I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lee Corbett, Chief Executive at simply elearning. She has years of experience in the elearning marketing in Australia and was the perfect person to gain some insight on what’s happening Down Under.
1. Please tell us a little about yourself and your organization
I have been in the elearning and VET sector training world since 2000 when I was engaged by Southbank Institute of TAFE in their Engineering faculty. I have held several committee positions nationally, mainly in the telecommunications and electronics industry skilling areas. I left TAFE in 2006 to set up an elearning department for one of the private mining RTO’s here in Queensland before starting my own business late 2007.
We are a specialised elearning content development company for the mining industry and all of the associated trade areas. We cover a lot of different facets of the sector from first aid, to plant maintenance and everything in between.
Having worked with TAFE I was familiar with a lots of LMS’s but none that wowed me. Then after a lot of research I came across the eFront LMS. I loved the system. For a relatively complex system as far as output goes, it was very functional and for me fairly easy to understand. We matched it against the likes Blackboard, Moodle and Janison it wins hands down.
Anyway, we loved the system so much we started to refer it to our clients and the relationship with eFront has grown from there. Now with the TalentLMS on the market we are so excited about being able to provide clients in Australia with a LMS solution regardless of their size or budget. I can’t wait to see where we are in 5 years time!
2. How would you describe the state of elearning in Australia today?
I should first clarify what I believe to be the difference between elearning and online learning. There has been a lot of resistance from trainers and educators. This is mainly due to job security rather than their dislike for elearning. Online learning (prevalent in TAFE & Universities) is merely taking paper based or video resources and putting them on the internet for students to access, download and view. Whereas true elearning is the development of training content from paper based to learner led resources. This is where you require instructional design and the ability to sit in the participants seat in front of a computer and have the content ‘talk’ to you whilst you ‘interact’ with it. This is the work that we do. We take paper based resources and we use graphical designers, instructional designers, and animators etc to build them into a ‘storybook’ of learning.
In my opinion, the elearning market in Australia is still in its infancy. Online learning is very popular with TAFE’s and Universities, but true elearning is something that the nation is still coming to terms with.
3. Regarding elearning – what differentiates education and the workplace?
This is an interesting question in that they are not really that dissimilar. Except for my before mentioned style of learning i.e. online versus elearning, the only real difference is that workplaces are far more open to a blended delivery methodology and of course the elearning method over the online method.
A workplace’s key focus is ease of access to the material, ease of delivery (not much reading), clear concise information and the limited downtime of its employees.
Education on the other hand is all about throwing as much information out there as possible, creating projects for the participants, ensuring that they engage with Tutors etc.
Both have a place in education and training for different reason and are based on the required outcomes and the target market. And that really is the difference, ‘Education’ versus ‘Training’.
4. What characterizes the Australian elearning market?
The Australian market is very immature in a way, especially from the ‘elearning’ point of view. There is a real lack of knowledge as to how elearning works, what SCORM is, what elearning can do and how to fit it into your training regime.
The cost of content development here in Australia is still, unnecessarily, very high. That in itself has a huge impact on the uptake. I guess that is the reason that a lot of
5. What do you think the future holds for elearning in Australia? What is the direction of elearning?
Australia’s elearning market is growing fairly rapidly, but at the same time it is not directional. Every provider of both content and Learning Management Systems has a different take on what constitutes best practice.
As the market gains maturity, I really think that there will be three market winners:
- Robust learning management systems that easily enable reporting out to other systems;
- A simple easy to use LMS interface that reports with rigor whilst at the same time enabling ease of access and use by learners and administrators; and
- Content that is interactive, cost effective and future proofed.
I know that seems like a lot to ask for but that is where the market is heading.
There is also a definite swing to hosted Learning Management Systems, from major corporations down to small RTO’s. We talk about it as, taking the IT out of training and education.
The buzz word here for the past 2 years has been ‘blended delivery’. That is, a mix of face-to-face, elearning/online learning, on the job training and practical skills – simulated or in the workplace.
This is becoming more and more prevalent every year. The move to blended delivery by the major educational institutions will assist market growth and ultimately help to showcase the abilities of the elearning market as a whole.
When Australian businesses, educational institutions and learners from all walks become familiar with the ‘blended model’ it will rapidly become the norm and the new expectation for users of training and educational content.
If you would like to tell us about your experiences regarding the Australian elearning market please add your comment below!
Yours in elearning,
Roberta - feel free connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter @rgogos