Context, Context, Context will make e-Learning work! #LCBQ May


The question at the Learning circuits blog in May is:

How do we need to change in what we do in order to address learning/performance needs that are on-demand?


My answer is context, context, context!

I think that we as e-Learning professionals should change our game drastically. Our innovation lacks behind if we compare it to the development of the internet. Internet 1.0 was about publishing content (online brochures), 2.0 is about interaction (social media), 3.0 will be about context (pushing information to you based on a profile). E-Learning 1.0 was about creating courses (now wrapped in Scorm), 2.0 is collaborative learning (Moodle, Wiki’s, Fora), 3.0 must be about context.

I know that a lot of e-Learning professionals are dedicated to innovation. But the majority of the content is still a PowerPoint like page turner, made more attractive by the use of video, interaction and flash animations. But in fact they are still very 1.0, still a course. I see some 2.0 solutions and hardly any 3.0 initiatives.

It’s not that courses have completely lost their value, but they can only have value as a part of an effective e-Learning solution. We need to create 2.0 and 3.0 solutions where a course might play a role instead of creating just courses. In the Netherlands a lot of e-Learning content companies are going through difficult times and I believe that the focus on courses is the main reason and I believe that context is the solution.

Context when working
A LMS is the electronic counterpart of a class room. As in a class room the worker is locked-in, and so is the content. It’s an artificial environment that in certain cases will serve it’s purpose, but in most cases it won’t. The LMS is our (learning professionals) context, it’s not the context of the learner. The learners context is his workplace. We need to give him the information in that context. Connect to on-line help systems, task support systems, intranet solutions. Plug-in to your internal corporate social media, play an active role in them, seed and harvest information through them. We need to offer the worker a service in his working context, not just courses in a LMS.

Context when publishing
The facilities to deliver information on demand are growing rapidly. By building profiles of your users and monitoring their context (what are they doing and where are they doing that) you will be able to present relevant information on demand (or even push it to them without demand). We need to give context to our e-learning content in order to make it smart so it knows when, how and where to present itself.

Context when creating e-Learning
The context of an e-Learning author when creating e-Learning is often the knowledge or skills he needs to transfer. And that’s wrong. Knowledge and skills are means not goals, the goal is to support the worker and make him more productive. We need to learn the context the workers are operating in and we must ask ourselfs how we can support them, then and there. Not only do we need to involve SME’s in the learning development but also SMN’s (subject matter newbees) to understand what they need. We need to cross the save borders of learning and cross over to other fields like EPSS and even change management. Just as a course might be a part of an e-learning solution, e-Learning is a part of the solution to support the worker. We are part of a bigger context.

I believe that this is the time to grab new opportunities, leave our comfort zone and get out there. We need to make e-Learning more effective and we need to make e-Learning work!

Comments

  1. Hey,

    I’m working for one of the Dutch e-learning companies you’ve mentioned, and just wanted to say that not all of us our focusing on courses.
    Our e-learning system is radically different and aimed at studying from *the student’s* perspective – in the context of his activities.
    Just to say there are *some* innovation in the e-learning community… :)

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