TJ no longer has to be nice about e-learning

by Viv on July 21, 2008

I have read TJ (aka the Training Journal) for several years and found it a good read for fresh ideas and CPD the face to face training that I’ve been doing over that time. However I’ve long suspected that e-learning was something it wanted to look down upon in order to massage the vanity and phobias of its core target audience of face to face trainers “face to facers”. Whilst its parent company Huveaux also owned Epic, there were efforts to wring some synergy out of the two companies being stablemates. But since Epic was bought out in June, TJ has no commercial imperative to publish positive copy about bespoke e-learning content development…and so it proved in July’s edition.

I admire the way that the editorial makes the balanced point that organisations might be tempted to choose rapid e-learning, thereby overlooking options for blended solutions that would have a greater long term impact. However, what presses all the right buttons for the dyed in the wool face to facers (possibly TJ’s most loyal long term customers) is the implication that “[Rapid e-learning]…may spell the death knell of the wider e-learning market”. To parody the narrative as it would be heard by them: that nasty fad “e-learning” has spawned another fad “rapid e-learning” which means that organisations will buy cheap, disposable learning interventions which they will ultimately find don’t work. In the meantime, most other e-learning providers will go out of business, meaning that organisations once more will have to turn to us trusty face to facers for all their learning interventions…and we all get to live happily ever after, without having to pay attention to any of those scary technological changes that others keep banging on about.

Sadly for them, the reality is not so cosy…evolution does not work like that. L&D functions are under increasing pressure to cut both the cost and the time taken to deliver learning interventions, often from people who do not fully understand the quality of learning and its impact. As it always was, the most appropriate solution will depend on the circumstances of the company, the learning outcomes and the business change required. Rapid e-learning has changed the shape of the e-learning market, but there is still lots of room for high quality bespoke e-learning. Saying that rapid e-learning will be the only form of e-learning available is about as facile as saying that the only face to face course worth going to is Situational Leadership. To dismiss a potential part of the blend out of hand is to fail to adapt to the commercial reality that organisations operate in.

It will be interesting to see in future months how TJ balances the need to keep its most traditional constituents on board, whilst providing leading edge insights to the more open minded.

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