Why is official online learning still so… official?

SCROM Online LearningToday, people use the internet anywhere, at any time, to do everyday things – Banking and paying bills, groceries and shopping, and of course social interaction.

The internet has also advanced self-taught learning. People access facts and figures through sites and tools such as Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, infographics, and podcasts. More planned learning is also taking place through the bevy of internet subscription learning websites available such as Treehouse, CodeAcademy, SewSchool, and Rosetta Stone. Learning on the internet works as it is an ever-evolving platform for ever-evolving content.

Even how we access it has evolved. There has been a massive shift from access only being accessible via work based desktop computers, to owning personal laptops with speedy home broadband. And of course, the mobile device revolution has seen people online, all the time. Anything and everything is accessible. The world’s knowledge is now an “On Demand” resource.

The internet evolution has encouraged what we here at Be Learning call “Pull” learning: Online experiences where learners engage and are encouraged to explore and learn on their own terms. So it’s no wonder that companies also want their online learning to be as engaging and reflective of the everyday digital experiences employees are used to. They want it available anywhere, anytime. They want a mobile app, lots of videos, and great looking interfaces. It should be easy to update the content as it needs to evolve, just like all the other online content. Yet, we still see workplace online learning that is “click and read”, text heavy and near impossible to access from a mobile device. It’s also difficult to update, and sometimes requires expensive software which is only used once in a blue moon.

What is restricting the creation of modern digital learning experiences that truly engage users?

If you’re a Learning and Development Professional, then no doubt you’ve heard of SCORM. Without going into too much detail (that’s what the Wikipedia article is for), SCORM set the standards and specifications for web-based online learning way back in 1999. A whole industry grew, building systems that supported and aligned to SCORM, and many of today’s well established companies invested into these SCORM systems.

“That’s great!” I hear you say, standards and specifications help professionals and industry work together. But here’s where the SCORM becomes a problem: SCORM was last updated in 2004. You’re probably thinking: “That’s not that long ago,” but consider this: When asked, many people think iPhone was launched in 2002. They are genuinely surprised to discover that the device, that has revolutionised the way humans interact and conduct their daily lives, was first released in 2007. It hasn’t even had its tenth birthday and yet has already been through five updates!

If you think about technological advances over the past ten years, it becomes so obvious how much has changed and still continues to evolve. The huge difference in evolution means the modern digital products and systems of 2013 have outgrown the 2004 SCORM based systems. But many companies have invested so much in SCORM, it is a big decision to deviate. They want the modern digital experience but ask it to work with their SCORM system. That’s like wanting to use Skype, but requiring all the conversations to be fed into and stored in a fax machine.

So how does Be Learning handle the modern digital learning versus SCORM conversation with our clients? Tune in next time where we look at how our digital experiences address the heart of the issue – The user.

This post is writ­ten by Sera Prince, Digital Product Lead, Be Learning