Friday, July 31, 2009

Will the Real eLearning Industry Please Stand Up?

When we talk about the “industry”, we (and by “we”,  I of course mean those of us in the industry) often refer to it as if it’s this monolithic thing that you can touch. 

The Industry.

Ummm.  Yeah.

So.  What is the eLearning Industry?

liverpool street station

Is it the vendors? --  The LMS companies, the custom content developers, the off-the-shelf content creators.

Is it the tools we use to create eLearning?

Is it the companies and people who create those tools? – Adobe, Articulate, Microsoft, etc.

Is it the pundits and bloggers? – the names we know and associate with eLearning – Jay Cross, Ellen Wagner, Tony Karrer, Brent Schlenker, [insert your  name here].

Is it the associations?  -- the eLearning Guild and ASTD.

Is it the research organizations that produce the industry reports?

Is it the companies that give out the awards?

Is it the companies who use eLearning to train their employees?

Is it the Learning & Development/Training departments within all of those companies?

Is it the little companies who don’t even have training departments but still have a lot of training needs?

Is it the schools who use eLearning to teach their students?

Is it the teachers at those schools?

Is it the non-profits who create eLearning for their members?

Is it the institutions that issue the certificates and degrees in ID and whatnot?

Is it the professors who teach at those institutions?  The students who come out of them?

[What did I miss?] 

The point is – and I don’t really know what the point is – the point is, that’s a whole heck of a lot of perspectives. 

The eLearning Industry.


This post  and a few others have been itching to be written for a couple of weeks now.  Since I had the opportunity for a nice schmooze fest after the eLearning Guild ID Symposium in Boston. 

I didn’t attend the sessions, but I DID get to eat a nice Arctic Char at Jasper White’s Summer Shack with the likes of Ellen Wagner, Brent Schlenker, Steve Martin and Kay Wood

And then Dave Ferguson incited me further.  He was going to talk about Canada in reference to this rant.  C’mon, Dave.  I dare you.

Photo credit:  Liverpool Street station crowd blur by victoriapeckham


colleen said...

Yes, Cammy (Virginia), yes it is.
It is them and us and all the rest.
It is and then more, for it is changing so fast that it is this/not that even in the time it took to type this note.
And there's the wonder and the terror and the reason we want to be a part of it. That big, spongy, hard to define 'industry' that it is.

Michael Hanley said...

How about this to melt your head - what is "e-learning?" (never mind the "industry" part for a minute).

Is it the dictionary definitions of the term?

Is it the way it's implemented in organizations and institutions?

Is it purely the was ICT and media technologies are channeled for training and learning?

Is it the "blended" part of blended learning

Is it PowerPoints used in a classroom context?

Is it talent management?

Is it performance development?

Is it the theoretical educational models we use to structure our content?

Is it a methodology?

Is it part neurology, part psychology?

Is it a logical extension of the internet?

Is it an evolution in the human ability to use available tools to interact with their environment, much as libraries and printed books have been in the past?

Is it a story that's still being written?

Great post Cammy; sometimes those of us involved are so close to what we do that we can't see the forest for trees.

I would assert that sometimes it's useful to take a step back, see the bigger picture, and map the conceptual terrain.


Cammy Bean said...

Oh, Carmean. How wonderfully dramatic! "The terror"? Oh my!

Michael, great stuff. It's very useful to step back and map the terrain. And then determine where on the map you actually are. That may be the hardest part!

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e Cammy!

Em . . . would it be appropriate, I mean, is it really relevant to . . . em . . . could we mention . . um . . . something about the elearner?

Catchya later

dhruv said... last i meet some people who are as confused, irritated and lost in the e learning world....really there are so many perspectives and it will take time before the industry actually shapes is to stick to a perspective and work on it...

Michael Hanley said...

Touché Ken!

Cammy Bean said...

We always just assume the end-user is included, don't we.

The term 'industry' is quite problematic, really.

To me, "industry" evokes the big business machine and not the customer. What I think "Auto Industry", I conjure up images of the CEOs of GM and Toyota, but not the drivers.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e Cammy.

I understand what you are saying - but if you give it some thought, the learning resource is not 'consumed' in the same way as most commercial commodities. For it to be successful, it has to satisfy the criterion of 'learning' as well as all the other niceties of commercial goods: functionality, cost effectiveness, design etc.

My experience is that if the learner is not held high in the mind of the resource creator, what results is something that satisfies the industrial criteria but not necessarily the learning.

Catchya later

Cammy Bean said...

Of course it's not the perfect analogy. Which is perhaps why we should refrain from referring to the "industry" in the first place! Too industrial and machine-like a term, really.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e Cammy

I think you are on to it with the idea of it being too machine-like. Learning is a complex thing. It's not complicated. Machines can be complicated. Complexity is different. It is unpredictable to some extent, whereas complicated parameters tend not to be. It is illusive, whereas complicated things tend to be implicit. Believe me, I share (any) frustrations that the ID might have about this aspect for there is a challenging condition that has to be met in learning that is different from other implicit requirements that have scalar qualities rather than multidimensional ones.