Generic or off-the-shelf e-learning gets a bad rap these days. A new ‘Valhalla’ has emerged: powerful interactive technologies that enable collaborative learning and exchange of exciting ideas. Meanwhile, scorned by the chattering classes for its page-click linear approach, generic languishes banished to a corner, its name occasionally whispered at conferences like some black-sheep relative at a wedding.
That said, nobody seems to have got round to telling this to the people who buy e-learning. According to a recent survey, the worldwide market for generic elearning was forecast to grow at 15% CAGR for the next five years.
The reality is that there are good reasons why we can have confidence in this forecast. Here are seven of them:
1.- It’s still economical
The ‘write once, use many times’ approach still has a big advantage when it comes to cost. And cost will always be important for competitive organisations. Alternatively, think of it this way; for the same price of a few bespoke packages, organisations can have a whole library of knowledge at their fingertips, ready to support employees at the drop of a hat.
2.- It’s consistent
Buying into a library of e-learning gives a greater consistency of approach to the presentation and navigation of information. That means students don’t have to relearn how to get round a course and adapt to the idiosyncrasies of the particular publisher. It means they can more easily zoom into the learning they need and move onto their real job.
3.- They’re published
Creating educational content is a profession. The publisher’s reputation is laid bare when their name is on the box. They must maintain their standards and deliver a product fitting to their reputation. It can be all too easy for the unscrupulous bespoke operator to peddle a flashy front end but with little real substance to back it up. All fur coat and no knickers as my granny used to say.
4.- It’s fast
It’s fast as in, you can have it tomorrow, not two months’ time if everything goes well. And you like the Alpha. And reluctantly sign it off, even though you don’t really think it does the job but your team are screaming for the information!
5.- It’s packaged and reliable
Not too long ago, generic e-learning worked on loose standards and certifications, half observed and half ignored. Today this has tightened up dramtically. The vagaries of SCORM have been largely overcome with the advent of cloud solutions. Generic offers a tried and tested solution. Of course it’s possible to do so much more today. But ask yourself: do you really want to go through all those technical challenges again?
6.- Quantifiable results
Because generic elearning offers the same learning experience to many more people across different organisations, it also enables you to get more powerful, better quantified results. Managed correctly, it can cleverly reveal gaps in your organisation’s knowledge with genuinely useful benchmarked results. The rise of cloud applications has enhanced this even further.
7.- It’s evolved
Unsurprisingly, today’s generic e-learning packages are a world away from those early click and tell programmes we watched in the late 90’s. They are easier to run and give greatly improved results. The best programmes, such as Netex learningCoffee, are themselves customisable, to offering individual experience with none of the normal cost and other challenges associated with full bespoke packages.
As Mark Twain might have said, when it comes to generic e-learning, reports of its death are still greatly exaggerated.