Skillsoft Blog

Rethinking e-Learning on an International Scale

By John Ambrose

In their book, The Power of Pull, authors John Hagel, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison observe that the Great Depression was a catalyst for the last “Big Shift” in business.  “As individuals and firms wrestled with rapidly intensifying performance pressures, they began to embrace the capabilities of the new infrastructures of their day – and to rethink how they did things accordingly,” they write.

There are signs that the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 could act as a similar stimulant in the shift to e-learning.   And the signs are coming from some unlikely places.

Decrease in Inertia, Increase in Momentum

Last week in Rome, I gathered with senior executives from more than 35 companies that partner with SkillSoft across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  Traditionally some countries in these regions have been slower than North America to embrace technology-based learning.  Reasons are myriad ranging from infrastructure and labor law challenges to cultural affinity for live classrooms.  But increasingly, in “the new normal”, as SkillSoft COO Jerry Nine likes to call the current market phase, there appears to be not only a decrease in inertia but an increase in momentum for more efficient ways to develop employees.

For instance, one partner from the Middle East relayed how organizations in one wealthy country have curtailed their practice of holding basic classes in exotic locales like Singapore or Malaysia.  There is a re-focus on doing more with less, and finding more efficient ways to transfer skills.  A European partner described how the public sector in many European countries has been a significant laggard in the adoption of e-learning, but budget realities are forcing new thinking.  Still another talked about how the generational shift is driving a greater demand for more engaging and efficient technology-delivered learning content.

So why is this shift abroad important?  

If you work in a multi-national organization and have experience with e-learning, now is the time to reach across your matrixed organization to influence and drive your colleagues who may be less familiar.  They may be more motivated than ever to partner.  Share your success stories and best practices, and consider collaborating on skill development learning programs on a broader international scale.  Perhaps you’ve tried but have been thwarted in the past. Based on what I am hearing, the time has never been better to re-energize your passion for technology-based learning with your international colleagues.

If you work in a company that is just now beginning to make the shift to e-learning, know that there is significant expertise and resources available to help you in this transition.  It is most important to engage with a vendor with the experience, scale and resources to ensure your success.  SkillSoft already offers what is arguably one of the most comprehensive portfolios of internationalized e-learning courseware content available with more than 3,000 courses, 29,000 digital books and 900 videos in up to 19 languages.  But it’s not enough for content to be translated, the content must be localized so it is relevant to specific geographies as well.

One credo at SkillSoft is, “think globally, but act locally.”  Regardless of where your company sits in terms of its international maturity around technology-based learning, you can be assured that SkillSoft is one partner who understands and is equipped to help you through this next shift.

How does this get you thinking about this shift?

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