Today the corporate training industry is evolving from ten years of focus on e-learning and blended learning towards a serious and transformational focus on “we-learning.” We named this trend the “formalization of informal learning” and it is now one of the most significant changes taking place in corporate training around the world.
As we work with clients to implement these new approaches, a major issue remains. What do we do with the billions of dollars of investment we have already made in traditional, formal e-learning? (In our Enterprise Learning Framework, we would define an e-learning “course” as a formal training program – i.e. it was designed and built for one person to take from beginning to end.)
SkillSoft, the largest provider of online training content, has a solution to this problem – and they call it inGenius (a very good name). The system (originally built in the Books 24×7 environment), is positioned as a “social learning layer” added to the entire SkillSoft library and platform. It essentially “unlocks” the thousands of hours of SkillSoft content for collaboration, note-taking, bookmarking, and knowledge sharing. And with thousands of hours of courses in the areas of IT, finance, business acumen, leadership, engineering, and more, this makes the Skillsoft library “come to life” – leveraging the experience, commentary, and knowledge of thousands of experts.
Some examples of the use-cases developed by SkillSoft:
- A learner creates a profile, describing their name, title, role, experience, and other information.
- You create a list of your own “favorite” courses and “bookmarks” you can share with other.
- Within a course or book you take notes and add your own bookmarks for reference.
- You find something of interest you want to share, so you “add it” to a course at a particular place to be shared with others.
- You find a topic controversial, so you create a discussion to interact with others who are reading this book or taking this course.
- You are a training professional, and you want to add “company-specific” information to a course or book, so all learners in your company see your internally developed notes on process, standards, or internal topics.
The system design is truly brilliant. By allowing any organization to create their own internally protected environment, you create your own internal knowledge sharing portal around the SkillSoft and Books24x7 platform. Over time the environment can become richer and richer, making the SkillSoft platform more and more of a “destination” for your employees.
(By the way, Safari Online, a competitor of SkillSoft, is also implementing a similar solution for their online books business.)
The system has many other important features as well. You can “follow” others (using the “follow” vs. “friend” model), enabling you to see what they are reading and bookmarking. (This is an excellent feature for any collaborative learning environment, enabling younger employees to look over the shoulder of more experienced or senior professionals.) You can declare your areas of interest and then search for others with this area of interest. You can watch the “activity stream” similar to Twitter and Facebook. (I’m not as excited about this type of feature.) And you can bookmark, annotate, and share comments with others.
The entire system essentially takes the static world of e-learning and opens it up for “we-learning.”
Fig: SkillSoft inGenius (preview version)
By creating this collaborative, live, internal environment to support the SkillSoft and Books 24×7 content, SkillSoft enables organizations to immediately build internal professional networks. If you consider the way SkillSoft content is typically used in most companies, it is often used as a “certification” or “reference” library – available as-needed by professionals in different disciplines. Now the SkillSoft library is more of a “destination” – engineers, IT professionals, finance professionals, and others will go into the library and find localized, relevant, commentary and peers to work with. And when the SkillSoft or Books24x7 library needs to be customized for a given company, InGenius lets you add your own specific content right into the library.
The system is very new and we look forward to watching it grow and expand in the corporate training market. My hat is off to SkillSoft for building an innovative, forward-thinking solution which will become a very powerful solution for professional development among SkillSoft customers.
PS – Come to our “From E-Learning to We-Learning Workshop”
on Friday June 25 in New York City!
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