Dean Saunders spoke with The Ticker on the efforts learning organizations in Australia and the world are doing to “ramp up” their online efforts. His company, eCreators, is a reference for Learning Management Systems (LMS), and increasingly for Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) in Australia, and increasingly in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. As more companies dive in without delay into online learning experiences, the need for “first responders” to ease this transition is clear. Time for Saunders, and the Learnbook platform, to take the stage.
Ticker, a news platform based in Melbourne focused on business, tech, startups and entrepreneurship, interviewed Saunders. Ticker Founder and Managing Director, Ahron Young, held the interview.
State of affairs
Saunders begins with his view on the current situation. The state of Victoria still sees its university campuses closed, as an effort to flatten the curve, but not without a cost in financial and educational results for their communities.
As a result, demand for online learning platforms has been unprecedented. And that’s not only coming from education. The private sector, government agencies and NGOs are also asking for help.
While their demand begins out of similar drives for continuity, it becomes immediately clear that each case is different from one another, as well as their ideas and expectations of what can be possible. Training organizations, for instance, largely and almost exclusively offering face-to-face training, are now rushing to migrate their programs to online platforms. Other cases show a stronger need for interactive content development and migration.
“We’re in a fortunate position in which we can help,” Saunders reflects.
How quick is quick?
Given the different case scenarios and requirements —and yes, often the tempers— launching a learning platform ready for use can be a thorny affair, ordinarily taking weeks or months to prepare.
Learnbook has optimized the process, with practices such as Single Image Infrastructure, which makes the creation of a new platform possible within a few “clicks.” If the organization has their content ready, within hours or days the platform is ready for students to register and begin their learning. If there is a need for content development, which can take 1 or 2 weeks, the platform can still take care of the student enrollment process in the meantime.
Charting an early response
When the eCreators team realized what the immediate future would have in store, the first thing they made sure of was to “juice up” their cloud infrastructure. One of the key selling points of cloud-based learning is the instant scalability, in which you can add power (CPUs, memory, storage) to your system instantly. The engineers’ job is to ensure the applications are ready to take advantage of enhanced specs to increase their power accordingly and guarantee uptime for a multiple of the regular user volume.
eCreators and similar solutions are standing up to the task. The challenge, however, is in many ways just beginning. The Australian Higher Ed system is notable for the significant portion of international students, many of who returned to their countries and may not come back. Not for a while, anyway.
The leadership among several universities was already embracing online education as an additional channel to deliver learning and communications, and of course a source or revenue. Many, of course, were caught with their pants down.
For the foreseeable future, “learning needs to be a blended affair.” This is Saunders’ core and conclusive message. Again, it means different things for different organizations, depending on their needs and digital maturity. It is time for teachers and trainers from all sides, their teams and leaders, to understand the technology and embrace what it can do not just to ensure continuity, but to set up the next generation of immersive learning experiences.