So you (still) want to be an elearning consultant?

Last week I commented that many people in the ‘learning’ field are too absorbed in their own interests and not the businesses they are supporting. Working smarter in the 21st century requires the integration of learning into the workflow. This has become a necessity due to the increased complexity facing today’s networked business. Ericsson’s video, On the Brink, provides a good overview of this emerging networked society.

Learning is the work in a constantly changing landscape, and as mentioned in the video, the next 10 years will see more change than the past 15 years, since the creation of the Web.

Prior to the Web, the learning professions were focused on either delivering courses or some specific sub-set of learning. In the late 20th century we saw the rise of personality tests, learning styles, and dubious applications of Bloom’s taxonomy or NLP, among other practices not aligned with the business. With the Web, we went from training to e-learning course delivery, with an emphasis on technology, especially learning management systems (LMS) and rapid authoring. Today, businesses are beginning to realize that LMS are not really helping their organizations and most courses are disconnected from the real work. I have seen companies completely outsource all course design/delivery in order for internal staff to focus on informal and social learning to support collaboration. This makes business sense.

For those in the learning professions (KM, OD, Training, Instruction, Education) there will be a sea change in how they work over the next decade. They will have to become part of the business (or organization, or network) or be completely marginalized. In my article, So you you want to be an e-learning consultant? (2007) I showed the different types of work, and associated remuneration, available in the field.


Note how business and technology-oriented work pay much more than pure pedagogical work. This trend has not changed since 2007 and will continue.

I have met many people in learning professions over the years who have the technological savvy but lack business skills. People with expertise in all three areas are few. The L&D folks often do not get a seat at the table because they don’t have a direct impact on the business. My advice to anyone in a learning-oriented field is to get up to speed on networked technologies but also understand the business you are supporting. There’s no more hiding in the shadows, as the network exposes everything and everyone. Narrating work and being transparent are great opportunities in the networked era, but that means there’s no place to hide. It’s a global village and everyone is interconnected. The opportunities are at the intersection.

9 Responses to “So you (still) want to be an elearning consultant?”

  1. Jamie Billingham

    Hi Harold,

    Do you have a different link to this? “I showed the different types of work, and associated remuneration, available in the field.”

    Love the post, as always. It’s still difficult to get folks to wrap their heads around the idea of workflow learning and learning as a way of being, for lack of a better term. I’ve begun just sending the link to Dave Cormier’s latest video on Community as Curriculum lol

    Do you think part of the struggle is that there are professions that require standardization to ensure public safety. People working in some fields need to meet a threshold of knowledge and demonstrated competency. To do that they need to be assessed and to create an assessment requires a level of standardization.

    As these are still seen as the elite professions (doctors, nurses, architects, engineers, etc) lots of other professions use that style of learning and teaching as a model for other learning and teaching.. even though doctors, etc, often move into a workflow style learning once out of school.

    There is also a whole feedback thing that doesn’t get addressed enough. We have all kinds of unspoken rules about giving honest feedback to folks. How do we make the mind shift into real time, respectful and useful feedback within a workflow learning model? I think your latest post (abolish the org chart) might be part of the solution to that but it’s only part, I suspect.

    Rambling over for now 🙂

  2. Jamie Billingham

    Sorry should have been more specific. The link “associated remuneration” results in “Referral Denied
    You don’t have permission to access “” on this server.
    Reference #24.f12f418.1321462853.61d5553″.

  3. Jamie Billingham

    Thank so much! By the way I love the error message that pops up saying my “thanks so much” was too short to be considered a post lol I’m hoping this will now be long enough for me to convey my thanks in public lol


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