Free e-learning: The Top 10 barriers to adoption

by Viv on November 26, 2007

As was revealed last Friday at the e-learning Network, vast numbers of free e-learning tools are available. For some of the most popular tools see Jane Hart’s Directory of Learning Tools.
If there are all these great free tools, why are cost-conscious firms not adopting them faster?

Based on the ELN discussions, here’s my top 10:

  1. Awareness: it’s difficult for L&D to keep up to date with and evaluate the sheer volume of new tools, hence it’s easier to wait to see what tools get adopted by others in significant numbers.
  2. Support: who’s responsible for helping users get the best from using the software?
  3. Integration with existing systems: the freeware has probably been built to do one job by developers who are unfamiliar with or unconstrained by corporate systems.
  4. Maintenance of code base: if an application is not popular, there is a risk that the developer community will not be large or enthusiastic enough to keep the code updated.
  5. Learning curve: applications that have been written for sharing rather than the commercial market are likely to be packaged in a less intuitive/ user-friendly, hence there will be a steeper learning curve for users to reach proficiency.
  6. Installation costs: although the code for Moodle and other software may be free, installing it can be as expensive as a proprietary LMS e.g. Open University has spent over £1m installing and customising its Moodle LMS.
  7. Confidential information: on-line hosted services mean that proprietary material will be located outside the organisation which raises confidentiality risks.
  8. Branding: it may be difficult to customise the outputs so that the look and feel meets brand guidelines.
  9. Copyright: is what’s being offered actually subject to copyright? The owners of the copyright are more likely to pursue corporates on the basis that they will have money to pay out on a claim.
  10. Ethos: there is clash of values between free software developers and corporates e.g. if a bank customises open source software to meet its needs, will it really share these updates into the community so that a competitor can access these for free?
  11. My intention in highlighting these barriers is not to deter people from using free e-learning tools but to help people overcome these barriers. As shown in Jane’s survey there’s lots of tools that early adopters are finding useful.

    How does this top 10 tally with your experience?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: