Tony Karrer picked up on the Knowledge Planet + Shared Insights = Mzinga (means ‘beehive’ in Swahili) merger, and said “points to another direction – combination of LMS capability + community / social networking. I’m not sure I quite get what that means yet”. He got an explanation he liked from Dave Wilkins (KP, now Mzinga), but I have what I think is a somewhat different one.
To me, courses are at the bottom of Tony O’Driscoll’s map of the transition from novice to expertise. Communities are at the top. What I haven’t previously seen is an elegant transition between the two. I’ve argued that you really should wrap community around the courses at the bottom to support the transition from learner to participant/practitioner to expert/innovator. There are nuances about how it should be done, of course, like so much of what we do. Whether that’s in Mzinga’s direction is an open question.
Tony mentions Q2 Learning as someone else working in the space of learning and community, though while their one product meets the need of learning wrapped with community it’s not clear how that segues from there to their community product. And he cites Wilkin’s pointer to Gartner’s guess that “Enterprise social software will be the biggest new workplace technology success story of this decade.” Which resonates with my previous post about knowledge management.
I really believe that eCommunity and eLearning need to be integrated (it’s part of my eLearning strategy, after all), and I’m pleased to see some initial steps in this space, but as usual I have some specific ideas about how that should happen and I’ll be on the fence until it looks like someone’s really ‘getting’ it. Same with elearning and performance support & portals. LearningGuide seems to be doing it, but is it enough? Eventually, you want courses, performance support, and community working together, and any two is only a partial step.
The opportunity to elegantly integrate the necessary components is sweet, but maybe loosely coupled components through web services (ala Jay Cross) will ultimately make more sense than a monolithic system. More flexibility, the ability to elegantly do each component rather than try to have a Swiss Army knife…