Europe’s top e-learning strategists, content and systems developers attending the recent European e-learning Summit, held in the UK, agreed that:
- The use of technology to develop, deliver, store and manage training (a definition of e-learning) is core to the whole training sector.
- The e-learning industry needs a single, independent and impartial (in terms of e-learning producers) national voice to promote the industry to Government in every country in Europe.
- This is not just a case of coming together to lobby Government but also banding together to source contracts collaboratively – both as individual contracts with smaller customers and as consortia to fulfil large contracts placed by, for example, global businesses and Government departments.
- E-learning needs to be seen as being about transforming business performance (helping users sell more; deliver compliance for less; reduce costs and increase profits) rather than just another tool for the HR learning and development armory.
In addition, delegates raised concerns over:
- e-learning’s name, credibility and visibility among business leaders.
- the apparent dearth of certified instructional or learning designers – and the mechanism for developing them to a consistent standard.
The Summit delegates – drawn from the private and public sectors as well as academia, not just from the UK but also from other European countries including Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic – discussed the European and world markets for e-learning.
Summit delegate Dr Ladislava Knihova, an e-learning specialist from the Czech Republic, said: “I have greatly valued this Summit. In addition to providing a valuable networking opportunity with the e-learning world‘s senior champions, the event enabled issues to be discussed – and a consensus reached – which can bring cohesion and collaboration, helping this industry to meet the challenges of today’s business world.”
“Basically, we’re all very small businesses,” Piers Lea, CEO of Line Communications and a member of the European Learning Industry Group, said to a videographer at the event, “but [we’re] a lot of businesses that are really getting fantastic results. But this is just not coming through in public perception. We’ve realised as a group of companies that unless we club together and speak with one voice somehow, then we’re never really going to get the message across – and it’s never going to come through with the power that it needs. And, frankly, the industry is not growing at the rate it ought to be considering how important it is for the future prosperity of this country [the UK] and of Europe.”
Addressing the issues raised by Summit delegates has resulted in the organisers preparing a ‘manifesto for e-learning’ to raise the profile of the corporate e-learning sector with Government. A number of the Summit delegates are now involved in initiatives to bring Government and corporate e-learning sector representatives together.
Comment: As Learning Light’s David Patterson said: “It’s important that Government decision makers realise the key role that corporate e-learning plays in supporting change and helping to maintain competitive advantage, as well as promoting increased worker efficiency and effectiveness in difficult economic times.”