TrainingZone interviews: Easygenerator's Kasper Spiroby
Thinking of going down the e-learning authoring route? Read our interview with Easygenerator CEO Kasper Spiro first for some great advice.
A theoretical headline from 2019. 'The LMS is dead. Tell us about the future of the learning'.
We are in the middle of a big change. By 2019 the learner will be in control, changing the role of educational and corporate learning completely. A corporate learning management system will not fit anymore, people will have individual curricula and they will pick whatever they need. They will use MOOCs or material that will fit their personal need. Tracking and tracing and planning are the main control function of an LMS, they will change dramatically. New techniques like the Xapi (Experience API) will allow people to build personal portfolios instead.
Also, the type of elearning content will change. A lot of general courses will be available on the web (many of them free), so the content that will be created by educational institutes and corporations has to be much more specific, dealing for example with the specific content of the company. But also the form will change. Learning needs to be integrated into the workplace. This means no more big elearning courses, but small learning nuggets aimed at very specific needs of the learner.
More and more non-elearning experts are creating elearning. Teachers, trainers, HR personnel, subject matter experts and more. What is the effect on elearning in general?
Not only the learning part is changing rapidly, but also the authoring part. It is a similar development in that authors are also taking control, creating content in a very rapid way. An example is what happened with video - it used to be an expensive part of elearning, with actors, professional cameramen and more. Now we are using videos that are created with a smartphone and no special actors. The role of the professional elearning developer will change, from designer and author to coach and editor. The problem non-professional authors have is that they are not aware of instructional principles. Very often they will just create a PowerPoint or a PDF, and lose their audience as soon as they see bullet point after after bullet point. Jane Hart’s elearning top 100 also indicates people use regular tools for elearning.
You see authors collaborating more and more. You see this with MOOCs, both at educational institutes and in companies.
Yes this is an exciting development, people are willing to share their knowledge more and more. There is no point in every university or company creating the same content over and over. You'll see that real experts in certain fields will join forces and create content that can be used by a broad audience. This does mean that authoring tools have to facilitate this.
It may have been around for years but elearning is still a tricky prospect for many businesses. How do you convince the board?
Elearning needs to be connected to the business. If there is a business goal that triggers a learning need, you can now show what the added value of your elearning will be, making elearning a good business case for managers to choose. That case is much easier to breakdown than ever. Starting with elearning used to be complex and expensive. You needed a corporate LMS, professional designers, expensive authoring tools. All that has already changed. You can create courses for as little as $19 a month or even for free, and you can publish on your website or an intranet or wherever you want. All this means that it is far easier to start with elearning.
Learning is integrating with the workplace more and more. Can you tell us a bit about that?
It all started with Jay Cross and his working approach, but there is now a whole bunch of theories. The most dominant one is the 70-20-10 model. This has a great impact on elearning because the business case has changed. What we see as a response to these models is that elearning is now integrating with knowledge management end performance support more and more. Learning nuggets can be used as performance support and even a whole new range of content can be created. I believe the most important one is curation. Subject matter experts share their knowledge with others by curating content. It is more than just collecting the information. It is the same as in a museum. A curator will not expose a whole collection, but he will add a theme, make a selection and create a presentation that fits that. We see this happening more and more and it will have a big impact on learning. We are are currently adding a curation section to our authoring software, next to the elearning courses.
Does this mean that the elearning experts, the instructional designers, will disappear?
The role of the elearning expert will change, but not disappear. There will be a shift from developing a program to coaching a program. An example of this shift is a large chemical factory. They used to create and buy a lot of elearning courses created by elearning experts. They completely stopped that. They gave simple authoring tools to subject matter experts (that will create courses with them) and employed five instructional designers as editors. They optimised the courses before publication. The first indications are that this is about 60% cheaper and so far the results are at least as good as the results of the courses created by the professionals. So, coaching and editing will be more important in the future than developing. As mentioned, the other big new role will be the role of a curator: Organising and presenting content instead of creating. And of course, there still will be course development, only less, more focused and way faster and cheaper.
Kasper Spiro has over 25 years of experience in the field of learning. Teaching, authoring textbooks, designing and creating elearning, and developing knowledge management and user performance support systems. As a manager his experience ranges from being CEO of an early internet start-up in the 90s to his current position as CEO of Easygenerator, the e-learning software company for authoring