Monday, June 11

Flavors of eLearning Design (ooh baby, it's a wide world)

I met for coffee this past week with someone who’s looking to break into the elearning industry.  She wanted to know where she should be looking and what the hot topics out there are.  I was giving her my 12,000 foot lay of the land, this is what I see going on kind of a thing.  It was so interesting to step by and take stock of what’s happening. 

Here’s where I see elearning going down these days:

Corporate Training and Performance Improvement
Internal L&D departments and vendors designing and developing online learning programs for use within  corporate organizations.  This is 90% of what I do and I imagine the case for a lot of you people reading this post.

Leadership Training for Corporate:
You look at the ASTD ICE expo list and it’s filled with loads of leadership consulting and training companies. The Franklin Coveys, Ken Blanchards, etc.  This is it’s whole behemoth sector in the market – it includes a lot of classroom training and increasingly elearning programs as part of those solutions.

Lots of elearning happening in the school sector.  Although, I haven’t seen much of great quality.  My son has to do some of his math homework online: really basic games.  He says, “I’m not learning, I’m just getting bored!”  Hopefully there’s a lot more than that going on. 

Higher Ed:
Want a master’s degree or a BA? Chances are these days you can take some, if not all of your degree program, online.  And of course there’s the latest MIT/Harvard online education initiative EdX.  

eLearning design for semester long courses is a different beast than your corporate training elearning design where you’re creating a 30 minute course on the latest policy.  I suspect making a jump from higher ed to the corporate world and vice versa would be a big change -- and quite possibly a completely different skill set.

For Profit:
We’re starting to see the for-profit universities offering their curriculums up to the corporate market.  At Corporate University Week, I heard the story of the Verizon degree program for store managers being offered in partnership with Bellevue University (here’s my blog post on the Verizon/Bellevue story from last November).

The Consumer Market:
Just bought a fancy new camera? Maybe that company has some fancy elearning to help you learn how to use it.  More and more we’ll be seeing companies striving to increase their market share by creating value added programs like online learning to help people use their products better.  Because the better pictures you take with that fancy camera, the greater your loyalty AND the more you’ll get out there and evangelize about that camera. 

Health Care/Mental Health:
I think this is a niche area that’s only going to continue to grow.  It’s getting specific resources, information and strategies out to the general public – either through an insurance company as part of their overall benefits offerings, or as programs individuals can purchase online with a credit card.  I’ve been involved in two such programs in the past two years and I think it’s a really interesting space.  Want to help people and make a difference in the lives of individuals?  Start poking around here.

I just pulled this list out of my head.  I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of big buckets and welcome your additions in the comments.

The bottom line is that elearning/online interactive ‘stuff’ is increasingly accepted.  Who hasn’t searched on YouTube to figure out how to stop a leaking toilet? It’s just what we do.  And while more and more of the content out there is user generated (power to the people!), organizations are paying attention.

Organizations in all sectors are figuring out how to create a valuable presence online that will meet the needs of their audience (consumers, students, employees, human beings).  Elearning is happening everywhere – even if that’s not what it’s called.

If you’re trying to break into “the field” – just remember that it’s a huge field.  Figure out where you want to shine and make your difference.  


Anonymous said...

You said, "I suspect making a jump from higher ed to the corporate world and vice versa would be a big change -- and quite possibly a completely different skill set."

As someone currently working in both fields, and with a history of switching back and forth between education and corporate learning, I have to disagree with you on this. The skills overlap quite a bit, although they aren't identical.

All the foundational understanding of how people learn is relevant in any environment. That's why people who were K-12 teachers can fairly easily move to corporate learning; they already have that foundation. All the knowledge we have about how to chunk information and write for online, how to present information so it's easier to process, how to make it easier to remember--all relevant in any environment.

Identifying what tasks people need to do and tracing that back to objectives and activities or assessments is also part of any environment. In the higher ed world, the "tasks people need to do" can be more abstract than corporate learning, but it's still present. Higher ed does have a lot more assessment graded by a human being than just a computer, so that is different. It's a good difference though; it makes it easier to have people do real tasks that don't have a single right answer.

You need all the skills of working with SMEs and project managing in higher ed.

I will say that my higher ed work often tends to be less really developing content (which faculty mostly do) and more about advising faculty on how to use technology more effectively. I get a lot of questions like, "I do this group project in my face-to-face course. How would I do something like that online?" I'm not doing interviews and developing content myself; I'm guiding faculty to do it themselves.

The underlying knowledge and skills are fundamentally the same in either environment though, which is why I can switch back and forth easily. I know that's not a universal experience, and some people "fit" better in one environment than the other. I dislike this idea that corporate and education are completely separate worlds though. I think they have a lot to teach each other, if people on both sides would listen.

Anonymous said...
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Cammy Bean said...

Christy, thanks for your insights on this.

I absolutely agree that it's a lot of the same skills, although I have to imagine that designing for a twenty minute online experience is different than designing a semester long course! In fact, I find that working in self-paced elearning and switching to virtual classroom design is a mindset change as well. There are things you can do in different environments -- slightly different flavors. OK, so maybe it's not a completely different skill set, but it's a slightly different delivery mode. Would you agree?

Anonymous said...

It's definitely a different delivery mode. Higher ed work can sometimes be a string of smaller segments together, so you're doing the small segments but also thinking about how to connect them over time. That longer term strategy is a different skill than is usually used for corporate learning.

Adam Weisblatt said...

Hi Cammy,

Can you give an example of using eLearning for Mental Health? That sparked my interest and I had never considered it.