Wednesday, August 08, 2007

eLearning: More Than Just Page Turners

Curse you Stephen Downes! (he says tongue-in-cheek.) Every day I plan to start my day by browsing my learning blogs in Google Reader and I never seem to be able to get past Stephen's posts. Today he pointed me to Mark Bethelemy's post: The King is Dead – Long Live the King
For most (corporate) consumers of elearning, content means self-study modules, that sit in some sort of delivery system. In academic and formal education settings e-learning has a completely different connotation – involving collaboration, assessment, eportfolios etc – which is beginning to filter into the corporate space, but very slowly.
I've often thought about this and how page-turning elearning that resides inside the LMS firewall may not be conducive to facilitating lasting change. (I hate the term "change," but I use it for lack of a better word at this time.) As Mark points out, there is not freedom to branch, no ability to search, and unless specifically requested (and paid for) no ability to output the learning materials for later learning.

In an earlier post in May I had opined that
The LMS will function only as a registrant and as an assesor; all learning content will be housed on a separate server that can be accessed at any time without prior registration. The employee will be able to customize his or her PLE anyway they wish by dragging and dropping video, audio, whatever on to their page. Like Netvibes or Google, they can have multiple tabs on their PLE to divy up content.
This is very similar, but more limited then, Mark's comments:
  1. Allowing users to connect with other people who are using the materials – perhaps creating reviews, adding ratings or making recommendations – is more a function of the delivery system rather than the content (unless the content is totally embedded into the delivery system pages). We do need an alternative model for learning management systems (as proposed by Tony Karrer a while back) I've long argued for a model based on that of the successful ecommerce providers such as Amazon, where the learning content is the product. The reviews and ratings would provide critical metadata for the learners.

  2. Allowing materials to be targeted to particular users based on prior history, on stated preferences or on management requirements is exactly the Amazon model. It would provide a combined performance support and knowledge provision system. If combined with user generated content and a means of finding other people in the organisation with similar interests you then have an extremely powerful and effective learning marketing system – where learning can become an integral part of the organisational culture, rather than just an add-on.
In hind sight I might have read Tony's post on the future of LMS back in January and it subconsciously influenced my May post (belated hat tip to Tony!).

I could go on and on, but I have already budgeted 45 minutes to reading Mark's post, posting a replay at his site, and then drafting this post. Which means I will have to delay any further blog reading until this evening. But it was well worth it.

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