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Five questions...
for Lance Dublin

By Lisa Neal / October 2006

TYPE: INTERVIEW
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Lance Dublin was founder of Antioch University/West, one of the first accredited online universities. He later created consultancy The Dublin Group, and currently works as an independent management consultant.

Lisa Neal: Which recent innovations in e-learning do you believe have the most potential and why?

Lance Dublin: Actually we haven't seen, in my opinion, much innovation in e-learning recently. We've seen improvements that have been labeled as innovations.

Blended learning and rapid e-learning are both good examples of this. Blended learning has been around since the first book was introduced in a classroom. The difference is we are now able to blend many more learning approaches and tools, many of them technology-based. And the same with rapid e-learning: One could well argue that every PowerPoint presentation is an example of rapid e-learning to the person who created it. But again, now we are adding tools and templates to make these presentations more effective and look more like learning events.

LN: What do you see as the potential of technologies for rapid e-learning, social networking, blogging, and so on for corporate e-learning?

LD: First, I don't think rapid e-learning belongs in this list as it's an approach to design and development rather than a technology. The technologies with the most potential impact I feel are those categorized as Web 2.0 (i.e., social networking, blogs and wikis, etc.) and the seamless integration in Web 2.0 of video, audio, and text. The greatest change in corporate learning will come about not because of the technologies, but because of the learners! As this new generation of learners comes of age in the working world they will force us to re-formulate what corporate learning is and how it is delivered. We will be forced to move from a linear, event-driven mind-set to a collaborative, learning-at-the-speed-of-work reality.

LN: Why do you emphasize the importance of on-the-job performance and what can an organization do that will have the greatest positive impact in that area?

LD: I stress on-the-job performance because in an organization that is the true "bottom-line." Training of any type is just an event. Learning is a process. But, performance—the ability to do something—must be the result. With this in mind, organizations should spend much more time looking at the factors that drive on-the-job performance and a lot less on evaluating the events. Unfortunately, there is no single factor that always has the most impact.

LN: Do you believe that personalized learning paths will ever become commonplace as part of corporate e-learning, and why or why not?

LD: Yes, I believe they will. But probably not in the way you're thinking. They will look more like a personal MySpace for learning than a list of activities. And, again, this will happen because the learners will expect it. Imagine going to work today and being told you only get a dial phone at your desk. You would think your employer was crazy. Well, the next generation of workers will feel the same way if they are not able to incorporate all of the aspects of Web 2.0 into their jobs as they are doing into their lives: text messaging, social networking, blogging and video blogging, wikis—all at their fingertips—24/7/365.

LN: How can corporate culture and national culture best be accommodated online and do you have any examples of successful approaches?

LD: Hmm...This is a much tougher question. Neither corporate culture nor national culture is really something you "accommodate" online. How corporations or countries end up integrating online technologies into everyday life and work will define the culture. I just don't think it is something you can plan for!



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