The Summit is a day and a half of sessions for eLearning vendors that's taking place before Online Learning 2002 opens its doors. Frankly, my expectations were low going in but I found the evening a pleasant surprise. Many of the sixty in the room were friends and acquaintances.
Clark Aldrich opened with a hilarious "Top Ten List" of very short eLearning books. I'll share a few:
Daryl Conner took the high road with a keynote challenging vendors to gain competitive advantage by telling the truth. Not that vendors are the only ones who push "comfortable falsehoods" over "troublesome truths." Vendors and their customers engage in a folie a deux, colluding with one another in the illusions that everything's going to turn out just fine, longterm problems will sort themselves out, people will be supportive, and costs will be under budget.
The problem is that clients want change without risk. Vendors don't often realize it, but they are merchants of risk. The way that eLearning vendors can deliver on their promises is by taking the long-term view, not accepting business they can't deliver on, compensating sales-staff on value to the client as well as revenue, and refusing to go along with pie-in-the-sky optimism.
Next up, Clark questioned a panel -- IBM's Margaret Driscoll, Sun's Terry Erdle, Click2Learn's Kevin Oakes, and
SmartForce's Skillsoft's Paul Henry.
Paul Henry noted that eLearning is not on the executive agenda, and "As long as we're mudwrestling in the training/HR arena, we're not going to get very far."
Where should standards bodies focus? The interoperability focus (e.g. SCORM) and the Plug Fests to see how things really work are excellent. Things get contentious when we get to Learning Objects. Margaret noted the need for support of converting legacy material.
Kevin mentioned an article he wrote for the back page of the current issue of Training which asks "Is eLearning a real business yet?" I happened to read that very article this afternoon. He recalled fighting for new technology in a glum economic times decades ago -- and finally convincing headquarters to let his office have a fax machine. In the future we'll look back with a wry smile at the days when we questioned the merit of cataloging legacy knowledge and avoiding the perpetual reinvention of the wheels of intellecutal capital.
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