eLearning is Overdue for a Makeover


I've been an observer of elearning for almost 30 years. I've seen brilliant, compelling, effective elearning. I've built some pretty damn good elearning too. And yet, after four decades of human effort to improve elearning, there's still way, way, way too much mediocre elearning created each year.

A lot of us have been grumbling about the sorry state of elearning for a long time. Michael Allen, Clark Quinn, and Julie Dirksen and I have had numerous discussions through the years. Finally, having become so uncomfortable with the unmovable status quo of elearning–and feeling a responsibility to do something, anything–we got together last year to strategize on how we could bend the curve of elearning, to help elearning fulfill its promise.

Next Wednesday, we will reveal the result of our efforts.

You can get a little hint of what we've come up with by the name of the effort's website.


In a very real sense, Michael, Julie, Clark, and I are mere compilers of the research and work of many. What we've done is to channel the wisdom of scientific researchers, world-class elearning designers, and elearning thought leaders. We have developed a set of values and principles that great elearning–what we're calling Serious eLearning–should possess. We've reality-checked these principles through the feedback of a representative sampling of the world's best elearning–and learning-and-performance–advocates.

Below, I will share our list of Trustees, but let me conclude by sharing my hopes for this effort:

  • That a serious, persistent, and meaningful conversation begins.
  • That more-and-more of us take responsibility to improve elearning.
  • That elearning developers have a guide for elearning design and deployment.
  • That elearning buyers have a set of guidelines to help them procure effective elearning.
  • That graduate schools emphasize the highest levels of elearning design principles.
  • That trade organizations certify at the highest levels of elearning competency.
  • That elearning lives up to its incredible promise for transforming the lives of students, employees, and citizens of the world.


Trustees: (listed in alphabetic order)

Clark Aldrich
Managing Director
Clark Aldrich Designs, LLC

Cammy Bean
VP of Learning Design

Mohit Bhargava
LearningMate Solutions (Canada) Ltd.

Tony Bingham
President and CEO

Jane Bozarth, PhD
ELearning Coordinator
State of North Carolina, USA

Bryan Chapman
Chief Learning Strategist
Chapman Alliance

Tamar Elkeles, PhD
Chief Learning Officer

Joe Ganci
eLearning Joe

Judith A. Hale, PhD, CPT
The Institute for Performance Improvement, L3C

Jane Hart
Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

David S. Holcombe
President & CEO
The eLearning Guild

Larry Israelite, PhD
Vice President & Manager
Corporate Learning and Development

John C. Ittelson PhD
Professor Emeritus
CSU Monterey Bay

Philip G. Jones
VP, Managing Partner
Training Magazine

Karl M. Kapp, EdD
Professor of Instructional Technology
Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA

Tony Karrer, PhD

Connie Malamed
Learning Strategy Consultant
The eLearning Coach

M. David Merrill
Emeritus Professor
Utah State University

Cathy Moore
Training Design Consultant

Bob Mosher
Chief Learning Evangelist
APPLY Synergies

Koreen Pagano
Learning Consultant

Marc J. Rosenberg, PhD
Marc Rosenberg and Associates

Dr. Allison Rossett
Professor Emerita, Educational Technology
San Diego State University

Roger Schank
John Evans Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University
CEO, Socratic Arts

Patti Shank, PhD, CPT
Author, President, Learning Peaks LLC
Director of Research The eLearning Guild

Eric Shepherd

Clive Shepherd
Learning Technologist
Onlignment Ltd

Roderick Sims, PhD
Design Alchemist
Knowledgecraft, Australia

Brenda Sugrue, PhD
Chief Learning Officer
Kaplan Performance Solutions

Donald H. Taylor
Learning and Performance Institute

Sivasailam Thiagi Thiagarajan
Resident Mad Scientist
The Thiagi Group

Reuben Tozman
SlideJar Inc.

Ellen Wagner
Partner and Senior Analyst
Sage Road Solutions LLC