Speaking today at the CIPD Harrogate exhibition, Ciaran Dyar, a director of emergeSmart.com listed what he regards as the critical issues for the industry at a time when there is huge competition for market share and public attention.
EmergeSmart have evolved over several years to provide corporate clients with customised solutions to their learning needs. He believes the trend is towards designing content, platforms and interfaces which are specific to each client, rather than selling pre-packaged boxes and menus of elearning content. His own company can work with several platforms and will blend the client's content with new or bought-in content to create a learning environment specific to the end-users needs.
Dyar identified three critical issues facing the elearning sector today:
Quality - the need to constantly improve the quality of both the e-learning programme content and the design functionality of the interface which the learner uses. The interface in particular needs to be a combination of education and entertainment if the attention of the learner is to be maintained.
Credibility and Durability - with so many companies working in this sector, just how doe the customer choose the best supplier? Who has the best and most robust technology? Whose technology can be upgraded easily or maintained by the client? And - fundamentally - which e-learning companies will still be in business six months from now (when you've paid them your money).
People - in a time of dramatic IT skills shortage - how can elearning companies recruit and sustain the best technology experts to develop their product.
Whilst these challenges are undoubtedly serious, Dyar is also excited by the cutting edge potential of e-learning. In particular, the idea of 'intelligent e-learning' - a system which tracks what the learner is currently learning, links this to their current role, and offers intelligent suggestions as to the next learning options and steps which the he or she should start to look at. When such intelligent systems become available - hopefully within a year or so - the reality of lifelong learning takes one huge step closer.