eLearning Brothers: We’ve been in this industry since the 90’s (some of us before that), and we know it’s sometimes hard to explain your job to your family. Take the opportunity this holiday to use this recipe for explaining eLearning during Thanksgiving. We’ve provided a useful script below. As with our products, feel free to modify as needed to suit your individual instructional needs. Good luck!
YOU: (Approach the head of the table. If available, pick up a drumstick to help gesticulate.) “I am an eLearning professional. This means I create digital training that is delivered real-time in an online seminar or webinar, or is delivered via self-paced training that’s online that you do on your own. As an eLearning professional, I fit in a larger department of L&D, or, Learning and Development, professionals who are responsible for all training in my organization.”
YOU: (Grab a pie or two to illustrate statistics relevant to your region.) “L&D department growth, while positive, is being outpaced by workforce growth, resulting in a smaller L&D footprint.” (Whipping cream on the pie provides an excellent visual here.)
MOM: “Smaller footprint…why is this happening? And please don’t waste the cream.”
YOU: It goes back to the timeless turkey-and-egg question. Is the L&D footprint shrinking because budgetary constraints are forcing it to shrink? Or is it because improved technology and blended strategies are allowing more efficient production — allowing for reduced budget?”
THEM: “Well, which is it?”
YOU: “I don’t know. That’s the whole point of the turkey-and-egg analogy. Anyway, L&D departments are having to do more with less, and are increasingly leaning on strategies that promote learning outside of the formal L&D classroom…”
COUSIN APPLEBEE: What do you mean taking people out of the classroom? Don’t disrespect our teachers! They’re overworked as it is!”
YOU: “Exactly! The limited confines of a classroom mean there are only so many seats that fit in the room. For example, there’s only so much stuffing you can put in one turkey…only so many cranberries you can serve on one platter… only so many pilgrims you could fit in the Mayflower…”
GRANDMA BEZEL: “We get it. Please step down off the table.”
YOU: “Sorry about that. Anyway, eLearning professionals like myself are having to pick up the slack, and generate more learning outside of the classroom, and deliver it to your desktop, laptop, tablet and phone.”
NEPHEW BILLY: (Looks up from his game of Angry Birds, and decides to join the conversation). You make stuff I can play on my iPad?
YOU: “Of course. Mobile devices are becoming increasingly relevant in the learning mix. Why? Because the devices are out there, and people are spending more time on them.” (Confiscate the iPad.)
YOU: “So it behooves us as eLearning professionals to make training available and convenient wherever our learners are. But, perhaps more importantly, mobile devices make possible types of learning that were impossible or clumsy for desktops or laptops. Consider learning that new cornbread recipe or a Chef Ramsey basting technique from the tablet while you’re on the cutting board.”
YOU: “Furthermore, we’re not just chasing learners over the river and through the woods to their new devices. Learners want more than the Turkey Bowl and the Peanuts Thanksgiving Special. To engage new learners, we have to stay abreast of new developments in media and entertainment.”
UNCLE FREDDO: (Looking up from his third glass.) “Like twerking in 3D?”
YOU: “No. Have some more cider.”
DAD: “So let me get this straight. Your training department has to train more people with relatively fewer resources, so you eLearning folk have to pick up more of the slack. You’re having to bake all of this training into an increasingly diverse array of devices, and engage an audience that demands better design, more engagement, and gripping interactivity? Sounds like a real pressure cooker.”
YOU: (Grab a wishbone). “Well, it’s definitely a New Digital World. I’m pulled in so many directions, I’d SNAP like a wishbone if it weren’t for a cornucopia of new eLearning tools that speed up my design and development process, and make my final products more engaging.”
YOU: (Walk around the table and serve yams on plates as you mention each name). “Entire companies and product lines have been built around eLearning authoring tools, such as Lectora, Articulate, and Captivate, which give developers like me a broad toolset for creating great eLearning, and new internet platforms like HTML 5 that ensure the experience can be picked up by all of those mobile devices. And…”
THEM: “What, there’s more?”
YOU: “Heavens yes!”
YOU: (Rip off your puritan costume and reveal the orange t-shirt you wear to bed each night — leave the pantaloons in place.) “eLearning Brothers has an enormous eLearning Template Library with pre-built interactions and cut-out images that fit within all of these tools and standards! So it’s easy to generate my ideas quickly, grab a design that’s mostly done, modify it, and add my content to make AWESOME interactive learning— so it all works out!” (You may find yourself grabbing leftover celery and potatoes from around the table to finish the swinging fence in your casserole log cabin. We’ve been there… and you’re OK.)
Since this how-to was originally posted, the eLearning Brothers menu has expanded from a single turkey slice to a feast of cornbread, sweet potatoes and Wampanoag pumkin pie. Check out the new multimedia packages we have available, including thousands of PowerPoint graphics and more than a million stock library assets. Search results for the keyword “thanksgiving” on the latter include five audio clips and 5 video segments. Happy Thanksgiving!
As part of preparing this blog, we owe a pecan pie and my best harvest squash to Bersin, eLearning Magazine, and Kineo’s Steve Rayson for their industry research and illustration of eLearning’s current status. We drew heavily from the following resources.
Bersin indicates the training-to-workforce ratio (L&D footprint) is shrinking , forcing the L&D function more and more out of the classroom and towards external “learning enablement role.”
Elearning Magazine estimates approximately $3.50 billion in corporate eLearning spent in 2012 versus $1.46 billion in 2011, despite negligible growth or possibly contraction in overall learning expenditures from year to year.  Similar to Bersin, the magazine indicated public sector organization are growing faster than L&D resources, resulting in less spending per employee ($205) in 2012 than in 2011 ($274).
Kineo’s Steve Rayson also sees more assimilation of formal courses into blended offering, featuring a mix of webinar/vILT, self-paced, and social learning. Steve’s article provides a nice summary of research completed across the industry, and acknowledges that statistics from different sources differ somewhat.
 Berson: The Corporate Learning Factbook 2013
 Elearning: Spending for E-Learning Soars
 Steve Rayson: Corporate Learning Trends – What is Happening in 2013?