Fewer people believe that “content is king” in the online learning world. However, many e-learning business models are built on some aspect of content creation. Community and context are the two critical factors in developing e-learning environments. For example:
- Courses online; Community = your cohort; Context = a relevant (to you) credential
- Performance support; Community = your peers; Context = current need
- Knowledge Management (especially PKM) ; Community = those with shared interests; Context = Maslow’s higher needs of esteem and self-actualization.
These thoughts were triggered by Rob Paterson’s post that Getting paid for content is over:
All business models must be based on something that is legitimately scarce. Today, no matter how expensive it is to make, content will become freely available quickly. So much music is free that you cannot legitimately charge much for a song. So much film is free that you cannot charge much for a move. So much information is free, that you cannot charge much for it (Britannica). This is a reality – so you have to get over it and find another area that is legitimately scarce where you can find value. So where is it?
What happens to e-learning business models when content declines in value? Will it be more profitable to a have a learning content management system or a people connecting (e.g. Facebook) system? If the best lectures & videos are available online for free, why build mediocre substitutes? What will happen to custom content development?
I’m not saying that these changes will happen immediately, but there does seem to be a trend toward free and ubiquitous digital media. Isn’t it just a matter of time before it hits the e-learning field?