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Thinking about BIG Questions April 23, 2007

Posted by cjescribano in Learning, Uncategorized.

This month, the Learning Circuits Big Question is: What should ILT and Off-the-Shelf Vendors do in the face of demanding customers, lower margins, and more competition? Definitely a BIG question. 

Big Opportunities
To me, the two big opportunities are for these vendors to:

  • Provide a structure for just-in-time and do-it-yourself learning to occur
  • Help learners turn knowledge into performance

Providing a Structure for Turning Learning into Performance
A key competency that both ILT and OTS vendors offer is providing a scientific structure that enables learning to become performance. In a Do-It-Yourself world, that structure disappears, and learners may become overwhelmed by all the options available to them. I know I did.

When I wanted to learn about blogging, I first tried the Do-It-Yourself approach and Googled and read everything I could find online. The volume was overwhelming, but after spending some time on Problogger.net and some other sites, I felt I knew what to do. A friend introduced me to Blogger, which made it easy for me to start my own blog. But then I heard about a blogging class offered through a local writer’s center, so I decided to attend it. I was worried that it might be too basic for me since by now I’d been blogging for several weeks. Boy, was I wrong! I learned a much different approach to blogging than I’d considered, I was immersed in blog culture, and I was introduced to features and techniques I’d somehow missed in my browsings online. It was easier to understand blogging when it was laid out in a structure I could understand by someone who had traveled that path before.

Trainers as Guides
In the same way, I think that ILT and OTS vendors have an opportunity to provide a structure in which we can all realize the value that Web 2.0 offers. Trainers become the guides through the jungle of available knowledge. They may have to create less, but they can facilitate more. And they’ll have more ways of facilitating–blogs with current information, refresher courses in Second Life, one-on-one coaching via IM to name just a few. They’ll be able to see their students through the entire spectrum as learning becomes performance.

A Structure for YouLearning
Similarly, OTS vendors can continue to offer learners a structured path through a topic. In addition, however, they should provide a mechanism for learners to take that structured path apart and reuse the piece parts for their own purposes–like a YouTube for learning. Remember, YouTube doesn’t get rid of the studio movies. It actually provides another option for seeing them or at least the favorite parts of them. In the same way, OTS vendors would have another venue for sharing their products. 

A Structure for Knowledge Management
Another opportunity I see for OTS vendors is to provide a mechanism for learners to collect all the disparate knowledge they gain and pull it together to make their own meaning out of it and to make it useful. People can surf and surf and chat and chat and never really master a new skill. OTS vendors can still provide the superhighways to competency. Other technologies will provide the back roads and side roads that offer other alternatives for more exploration.  

Models for Performance
Also, I wonder to what level of learning the readily available Do-It-Yourself content will get people. It makes it easy for them to get basic knowledge of a topic, and hopefully they are analyzing it critically, and perhaps some are acting on what they learn. But I think people will still look to ILT and OTS vendors to build models and templates that they can use. After all, do-it-yourself in home improvement has actually made more work for home improvement vendors. And for similar reasons, I think that do-it-yourself learning will still rely on the experts who know how to facilitate learning to achieve higher levels of performance.


1. Tony Karrer - April 24, 2007

Interesting post!

2. Dave Lee - April 24, 2007


I’m in total agreement with you. I tend to call teachers and content developers accelerators. While it is true that many people can do-it-yourself their way to a certain level of competency, what says they found and learned the “right” things. Of course they can relearn what they didn’t learn correctly, but now we’re talking about alot of wasted time. Good content saves me time and frustration. (of course, bad content makes the situation all that much worse.)

You can see more of my thoughts on my post on eelearning.

By the way, welcome to The Big Question. I hope you’ll continue to participate in the coming months as well.

Dave Lee
Blogmeister, Learning Circuits Blog

3. buggy whip makers « e e learning - June 25, 2007

[…] said, i agree with claudia escribano in thinking about big questions and valerie bock in formal learning: it’s not dead yet! that there is a valid place for […]

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