Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordle: E-learning Authoring - The Shifting Landscape

We've just announced some new research focusing on e-learning authoring strategies and tools, including the first of a series of three research papers. The first paper, titled E-learning Authoring: The Shifting Landscape analyses the the key forces driving changes to the way corporates are approaching the creation of bespoke e-learning, together with a high-level perspective of the new strategies for content authoring and new types of authoring tools. The next two papers, to be published in Q2 2010 will focus more specifically on a deeper analysis of the strategies and the tools.


David Perring said...

Hi David,

This is a really fascinating paper.

What intrigues me is the e-learing authoring strategies. What has constantly challenged me is how you effectively flex your e-learning organisation between the different strategic authoring scenarios effectively.

In a world of conflicting priorities, challenged budgets from project to project, "good enough", speed, instructional design skill and collaboration trying to find the optimal balance between facilitating SME production, internal development to external partners is a very difficult balancing act to master.

Very seldom is it clearly a either an SME strategy, partially outsourced or fully outsourced.

In my experience of medium (10k - 25K employee) organisations the different project contexts and circumstance mean that you need a combination of approaches to survive.

So, trying to find the tools that enable you to flex around a authoring strategy effectively is very difficult.

Do you see some tool sets providing more flex around this than others?

David Wilson said...

Thanks David.

I agree in principle that a combination of strategies is desirable, although I think the evidence backs up the tendancy to collapse to one of them becoming dominant - at least for an extended duration of time.

Whilst some organisations may consciously try and offer multiple models for e-learning content, pressure on resources and available skills tends to push them towards lowest common denominator approaches. That's one of the reasons that the traditional outsource model has been sustained for so long, despite the obvious lack of scalability of the budget to go with it.

We will explore the relationship between tools and strategies more in the detailed follow-on papers. But I think the flexibility of tools so support more than one operating model or strategy is really critical.

As an example, we've seen this factor emerge in some of our LCMS advisory work. In many LCMS procurements, often the client organisation initially has a fairly fixed view on its desired learning content process and production model. But our view is that the ability to flex the model over time is important, and also the ability to operate federated models rather than everything being centralised. If the LCMS is a key enabling platform for the content process, its also critical that it can be flexed too - otherwise it becomes the limiting factor and therefore potentially redundant.

Overall though, the more organisations think about their learning content processes more strategically - one of the aims of the paper - the more we think they will look for tools that can support a) more of the identified strategies, and b) inherently therefore become more focused on connected development, collaboration, sharing and workflow. This doesn't necessarily mean LCMS, but it does mean a marginalisation of local individual tools unless they are supported by additional collaboration processes.