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ATD Blog

Flavors of E-learning Design (Ooh Baby, It's a Wide World)


Mon Jun 11 2012


I met for coffee this past week with someone who’s looking to break into the elearning industry. She wanted to know where she should be looking and what the hot topics out there are. I was giving her my 12,000 foot lay of the land, this is what I see going on kind of a thing. It was so interesting to step by and take stock of what’s happening.

Here’s where I see elearning going down these days:


Corporate Training and Performance Improvement

Internal L&D departments and vendors designing and developing online learning programs for use within corporate organizations. This is 90% of what I do and I imagine the case for a lot of you people reading this post.

Leadership Training for Corporate:

You look at the ASTD ICE expo list and it’s filled with loads of leadership consulting and training companies. The Franklin Coveys, Ken Blanchards, etc. This is it’s whole behemoth sector in the market – it includes a lot of classroom training and increasingly elearning programs as part of those solutions.



**Lots of elearning happening in the school sector. Although, I haven’t seen much of great quality. My son has to do some of his math homework online: really basic games. He says, “I’m not learning, I’m just getting bored!” Hopefully there’s a lot more than that going on.

**Higher Ed:

**Want a master’s degree or a BA? Chances are these days you can take some, if not all of your degree program, online. And of course there’s the latest MIT/Harvard online education initiative EdX.

eLearning design for semester long courses is a different beast than your corporate training elearning design where you’re creating a 30 minute course on the latest policy. I suspect making a jump from higher ed to the corporate world and vice versa would be a big change -- and quite possibly a completely different skill set.

For Profit:


We’re starting to see the for-profit universities offering their curriculums up to the corporate market. At Corporate University Week, I heard the story of the Verizon degree program for store managers being offered in partnership with Bellevue University (here’s my blog post on the Verizon/Bellevue story from last November).

**The Consumer Market:

**Just bought a fancy new camera? Maybe that company has some fancy elearning to help you learn how to use it. More and more we’ll be seeing companies striving to increase their market share by creating value added programs like online learning to help people use their products better. Because the better pictures you take with that fancy camera, the greater your loyalty AND the more you’ll get out there and evangelize about that camera.

**Health Care/Mental Health:

**I think this is a niche area that’s only going to continue to grow. It’s getting specific resources, information and strategies out to the general public – either through an insurance company as part of their overall benefits offerings, or as programs individuals can purchase online with a credit card. I’ve been involved in two such programs in the past two years and I think it’s a really interesting space. Want to help people and make a difference in the lives of individuals? Start poking around here.

I just pulled this list out of my head. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of big buckets and welcome your additions in the comments.

The bottom line is that elearning/online interactive ‘stuff’ is increasingly accepted. Who hasn’t searched on YouTube to figure out how to stop a leaking toilet? It’s just what we do. And while more and more of the content out there is user generated (power to the people!), organizations are paying attention.

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