How many courses do you really need in a course
catalog? 100? 1,000? 10,000?
The real answer is simple. One. You need only need the
one course that fits the mission at that point in time. However, the odds
that the learner will find the one course needed increase as the depth and
breadth of the catalog grows. Selection saves times and reduces
disappointment and frustration. It’s why cinemas have morphed into multiplexes,
and food markets are now superstores. E-learning abundance, therefore, is
a blessing for the learner on a mission to fill a knowledge gap.
Abundance is a blessing in another way. Digital
learning offers tremendous advantages over traditional classroom in the variety
of course content that can be made available. Since e-courses have no
dependency on physical space, live instructors, or specific time slots, an
organization can make a virtually limitless variety of course topics available
to learners with a simple mouse click. Not only can courses address
different topics, but different learner levels, perspectives, and learning
styles as well. We can think of this as the abundance of relevance.
And from the organization’s perspective abundance is a
blessing. First and foremost because the organization cannot begin to
reliably predict the needs of a large population of users. The workforce
changes, individual needs change, projects change and the nature of the
organization’s focus and mission changes. In today’s world, where entire
economies can change dramatically overnight, learning has never been more
critical to ensuring organizational agility. And because technology makes
abundance possible, it is almost always preferred to the alternative,
Moreover, we are living in an era where abundance has become
economically feasible. This is especially true when an organization
begins to calculate the often hidden costs of trying to administer a small
tightly focused set of courses for small subsets of the workforce.
But there is a caveat. As abundance increases, so too must
the ease of selection. That is, the ability to find what you are looking
for. When the catalog is small, a loose grouping can work. As selection
grows, a more sophisticated organizational structure, i.e. a topical hierarchy,
is required. A course catalog is a hierarchical listing and when delivered
digitally it offers users greater flexibility for efficient navigation
including well-understood conventions like nested subcategories, cross-linking,
and cross-binning content that can be relevant in multiple categories.
By far, however, the most important tool when navigating a
vast catalog is search. Users have been ‘googlized’ and have come to rely
on search as a primary way to navigate large content domains. So, search
engine strategy is a key requirement for enabling your workforce to effectively
leverage a wide and deep e-learning catalog. In a sense, search is the
sibling of abundance, and together this pair can power an organization’s
development strategy exponentially over traditional classroom learning options.
By: John Ambrose