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…
brent schlenker says
The way of the monolithic software app is long dead. The LMS is a dead idea. Maybe they plan to kill the LMS side of the house and focus on the Shared Insights side. I think a marriage of tools like ClearspaceX and Buzzlogic is MUCH more appealing to me. Let’s facilitate the informal learning conversations and also measure the impact of those conversations and identify the key contributors in an organization. I don’t care if the LMS says that my people were all sitting somewhere at a certain time, or wasted 2-4 hours guessing multiple choice questions. But I do care if they are communicating with others, solving problems, and getting work done. Sharing and collaborating and learning IS the work these days…the important work anyways. I want to make that happen better, stronger, faster, and reward the people contributing to the collective achievement of business goals.
Just my $.02 ;-)
David Wilkins says
I just wanted to respond to Brent’s comment. While we agree that it’s time to rethink the LMS, I think it’s a bit of stretch to say that LMS is a “dead idea.” Like many established LMS companies, we have some big names in our client list, many of whom are part of heavily regulated industries. Financial markets, manufacturing, mining, construction, healthcare etc… do lots and lots of compliance-related training. They need to be able to show that “x” person took and passed “y” course — and “course” in this case can’t mean “read a couple of blogs, added to the wiki, and watched a video.” It needs to be a structured thing with finite boundaries that can be replicated and produced for govt agencies or State Attorney General’s as required. This does not of course, preclude any of us in the LMS business from introducing deep, community-like features to the LMS: discussion, comments, ability to add your own user-generated “courses” or content, etc…
Nor does it preclude us from rethinking the non-compliance side of the learning business. This part of the business requires a radical rethinking. This is where Brent’s comments are dead-on. Today, our only vehicle for delivering “courses” and “learning” is the LMS — even when it’s not the best choice, even when the rest of world is relying on a lot of what Brent is alluding to, even when user-generated content is becoming a standard paradigm in the way people “use” the internet.
I don’t think Brent is off-base in the big picture, but specifically as to the need for LMS, this is not going to change anytime soon. Innovation needs to be inclusive of these needs or larger companies will be ill-served by what we’re doing.
Senior Director of Content, Mzinga
I appreciate the reality check, but I’d like to see that they passed the “y” assessment, not survived the course. For some things a course might need to be available (e.g. when you need a full skill shift), but I don’t need to track whether they accessed the info, I care whether they can ultimately do the right thing!
Agreed, there’s a role for the course, and making it available, but I want to track ability to perform, not evidence they endured a content dump. If reading a couple of blogs, adding to the wiki, and watching a video leads to the outcome, who cares? Which of course I don’t think it contrary to what you mean.
David Wilkins says
Yes, changed performance is ultimately the goal of all of this. And none of what you have written is contrary to any of this. We’re on the same page with you on all of this.
I do think though that there is another element here that some folks might be missing. Companies often need to reproduce the exact training that a given learner “passed” (or at least have the capacity to reproduce it). Being able to pull up the exact training that a learner took 3 years ago is a real need for large organizations. While I don’t think there is a ton of “value” in this, from a legal and compliance perspective, it’s critical for certain subjects. It’s not clear to me (yet) how we (or anyone) can do this with more dynamic content like blogs, wikis, discussions etc… I’m not saying it can’t be done any other way, just that, for now, what we currently describe as “courseware” is one of the few mechanisms we have to easily encapsulate and store training content that must be reproduced at will. That said, this is something we will be able to eventually address based on some of the deep reporting stuff we’re doing on the “informal” side. And of course, for any content that is not compliance-related, everything you said is dead-on.
Sorry if I wasn’t clear about this in my original post. I totally agree that results should matter more than the method. But when companies get in trouble due to an employee messing up, it’s critical that a company can show that they provided the “right” training, even if the employee didn’t carry through with it. Anyway, I hope my original post makes more sense in this light.