ACM Logo  An ACM Publication  |  CONTRIBUTE  |  FOLLOW    

FIVE QUESTIONS...For Fabrizio Cardinali

By Lisa Neal Gualtieri / October 2008

Print Email
Comments Instapaper
Fabrizio Cardinali is founder and CEO of Italy's Giunti Labs and chair of the European Learning Industry Group, also serving on the board of directors for IMS Global Learning Consortium and as global advisor to the Open Knowledge Initiative at MIT. Cardinali stands out among industry executives for the breadth and depth of his original ideas about learning. He is inspired by Socrates, who believed "personal engagement" was the highest form of human learning. Cardinali wants to make sure that this perspective becomes an integral part of the new wave of mobile and ubiquitous media.

Lisa Neal Gualtieri: What technological advances have changed e-learning today in a way that you would not have anticipated a few years ago?

Fabrizio Cardinali: Today informal and personal learning is much more viable than ever before through viral and social distribution of information, content, and learning opportunities. New devices like the iPhone bring learning to a much wider public than we could have expected.

Additionally, learning professionals (i.e. instructional designers, content owners, media departments, publishers) are increasing the need to rapidly and massively produce qualitative learning materials to complement grassroots information exchange. This is making online and mobile learning content management systems (LCMS) streamline. Mostly unknown a couple of years ago, we now see more and more large enterprises formally tendering for LCMS solutions on the back end of their learning systems and infrastructures. These companies seek to strengthen their internal or outsourced content production processes with better content availability and higher ROI. Corporations need tons of professionally designed and well-engineered learning content to rapidly skill their workforces and compete in globalization, but they can't afford the high rates e-learning content producers still charge. So they start looking into the power of XML, content templating, and Digital repositories to produce content more effectively and make it more accessible across the enterprise.

Last but not least, mobile learning is creeping out from unsupported (budget-wise) hype into real-life piloting. More and more university, corporate, and industry applications are starting up with an eye toward location-based learning, i.e. understanding not only the device users have in their hands but also the user's location to best target learning needs. This offers a contextualization of learning contents delivered to end users at previously unmatched levels of personalization.

LNG: Are there industries where e-learning has minimal infiltration and why?

FC: Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have always been the odd target for e-learning. With their mix of technophobia and learning adversity, SMEs have yet to prove their adoption of learning technologies. This is quite odd: A poll issued in September by the Kaufmman Foundation, which questioned a sample of 860 Americans on who could best save the world economic system, reported that Americans trust SME managers to be the wisest decision-makers on the market. SME entrepreneurs were identified as being those who know what to do in tough times. It's surprising that SME executives rarely decide to invest in e-learning despite the huge benefits they might reap.

LNG: Please comment about the linguistic and cultural differences between European countries, and between the U.S. and other countries. How do these differences impact what you do?

FC:Europe has more than 40 languages and even more educational systems if you count the many intrastate organizations at the regional level. This requires alignment of curricula for formal education and mapping of skills and competencies in vocational training to have accredited programs.

To favor alignment you need standard and reusable competency definitions, expressed in machine readable formats to foster alignment of learning catalogue offerings and user portfolio updates.

Today international standardization organization such as IMS Global Learning Consortium and HR XML provide interoperable specs for reusable competency definitions, ePortfolio interchange, and learner profiling-taking into account both language and localization for delivering learning experiences personalized for target audiences.

LNG: What are some of the European research initiatives you are involved in?

FC: Giunti Labs is Europe's leading non-academic player in the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), Knowledge and Content Management, and eContent PLUS work programs of the European Commission.

Since 2000 Giunti Labs has participated in more than 50 large E.U. R&D projects including Mobilearn, Wearitatwork, Prolix, and Tencompetence, which rank among the world's largest R&D projects addressing media- and skills-based learning personalization.

LNG: I see you are offering talks at some e-learning conferences. What is the one message you wish attendees to leave your talks with?

FC: In a time of global competition and rapid up-skilling, organizations must innovate to compete! But with emerging economies like China, India, and Korea rallying to higher R&D investments, innovation might not be enough. "Older" economies such as those in the E.U., the U.S., and Japan must add to innovation that which once served as their winning edge: creativity. With 2009 set to be the "Year of Creativity" in Europe, I would like to stress that we have the same processes of innovation in place behind the Ferrari and the new TATA Nano car for India, but they do not require the same level of creativity. Creativity can be inherited, exploited, and perhaps bought, but it is generally much more difficult to develop than innovation.

If our governments can couple exploitation of creativity with the new freedom of information-access we now offer to new generations, we will foster entrepreneurship at levels necessary to compete globally-even after the benefits of early research investments have ended.


  • There are no comments at this time.