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E-learningZone newswire – sample issue


TrainingZONE E-learningZone Newswire - Sample issue
October 2001

Welcome to this first, sample edition of the E-learningZone
newswire, brought to you by leading e-learning consultants
Elearnity in association with TrainingZONE. This new, monthly
newswire, published on the first Monday of each month, will
contain selected news items and more in-depth articles and
comment designed to keep you informed and up-to-date with the key
issues in e-learning. The first issue will be published on 5
November 2001. For more details on subscribing to this wire, see

News summary: Market consolidation

Alliances, mergers and acquisitions continue to appear in the
news, particularly revolving around the Learning Management
arena, as consolidation starts to accelerate and the e-learning
market begins to mature. SmartForce announced that it was
acquiring the Canadian company SkillScape, a leading provider of
competency management systems. THINQ and PeopleSoft formed a
strategic alliance in order to extend the learning management
capabilities for Peoplesoft customers. THINQ also announced an
LMS solution targeted at the mid-market, away from the normal
high-end competitive arena of the major players.

DigitalThink announced its intention to acquire LearningByte
International, a US-based e-learning custom content house. This
further extends DigitalThink's capabilities in the content world.
The company also announced an extension of its strategic alliance
with KPMG to include adoption of DigitalThink's platform and
content across KPMG worldwide.

Financial uncertainty also encourages a more rapid shake-out of
players, and recent world events will drive forward the pace of
consolidation in all aspects of the e-learning market.

E-learning Vendors Association (ELVA) - first meeting

ELVA was formed as a UK-based consortium of e-learning vendors,
to provide a united voice relating to the quality of e-learning
events and publications. It aims to simplify the choice for
potential customers by endorsing specific exhibitions, and to
work with organisers and publishers to clarify requirements of
the vendors themselves. In early September, the group held its
first meeting to review presentations from a number of event and
conference organisers and publishers. It was a well-attended
event and lively session. Further meetings are planned in the
next few months. For more details see

Given the consolidation in the e-learning product and
services market, then it is likely that the rapid
proliferation of e-learning events will also go through
some reduction, influenced by the efforts of groups such as
ELVA, the maturing market and external influences. Listed
below are some of the currently planned events in the UK.


Upcoming events

10 - 11 October World Open Learning Conference & Exhibition
NEC, Birmingham
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8394 5171

17 October Creating & redefining your e-learning strategy
UNICOM Seminars, London
Tel: +44 (0) 1895 256 484

24 -26 October CIPD Annual Conference
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8263 3434

30 – 31 January 2002 Learning Technologies 2002
Tel: +44 (0)20 8587 0202

5 – 6 March 2002 Online Learning 2002 Europe
Tel: +44 (0)118 960 2823


E-learning Methodology

'It's just another implementation project, isn't it?'

There are probably three big mistakes that people make when
starting their first foray into e-learning. The first is to
grossly underestimate the cost, but that is another topic! The
other two are like flip sides of a coin. Some people abandon all
prior knowledge of programmes and projects, throw their hands up
in horror, and say, 'Help! How do we go about implementing e-
learning?'. In reality those groups who have a sound experience
in strategy planning, people and project management, vendor
selection and an understanding of methodologies and processes are
well on the way to success. So, in the right environment, it can
be much like any other implementation-based programme. Perhaps
not 100 per cent the same, but it is probably only the last 20
per cent or so which is completely different, and where most e-
learning novices need help from experienced practitioners if they
are going to be successful. Others commit a bigger sin and treat
e-learning like a focused project, concentrating on the physical
implementation of one small segment, such as installing a series
of self-paced learning courses on the company intranet. They then
move on to something else, and wonder why nobody is interested.

Learning programmes must fit into the wider context of the
business environment. The focus is not just on the development
and implementation phases of a project, but should encompass the
'bigger picture'. Key elements such as the planning of an overall
e-learning strategy and programme, the management of the learning
delivery itself, and the continuous feedback and improvement loop
process are critical for success. All implementations of
successful e-learning programmes include some form of
organisational change or job/work redefinition, and it is
important to consider the people side right from the beginning.
There are new educational needs not just for the learners, but
also the teachers or facilitators and the support staff.

Although the overall plan may be split into individual projects
and pilot events, an e-learning programme never really finishes.
There is as much to do beyond an official 'implementation date'
as there was before it. Supporting the learners, encouraging
participation, gaining feedback and making improvements are all
important. However, the most critical element is selling and
marketing to an increasingly wider audience. E-learning is new,
organisations resist change, and ongoing efforts need to be made
to win over people at all levels. At some point a critical mass
of enthusiasts builds up, and the success travels by word of
mouth, so that selling efforts can drop, but at the beginning the
work just needs to be done. Many e-learning programmes are
unsuccessful because the owners fail to recognise these vital
“peripheral” tasks, and where e-learning, at least currently, is
different from standard projects. This effort is not an IT
software implementation, or a 2-day classroom course, but a
cultural change and a learning programme.

The learning is not just in the heads of the students, either.
The core team of people involved in the whole design and
development process have been learning as they have been working.
Even if much of the work has been outsourced to external vendors,
there are always core elements of the company culture, processes
and people which are unique to the customer organisation. E-
learning is expensive, and it makes sense to develop processes,
guidelines, templates, standards and any other recommendations
which will assist subsequent efforts in being more efficient and
consistent. These quality efforts should cover the whole range of
processes from vendor selection, learning design, development,
and time estimation through to online facilitation, and the
support and motivation of the students. Therefore when starting
any e-learning effort some time should be set aside for the
documentation, evaluation and enhancement of the processes
themselves, and for the education of those people not involved in
the first phases.

It is important to develop an in-house methodology which suits
the organisation, which should encompass at least the following
- Key components (project management, sales & marketing,
organisational change..etc.)
- Processes and procedures, working practices
- Key contacts/people:
-- Internal experts & contacts
-- Recommended vendors/contractors/partners & relationships
- Standards/rules
- Guidelines, hints and tips, examples, templates, best practice
- Change management and feedback
- Useful sources of information and knowledge

It is equally vital to ensure that participants have access to

all that knowledge encompassed in the methodology, both as a
source for future work and in order to change it to keep it
current. The e-learning world at large is evolving at an
extremely rapid rate, and so will any internal corporate
methodologies and best practice. It is useful to have an
electronic repository accessible across a network, with nominated
owners to maintain it, which can serve as a documented central
point of reference. It is especially important early on, so that
those consistency and efficiency benefits can be realised. Not
all knowledge will be explicit and any total knowledge pool
should include a core body of experienced internal consultants,
who can act as guides to staff new to new e-learning. In time it
is worth developing a community of practice of the most
experienced practitioners, internal and external to the
organisation to share ideas and develop methods.

In summary it is important to:

- Think big picture as well as individual project
- Think ongoing programme rather than project
- Use existing knowledge from as many sources as possible
- Develop and maintain a methodology that suits your
- Use both explicit documented knowledge and human support.

Subscribing to the E-learningZone wire
Subscribing to the E-learningZone wire gives you access to a
year's worth of issues, all for the special price of 30 GBP until
1 December. For this, you'll receive all issues published
between November 2001 and November 2002 - if you subscribe later
in the year, back issues will be forwarded on to you. Please
note subscriptions are non-refundable.
To subscribe to this wire now, go to


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