I am reproducing an interesting, yet dated, article I stumbled upon. This article was published in Dec 2010, but it is worth reading considering the sweeping vision demonstrated by a group of delegates at an eLearning summit in the UK.
The results of discussions by the delegates at the European e-learning Summit, organised by Learning Light with support from learndirect and Creativesheffield and held in Sheffield (17th to 19th November), have been published in the form of a manifesto for e-learning.
The manifesto is intended to help delegates pursue dialogue with their national governments to establish a single, independent and impartial body representing the corporate e-learning sector.
Although developed within a European context, the manifesto focuses specifically on the corporate e-learning sector in the UK. Delegates to the Summit from outside the UK are encouraged to adapt the manifesto to the situation in their own countries and use this to pursue the aims stated at the Summit.
The manifesto outlines the opportunities and challenges currently facing the e-learning sector; explains the e-learning sector’s offering to ‘UK plc’, and sets out what the Summit delegates believe needs to happen. This includes: continued investment in the country’s technical infrastructure – including access to high speed broadband for all; the adoption of system interoperability; widespread e-assessment; simplified technical and funding infrastructures; a change to UK Government procurement policy with regards to e-learning materials and systems, and support for the e-learning sector as an export driver.
“It’s significant that, unlike the video games industry which is pressing for tax breaks from the Government and the British Film Industry which is asking for public money for further investment in that sector, the corporate e-learning industry is merely asking for UK Government recognition that it exists,” commented David Patterson, operations director of Learning Light, the Sheffield-based organisation which focuses on promoting the use of e-learning and learning technologies.
“Moreover, it is seeking an acknowledgement from the Government that, as a sector, it is making a positive contribution to Britain’s competitiveness in world markets and is generating export income for the UK.”
The key elements of the manifesto are:
1. Europe’s economies face challenges including:
• Demographics: Europe’s population is ageing and its workforce size is shrinking.
• Competition: BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa) countries provide both competitors and opportunities which demand a significant ramping up of skills in our workforce.
• Environmental damage: There are the costs and environmental damage of travel, facilities and resources involved in delivering ‘traditional’, instructor-led training.
2. E-learning is uniquely equipped to meet these challenges, yet its value is largely unrecognised. E-learning and learning technologies can make a significant contribution to addressing these challenges by:
• Giving Europe’s economies the competitive advantage derived from engaging and effective e-learning which delivers flexible, innovative just-in-time, just-enough learning solutions.
• Equipping organisations to cope with the increasing speed of change and competition.
• Providing cost effective, location independent and environmentally beneficial learning.
• Working at all levels of the employee hierarchy from ‘hard to reach learners’ to ‘industry leaders’, e-learning is able to address topics at all levels and of all complexities.
3. So, the e-learning industry must:
• Share its successes and evidence the benefits that e-learning can offer.
• Demonstrate how it improves performance by providing effective and engaging training and learning on an immense scale and in rapid time.
• Provide tool sets to support and influence the effective adoption of e-learning and provide evidence of its benefits.
4. To help it do this, the industry needs:
• The Government to understand the role that corporate e-learning currently plays in enabling choice, freedom and flexibility for learners and businesses; facilitating community and communication; providing value for money and efficiency within a tight fiscal climate, and building on the rapid roll-out of superfast broadband.
• Acknowledgement from Government that the e-learning industry comprises principally innovative small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). So Government procurement policy must enable these SMEs to be given free and fair access to Government contracts. Government procurement of learning services must focus on engendering an open and innovative market.
• An export opportunity: It is vital, if UK e-learning companies are to continue to win overseas contracts, that they have the kudos of supplying the UK government. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the body which works with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets, needs to recognise the potential of e-learning exports to the corporate training and learning market, as much as it does to the education market.
• Government education policy to recognise the huge changes in society driven by internet adoption and how this impacts upon learning. Today’s students will spend up to 60% of their waking hours online, living their life – and learning will need to be there.
“Thinking about the UK specifically, there are a number of socio-economic factors driving the increased use of online technology – in such areas as social media, gaming and sales,” said Summit delegate, Glynn Jung.
“This means that there’s a greater propensity for people to be engaged in learning this way. In addition, the Cabinet Office, under Francis Maude, is currently engaged in encouraging the delivery of more Government services online.”
“One of the advantages we need to communicate to Government is how e-learning meets the needs of the end user, whether that be government itself, corporates – which, in the UK, given the recent skills strategy announcement, will be expected to contribute towards the cost of training – or individual learners,” commented fellow Summit delegate, Patrick Fitzpatrick, of PTK Learning.
“This manifesto represents an accord among key members of the e-learning community, not just in the UK but across Europe,” said Learning Light’s David Patterson. “It will form the basis of a number of discussions which Summit delegates are scheduled to hold with Government officials in the New Year.”