Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Content Commerce: The "Halo" effect for e-Learning through social media

Now is the turn for wearing the green hat and lenses to see how can social media be leveraged for better results.

While we are talking of Web 2.0, enterprise 2.0 and the various technologies,  e-Learning industry also caught the buzz word to call e-Learning 2.0 as a new trend. Is it really true ? As e-Learning vendors, we do the same thing - Instruction Design, Instructional Writing, Visual design templates, content population and delivery in standalone or SCORM compliance files, Customize LMS, Launch courses through LMS, Add apps to make it collaborative, and plug in more modules to determine hierarchies, career paths, plan, skills now vs needed, etc. What is news in these ?

Does inclusion of few new mediums qualify it to be e-Learning 2.0 ?

Thinking about it, should we not need another perspective on why e-Learning cannot be e-Learning 2.0 with just web 2.0 enabled version added to its kitty. Let us see what web 2.0 perceptions (can be distanced from reality of 2.0) hold for many like me who see the band marching from sidelines.

1. Web 2.0 is about quick beta: Make it quick and easy. Get up fast and let users contribute to make it better.
2. Web 2.0 is about commerce bottom-up: Earn a user, earn a content, earn a paisa, penny.
3. Grow with more inclusions: Include one and include n amounts the same way in same experience. This means doing N transactions should be as simple as doing single transaction.
4. Create Niches in communities, through service, product: A fast, constant refreshing producer community is niche. A slow moving producer community and ALL consumer community is a drag. Getting vibrant communities and making room for communities to become vibrant through careful plots is the spirit in web 2.0 world.
5. Web 2.0 is about "gains" exchange: I exchange emails, but the emails gain from content richness with the conversation inherent in them. Google could possible gain from human transactions over email to an NI (Natural Intelligence) world. I read a email, review and add/edit/modify the content and reply my take on the subject - Many such reviews is itself a potent information than the original article which started it all.

With these perceptions (they may be perceptual errors as well, which is good in this case), what can e-Learning credibly do to move towards 2.0 band march.

Many things mentioned above apply for e-Learning as well. But what is being done about it? A cool new feature, product addressing one or many of the above perceptions still does not give a wholesome learning 2.0 experience. To have all of above, social media is an important tool. Here, term social media is all encompassing - Water cooler meetings, Coffee shop exchanges, airport lounge talks, quick messaging applications (SMS, Twitter) and other known tools.

One possibility in 2.0 world is to have a vibrant content commerce. A content commerce may be visualized as a transaction between content and the user with the richness being transferred between content and user continuously. While so far, we have the notion that users consume content and the rewards are in day to day work. But why ? The idea of one sided transaction needs a change to call ourselves to be in true 2.0 world.

In traditional way, When I consume a product, I buy the product repeatedly. The consumption satisfies me and craves me to buy more. The company sells the same product composition every time I need it. After a certain predictability, the company tweaks the value in the product for more "upscale" consumption. The consumer upgrades to a higher value stream and continues to purchase them again and again.

However, in a "content" world, same content is consumed only once. I need to buy a book once, to consume it all my life time. To enable content commerce, I need to be consuming the content more times. Social media can make it possible in following ways:
  1.  Produced more content with same quality, and same experience around the same AoI (Area of Interest). Multiple authors, multiple perspectives referencing a single theme are a good option to drive repeated consumption. Look at theme based blogs that bring consumers repeatedly to check for updates on their sites. This is critical link for e-learning to survive. Frequent updates to make users check it often will bring about a Learning Organization vision, a reality.
  2. Promote competition with multiple designs for same content suiting multiple delivery methods. Books, Kindle/iPad, Mobiles, computers, Audio books, Powerpoints, Web, Movies are ideal streams to promote and sell content. If same is available across these mediums, among them, I would be able to select a particular style and composition of content design that appeals to me at various points. I can then buy individual formats based on my immediate need. However, take care: Provisioning the same content in multiple mediums will drive away consumers. Adapt content to strength of every medium. For example, power point needs graphical and one message per slide, books need more text and occasional pictures, movies need a story, screen presence and epic proportion depiction of the content theme.
  3. Allow me to subscribe to content, use it and add to the content to pass on to make it better. Upscale the content brand for re-consumption through multiple brain exchanges. Notes, Annotations, Analysis/Synthesis, critiques across multiple brain and content sources make repeated consumption possible.
  4. Invest in a good aggregation service. A book store for example. I sample book shelves and choose what I need. Aggregators do the same in web world. Putting an aggregation service with what is available in web with the official courses within the enterprise will give users more interest to come to take e-Learning out of interest than compulsion.
The above points are not new. Some of them are not web 2.0, either. But should you use 2.0 technologies to become 2.0 or evolve and integrate what is available to beget a 2.0 experience?

These and more are the areas where Social Media get their hands full. Passing along a content to multiple users, making users interact and add their juice before passing it on makes the best playground for making content commerce, a success in the knowledge era.

Abstract, yes. Dream, yes, possible in near future - Hope so :). Many of it are happening as you read this post.
Inspirations: http://www.slideshare.net/jimson99/university-20-using-social-software-to-enhance-learner-engagement

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