Educational Multimedia: aiming to provide advice at a good price!

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27th Sep 2000
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Educational Multimedia was formed in September 1997 to offer business-to-business e-learning, with a focus is on the end user. The company offers both soft skills and IT skills training, with a customer base which includes government agencies, county councils and large corporations.

TrainingZONE took a few minutes to talk to Theo Lynn, CEO of the company on the topic of providing good quality e-learning at a good price.

Lynn said that Educational Multimedia saw their specialism in developing rich media for interactivity in learning. "What we're good at, our core competence, if you like, is rich media technology, taking core content to enhance the user experience. We're like Walt Disney, if you like, in the way that they take a book and make it interactive. We've worked with companies such as Pearson Education, Microsoft and Brian Tracy (a well-known speaker in the USA) on this. What we do is to try and focus on an appropriate e-learning model for training. For IT skills, it's interactive; for soft skills, there's a focus on video and animation, going hand-in-hand with classroom training."

Lynn added that, after nine months feedback from customers, the company had just launched a professional services division for consultancy in e-learning. He was keen to point out that this service would be different in that it would be inexpensive: "Take an example; a financial services company came to us with a request for some compliance training. They wanted 200 people trained; we carried out a Training Needs Analysis and a Technical Analysis and came up with something which could be implemented in 15 days for a cost of only £7,000."

Apparently the company is able to do this "because we've invested 17 million dollars and three years into R & D. What we're doing now is transferring the investment. Its exciting stuff!"

By offering the chance to develop e-learning within an organisation at a reasonable price, Educational Multimedia are aiming to introduce smaller companies to the e-learning market. They've also formed a number of partnerships with smaller companies to create generic products for training which can then be sold to other companies to create an ongoing royalty, helping decision-makers to view training is seen as more of a business proposition.

Educational Multimedia's base is in Dublin, mainly because, says Lynn, Ireland is well-known as a centre of excellence for IT skills, creative and educational excellence. Other e-learning companies such as NetG and Pathlore are also based there. They have however a global spread in terms of providing e-learning, and TrainingZONE was interested to know whether Lynn thought the Americans were further down the line in terms of embracing e-learning.

Lynn was of the view that actually, Europe is ahead conceptually, as most of the development is actually done in Europe, but that circumstances in the US have meant that the take-up has been quicker: "The Fortune 500 companies are definitely embracing e-learning quicker, because they have the bandwidth to do it. Technology penetration in the US is much higher, and the telecommunications industry in the US favours online training."

He pointed out that although the USA is the biggest market for e-learning, the UK is the second biggest (this year, 60bn was spent on training in the US, compared to 15bn in the UK, which is a much smaller country!).

One point that was raised in a previous interview with eLearnity was echoed by Lynn, which was the concern that sales pitch is in danger of obscuring the product: "A worrying trend is that a lot of e-learning companies are more sales than product focussed - the US are used to this more than the UK, but it means that the concept is not living up to the image a lot of the time. This industry is at a point where people understand e-learning for IT, and the quality products are now being looked at, but with soft skills training, it's still in its early phase and people don't know what the model will be."

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