The concept of brand contamination is familiar to marketers, who strive to protect brands from negative associations. Once a brand is “contaminated”, who will ever trust it again? Just ask Gerard Ratner, who described the jewellery sold by his eponymous shops as “crap” and lived to regret it – the business continues, its products still sell, but you won’t see any Ratners stores in the high street any more, as the brand was irredeemably contaminated.
“E-learning” may not strictly be a brand, but I wonder if the name is irredeemably contaminated?
The case that digital technology is all-pervasive in the modern world is surely now irrefutable. The idea is not so strange that people should be as comfortable using digital technology and the Web for learning, just as they do for day-to-day work, for information gathering, for mobile communication, for games-playing, for music downloading, for movie watching, etc, etc, etc.
Yet the 2008 CIPD learning and development survey yields two disturbing statistics: only 50% of respondents (HR professionals) think e-learning is an important way of learning, and hardly any of them rank it in the top three methods. Perhaps they have negative associations with the name.
This is not a conclusion I approach lightly. My own book on e-learning is now complete, although you won’t be able to buy it until April of next year. Will the term e-learning – and my book title – be obsolete by then?
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