E-Learning and economic downturns…

A temporary detour from my narrative about Kirkpatrick and non-formal learning; I’ll return to that topic anon.

Now read on…

I’m getting some interesting feedback from a variety of sources on my blog post Recession and the challenge to e-learning. Steve McKenzie has commented that he considers e-learning to be a “recession buster …on balance, costs for institutions and individuals can be saved.”

I completely agree with Steve’s assessment; the challenge as I see it, is for e-learning practitioners to address traditional/institutional ways of thinking in organizations about how to leverage the benefits of e-learning – break the habits of a lifetime in a sense.

Most decision makers (i.e. C-level executives) in organizations are from a generation that would not have extensively used e-learning during their formative years. In my experience, they become much more risk-averse during economic downturns and push back on what they see as innovation in tough times.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a VP about two years ago. I was working on a proposal to introduce an on-demand pre-classroom training module for a ILT course – a bit of blended learning to reduce the workload on instructors to ensure that learners were of an appropriate skill level to actually attend the course in question. His response to the proposal was along the lines of “it’s all very well being leading edge, but we don’t have to be bleeding edge.”

Now, this was hardly an all-singing, all-dancing 3D PLE we were proposing here, just a little 30-minute Flash-based presentation. I think that the assertion this VP made represents that we, as learning professionals, have to be cognisant of more conservative attitudes that exist in the workplace, and we need to develop strategies to counter such lines of argument.