Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Does e-learning have a future?

Donald Taylor's opinion piece on trainingzone prompted me to reflect that we are really just at the end of the beginning for e-learning - in its broadest sense - to transform the way we educate and train in the future. Here is my comment in full:

E-learning is mission critical

It has always been the case that new technology goes through similar cycles of early low adoption before crossing a chasm to be used by the mainstream, often in different ways to those originally anticipated. It takes generations of innovators to drive these transitions. This goes way back - from photography to film, from radio to TV, from standalone interactivity to ubiquitous networks. We really are only at the end of the beginning for e-learning - and this is from someone who has designed interactive learning solutions since 1990.

Interestingly I've seen more interactivity and immersive design in some interactive video solutions developed back then using 1st generation PCs and optical video discs than much of what passes as e-learning in current times. So it's not technology that matters - it is how you harness it. That takes skill, creativity and tenacity to integrate a solution into an environment that is usually quite resistant to change.

However, we are clearly at a tipping point. The economic situation is driving it. The cheap availability of online access at the desktop and on our mobiles is too. These are just enablers for a much more fundamental change in the way we design learning experiences. This shakes the foundations of traditional models of education and training to the core. In a recent article on Mission Critical E-learning I talk about how transformational technology can be when put at the heart of a learning and development solution, rather than as a novelty on the periphery.

Either way you look at it, it is high time we reflected deeply on fundamental change rather than on doing the same thing faster and cheaper:

"When change is discontinuous, the success stories of yesterday have little relevance to the problems of tomorrow; they might even be damaging. The world at every level has to be reinvented to some extent" Charles Handy, Beyond Certainty, 1996


Georgiy Ratomskiy said...

Mr. Hyland thanks for the link on Donald Taylor's article. It’s quite interesting. But your comment is great. And I’m agree with you that’s nowadays we have the period of fundamental changing (not a end of the beginning and etc).

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Lars!

I'm with you on this. Elearning has many different facets to it, some of which is simple, straightforward, interactive video as you say.

I also agree with you that, though there's been a deal of research gone on in the past in various forms [ 1 ] [ 2 ], we are just at the beginning.

In particular, we are still at the stage where many elearning myths abound, clouding the vision of many would-be exponents of good elearning practice.

I got into elearning 10 years ago. I thought that we were at the 'tipping point' then. But we weren't even close to the verge. Now I believe the edge is here.

Catchya later
from Middle-earth

Lars Hyland said...

Thanks Georgiy/Ken for your supportive comments. Maybe we have finally reached the knee-bend in the technology adoption curve and we'll start to see real acceleration in the widespread use of e-learning and innovation in design practice. Here's hoping.