Dec 5, 2006

6C Learning Introduction (part II)

Over the years, e-learning projects have shifted as to their major targets, their approach and objectives as it may be clear from figure 1. First, there is learning itself. Whereas before, primarily technology was emphasised, nowadays learning process and outcomes are focused. It is not the e in e-learning that is stressed, but rather the learning aspect and even more the learning benefits at a personal level (Felix 2005). How does e- learning optimize the objectives of a learner or organisation? Do we need this type of learning? If an organisation wants to conquer a position in the information society, it will have to define its learning strategy and consequently also the scope of its e-learning. So, at present e-learning projects situate themselves on the right hand on the figure whereas before they were on the left hand.

Secondly, there is cost. Training projects are often the first ones that are cut in a downward economic situation. Before, it was generally expected that e-learning would cut costs. Now, increasing effectiveness throughout the value chain comes first. It may not be overlooked, however, that if e-learning is put forward as a means to create value, it needs to be architectured. Our point is that e-learning can effectively cut through the organisation layers and enhance communication across all learners in the organisation and thus create a collaborative learning environment, on condition it is thereto designed. Users and designers need to interact in more standardised ways. Also, rather than going for big bang approaches, often fraught with risk and hard to sell, we tend to move towards chaining smaller, focused projects where former achievements lay the groundworks for future projects. A phased project approach will focus on acquisition, dissemination and follow-up of new knowledge for a specific training with a clearly identified group of learners who want on the job return on their learning investments, on a shorter term basis than before. Centralization, integration, standardisation, architecture are definitely gaining importance in 2nd generation projects, as indicated in figure 1.

Before, prestige projects were set up, now very concrete and pragmatic learning is put forward. Whereas before, pure e-learning was the magic key, organisations now realise it is ‘blended’ learning that will serve them better. Choices need to be made as to where, for whom, how and which learning technology suits best to guarantee an optimum return (Felix, 2005). In fact we feel that the level of maturity of e-learning in organizations is correlated with who is driving the initiative. Who is the head of e-learning projects in companies: ICT or HR? And who is the head in schools: is it the didactic cell or the ICT cell? Or both? In a second generation we see joint accountabilities and a tendency towards HR and didactics.

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