“Now it’s possible to produce more online learning materials than ever before”

Interview to Bob Little, Senior Partner - Bob Little Press & PR. He has been writing and commentating on technology based training, including e-learning, since 1990. His work has been published across four continents, in the USA, South America, Europe and Australia, making him unique as a commentator on the worldwide e-learning scene. His e-book, ‘Perspectives on Learning Technologies’ (e-book; ASIN: B00A9K1VVS) is available from The Endless Bookcase and from Amazon. It contains over 200 pages of observations on issues in learning technologies, principally for learning & development professionals.

How can you achieve higher levels of efficiency in the learning process?

This begs the question of higher levels of efficiency for whom: the learning materials producer or the learner?

There’s no doubt that the use of technology can help the learning materials producer become more productive. It’s now possible to produce more learning materials – especially those intended for delivery online – than ever before.

Efficiency is one (highly commendable) thing but effectiveness is quite another. For example, in the days of ‘e-learning 1.0’, many university lecturers transferred their lecture notes to the internet as lengthy Word documents. This meant that more people than ever before could read their notes and glean some of their wisdom. However, few potential learners learned much from this because the documents were boring. They contained no interactivity – to intrigue the learner and encourage her/him to engage with the content and learn more.

When it comes to the learning process, the effectiveness of the learning materials is more important than efficiency involved in producing them. This means that learning materials producers need to imbue their work with the ‘Wow!’ factor. Again, technology can help to make this process efficient but no amount of authoring tools, for example, can compensate for a lack of understanding of the principles and practice of instructional design.

How can technology improve learning processes in organizations?

The case for using online learning technologies to augment traditional, instructor-led learning has been well made – and demonstrated – over the last 20 years or so. The relatively recent advent of new delivery technologies – best characterised by the term ‘mobile learning’ – and the modern trend away from formal to informal learning, especially via performance support, is continuing to have an important and positive effect on organizations’ productivity levels and competitive advantage.

Technology – and especially new technological advances – will continue to make more information available than ever before to more people, as and when they want it, wherever they are.

That availability, however, will only be useful if people access the information appropriately. That means that people need to be equipped with the appropriate technology to receive this information; the knowledge of where to get that information, and – vitally – the motivation to access and then use the information.

Technology is an important enabler in the learning process. However, it’s only people who learn and, thereby, prove the effectiveness of both the delivery technology and the learning content.

What will be the main trends for e-learning in 2014?

I believe that the key trends in corporate learning technologies in 2104 will be:

- Mobile learning

- Gamification

- Just-in-time learning

- Social learning

- Tin-Can

There are interactivity issues associated with most if not all of these trends – and at least four of these trends are moving ‘learning’ away from learning to become performance support. So, I would argue, we’re witnessing the beginning of the end for e-learning as a leading edge corporate technology. It’s merging into the ‘traditional’ end of learning, alongside classroom-delivered learning. Many of the industry’s early pioneers and champions would be shocked and horrified at this news. Of course, such a move does nothing to lessen (if anything it increases) the need for interactivity between the users (who were once called learners) and the information providers (once called learning material designers and developers).

What are some of the changes you would like to see in the e-learning industry?

I’d like to see:

  • A realisation and acceptance that e-learning is part of the technology sector rather than the education sector. The technology sector has a consistently higher profile than education – and, with more interest being shown in it, it attracts more people (and also attracts more talented people to work in it). Learning is now just one of the many things that technology can provide for us as and when we want, where we want and so on. The education sector has had its chance to embrace e-learning and make it its own but it hasn’t done so over the last 25 years and more. It’s been too conservative and wedded to instructor-led training. Now it’s time to let e-learning take its place among technology and let the technologists provide learning materials in the same way they provide entertainment, sport and so on, on demand.
  • E-learning providers stopping talking to ‘HR’ and related people in organisations because these people have consistently failed to champion technology delivered learning (possibly because they have so little real power and influence in their organisations). E-learning providers should be talking to technology providers and doing deals with them to provide e-learning (or, more probably, performance support materials) to users.

What are your thoughts on personalized learning? What are the implications of it, if any, for content creators?

Developing truly personalised learning involves highly complex programming. First, the program has to determine the learning preferences of each learner/ user. These – as Honey and Mumford say – are likely to change over time (even over the time taken to complete one particular piece of e-learning). So the program must continually monitor the learner’s responses, in addition to providing the learning materials (in order to ensure that it is presenting these learning materials in the most appropriate way). Taking account of a variety of user learning preferences means that the same learning content must be available to be delivered in a variety of ways. This, alone, makes producing a truly personalised e-learning program extremely complex and cumbersome.

Then, the program must also take into account the various delivery devices that the user might select. This may not just be a question of personal (user) preference but also of circumstance – for example where the learner is at any one time; what delivery devices are available to him/her at any one time; what bandwidth is available and so on.

In addition, there must be some provision for interactivity (to help the learner cement and apply the learning) and feedback (again, this must be personal and adaptive/ interactive in some way).

Some of the world’s most complex learning content management systems’ producers have spent a lot of time and money working on developing (and, importantly, being able to monitor) personalised learning. It hasn’t been achieved yet – but ‘never say never’, as the saying goes!

The implication for content creators is, on the most basic of levels, don’t worry about personalised learning: it’s not happened yet and is very unlikely to happen in your lifetime. If it does, make sure you’re an early adapter rather than a pioneer because the pioneers won’t make any money at it (because of the large amounts of money they’ll have had to invest in the first place). For this reason, truly personalised learning is unlikely to happen – because no one wants to lose large quantities of money developing it. Besides, there’s no guarantee that there will ever be a market for it – not least because people tend to prefer quick (relatively cheap) learning fixes (some performance support) rather than a comprehensive (and expensive) piece of ‘catch all’ learning.



29 Responses to ““Now it’s possible to produce more online learning materials than ever before””

  1. Julie Stelter Says:
    January 10th, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I don’t disagree with your bold statement, “A realisation and acceptance that e-learning is part of the technology sector rather than the education sector.” But how do you address the client who gets so enamored with the technology that they forget about the content and end up slapping a PowerPoint on an LMS and think they are offering progressive e-learning? Worse yet is the technology provider who is complicit in this scenario. As an instructional designer, I want clients who are offering e-learning courses to their employees or members to know the value of good content. I also want technology companies to recognize the importance of instructional design and not encourage substandard education just to sell logins. There needs to be a marriage of education and technology sectors because the over emphasis on technology will only produce poor adult training.

  2. Pini Goren Says:
    January 24th, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    My idea is check your knowledge and skills, it’s a selftest you with your smart media choose catgory and subject and get online test after solving you get immediate feedback’ you can ask for more easy/hard test
    or ask for hints/
    I think it is a very good use tool for learning by your own

  3. best web hosting tips Says:
    March 27th, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and
    I fin It really useful & it helpedd me oout much.
    I hope to giive something back aand help others like you helped me.

    My web-site … best web hosting tips

  4. Simon Specken Says:
    April 23rd, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Realy nice post great.

  5. adomax Says:
    April 29th, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Hi, I do think this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it ;) I am going to come back once again
    since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be
    rich and continue to help others.

  6. autocatalog Says:
    May 5th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Hiya. Same cool site!! Guy .. Exquisite .. Fantastic .. I will bookmark your web position and assume the feeds also…I’m pleased to attain hence a good deal of use info decent here surrounded by the send. Express gratitude you for sharing…

  7. Bebe Haug Says:
    May 21st, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I also don’t send supporting document because I just know to apply at 20th April. Whatever I am just much interested in. But I am also just poor man can’t even afford to attend.

  8. Says:
    May 21st, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    And within the course of which analysis, it emerges that each dollar spent inside the pursuit associated with an online degree is likely to increase one’s lifetime earnings many times fold.
    She invites that you visit her site where she’s going to share a proven approach to
    start an internet business. it also can be useful for headhunting and employment.

    Feel free to visit my blog post;

  9. Doreatha Chesser Says:
    May 22nd, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Good post. I learn one thing more difficult on completely different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to learn content from other writers and follow just a little something from their store. I’d prefer to make use of some with the content material on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a hyperlink on your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Jackeline Blicker Says:
    May 23rd, 2014 at 2:10 am

    I haven

  11. B|FB|Feceeee|BF|FaceBook|FBook} Says:
    May 26th, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    We have understand why post naturally,writing if We will I want to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions.

  12. Willy Godby Says:
    May 27th, 2014 at 6:48 am

    (Correcting previous post by adding word “rally” in the first paragraph)

  13. Edythe Swaner Says:
    May 28th, 2014 at 6:06 am

    7 out of 10 on my first try… not bad. Should have got one or two of the ones I missed though!

  14. Valarie Matusik Says:
    May 30th, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    What kind of research do you do to come to these conclusions? Thanks for sharing!

  15. Louie Fallick Says:
    June 4th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    What kind of research do you do to come to these conclusions? Thanks for sharing!

  16. French finance Says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 4:42 am

    I simply wished to appreciate you once again. I do not know the issues I could possibly have taken care of inside the absence of these elements discussed by you regarding that region. Fully was the depressing condition in my position, but seeing a brand new specialized technique you solved it made me to leap for delight. I’m grateful for the operate as well as hope which you recognize what a potent job your are placing in teaching men and women these days by a net web-site. Possibly you’ve never ever got to understand all of us.

  17. Rich Warmack Says:
    June 10th, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Really great article. Wonderful work. Thanks much for sharing

  18. voyance en ligne Says:
    June 16th, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Virtually all of whatever you say is astonishingly legitimate and that makes me ponder why I hadn’t looked at this in this light before. This particular piece really did turn the light on for me as far as this particular issue goes. However there is actually one particular issue I am not too cozy with and while I attempt to reconcile that with the core theme of your issue, permit me observe just what the rest of your visitors have to say.Very well done.

  19. Caterina Thress Says:
    June 23rd, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Good – Let me definitely pronounce, impressed with your site. I’d little difficulty navigating through all of the tabs as well as related info was truly easy to try to get involved with. I just found whatever wanted before you realize it in any respect. Reasonably unusual. Will probably have a great time here those of you that add forums or anything, site theme . a tones method for your customer to communicate in. Nice task..

  20. vorzeitige Says:
    July 1st, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    It is uncommon knowledgeable folks for this subject, nevertheless you sound like do you know what you’re discussing! Thanks

  21. projekt ogrodzenia Says:
    August 6th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I conceive this website has got very great indited written content content .

  22. Shannon Umphenour Says:
    August 13th, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Really great article. Wonderful work. Thanks much for sharing

  23. Says:
    August 28th, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely wonderful.
    I really like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it.
    You make it entertaining and you still take care of
    to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from
    you. This is really a wonderful site.

  24. car loan rates Says:
    September 3rd, 2014 at 9:24 am

    A lot of of what you assert happens to be supprisingly precise and that makes me wonder why I hadn’t looked at this in this light previously. This article really did turn the light on for me personally as far as this specific subject goes. Nevertheless there is actually one particular position I am not too cozy with and while I attempt to reconcile that with the main idea of the point, allow me see just what the rest of the readers have to point out.Nicely done.

  25. Diet Plans for Women to Lose Weight Says:
    September 22nd, 2014 at 1:35 am

    The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to
    see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a
    youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views.
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  26. onitsuka gambling hl5b0-0133 Says:
    September 22nd, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Amazing! Its really amazing article, I have got much clear idea
    on the topic of from this post.

  27. Parkour anabolic supplier Says:
    October 10th, 2014 at 4:13 am

    I ddo not even know the way I finished up right here,
    however I believed this put up used to bee great. I don’t recognize who youu are
    however defintely you’re going to a famous blogger in case you are
    not already. Cheers!

  28. la voyance Says:
    October 11th, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Throughout this great design of things you actually get a B+ with regard to effort. Where you actually misplaced us was in the facts. You know, it is said, the devil is in the details… And it couldn’t be more correct at this point. Having said that, permit me say to you exactly what did deliver the results. The writing is certainly very convincing which is most likely the reason why I am making the effort to opine. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Next, although I can certainly notice the jumps in reason you come up with, I am not confident of exactly how you appear to unite your ideas which in turn help to make the actual final result. For now I will, no doubt subscribe to your position however wish in the future you actually connect the dots much better.

  29. zaborilenta Says:
    January 28th, 2015 at 7:33 am

    In this awesome pattern of things you actually secure a B- with regard to effort. Where exactly you misplaced everybody was first in the facts. As as the maxim goes, details make or break the argument.. And that could not be much more true at this point. Having said that, allow me inform you just what exactly did give good results. The writing can be really persuasive and that is possibly why I am taking the effort in order to comment. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, while I can see the leaps in reason you come up with, I am not necessarily sure of just how you appear to connect the points which in turn help to make the conclusion. For right now I will, no doubt yield to your issue however hope in the future you actually connect the dots better.

Leave a Reply