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Emerging Trends and Roles in eLearning

On the evening of February 1st, I attended an ASTD-NY eLearning Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting kindly hosted by Visiting Nurse Service of NY, and SIG co-chairs Enid Crystal and John Galto.  The guest speaker was Ross Squire, the man behind the well-respected eLearning staffing and consulting agency, Knowledgestaff.  I heard Ross speak at an ASTD event a couple of years ago and found him to be great at “reading the waters” of the eLearning business.  I like Ross because he’s clear-headed, thoughtful, and tells it like it is.  This session was no exception.

Ross’s evaluation of the current climate matches what I’m seeing, point for point.  Companies who cut staff as a result of the 2008 Wall Street fiasco and subsequent deep recession are not restaffing in the patterns we’ve seen in prior recessions.  Instead, in many cases, they are content making their fewer remaining staff members do more work.  After all, it enhances their bottom line.  Only if they really can’t get the work done in house are they looking outside–and then, frequently offshore.  When companies do go looking for new workers today, according to Ross, they are seeking renaissance workers more than ever, people who have a strong skillset across a variety of disciplines, rather than specializing in just one area.  Yet, interestingly, the promising spurt of client inquiries his firm has had in the last month is mostly for full-time staff positions, rather than freelance consultants.  We’ll see if that trend continues!

According to a survey conducted by Ross’s company, the emerging trends in eLearning are:

  • Social learning
  • User-generated content (wikis, etc.)
  • Mobile learning
  • Outsources services

None of these is likely to be a surprise to you.  The writing is on the virtual wall.  Ross also reports that New York area learning executives have unanimously identified the following emerging roles as essential going forward:

  • Performance consultants
  • Community engagement managers (gatekeepers for social media, etc.)
  • Talent management/human capital specialists
  • Content librarians (to maintain data storage and access)
  • Project/program managers (with global and language skills)

Ross’s talk also included his “annual tune-up” tips: a lot of sound advice about how those of us in eLearning should manage our careers in the face of the the current economy.  I was very glad to hear him include a segment on investing in yourself.  More than ever, it’s essential to stay on top of trends, and also just to give yourself time and opportunity to grow and learn.  After all, regardless of the economic climate, you’re worth it!

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Ross speak, I urge you to attend.  He’s an engaging and deeply knowledgeable speaker, and he’s genuinely there to help.  You’ll be glad you went.  To view his materials from the session, click here.  And if you live in the NY area and you’re not already a member of ASTD’s New York chapter, I urge you to join; there’s a lot of great information being shared at their events.  You can click their logo on this post to visit the ASTDNY site.