While there are people who claim to be leaders in elearning (and some are), there is another whole group who flies under the radar. These are the people who labor quietly in the background on initiatives that will benefit all of us. I’m thinking in particular of those who work to advance our standards. And they’re really heroes for what they’ve done and are doing.
The initial learning technology standards came out from the AICC. They wanted a way to share important learning around flight, an area with a big safety burden. Thus, they were able to come together despite competition.
Several other initiatives include IEEE (which is pretty much the US based effort on electric and electronic technology standards to the international stage), and the IMS efforts from academia. They were both working on content/management interoperability, when the US government put it’s foot down. The Department of Defense’s ADL initiative decided upon a version, to move things forward, and thus was born SCORM.
Standards are good. When standards are well-written, they support a basis upon which innovation can flourish. Despite early hiccups, and still some issues, the ability for content written to the standards to run on any compliant platform, and vice versa, has enabled advancements. Well, except for those who were leveraging proprietary standards. As a better example, look how the WWW standard on top of the internet standards has enabled things like, well, this blog!
Ok, so it’s not all roses. There are representatives who, despite good intentions, also have vested interests in things going in particular directions. Their motivations might be their employers, research, or other agendas. But the process, the mechanisms that allow for decision making, usually end up working. And if not, there’s always the ADL to wield the ‘800 lb gorilla’ argument.
Other initiatives include xAPI, sponsored by ADL to address gaps in SCORM. This standard enables tracking and analytics beyond the course. It’s no panacea, but it’s a systematic way to accomplish a very useful goal. Ongoing is the ICICLE work on establishing principles for ‘learning engineering’, and IBSTPI for training, performance, and instruction. Similarly, societies such as ATD and LPI try to create standards for necessary skills (their lists are appendices in the Revolution book).
And it’s hard work! Trying to collect, synthesize, analyze, and fill in gaps to create a viable approach requires much effort both intellectual and social! These people labor away for long hours, on top of their other commitments in many cases. And in many cases their organizations support their involvement, for good as well as selfish reasons such as being first to be able to leverage the outputs.
These people are working to our benefit. It’s worth being aware, recognizing, and appreciating the work they do. I certainly think of them as heroes, and I hope you will do so as well.