Wednesday, April 18, 2007

eLearning Guild Event Take Home Point #1

Last Thursday night after the eLearning Guild event, I was fortunate to have dinner with a small group of eLearning professionals -- a diverse group coming at the industry from lots of different angles. The group included Andy Snider (Snider Associates), Bjorn Billhardt (Enspire Learning), Pete LeDoux (GeoLearning), Doug Foster (D Foster Associates), Adam Girard (Bank of America) and myself.

Andy asked, "So, what's the next big thing in e-Learning?" Some ideas were tossed about: integration, personal learning, 3D, web 2.0, social networks. But the fact is, there wasn't One Big Thing that stood out to all of us. I guess, because there just isn't One Big Thing.

As I wandered around the conference, this is what stood out to me: there is room for everything in this big e-Learning world in which we live.
  • I had lunch one day next to a director of training at a big oil refining company. I asked him if he was making use of web 2.0 tools. "My guys just want the information. They want to take the course and that's it." This is his bottom up.
  • In the "Appropriate Use of New Technologies" session with Keith Resseau, a large percentage of the audience had never used blogs or wikis. I sat next to a training director for a regional drugstore chain. As the session ended she said, "Wow -- this could really work for some of my folks." Lightbulb.
  • Ray Simms and I had a conversation about sales training. A current sales person just asks the tech guy when she needs to gear up for a new product offering. Did she see a problem with that? No. That's what works for her. She doesn't have a training problem. So is e-Learning the solution?
  • I spoke with trainers at a large discount retail store. They struggle with huge turnover and one lousy computer in the back office. Top down dictates they move to e-Learning. How does that work? And certainly blogs and wikis and PLEs are not the tools for this sector of the audience. Please.
  • Rapid e-Learning tools are being adopted by companies, but they still want someone else to produce content for them. Even when you make these time-saving tools, people still want custom content; they still don't want to bother.

Tools. Custom Courses. Templates. Wikis, Blogs and all things Web 2.0. PLEs. Comics. Slick graphics. Video. Branching Scenarios. 3D. Games/Immersive Learning Simulations. Rapid e-Learning. Slow cooked e-Learning. Instructor-led. Informal. Formal. Bottom up. Top down.

It's all converging. There are still silos.

There is room for all of us.

Clive Shepherd said this all much more eloquently and intelligently than I have in his post And End to Polarised Argument.

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