Johnny Appleseed

I believe that we are in the midst of a second renaissance. Learning, culture, progress, and all of humanity will prosper (so long as we don't destroy ourselves in the process.) So when I have an opportunity to pound the drum in support of this vision of the future, I take it. That's why the mission statement of eLearning Forum begins with
  • Promote understanding and use of eLearning in industry and government worldwide
  • Provide a forum for resolving issues impeding the progress of eLearning
That's also why I respond to requests for interviews, often to audiences who will never hire me to advise them on improving their organizations' performance, write their white papers, or develop their marketing campaigns. This morning I answered questions from a report at a Greek new-economy magazine. I'll recycle them below. >font color="red">Q&A with Greek magazine reporter:

1. What is your own view (based on your experience) of e-learning?

"eLearning" is a marketing term. It's confusing because everyone has their own definition. In the broadest sense of learning + technology = eLearning, it is a powerful force, in the process of reshaping our world. Technology improves humanity's ability to learn. We've only just begun.

2. Why do organizations tend to ignore or trivialize learning as an essential element of competitive strategy? What is needed for that to change?

Learning is trivializedwhenexecutive management fails to see thedirect link between learning and business performance.Examples of companies using eLearning to increase sales, improve service, and cut costs are turning this around.

3. What about the balance between learning and technology? Currently it seems to be heavily technology focused. What is needed to achieve the proper balance.

Our attitudes about learningeither slant too far toward technology or too much toward people & relationships; a good balance is rare. In late 1998 we were headed to the numbers extreme. Web-based learning was going to cut costs, eliminate jobs, reduce face-to-face meetings, automate training, and boost ROI. Having found that you can only take that so far until it bites back, in 2003 the pendulum is swinging back into the extreme people-side. The focus is shifting from mechanics to community, connections, collaboration, social software, faith in worker self-determination, mentors, and coaches. In sum, the pendulum is still swinging to extremes and overcorrecting on its return.

4. What is the next great training movements? What top training trends will have staying power?

1. Training is becoming a core business process.

2. Training will be integrated intoenterprise application suites.

3. Informal learning will gain stature alongside formal learning.

5. What trends in the e-learning industry, are you expect to develop in the future?

eLearning started as "push," e.g. the organization tells the learner to come. It must become"pull," e.g. the learning comes to eLearning because it's relevant and useful.

6. What about the concept of _ blurring learning _ ?

By "blurring," I presume you mean "blended."

To me, the blended buzzword is overused, for all it means is 'apply common sense,' use the appropriate tool for the job.To help people learn, you use the best means for that particular subject. You don't learn to drive from a book; you don't learn to deactivate landmines by trial-and-error. A multiplicity of means always works better than just one. The only folks I know who are really going "Ah ha! Blended!" are people who duped themselves into thinking they could do everything with a computer (unblended) in the first place. I've never been party to that line of thinking.

7. What about the concept of "embedded learning"?

Embedded learning is a very important concept. Integrating learning intowork will accelerate its development. See http://meta-time.com/lcmt/archives/000514.htmlfor more.

8. There seems to be a lack of a defining e-learning industry community. Pockets of interest seem to bump into each other occasionally, but never seem to gel to create a vibrant community. Is this a symptom of e-learning as a young industry? What is needed to enhance the community focus for e-learning?

This is because eLearning is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The last thing we need is an inward-focused eLearning cabal that talks among itself. This is why knowledge management and learning, which are obviously two sides of the same coin, have remained separate for all these years. I'd prefer to see more multidisciplinary approaches, more looking outward and linking with other disciplines. This is one of the goals of eLearning Forum, which, by the way, your readers are invited to join for free. www.elearningforum.com

Posted by Jay Cross at June 5, 2003 11:24 AM | TrackBack
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