Weiss is a regular speaker at key elearning events around the world and we caught up with him at the OEB conference. In this frank interview, he shares his peeves about the elearning industry as well as his view on LMS trends and 70:20:10.
What do you love most about elearning?
I'm very passionate about it and what I love most about elearning is that it can change your life. Any topic that you think of can be done with online learning, anything. You don’t need technical skills, you can learn in your own time, you’re not waiting for an instructor and you can utilise your own learning style. I believe online learning gives people the power to increase comprehension, boost retention and enables them to synthesise knowledge and build from that skill set.
But at the end of the day, if we strip everything away, it comes down to how the course was built. An engaging interactive course is going to be significantly more successful than what we call static elearning, which is where the course just has pictures and lots of text.
What do you think is the most exciting emerging trend in the LMS space?
"There are enormous metric and big data possibilities and it could lead to something really visionary – a personalised learning experience for each learner."
There are so many trends but I would say the most exciting is what I call deep learning. This is where the LMS utilises a series of variables and uses an early stage of artificial intelligence to recommend courses based on what the learner is currently taking or recently completed. So it’s an automated experience and it’s eventually going to not only tell you the courses it recommends, but also the videos, the documents and all the curation.
Then there is a third stage - which no-one’s at yet - where the LMS has the ability to identify a curriculum plan or a learning path and it's all specifically tailored for you. To me this is the most exciting piece, it could be revolutionary. There are enormous metric and big data possibilities and it could lead to something really visionary – a personalised learning experience for each learner. This is almost like an LMS within an LMS, where everything is specifically tailored to that person and each person becomes their own learning community.
What frustrates you most with the LMS and elearning industry?
I have three big pet peeves. One is that from the vendor standpoint the people showing you how to use the products are typically salespeople or technical people, they don’t have a training or L&D background.
The second peeve I have with the industry is we use too much jargon. We use too many words that we think everybody will know what we means, and also too many words that don’t necessarily mean what they should. For example, mobile learning, which only means that you can view something in a mobile web browser - that's it. But consumers tend to think it means they can do everything in that device.
The other big peeve I have, a huge one, is that generally consumers are no longer doing due diligence ahead of time before buying an LMS. You know, when I was looking for an LMS on the corporate training side, I would do the research, get estimates and book a demo. But what often happens today is people go to the vendor’s website and just blast out a request for proposal (RFP) that’s been created and that’s how they make their decision - they think that’s going to solve all their problems. But what I tend to find after speaking to people, is that they end up hating the LMS. Why? They didn't do due diligence, even though it’s taken them a year to find an LMS. It makes no sense when you've got more information than ever before, you could hire an expert to help and focus instead on all the other things you need to be doing.
You've written on your blog recently about why you think the 70-20-10 framework isn't applicable for elearning. Can you explain your thinking?
“Things change and technology has changed the way people learn.”
It was devised for classroom-based learning first and foremost. The terms formal and informal were defined for classroom-based learning. You don't have to apply those today for online learning. I think they're outdated terms so you've got part of that as a factor. And the other factor is that with 70-20-10 you have to break it down into separate pieces but online learning crosses between them. 70-20-10 is ‘siloing’ and elearning is doing it as a collective the whole, but if you only see elearning as a delivery mechanism than I can see why you would think 70:20:10 is the complete answer. But if you see elearning as the evolution of learning, which is what it is, then and the 70-20-10 is no longer applicable because it relies too much on the one variable being the model rather than the person. Things change and technology has changed the way people learn.