Thomas Kuhn, in his path breaking book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)”
showed that it
takes about 30 years for a new scientific theory to become a new paradigm! Peter Drucker
talked about a
similar lead time for “new knowledge” to become “knowledge based innovation!

Now, eLearning, which definitely fits into the knowledge/scientific theory category, came
into being
around 1998/1999! So, if we go by Kuhn and Drucker, then there’s 10 more years before e
Learning becomes
mainstream. However, that was 50+ years ago!! In the era of Industry 4.0, the cycle time
should shrink,
right? So, we may not have to wait another decade before e Learning becomes mainstream. For
all we know,
the giant leap may happen in 2019! And, John Lennon may be wrong in calling me a dreamer 🙂

Both, demand and supply side factors have to be in equilibrium for eLearning to take off!
With a large
chunk of
learners falling into the Digital Native and Millennial category, need for eLearning is not
an issue –
however, a lot
of times the need fails to convert into demand as the rendering doesn’t come close to the
way humans
typically consume
content! Neo age technologies like NLP and Deep Learning as powered by AR/VR/MR are helping
create a
experience pretty close to the way it’d come via a competent and passionate facilitator/
trainer. This
should solve the problem on the supply side. However, the acceleration in take-off is yet to

So, what’s holding things back? The problem is that not enough is happening on the supply
side. Two
factors that’s
thwarting progress:

  • High Cost
  • Availability of Skilled personnel

Agreed, that these are genuine factors plaguing the usage of cutting edge technologies in the
world of
eLearning. However, if I step back and think – this isn’t the first time that an
industry/business is
experiencing this, right? This has been the case in the “pre take off” stage for every
knowledge based
innovation. And, they have been solved, pretty much every time! The strategy that has helped
is to get as
many hands and feet to work on different aspects of the problem – more the action, more the
likelihood of
positive outcomes. Some of the ways this can be achieved:

  1. Government incentives like tax sops, discounts, infrastructure support etc. to create
    hot beds
  2. Industry bodies creating knowledge sharing forums, rewards etc.
  3. Involving multiple agencies – modularizing and componentizing with the intent of
    outsourcing to
    multiple entities based on what’s core to them
  4. Going beyond national boundaries and leveraging global capabilities esp. countries where
    structures are lower and where skills availability is relatively less of an issue

Of the above approaches, # 1 moves at its own pace and is difficult to influence at the
level; we require the “collective” to expedite things.

One of the collectives is the Industry body (#2 above), which in the case of eLearning has a
coverage and is not yet mainstream. Few providers and research agencies control the shots –
it’s still
like a Big Boys club, where most of the Boys come from an era/origin, where technology is
not their
forte. Hence, the game that’s being played currently has sprinkling of technology but not
technology as
the mainstay!

In my mind, the real hope is with #3 and #4 which can help democratize the dissemination of
technologies in the world of eLearning and thereby help unlock eLearning’s potential for the
greater good.
These approaches have helped accelerate the take off in every new knowledge based innovation
and made them
available to the common masses!

And here, Corporates can/will lead the way as they have always done in the past. In the VUCA
world, there
is a strong
belief that mindset, personality and behavioral aspects of a Human Resource will be the
differentiator in
the era of
Industry 4.0. For a human resource to be effective and efficient, they have to unlearn and
learn really
Learning is already moving out of traditional HR boundaries and moving into/within the folds
of business.

So, am waiting for the inevitable to happen. As Outsourcing/Offshoring becomes mainstream,
adoption has the
potential to beat the 30-year cycle, if not by many, then at least by a few years! After
all, records have
to be

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