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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Has E-Learning Gone Wild Again?

Photo: Josh Bersin
"Online education is back with a vengeance — and it works." according to Josh Bersin, the principal and founder of Bersin & Associates. 
Photo: Chief Learning Office

E-learning is back again, and this time with a vengeance. To illustrate what I mean, let me first provide a little history.

Back in 1999, when the Internet was young, a group of pioneering companies believed that education, learning and professional development would be disrupted by the Internet. Outgoing Cisco CEO John Chambers was famously quoted in January 2001 stating, e-learning will “make email look like a rounding error.”

Many big companies at that time told me,  “brick-and-mortar universities are dead;” they said virtual universities were going to take over. Many of us believed this, just like we believed that companies like Webvan were going to take over brick-and-mortar grocery stores.

Big vendors at that time included DigitalThink, Click2Learn, SmartForce, NETg, SkillSoft and Ninth House Networks. There were hundreds of others — most of which have disappeared or been acquired.

The concept was simple: Freed from the cost and time of travel, we could learn online and save our companies millions of dollars. Education would be done virtually, and even live instruction would be done online. 

E-learning received a huge boost during the recession of 2000-01. Companies trimmed learning budgets significantly, which fueled the market for learning management systems, online content and content development tools. 

In the ensuing decade, we all learned a lot. First, we learned that online learning as defined in those years was not enough. At first, people enjoyed the page-turning, somewhat slow flash-based content at first, but it got boring fast. Soon people realized e-learning should be blended with other educational experiences, leading to a decade of work in blended learning development.

Source: Chief Learning Office