Tony Karrer's eLearning Blog on e-Learning Trends eLearning 2.0 Personal Learning Informal Learning eLearning Design Authoring Tools Rapid e-Learning Tools Blended e-Learning e-Learning Tools Learning Management Systems (LMS) e-Learning ROI and Metrics

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Corporate Learning Laggards?

Last week I moderated a Technology Council event on Web 2.0 in Los Angeles. We had great speakers from IBM, Google, Sony, Microsoft, (Homestore) and others. There were lots of interesting things to be taken from the presentations that relate directly to what's happening in corporate learning, but one of the high level trends that made me think came from Matt Glotzbach, Head of Products at Google Enterprise.

The point that Matt made was the corporate IT has gone from leading technology innovation to being a laggard that adopts after consumers. It used to be that your corporate computer, your Internet connection, the applications that you used, all were better than what you used at home. Now the opposite is often the case. He attributed some of this to the fact that consumers have direct, easy access to services and because of Software as a Service, innovation happens really fast and gets to consumers quickly. Corporate IT just can't keep up and maybe shouldn't because they need to police what is done. Matt also pointed out that often Corporate IT makes different choices for itself than it does for the rest of the corporation. For example, they may have access to sites or have installed desktop search or have other things that they restrict from the rest of the corporation.

What's interesting in eLearning is that it used to be that corporations were way out in front of what was happening in the consumer space and even farther ahead of what I saw in academia. Back in 1993-4, I lead the development of a project for Lexus salespeople that had video-based selling skills simulations, an online reference, tools, and more. It was truly a ground breaking project that was ahead of what you would find in consumer multimedia learning.

Interestingly, as we transitioned to delivery over the Internet - did I mention that Lexus Labs was delivered on six CD ROMs so it came with a CD ROM changer? - we took a big step back. We've also stepped back as we look at doing things more quickly at lower cost to keep up with the pace of change. And now as things begin to transition to eLearning 2.0 what I see happening in the consumer space and in academia is far ahead of what we are seeing in corporations. Individual instructors are able to incorporate blogs and wikis into their classroom experiences much more readily than in the corporate land.

Is that our destiny in the world of eLearning 2.0? Is Corporate Learning going to continue to be a Laggard?

1 comment:

Paul Coyne said...

Speaking from my own experience I can only confirm what you talk about here Tony. Many years ago when I started building CBT/Part Task Training systems the corporate and big government clients were so very far ahead of comparable developments in academia and in the home.

I've long held the belief that if I wanted to know what was really likely to break through in terms of e-learning development I didn't look at Universities or colleges; I looked at the Army and the FTSE100 Businesses. Over the last 8 - 10 months of looking more closely at this, after an 18 month hiatus, it is true that much of the really innovative and sustainable models for deploying 2.0 technology in support of learning and training is emerging, not from business, but from individuals, students, colleges and Universities.

I suspect that this has more to do with the difficulty of tracking the effectiveness and value for money business case than with an idealogical reluctance to adopt the blogs, wikis and other platforms that have recently emerged. Corporate LMSs and eLearning programmes once had a very clear argument in terms of economies of scale and tracking usage as a metric to support ROI cases. Personalised, loosely federated connected spaces are, I suspect, more difficult for the corporate body to keep track and to justify to Finance.
I guess if someone were to develop a set of metrics marrying personal learning along the 2.0 model to business performance indicators I think we would see a rapid turn around from business. I hope so.

Another great post Tony. Thanks.