In 1999, everyone in the nascent e-learning industry was citing this quote by John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems:
The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education. Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail usage look like a rounding error in terms of the Internet capacity it will consume.
Yah, right, say the skeptics who lived through the Dot Com bust and have watched as e-learning (education and training) continues to play a junior role at the boardroom table. Even the largest e-learning companies are mostly unknown outside the industry.
Well, I think that Chambers was right. We’re just measuring the wrong things. Education over the Internet is huge. Consider – Wikipedia, Wiki-How, Google search, personalised information pulled through RSS, social learning networks, learning with blogs and collaboration with wikis. Add all of these together and e-mail is starting to look like a rounding error.
Step outside the box of academic courses or training departments and online learning is growing and not looking like it will stop. As learning becomes essential for our knowledge society, we will become like fish in water, not realizing what it is we’re swimming in. One challenge for learning professionals will be to remain relevant as all of the action moves beyond their traditional turf.