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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Direction of eLearning - Emergence or Big System

I ran across a post by Dave Boggs - More Standards In e-Learning?.... that pointed me to some presentations at alt-i 2 -lab 2006 that look at where the eLearning interoperability standards are going in the future. This is an interesting topic because it highlights a schism that is echoed in the larger world of IT: Enterprise IT (Big Systems) vs. Emergence (see Enterprise 2.0 and emergence).

The idea of Emergence is somewhat simple. You put out small, flexible, relatively easy to use systems and you see what results. The best analogy that sticks in my mind is building a new school and not paving paths between buildings. Rather, you wait to see the dirt paths that emerge based on where people walk. Then you pave those paths.

Enterprise IT on the other hand, attempts to provide significant support for processes and business rules. A great example is accessing an eLearning course. Most LMS products (out-of-the-box) require you to search, register and then launch the course. If you want the content to be searchable through your Intranet search mechanism, most LMS products get in your way (even though the content may be easily indexed by the search mechanism).

When I looked through the discussion around the next generation of standards, it made my head spin. There are many overlapping product sets (virtual classroom, LMS, LCMS, Authoring, Assessment, Search, Collaboration, HRIS, Talent Management, etc.), standards and new technologies allowing them to interoperate (SOA, Web Services, REST). Further, the standards are becoming much more complicated to support richer kinds of interoperability. It makes you yearn for the days of SCORM 1.1 where there was pretty much an LMS that needed to talk to courses.

In many corporate environments, I'm already seeing the pendulum swinging away from Enterprise IT. Sure, we'll stick the compliance training and formal training kinds of things under the LMS. But, a lot of content and tools are now not under the LMS. It's accessible through the Intranet. We cobble these together from smaller, cheaper, lighterweight solutions such as Reference Hybrids

It would be great if the LMS could help us by tracking this, but instead, we end up using other tracking mechanisms.

It continues to feel like LMS Products are Two Generations Behind and that they are going to continue to make it such that Leading with an LMS - Harmful to Your Health (or Skipping Stages in Bersin's Four Stage Model).

Keywords: eLearning Trends


Clive Shepherd said...

The fixation with LMSs never ceases to amaze me. I was recently issued with an invitation to tender by a major European training body. On the face of it they wanted help in defining a new e-learning strategy. Get into the detail and what they really want is someone to recommend a new LMS.

Shannon Martin said...

I think the fatal flaw with LMSs in general is they are designed for people that know what they want to learn. Not having a search capability to allow access to 'mini chunks' of knowledge minimizes the speed at which people with little time can learn something new. I think this is why google, wiki, etc are supplanting the LMS as a source for knowledge and information (and why adoption rates internally are so low!)

Tony Karrer said...

Clive - I've been there too. But, I've also seen the opposite. Someone calls you in to help select an LMS and you find that they don't have an eLearning strategy. Recipe for disaster.

Tony Karrer said...

Shannon - I think it's not only that you can't search once you are in the LMS, but that the LMS is one of many places you might want to search, so you search from outside the LMS (and then it provides absolutely no value).

It's strange to me that after all these years of having eLearning, the LMS and the authoring tool vendors haven't figured out a way to seamlessly make content you author searchable and launchable.