Online Learning Warm-Up


Since I was here two years ago, Disney has converted more than half of its former front parking lot into yet another theme park, "California." The massive hotel that accompanies it mimics the grand old lodges of Yellowstone National Park and the Canadian Pacific's Chateaux. Shoehorned into another former parking lot is "Downtown Disney," a walking street cum shopping mall with many of the same tenants as its namesake in Orlando. I wandered into Island Charters, succombed to the lilting Hawaiian music, and bought a gaudy aloha shirt decorated with title screens from vintage Mickey and Donald cartoons. Thus equipped, I walked over to the opening session of the eLearning Supplier Summit.

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:

    10. The Guide to Training Managers Who Became CEO
    9. Proven Instructional Design for the Digital Age
    8. Directory of Profitable eLearning Companies
    7. The Compendium of Accurate Analyst Predictions, with a Special Section on Market Sizing
    6. Key Differences Between eLearning Courses and Web Pages
    5. Successful Enterprisewide Sidmulation Deployments
    1. The Pocket Book of Happy LMS Customers

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.

    Kevin pointed out that there were few enterprisewide plays. Enterprise software people and HR don't even know who each other are, exacerbating the situation.

    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.

Posted by Jay Cross at September 21, 2002 11:32 PM | TrackBack

> 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.

Are there statistics on the most widely used tools for moving content between
authoring/delivery systems?

Near the top must be the one that has two commands and hasn't changed much
since the invention of the GUI.

The clipboard has no documentation, no competition and has won 100% of the market
for content-migration-in-less-than-10-seconds.

The sleepy clipboard market got a boost of excitement when DARPA helped fund a
cross-platform, secure, P2P, open-source network clipboard from Carnegie Mellon.

Remote Clip can encrypt and publish content (e.g. text) or content files (e.g. documents)
to a group of only trusted peers. Over the Internet. Using those two familiar commands.
Between Windows, Linux, Solaris and FreeBSD. Ssh.


Posted by: bay area colo at September 25, 2002 04:42 PM

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