From the start of the year, our news and features have demonstrated the growing awareness of the complexities involved in making e-learning work, and a developing consciousness of its limited and patchy penetration into the training market. UK and European surveys have remarked on the progress of the adjustment to online delivery, and these practicalities have been the main issue at conferences and in publications all year, as well as in our own expert's views from our interview with Elliott Masie onwards, and in E-learningZone Any Answers.
No longer seen as a distinct alternative, e-learning has settled into being one option among other more traditional delivery channels, and TrainingZONE's features have traced this, in particular through the emergence and development of blended learning. One of our most popular items in the whole year was Robin Hoyle's guide to the practicalities of combining e-learning and other methods. We asked our members what their views of blended learning were, and the responses have provoked continuing interest.
But e-learning hasn't just had to fit into training, and our authors have looked at its relation to other aspects of organisations, and to the wider world. We have explored e-learning in connection with knowledge management, and across global multi-site business. And we have considered its implications for equality and diversity, and its interaction with skills and social habits engendered by computer games.
There have been upheavals in the market, with ambitious plans scaled back, but also steady growth for some smaller suppliers. SmartForce announced its acquisition of Centra, called it off, announced and then confirmed a merger with SkillSoft. The BBC has been developing it's e-learning, much to the consternation of competitors suspicious about market dominance and unfair advantage, rather like the private IT training companies that have been eyeing the growth of learndirect.
This was perhaps the year when the e-learning industry became self-aware, and not just aware of limitations. Brian Holley's brief history of e-learning put the sector into its rightful historical context, and Bruce Duff looked at a few years of hype with a critical but not too critical eye. Our features on the present and future of e-learning have been well informed, and we are welcoming further predictions that can take an exploratory view of what's to come.
There has been some activity around e-learning at international and UK government level, with European Commission support for e-learning, the formation of a European e-learning industry group and its subsequent declaration of purpose, and the creation of the UK's e-learning strategy taskforce. The latter group has made some forthright proposals, suggesting that IT skills should be considered basic skills and improved by free access to training, on the grounds that without IT skills people cannot access e-learning and so will increasingly lose out on a whole world of opportunities.
E-learning's relationship with IT remains complex. It was refreshing to see a public body pointing out the block on e-learning presented by a lack of IT skills, but there has not been much clarity in teh national IT skills strategy. Other commentators have suggested that e-learning has been hampered by being largely used for teaching IT, but other views have suggested that even within IT, e-learning has achieved only a fraction of potential penetration.
There have also been moves towards setting industry standards for e-learning, and we carried an indepth feature explaining the SCORM framework. A rather uncoordinated chorus of private and public voices have also been pushing broadband uptake, and we have looked at why.
In a year when everyone in training has been trying to fit e-learning in with traditional channels, it shouldn't surprise us that there have been a number of very useful books published on the subject. Our reviewers have worked through these and shared their thoughts on the latest guides to e-learing and writing web content:
E-learning by Marc Rosenberg
Designing world-class e-learning by Roger C Shank
E-moderating by Gilly Salmon
Gilly also gave us an interview on one of the major emerging topics in e-learning, community.
Delivering digitally: managing the transition to the knowledge media by Alistair Inglis, Peter Ling and Vera Joosten
Designing computer-based learning materials by Alan Clarke
The secrets of successful online training by Laurel Alexander
ABCs of e-learning by Brooke Broadbent