I have been a supporter and follower of Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele for almost a decade. I’ve interviewed them and reviewed their books for this blog. Jeff’s book Leading the Learning Revolution is a reflective masterpiece that touches those of…
Jeff Cobb of Tagoras Inc. recently released a report focused on learning management systems for associations. Find below my interview with Jeff, discussing not only the report but also his life as an entrepreneur and his quest for a balanced lifestyle. Full disclosure: Web Courseworks’ LMS called CourseStage is one of the featured systems in the report. I am writing about the LMS Report because it is an invaluable guide for associations considering a business model involving eLearning. I am also intrigued by Jeff Cobb, the entrepreneur.
Let’s start with Jeff. Often educators, especially those who achieve success researching and teaching in the higher education market, dream of private sector opportunity. Like Jeff, they can be torn between their passion for instruction and learning and their natural interest in financial acknowledgement for their contributions. It is also a challenge to succeed in the private sector educational marketplace. Jeff is one of my heroes because he did just that. In the interview featured below, he talks about how during the dot-com period earlier this century, he saw a need for a learning management system focused on serving the needs of non-profits and associations. He successfully sold his business in 2005 and formed Tagoras, a consulting and research firm in 2009 with his wife Celisa. This new venture stemmed from what he saw as an important need for information in the association sphere.
Web Courseworks’ game developer, Joe Rheaume, and I recently interviewed author Clark Aldrich about his impressions of the Acton MBA School’s use of simulation games to teach business concepts. For complete disclosure purposes, my company Web Courseworks is one of the vendors for the Acton Foundation, and Clark Aldrich has provided consulting services for Acton in the past. What intrigues me about Acton is the intersection of two of my favorite subjects: Entrepreneurs and game-based learning.
In this video we talk briefly about Clark’s new book, The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games, and Clark shows us the aspects he likes about Acton’s game “Robo Rush: Can you make a profit and meet customer demands?”
Guy Kawasaki’s continuous tweets have drilled the Alltop aggregate sites into my psyche, and there it was—a site for eLearning! To apply to be accepted, it required a blog name. After six months of blogging, I finally decided to name this blog: “Managing eLearning.” I will occasionally get into the weeds about eLearning tactical issues, like voicing an opinion on instructional design, but most of the time my blog posts will focus on:
- Efficient management of eLearning projects
- Leadership issues in the development and deployment proces
- Strategic discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities within the eLearning space
The association marketplace has caught my attention as a promising avenue for eLearning services. The market is as large and diverse as it can get— an association exists for almost all types of interests and businesses from the American Bar Association to the Knitting Guild Association. There are associations for associations, with ASAE being the most well-known, and there are associations for companies providing management services for associations (AMC Institute). No matter how you try to break down the association market, whether by size, staff, industry, trade or professional, the sheer size and variation of the market presents challenges much like a Rubik’s Cube.
A colleague asked for advice prior to an interview for a training and development job. She was selected for the interview phase in part because of her eLearning experience. Here is a summary of my advice:
- Prepare to ask questions so you understand what the job entails. This will enable you to position your expertise, e.g. “Can you describe a typical day and explain the types of tasks I will be doing?” Usually there are tactical tasks (day to day duties) and strategic tasks (long range general goals) such as helping to develop a distance education curriculum.
- Translate your training and development experiences into eLearning. If you have been a classroom trainer reflect on how you organize the course and how you plan activities to engage students. The same techniques can be translated to eLearning. Scan Bill Horton’s book: eLearning by Design for cross over language, e.g. instructional design, learning objectives, testing, and levels of learner engagement.
I am in a quick turnaround from speaking at the ASTD TechKnowledge ‘09 workshop and flying today to Atlanta for Training Magazine’s Annual Training 2009 conference for two speaking sessions. I am adjusting my two lectures (Managing eCourse Development, It’s a Team Approach and Moodle Doodle: Building Online Courses Using the Open Source CMS, Moodle) to account for people’s preoccupation with the current economic downturn.
As an eLearning entrepreneur, I want to address topics centered on managing projects and people. People are most definitely in the news this past week as we hit unemployment levels previously unseen by many in the workforce. I have had several conversations with individuals who have lost their jobs. My advice to them and all those currently employed is to always think like an entrepreneur. Here are my top ten quick tips:
This is my first blog post since 2005, when I wrote about my experiences playing the video game, XMEN, for a class I was taking at the University of Wisconsin. Last week I became inspired by my holiday reading of David Merman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Well here I go…As an eLearning entrepreneur, I have paid special attention to the overly depressing 2009 economic prognostications. This is my fourth recession. I’ve been self employed as an educational technologist since 1978. I feel that eLearning is going to be one of the winners during this current downturn. More associations (and there are thousands) will begin investing in online learning and will begin to eliminate a few face to face conferences.