Oct 23, 2007


SCORM was developed by the US defense originally, and is now spread beyond their initial imagination allover the planet as the de facto e-learning standard. (Well, actually the previous version SCORM 1.2 because the SCORM 2004 specification is too complex for most vendors and content builders I would argue.)

Just heard that SCORM specification has found a new home. A loosely coupled federation of organisations will keep on maintaining and developing the SCORM standards. The organisation is called LETSI but I forgot what it stands for. Expect the new organisation to find out its way of working and governance in the first quarter of 2008. And I think later on we will see specifications coming out to get web service and SOA standards for e-learning.

Oct 22, 2007

L7: ROI for learning braindump

The learning 2007 conference has started yesterday evening and is now at full speed. During the opening session there was an interview with Doug Lynch from Wharton university. He claims ROI is a false number and the learning profession should move towards other forms of evidence to prove its value. Actually he used a quite strong word to describe the significance of an ROI number but I'm not going to repeat it here, both because I didn't get it well and because it's a dirty word that would bring down the level of this blog :-).

I went to his session this morning. Here is my dump:

  • We live in a knowledge economy and more people learn in companies than in schools. However there are no peer reviewed studies of ROI in companies. That is worrying.
  • It is not that ROI cannot be done, but it is very complex to do and not necessarily meaningful. A quick poll of the audience says 71% say their companies do not have an accurate ROI measurement in place.
  • Learning is accounted for under GAAP as an expense, even if we talk about it as an investment in people
  • Some reasons why ROI is not what we necessarily need: ROI is outcome based but in a learning organization for example it is the process of continuous improvement that matters. For ROI you need to define, measure and monetize all variables that make up the benefits and the costs of learning, while controlling for all variables except for learning. What goes into ROI is also very specific to the company and context.
  • All things being equal, what is the impact of learning? Well guess what, all other things that affect performance are not equal, performance is affected by lots of things we cannot control for in the calculation.
  • What we are actually are talking about is the IMPACT of learning, and evidences of that instead of the financial number related to outcome benefits and associated costs ratio.
  • So we should all be like researchers and find evidence and validate that in a scientific way. Work with the evidence you can gather or with what is easily quantifiable.
  • Americans are typically asking a lot of questions and interrupt the flow of the presentation and go into side discussions much more than you will see happening on European conferences. That is not necessarily bad, but at this point I lost it so I don't really know what we could do instead ROI. We did not get to the end or half of the slides, but they will be on the learningwiki.com site later on so maybe I'll get the point of the session later.
At a previous conference I remember in a similar session some people and vendors boosting on how they got a number and cracked the holy grail on proving learning value. Then the last speaker came and declared that mankind has been teaching each other stuff since the dawn of time, and we still do not know how to measure its value, although we all feel it does matter. So who started the whole ROI saga in learning anyway? Was it the business that noticed learning and wanted to manage it like any other service or investment? Or was it the learning function that wanted a place at the table and decided it should come up with a ROI number to achieve that?
At the end of the session I'm still as confused about the ROI debate as before. I have more reasons to believe that ROI is not the unifying answer. But I still have no idea as to what other evidences to replace it with. So hopefully I'll get it later and in the mean time stick to Kirkpatrick.

Learning theory video's

You can view 4 free video's on learning theory on the site http://www.learningwiki.com/theory. Prof. Stanton Wortham from Penn University talks in a clear and understandable way about behaviorism, cognitivism and sociocultural learning theory.

Oct 13, 2007

elearning mysellingskills.com

Just tried out the demo of mysellingskills.com, a brand new e-learning site to develop your selling skills. It is made by instruxion (Belgium) and a license costs 250 euro to access the whole library.
I like their approach: these courses show that e-learning has definitely moved away from the text-based screens into media-rich and almost film-like stories. The backside is that you can't learn at a quicker pace and need to passively indulge the rhythm of the course as it develops in front of your eyes. And there are no transcripts of the story which makes the course inaccessible for the hearing impaired. But that aside the course made a good impression, and I like the initiative to throw this on the Internet in a yearly subscription mode.

Oct 1, 2007

e-Quality project for learning

Another European-funded project on Quality in e-learning, the e-Quality project has released a free DVD with an overview of quality processes on learning and e-learning. The project also released a software eLUP to model quality in e-learning processes.


I was in an e-learning quality seminar last week, where Dr. Ulf-Daniel Ehlers mentions there are a lot of quality tools for learning out there. Hundreds. But not one that stands above the other and becomes a generally accepted one. Maybe this one? Maybe SEVAQ? (I'll blog on a similar project SEVAQ later.)

Mobile learning

One of the interest areas of the learning industry right now is mobile learning. Devices are getting even more widespread and powerful, with decent network access. Take the iPhone and the likes as an example. And in some areas of the world it also makes much, much more sense to use a device everyone already has as a learning delivery vehicle instead of more expensive computers.

Anyway, I wanted to share a link to this platform to create free mobile applications:

Personally I don't use my cellphone for networking because it is still very expensive here in Belgium to do so. But once that obstacle gets out of the way, I might be tempted for a question or module a day on a topic. Or to interact with the speaker/trainer via SMS. Or to send in a picture of my work for review. Or anything else people will come up with...