Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why e-Learning is dying.... (Adrian Snook)

e-Learning now plays a significant part in the learning and development (L&D) strategies of most major organisations in the United Kingdom and this part is growing bigger every year. Learning technologies are certainly seem to be going mainstream.

But paradoxically, as we are approaching full maturity in the use of learning technologies more internal e-Learning Managers seem to lose their jobs every month. Internal e-Learning Development teams are almost literally melting away in front of my eyes, swept away by waves of restructuring.

- We used to have two major specialist e-Learning Conferences and Exhibitions every year in the UK, attended by many thousands of people. Now we have none.

- Even the small scale sector specific commercial conferences on the theme of Implementing e-Learning are almost extinct in the UK.

I hate to say it, but judging from these symptoms e-Learning seems to be dying...

There - I've said it now. And at a major European e-Learning convention as well. Sorry to spoil the party!

Why is this so?

- Because learning technologies are rapidly becoming integrated into the mainstream world of learning and development. Organisations now take it as read that e-Learning works and are not that worried or concerned about the technical nuts and bolts. They are certainly not that interested in obsessing about the technology for its own sake. They want to get on and use it to improve their business performance without fuss or fanfare. And exactly how they use it is no-one else's business!

And of course learning and development generalists are changing too. They are more IT-Literate, more self-confident and prepared to play with technology. They embrace the web and live by Google.

Since the year 2000 thousands of generalist Tutors and Trainers in the UK have have had access to courses that teach them the new skills they need to develop e-Learning content, support learners on-line and use virtual classroom technology effectively. These individuals have 'primed the pump' and showed their more conservative L&D colleagues the way ahead.

So many of the the things that once seemed so new, complex and so challenging are now commonplace, tried and tested, and increasingly user-friendly. Week by week what were once cutting edge learning technologies are quietly being adopted as mature tools and techniques by learning and development generalists.

As fears over technology recede, organisations are more concerned about getting down to the job of producing effective learning outcomes by blending the full range of learning techniques.

And these organisations are now realising that operating an internal e-Learning team and an entirely separate traditional face-to-face training team is not a good recipe for blending learning effectively. What gets taken to the e-Learning team as a challenge simply emerges as e-Learning and what gets taken to the face-to-face training team simply emerges as classroom sesssions! Structural separation between e-Learning specialists and L&D generalists is like plumbing your bathroom with two sinks with a hot and cold tap each when what you really need is a single sink with a thermostatic mixer tap...

So the e-Learning Managers are disappearing and what were formerly e-Learning Teams are either being displaced or falling under the management of L&D generalists, working hand-in-hand with the IT function and an increasing range of outsourced suppliers offering hosted solutions and rapid content development tools. And of course in a small industry, the former e-Learning Managers pop up with regularity working as freelance consultants to their former employers and others.

Today mainstream Learning & Development events in the UK have excellent stranded themes on the application of learning technology, given equal billing with other key L&D issues like coaching skills tips, sales training masterclasses, classroom delivery techniques and so on.

Which is, of course how it should be...

Soon e-Learning will be dead...

- But learning lives on...

Adrian Snook

The Training Foundation

The strategic importance of a Learning Organisation context (Arnaldo Santos)

We live in a different world, a globalised, competitive world, based on sustained business models in which ‘Intellectual Capital’ is recognised as being one of the main competitive advantages that an organisation can have. Driven by the ‘Knowledge Economy’, people are adapting to this new way of living, though mentalities still need to change to allow for full acceptance of the key roles played by the community-oriented processes of accessing and sharing know-how in the ‘Learning Organisation’ context.
People should be aware of this organisational context and, together, should try to discover and take on board concepts, information and knowledge that are based on solid cognitive and affective structures, supported by innovation.
Let me reiterate that we live in a time of changing mindsets with consequent changes in our learning processes. This means that we need new methodologies, more open minds, alternative learning and teaching practices and, even more importantly, we need to learn to live in a community.
This whole process must, obviously, go hand in hand with a significant evolution of current pedagogy, supported by communication technologies adapted to Education and Training.
Everything indicates that we really do have the methodological tools we need, and that these are capable of further development, particularly when applied to in-class, eLearning or bLearning training contexts.
However, and especially for those reluctant to change, we need to educate, experiment, evaluate and promote initiatives that demonstrate the true pedagogical potential of both eLearning and bLearning.
I hope that this Lisbon conference can show the strategic importance and relevance of our work, especially in the way it impacts on Social and Digital Cohesion, Retraining for the Knowledge Society and the Value of eLearning in organisations.

Arnaldo Santos

The Next Generation of Workers -- and Learners -- are Driving Major Changes in E-Learning (Marc Rosenberg)

When we look to the next generation of learners, indeed the next generation of e-learners, we cannot help but be impressed with the level of computer savvy that they will bring into the workforce. As we watch them multi-task online -- doing their schoolwork, downloading music, having multiple instant messenger conversations, playing highly sophisticated games, and searching the web -- we cannot help being impressed. We need to be ready to deliver learning that meets the way these new workers live and learn on the web. Although classroom training will continue to be important, these new learners will reject a single solution, especially one that does not play to these multi-tasking, highly interactive abilities. Even more traditional e-learning that is primarily focused on pushing formal instruction at them will need to be augmented by new approaches that play to the strengths of these new learners.

This is why we must pay close attention to totally involving learners in their own learning. Learners are demanding a higher level of interactivity than ever before. Immersive games and simulations, social networking (think of MySpace, Facebook and others), instant communications and easy access to vast repositories of knowledge must become integral parts of our future e-learning repertoire.

Thus, this e-learning conference, and especially its three important themes, is so appropriate for for considering the opportunities that the next generation of worker/learners present to us. For the first time, these new learners will enter the workforce with an understanding and acceptance of what it means to work and learn online, to be truly mobile, and what it means to collaborate, discover and communicate via the web. We will not have to convince them to take part; they are already there. The danger is that if we do not live up to their expectations, they could walk away. It is they who can show us a thing or two about digital and social cohesion, the knowledge society and e-learning value and quality. The challenge for us is to listen.

Marc Rosenberg

Live BroadCasts from the eLearning Conference in Lisboa (Ulf-Daniel Ehlers)

The eLearning Conference this year in Lisboa is taking shape as a Mega-Event of European eLearning. Over 1500 registered participants are expected to discuss, share and contribtue their expertise and their concerns about the future of eLearning in Europes' societies.
In order to give a possibility to participate in some key events for those who can not attend the event directly, the organisers have now decided to broadcast some key sessions from the main auditorium via the web. It is foreseen that the sessions which are taking place in the main auditorium, will be transmitted and can be received via internet on local Computer screens. Please check the regularly updates on the conference webSite for the exact schedule and technical details.

Additionally there will be two more sessions broadcasted: "Quality in e-learning" and "Motivating learning". For those of you who will tune into these live broadcasts, you are invited to use this Weblog to share comments and thoughts on what you hear and see.
(Ulf-Daniel Ehlers)