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Myth Busting – E-Learning Style

When DVD’s came out, the experts predicted the end of movie theaters. When Amazon set up shop in cyberspace, the experts predicted the end of strip malls. But neither of those things happened. Movie theaters are still a billion dollar industry and online retail only makes up 5% of shopping.

So when the experts predicted a steep drop in universities and in-person trainings because of E-Learning the Mario Institute was skeptical. They decided to take a serious look at E-Learning and how it is impacting both the world of education and professional training.

They have just released their findings in a new report, “Just in Time: The Beyond-the-Hype Potential of E-Learning.”

Mario Morino is the Chairman and Katie Paris is an advisor to the Morino Institute. They sat down with Chris Dorobek for a two-part interview to talk about why E-Learning matters, how it is a disruptive innovation and why a blended approach could work best.

“E-Learning is important because we are seeing a fundamental change in technology delivery at the end of the day. It is coming together at the same time as we have a bunch of social pressures; higher tuition costs, higher unemployment that is causing this reaction to the whole field. I think the intriguing part of E-Learning today is that the potential disrupting of an education system to make education available at a lower cost, to a broader audience and in a more accessible way,” said Marino.

Get over the hype?

“On one side you hear people saying that technology is the future thing, but this is going to change everything, even the way we slice bread, but it will certainly disrupt how we do higher education. There is a lot of how hype surrounding E-Learning about how it will destroy and change the whole system. We think there is a lot of hype there. People are going to want to be together. People value experience, place and being together, so we think it is a more complicated picture than some might predict. On the other hand people say ‘Ho-hum distance learning has been around been around for years.’ We agree there is a lot we can learn from, we need to keep this historical perspective in mind, but we think something is fundamentally changing here. New technologies are enabling something that is disruptive in deed,” said Paris.

How pervasive is E-Learning?

  • Key Insight: “This goes beyond our concept of formal education. You now have a hand held device (phone or tablet), with a cloud interface that makes data available instantaneously, you have high bandwidth that makes it fas. If you have a flat tire. You can ask, how do I change a flat tire? Today you can instantaneously get that information. Or you could be cooking in the kitchen and you need a recipe and your phone walks you through the recipe. Or it could be, I am helping my kid with a 5th grade science project and I go KhanAcademy. E-Learning is seeping to our day-to-day life. It can be used in almost every facet of what we do, that is what has made eLearning pervasive. It is the combination of technology and the chunking of education into small bit pieces, that we can retrieve quickly that allows us to do this so easily,” said Mario.

“What we are hoping for here is really the cross-sector application of just-in-time learning. Just as we naturally reach for Fandango when we want to go see a movie, thinking both in the private, public and social sectors, thinking what might be some applications that could help us do what we do better,” said Paris.

In this new model, life becomes learning?

  • Key Insight: “Knowledge begets knowledge. What we are doing is creating information that is streamed into some sort of knowledge. We are doing this at an incredible rate. We create more information and knowledge now in a week that it took us a decade to generate before. Consequently when someone is going to solve a problem, the base of information, the history, the base of knowledge at their disposal is enormous. That basis then triggers other innovations, other ideas and other creativity,” said Marino.

“The tagline of this report is, “it’s not what you know, it is how you learn.” Everything out there really is knowable now, we talk all the time about how trivia is no fun anymore because there is always the person that pulls out their smartphone and cheats. But what becomes more important is how do you acquire new knowledge and then build from there?” said Paris.

Is the cost factor the most disruptive thing about E-Learning?

“We are talking about the accessibility to learning, education costs are skyrocketing, we have a huge cost problem and there are all sorts of ways of learning where E-Learning can be enormously useful in terms of scaling programs that need to be scaled. But I think of what I learned from this report was ways in which interacting online can actually enhance the learning experience. There is a lot of talk about blended learning, not just coming to a classroom, but interacting with people worldwide. I am here in Cleveland, maybe people in Hanoi are confronting similar problems. By having these social learning experiences we can go deeper than just a basic exchange of information, but really learning from each other. That is what we hope you glean from this report, that there is real value to E-Learning far beyond just reducing cost and scaling,” said Paris.

There is a fear E-Learning will replace universities?

“You are going to see certain schools will disappear. Clayton Christensen makes the prediction that you will see between 200-300 schools go under, but that is still a small percentage. You have to look historically at technology adoption, and what has happened. I remember seeing the first video on demand presentations in the mid 90s and we were going to end all movie houses by mid-2000. Well that didn’t happen. We still have a lot of movie theaters because people want to congregate. Online retail was supposed to make shopping centers hollowed out blocks. The reality is only 5% of retail is online today. That’s not bad, it just means all of this is not the way it is projected. People want connectivity, they want a physical space so things end up blended. You get a much better service delivery when everything comes together,” said Morino.

Tomorrow Morino and Paris will tell us more about blended E-Learning. So stay tuned.

Other Virtual Training Resources:

Interested in standing up a virtual internship program at your agency? I’d encourage you to reach out to GovLoop’s Director of Training and Development, Andrew Krzmarzick, who can help you with the process. Email ([email protected]) or call (202-352-1806) him and he’d be happy to talk more.

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