The future of e-learning - Learning Technologies preview

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Learning Technologies 2003Charles Gould, managing director of BrightWave, who is speaking at next week's Learning Technologies Conference, and Lars Hyland give their views on what the future holds.

TrainingZONE What do you see as the growth ares of e-learning for the near future?

Charles Gould, BrightWave MD The track for e-learning is the IT infrastructure (high bandwidth networks, Learning Management Systems, etc). As this track gets laid, the emphasis will shift to the 3 Cs of learning experience: Content, Context and Community. Bespoke content, in particular, will become higher in quality and more effective as organisations realise that this is where a competitive advantage can be found.

TrainingZONE What kind of e-learning providers will thrive in this market?

Charles Gould, BrightWave MD Providers who will thrive will recognise that e-learning is not about selling products but providing solutions. E-learning is still an unusual combination of technology and people development, often falling somewhere between the IT and HR departments but driven by business needs. Because few buyers are fluent in all these issues, they need a consultative approach - not a sell.

TrainingZONE What kind of learning organisations are best placed to make use of e-learning?

Charles Gould, BrightWave MD Anyone facing regulatory compliance issues. Anyone that has a sales force with products or services to sell. Anyone with new IT systems rolling out to a wide audience. Anyone with an extended enterprise. Anyone who wants to make their existing training programmes more effective.

TrainingZONE Can e-learning keep taking on more and more areas of learning?

Charles Gould, BrightWave MD I sometimes wonder how long the term e-learning will survive. I'm not sure it deserves to. Our perception of what e-learning is and can do is still quite narrow. It's been dictated, to an extent, by the generic content providers who need to compete on numbers: price and volumes. What that has done - I think - is made people focus too much in terms of cost per hour of learning which in turn leads people to ignore some of the less conventional opportunities, particularly in behavioural areas of learning.

If you're trying to effect changes in people's behaviour (as opposed to training processes and procedures) then it's the impact of the learning message that matters - not just the scale of it. My fear is that people associate the term e-learning with stuff that really doesn't meet this huge potential to make an impact.

TrainingZONE How can e-learning become more assimilated into conventional methods?

Lars Hyland, Director of Learning Services The future is not in assimilating e-learning into conventional methods or vice versa. Instead, the emphasis needs to be on integrating all available methods into one harmonious whole that delivers a far more effective learning experience than any one channel of delivery could do on its own. This requires a continued revision of traditional thinking around training, and e-learning for that matter.

TrainingZONE What changes of emphasis are going on in work-related training?

Lars Hyland, Director of Learning Services Increasingly organisations are under pressure to deliver new products and services faster and more frequently, maintain ever higher customer service, while keeping their cost base low through high productivity per employee. The emphasis is therefore moving towards accelerated design and delivery of more frequent, highly focused learning interventions that are more readily accessed, and the results of which can be applied immediately in the work place. E-learning makes this model economic and sustainable. Those organisations already embracing this model are already enjoying a significant competitive advantage within their sectors.

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