Trade-off and no trade-off

Patrick responded to the January LCB question with The Big Question is how dumb the Big Question is. Tony is getting invalidated by Patrick's ingenious rant. Tony responded superbly with: Big Question Follow-up- Are there Trade-Offs? I agree with Patrick's AND Tony's responses in spite of the irreconcilable differences in their approaches. How can that be?

There is a world where speed and cost rule. Quality of learning outcomes and educational experiences is disregarded. Instructional designers are compromised and pressured to "tow the line" imposed by management or the client. In this world its a copout to say speed = quality or cheap = quality, even though that's the position of the customer and stakeholders in control.

The value of eLearning and ID has not been sold in this world. Training is being kept to a minimum because it's perceived as almost useless. It's a world where it's perceived that you don't get what you pay for. Managers and clients think: "Pay more and you get ripped off". The migration of spending on training from content developers to "rapid" software and "SME's with slides" suggests this dark world is growing. This world raises the question of the tradeoff between speed and quality.

There is another world where design rules. The quality of learning outcomes and educational experiences is the whole point. Instructional designers are trusted and empowered to consider all the options, respond to all the stakeholders, and develop creative solutions. The value of training is sold. The managers or clients think: "You get what you pay for and it pays to pay more". Spending on high dollar multi-media designs is one questionable option. Spending on informal collaborations, reusable templates and low tech solutions are likely to get "more bang for the buck".

In this world it is a copout to make a tradeoff between speed and quality. It makes sense to do both and add cost effectiveness into the mix. Reducing the complex design problem to tradeoffs between "fast, cheap and good" drops out issues of spontaneous, situated, social and emergent learning. The speed vs quality tradeoff or promoting better quality (like Patrick did before "the penny dropped") -- appear to over-simplify the issues, commit errors of omission and perpetuate the industrial, techno-fix paradigm. It commits the same "reductionistic fallacy" that destroys ecosystems, climatic balance and cultural diversity. This lighter world raises the question of how dumb the tradeoff question is.

Both worlds exist. Both sets of perceptions and priorities are valid. Both guys are right on.

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