Elearning Adoption in Organizations

I’ve been exploring instructional design for a while, and now that I’ve come to the conclusion (more or less) of the story on the process side of ID, I want to pause on that topic for a while, and move on to a new subject: Elearning Adoption in Organizations.

Context for Elearning Adoption in Organizations

As the globalized economy becomes more complex (especially in the context of digitalisation) it becomes increasingly important to understand the educational processes that lead people and organizations to accept new ideas, and to adopt them into their activities. I have written before about how I believe that elearning is a recession-proof industry, in that the performance (and ultimately revenue-generating) benefits accrued by organizations that implement elearning strategies will enable them to retain the flexibility needed to survive in the post-industrial world.

To recap, in a blog article from 2008 called  Recession and the Challenge to E-learning I asserted that

through familiarization and use, learners expectations are more reasonable about what can be achieved (and perhaps more importantly how it can be achieved through digitally mediated delivery) …But is it perceived as a necessity or a luxury?

When describing e-learning from a decade ago I stated:

Over-compressed images, poor animation, and very poor audio – hardly the immersive learning solution that e-learning flattered to promise at the time. Assuming the learner could access the content successfully, the chances were that the PC (for it was always a PC) that they were using to view their content was processing and displaying the date at a rate that we wouldn’t find acceptable on a PDA now (screen-size excluded). Pentium or pre-Pentium processors, 8-bit sound cards, 16 colors, 800×600 pixel displays. And so on.

and I quoted “e-Learning Guru” Kevin Kruse, who described 2001 as the year that

…brought the harsh, steep slope of unfulfilled promises. Several high-profile providers shut their doors while many more announced large-scale layoffs in the face of missed revenue targets and crashing stock prices. E-learning advocates retreated to the more defensible ground of “blended learning. This year [went] down as the Trough of Despair.

Figure 1. Chronological E-learning Adoption Hype Cycle 1996-early 2000s

Figure 1. Chronological E-learning Adoption Hype Cycle 1996-early 2000s


As learning professionals, I suggested at the time, we could see the potential, but our collective imagination exceeded the available technology, and that this constrained elearning adoption. In that post, I provided what I characterise as a Structural Functionalist approach (in the anthropological sense) to the topic. This perspective can be described as

the contribution made by any phenomenon to a larger system of which the phenomenon is a part.

(Hoult. 1969. p.139)

Over the next few blog articles, I will revisit this subject from a Functionalist or organizational angle, looking in particular at the concepts of Diffusion of Innovation, social proof, how new ideas, practices, and processes are integrated into organizations, and how learning professionals can operationalize e-learning to align with organizational goals.




Hoult, T.F. (1969) Dictionary of Modern Sociology. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Kruse, K. (2002) The State of e-Learning: Looking at History with the Technology Hype Cycle. [Internet] Available from: http://www.e-learningguru.com/articles/hype1_1.htm [Accessed 12th February 2008]