Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's the next generation of e-learning?

According to Marc Rosenberg, a presenter at the April, 2009 ISPI conference, the future of e-learning is a knowledge management system that combines online learning materials, communities of practice, direct access to experts, information repositories, and performance support.

Key points I took away from his presentation:
  • work and learning are integrated; materials must be accessible at all times, in all locations
  • mobility: people must learn wherever they are (ipods at the gym or on the subway, for example)
  • we must think beyond just training to learning; most learning is informal (through colleagues, trial and error, Google searches)
  • our role as performance consultants and instructional designers must shift from education and training to providing an infrastructure to enable information sharing
  • the information must be accessible at the time of need
  • the information should be generated by the learners
  • "Don't kill the classroom!" There is a place for the classroom--some skills are most effectively taught in real life.
  • Components of an effective Knowledge Management system:
    • online training
    • information repositories, which require structure, accurate content, and ease of use (examples of effective ones: WebMD , World Bank , Vehix.com)
    • communities of practice, which are groups of employees with similar roles who are connected horizontally across the company (instead of just vertical groups) that share ideas and best practices
    • access to experts and expertise, and a way of "matching the right expert to the right need at the right time"
  • the best knowledge management system in the world is a library. You can walk into nearly any library in the world and find a specific book because they have common organizational structures. The implication is that information within a company should be easy to access, too, so disparate organizations within a company should agree on standard ways of presenting the information.
  • performance support that helps employees accomplish a task at the moment of need is important, too
  • Learning is a by-product of performance; learning alone should not be the focus of training initiatives

I look forward to continuing to advocate for these principles; we are spending a lot of effort conducting frustrating knowledge tests right now.