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Marc My Words: E-Dreaming

by Marc Rosenberg

December 14, 2010

Column

by Marc Rosenberg

December 14, 2010

“Some of these New Year wishes are just fun to consider, but others can have profound impact. For most of them, I know what you’re thinking – “Yeah, like that’ll happen!” … But we can ‘e-dream,’ can’t we?”

The Tea Party, recession, the BP oil spill, Afghanistan, global warming. Hard to believe that there were more important events this past year than what happened with e-Learning. Nevertheless, based on intensive data collection and exhaustive contemplation, here are my ten wishes for our field in the New Year:

  1. LMS’s that you don’t have to replace every few years. When I speak to groups these days, I ask who has a LMS. Almost everyone does. Surprisingly, a lot of organizations on are their second LMS and far too many have seen three or more LMS’s come and go in their company. There are reasons why a LMS needs to be replaced, but three or more? Here’s hoping that we can settle down with what we have and move forward with making it valuable.

  2. Microsoft Office apps on the iPad. Okay, I admit it, the iPad is revolutionary, but it would really be uber-revolutionary if we could seamlessly work with Word and PowerPoint without the hassle of conversions, compromises, or clouds. Microsoft, where are your apps? Oh, and Apple, you’re not off the hook either: how about Flash and a USB port?

  3. An end to the formal-informal debate. Conservative-liberal, Republican-Democrat, formal-informal. Both sides have value. It’s not formal or informal. It’s formal and informal. Let’s look for solutions that best incorporate both philosophies.

  4. A new name for SCORM. SCORM has been valuable in creating interoperability between LMS’s, LCMS’s, authoring, testing, and reporting tools, but the name sounds like a skin rash (“Oh my, I have scorm.”). “Shareable Content Object Reference Model?” No wonder people don’t understand what we do. What else don’t they understand?

  5. A renewed focus on research. What happened to research in our field? It’s out there in academia and even in some businesses. But it rarely gets reported in ways that are useful. Yes, there is good research on what tools people use and what they think, as well as the state of the industry, but what about fundamental research on learning, especially new learning approaches? How do we know what really works and how do we turn those research findings into practice?

  6. IT acceptance of social media. Talk about the party of “no”; in most companies, the idea of social media makes I.T. organizations cringe. Worries over security, productivity, and other issues make social learning difficult to sell inside a business or government agency. But we heard the same argument around e-mail and we all survived. We will again, but a more proactive posture on social media would be welcome.

  7. More caution with social media. On the other hand, while we want to use social media in learning, it is not nirvana. There are important issues around social learning that we need to work through, so that we reap the benefits without the problems that are always associated with too much of a good thing. More research here (see #5, above) would be helpful.

  8. A universal professional certification program. Professional certifications in law, medicine, engineering, and other fields have become fairly unified and recognized across the spectrum of practitioners, professional groups, and educational programs. Not so with e-Learning (or training for that matter). Several of our professional associations (and you know who you are) are making some progress but primarily going it alone. Hey guys, talk to each other!

  9. More emphasis on evaluation. Some see this as a deficiency as old as the profession. We spend so much time creating training (and other) programs that we haven’t the time or the money to evaluate them really well. Kirkpatrick wrote his initial “four levels” of evaluation article a half-century ago, yet we’re still remarkably weak on demonstrating value in business terms. It’s time to seriously ramp up!

  10. Better schools. A serious issue. Without world-class schools, we can’t possibly have world-class employees; and without world-class employees, we can’t be competitive in the world. It would truly be something to celebrate if we all did something in the New Year to help improve public education.

Some of these New Year wishes are just fun to consider, but others can have profound impact. For most of them, I know what you’re thinking – “Yeah, like that’ll happen!” Fair enough. Sometimes it seems we’re constantly pushing the rock uphill, and the rock gets heavier all the time. But we can “e-dream,” can’t we?

We can debate these issues again in January. For now, let’s all take the rest of the month off (we deserve it) and have a safe and happy holiday season.


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Point #8: The British Computer Society has recognised e-learning at least once... they awarded me a Chartered Fellowship for work done in the field :)
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