If you’ve ever had to put content into a VLE orLMS, you’ve probably faced the ‘filing cabinet’ problem. This problem can be explained as confusing content for learning.

All too often, educational providers fall into the trap of thinking that online learning = online content. While great content certainly plays a useful role in awesome online learning, putting content online isn’t enough.

Think about a filing cabinet. It may well have all the information you need, but it’s unlikely you’re going to sit there and look through every single document. Even if you did, there’s no guarantee these documents would appear in such a way as to create a meaningful learning experience. (You’d probably get bored before you found the good stuff anyway).

The danger of relying too heavily on content is learners remain passive consumers, rather than active participants in learning. For online learning to be effective, the learner needs to be actively engaged through a series of activities and interactions that produce some form of transformation. For adult learners in particular this requires the use of higher level cognitive functions, and this is difficult to achieve through passive consumption of content.

When your line manager tells you to just ‘put all your stuff online and that’ll do’, think about the filing cabinet problem. Simply putting content online in no way guarantees your learners will find it or use it. 

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