In what fields Italian eLearning Professionals want to grow?
What about the specific needs of Italian eLearning professionals, who in this local limited and limiting market, are not exempt from reporting their frustration in being under-used?
Now we talk about specific needs of Italian eLearning professionals, who in this local limited and limiting market, are not exempt from reporting their frustration in being under-used and in highlighting the need to do better, to give e-learning a royal robe of effectiveness and quality, which seems to be a dream, a hope rather than a concreteness of everyday life.
The third question of my survey was: ” What area of your current skills e-learning would improve for your profession? “.
I have grouped in fairly homogeneous categories the various obtained open answers, as you can see from Table 3.
Putting aside all the necessary observations attributable to the simplification of the data, what emerges is a strong need for professional development regarding the techniques, software, teaching methods, all that the industry has to offer of innovative.
This data is very positive because it shows the existence of a professional group that is hungry to learn, to grow, to become competitive. It is also easy to deduce the degree of frustration that the e-learning professionals experience every day in producing often low-quality projects for the majority of their clients, with budget and time limitations, compared to what they would like to do, expressing a strong need of professional update.
In particular, we can also see that the area of graphics, video and programming are represented respectively by 20% and 7% of colleagues.
Simplyfing further, if we reabsorb the use of graphic design and programming – often needed in the daily work of each e-learning specialist into professional updating, especially in cases where it is more difficult to use outsourcing for specific applications – we reach up to the 48% of the sample (ie: 20% + 7% + 21%).
They appear strangely of minor interest the gamification (10%) and storytelling (2%): I think this outcome is partly explained by the fact that these areas are still perceived to be new and, consequently, the need to implement them on a large scale is still not felt in the industry as should be.
It follows that, apart from some big players, professionals working in the market prefer to increase their competitiveness in areas already appreciated and used by the market, rather than venturing into areas off the beaten path, although interesting, but whose concrete and limited applicability is difficult to spend on the market, due to the absence of major channels of access to big buyers/players.
In addition, the gamification and storytelling require sets of high value-added expertise, which can be usable substantially at the moment only in the voluntary production and training with regard to large national and international clients, in which the galaxy of smaller players can not have easily access. It follows that the best investment on their professional development is regarding software, graphics and novelty of the software market, the teaching techniques etc ..
Unfortunately, the structure of the Italian market in some way “discourages” professionals to embark on new paths, even most interesting and successful ones (if we make a comparison with the foreign market) because the risk of investing with poor results is perceived to be high.
The instructional design, here also we declinable in the mere content design, and then in the construction and use of storyboard for e-learning, it is a requirement that is reflected in the daily work of colleagues, although not significant, since the majority of elearning productions are low budget and with limited content and already supplied by the clients.
The timing and tight budgets are forcing almost the de facto professionals to compress the design phase to the point of proceeding directly to the development, jumping or minimizing the possible construction of storyboard. This constitutes a serious damage both to the professionalism of e-learning experts and the general quality of productions, which, in the absence of proper design, are often characterized by errors in the course of work that must be corrected ex post with obvious loss of time – often not economically rewarded by the customer – that result in more frustration for e-learning expert, who takes care of gross errors and superficiality induced by the poor nature of the project required by the client.
A specific observation also deserves the category of responses concerning the technical expertise regarding the configuration and administration of e-learning platforms, which only apparently seems detached from the context, but in reality it is the further confirmation of the presence of a low-budget productions, of minor players who invest little and prefers solutions opensource to proprietary ones. And it’s the case of Moodle (™), which is now widespread distribution in Italy, that in the face of his being free, often poses complex technical issues that are not within the reach of all.
Instead, what emerges is rather the burden of responsibility of which invest learning specialist different developers, claiming a content management platform and the activation of functions, customizations etc …
As a good slice of the market has turned to Moodle (™) as a free choice, we have underestimated the implicit cost of maintenance and the gement of a software opensource, that could cause problems and is not entrusted to a team of experts able to respond quickly in the case of proprietary software (unless they turn to a few officers of the platform partners), but instead is entrusted mainly to community supporting it with advantages and disadvantages of the case.
The “pretend gratuity” of ‘ open-source is a difficult concept to make being passed: it costs much more in the medium to long term of proprietary solutions, because the constant interventions and custom solutions require the intervention of qualified programmers are hard to find and very expensive. Furthermore, the management of Moodle(tm) should not be left to e-learning experienced professionals nor to personnel who “enjoys” questionable experiences.
It requires the presence of other professionals such as programmers and system administrators. eLearning Professionals can contribute to the best performances for the elearning platform, creating valid courses and materials, but they have different skills and goals to reach, in respect to the administration of the LMS.