By Joy Church Millard, Sr. Editor, Expertus
Editor’s Note: Welcome to the first interview in our “Learning Luminaries” series!
Periodically, we’ll showcase conversations with the brightest and most innovative minds in the world of enterprise training and development.
This month, we speak with Craig Weiss, founder of E-Learning 24/7. Recently named one of the most influential people in e-learning, Craig is recognized globally as an analyst, blogger and speaker. He has earned a reputation as an independent authority on learning technology — in particular, LMS selection.
In this discussion with us, Craig shares frank opinions about what he see ahead for enterprise learning innovation…
Q1: Craig, what is your firm’s mission and focus?
CW: E-Learning 24/7 is a one-stop shop for all things e-learning. We provide:
- Technology evaluation and selection services to organizations looking for an LMS that fits their budget and needs. In fact, we continuously track 600+ LMSs − more than any other consultancy.
- Vendor advisory services, including strategy, research, competitive analysis and multi-continent marketing.
- Honest, unbiased research on a variety of e-learning topics across all verticals and genres. Most recently we ranked the top 50 LMSs, based on 15 key criteria.
Q2: What’s hot in organizational learning today?
CW: The learning technology space is very dynamic now, in multiple areas:
- Compliance tracking,
- Standalone video (which can be created, edited and uploaded to a platform),
- Built-in authoring tools (which went out in the mid 2000s, but are now making a resurgence), and
- Mobile (specifically on/off learning, and content creation exclusively for mobile apps to improve the user experience).
- Also, learning organizations are moving to ecosystems that can do it all − knowledge management, collaboration, mobile and B2B − versus specialty learning systems
Q3: That’s an impressive list! Beyond technology, what is foremost on the minds of learning leaders?
CW: As for learning in general, I see several issues and opportunities:
How to best reintroduce training
During the recession, the first thing most organizations cut was training. Now it’s coming back, and CLOs are wrestling with what to bring back, how much is appropriate, and what the budget should be. Most are considering a big shift from ILT to e-learning. In fact, I predict that by 2020 only 10% of learning will be based on classroom/ILT models, while 90% will be virtual. The challenge for CLOs is getting people to accept e-learning and move over to it. A smart content strategy can help overcome this hurdle. The right content is king! E-learning needs to be non-linear. Scenarios are more successful for comprehension and retention than the linear way of teaching that comes from the classroom. This means e-learning content must be more scenario-driven.
- Also, today’s learning organizations face new, external B2B and B2C audiences
This can be a problem when L&D is part of HR. People with an HR background have a different mindset — an internal training perspective. They don’t understand external learning audiences. So, to succeed in serving B2B/B2C markets, CLOs should be concerned with retraining or expanding their teams, and adding other resources to better serve the extended enterprise.
- There’s also a fundamental shift in how we measure learning results
What’s hot is the shift from ROI to IOL (Impact on Learning). If you see an increase in sales by 40% after sales teams complete a new set of courses, that’s IOL. Of course, additional variables may affect results. But with IOL, you have measurable data points and can see true correlations. These are huge advantages over ROI models.
Q4: How will these new learning metrics affect business decisions?
CW: Many organizations continue to face budget concerns, despite the economic recovery. IOL measurement helps them justify training programs more easily.
As I mentioned earlier, the shift from ILT to e-learning is changing the way audiences engage in learning activities. It improves comprehension and information synthesis beyond an instructor’s capabilities. For example, if I need to brush-up on a topic from a previous e-learning course, I can easily find and review the relevant content anytime (rather than tracking down an instructor or re-registering in classroom training). When you apply that to every employee, it can mean significant hard-dollar cost savings in a very short timeframe.
Of course, e-learning has costs, too. There are initial LMS platform and related expenses (help desk, servers and more). So, in its first year, e-learning may be more costly than classroom training. However, ILT expenses for trainers, space, equipment and travel are ongoing — and can be much higher over time. E-learning offers 24/7 access, with better comprehension and retention. And, as more people use it, the cost-per-course or learning activity decreases. For organizations that sell training, this means profits increase as the audience scales. It’s a very attractive business case.
Q5: What else stands in the way of e-learning adoption?
CW: Honestly, I don’t understand why many organizations still rely so heavily on ILT. It’s a form of training that was designed in the 1600s. People no longer drive buggies for transportation, or send a telegraph to communicate, or use ice blocks for refrigeration. With all the learning technology innovation in play today, e-learning is the easiest and most powerful way to learn. Period. It’s time for the learning industry to catch up.
Q6: What technologies are helping to transform training?
CW: Networking and collaboration tools are going to adapt and become even more successful at connecting people across extended enterprise learning environments. Also, there’s a lot more in the works dealing with videos and game-oriented learning logic. And mobile capabilities are continuing to evolve rapidly. More vendors are already offering on/offline “sync” for uninterrupted learning flow.
Basically, it’s inevitable that the industry will transform to serve the next set of learners — Gen Z. This next generation is deeply immersed in technology. So learning will naturally reflect that:
- Modern UIs are really going to take off — for a more intuitive, personalized user experience
- App stores will continue to advance — so learners can choose their own options
- Video will maintain its dominance — especially centralized video uploads and peer-to-peer sharing
- Content and tools will become more tightly integrated with games
- Assessment tools will also become more important and robust
All in all, there will be more interactivity with platforms than ever before.
Currently, some vendors still focus on modular systems, while others are creating learning ecosystems. When it comes to appealing to Gen Z, ecosystems are going to be more successful. It’s simply how Gen Z functions.
Technology innovation is advancing at such a rapid pace right now. We can benefit from all of these new social, mobile, real-time connections and capabilities. As organizations begin applying these advancements more fully, the impact on learning will be truly transformational.
Image Credit: Pixabay