Book Review - 'The e-learning revolution, from propositions to action' by Martyn Sloman (2001)

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Published by the CIPD (see CIPD publications)
ISBN: 0-85292-873-4

The author states that the audience for this book are “those involved in directing, managing or supporting the training function irrespective of the role or title”, with the objective of providing practical help for those people moving into e-learning. The book aims to highlight the issues in transitioning to e-learning, so that the readers become better informed, and more able to set the agenda for their own journeys. It may be useful to add that the intended audience probably would be those with little prior experience of e-learning, as more experienced staff would probably know, or have access to much of the content.

The book is based on 21 propositions which summarise the author’s thoughts and conclusions, such as “”e-learning will be most effective as part of a systematic approach involving classroom and experiential learning with appropriate support”. The propositions are used as a basis for honest discussions as the book progresses.

It provides an excellent history of the emergence of e-learning, and description of the contributions of those people who have helped to shape the e-learning world. Throughout the book there are useful references to the key players in the industry, links to other sources of information and honest “warts and all” case studies. The tools, mainly from the Ernst & Young examples, could act as useful starting points for those struggling to develop a framework for their own way forward. There are also plenty of quotes, statistics and definitions that could be used in presentations for selling e-learning within an organisation.

The real irritation with this book is its physical layout. The valuable information is not highlighted; there is a gold mine there, but you have to dig for it. The propositions and focal points are badly displayed. The content is sometimes out of sequence in order to accommodate particular diagrams, and hence does not flow as easily as it could. The font size of the quotes seems out of proportion and the alignment of them is distracting. Possibly aiming for a broad audience who might dip in and out of the book, has meant that there are (too) frequent backward and forward references to other sections, and explanations of words such as the US term “resumé”, and “paradigm shift”, which seem to be irrelevant to many who would use the book.

Summary: A book full of useful information for those new to e-learning, but may require some digging to pull together the relevant and appropriate pieces for your specific needs.

If anyone else has any comments on the book, please add them!

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