, bandwidth, and the commitment of your I.T. department to support it.  We all know that training can go to the bottom of the priority list - not only in an emergency, but as a general pattern.  Make sure before you start that you have that commitment.

You need a plan for upgrades.  When you upgrade, for example, Microsoft Office, you need a way to upgrade your e-learning.  If you buy courseware from an outside vendor, you need a service contract  that will allow you to upgrade it when necessary.  If you create your own courseware, consider whether the authoring program allows you to replace screenshots or import the work you have already done.

 

 


Last modified: 04/28/08