Thursday, 27 March 2008


How many e-learning vendor staff does it take to change a light bulb?

I don’t know … one to execute the task, one to adapt for the Web, one to provide the hosting, one to provide the annual software support and maintenance contract, one to explain the e-learning standards specification, one project manager, one to manage the account … how big a budget do you have?

Sound familiar?

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Venus and Mars

One of the regular complaints from learning and development professionals about technologists (hereafter, techies) is that they talk ‘Martian’, so much a specialist jargon that it's an alien language that serves to exclude everyone but themselves.

It’s a harsh judgement, but I think a fair one. There’s just one problem, though.

Learning and development is just as bad! Our professionals have their own alien language that often excludes others. If techies speak Martian, trainers speak Venusian.

When I worked with the eLearning Alliance, I found my main task was to bring together these two distinct professional communities and get them to communicate. Which was when we found great synergies, as both sides realised they had a lot to learn from each other. Effectively, we were bringing Mars and Venus down to Earth.

I used this metaphor once too often, and one wag looked me straight in the eye and said “you’re talking from Uranus”. There’s always one!

Have I got a serious point? Yes, I think we could all stand to use a lot less jargon and a lot more plain English.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Social networking

There’s been an explosion of interest recently in social networking as it applies to learning and especially e-learning. Hence the appearance of the pointless jargon “e-learning 2.0” and “learning 2.0”. There’s an ‘idiot’s guide’ here.

As someone who has posted regularly on discussion forums for at least six years, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. I suppose it’s about the increasing numbers of people starting to use the Web to participate, rather than just to read. These opportunities have been about for years, but perhaps they are only now reaching critical mass as more and more people have computers with broadband connections.

Some HR managers have been getting worried about what people are talking about on their Facebook, MySpace, or Bebo sites. Which is a bit like worrying about what people chat about in cafes and pubs – the only real difference is that these comments are written and saved. I understand CIPD have been conducting some research into this, and have concluded that there’s nothing for employers to worry about.

As for learning, it represents a step in the right direction. The more people can use this sort of connectivity to support their learning, the better. And anything that encourages active learning, not just passive reading, has got to be a good thing. I'm glad to say that blogs, discussion forums, wikis, etc, seem to be here to stay, in the world of learning.