In probably every field, experts like to distinguish principles versus tactics.
Tactics are tips, tricks, and techniques that get results.
When they work, great, you don’t need to know anything beyond how to use them.
But when they don’t work?
Sometimes a slight change in context, wording, or circumstances can kill a tactic. They tend to be short-lived: they work only in certain situations and at certain times.
If all you know are tactics, you’re in trouble.
The principles are different.
They explain how the tactics work and allow you to modify them, or even create new ones.
They tend to rarely change, even as the culture and technology change around them.
Hobbyists like tactics because they are easier to learn. And the really naive think that’s all they need. You can find them at forums and conferences, asking questions like “how do I write a best-selling novel” or “what is the formula for writing sales letters?”
Both questions have answers. “Write a chapter a day, at least” and “AIDA” respectively.
But those alone don’t tell you how to write a book or a sales letter. They help, of course, but they are insufficient.
The only real answer is to learn the principles of your trade.
Sure, it will take longer, it will be more difficult, and you won’t be able to apply what you learn immediately.
Plus, you’ll have to *gasp* think for yourself – figuring out how to apply the principles is half the job.
Why am I talking about this in an article about low-tech learning anyway?
Because if you are an eLearning developer, there are many high-tech platforms out there. Community video sharing, AI-powered curation, multimedia feasts for the senses…
They all add new tools to their directory.
However, if you don’t understand the principles behind eLearning, they won’t help you. Not even the most luxurious car can help the worst driver.
When you understand the principles, you’ll be able to see how to use these new high-tech tactics.
You can also work around them.
I have created fun, engaging and effective courses using only text forums. These looked like stuff from the early web: hideous, not user friendly, and definitely low-tech.
And I’ve created them using nothing but PowerPoint. When I say ‘nothing’, I mean not even including an instructor. He went at his own pace, with nothing more than text and images.
It was ok. In fact, it was easy.
When you understand how adults learn, what motivates them, what’s fun and engaging, what would surprise them, then technology becomes a nice thing to have.
The only thing that is essential is that you know what you are doing.