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Clark Aldrich Research Common Citations, 2000

Here are some common citations from my 2000 published work. I had become a leading analyst at Gartner, and was profiled as one of the "Visionaries of the Industry" by Training Magazine (picture on left). I had developed "magic quadrants" for all of the segments of eLearning at the time. I also began my monthly column in Online Learning (which irked my friends at ASTD, but did not break that relationship, thankfully).

This is from a June, 2000 Gartner research note, presenting an eLearning hype cycle. My criticism of using current methodologies for management skills was itself criticized by many of the vendors and early adopters at the time (and in contrast to IT professional skills where I was much more bullish). Still, this came from dozens of corporations complaining to me that they could not predictably develop leadership and innovation. The search to find solutions here led not only to my sim work but also to Unschooling Rules.

Also, mobile tools were just coming on the radar as a visionary, early thought.
As is often the case in emerging, fast-changing markets filled with consolidation and new vendors, the amount of marketing noise generated by e-learning technologies can make it more difficult for enterprises to choose the appropriate one. The purpose of the Gartner E-Learning Hype Cycle (see Figure 1) is to help enterprises understand the risk/reward relationship of various e-learning approaches.
- C. Aldrich, Gartner Research Note COM-11-1873: The E-Learning 2000 Hype Cycle, 13 June 2000

This is from a July, 2000 piece that also strove too simplify but expand the possible models going forward.

- C. Aldrich, Gartner Research Note COM-11-0169: Advanced E-Learning Models for the Knowledge Workplace, 24 July 2000

In my new role as columnist for Online Learning magazine, I explored a variety of issues. Of course one was simulations. This was my first simulation piece for Online Learning, and I am happy with how well it has held up.

There’s something about Simulations

Most e-learning companies have at least one senior person from Oracle or PeopleSoft. Former SAP and Baan, even Cisco employees are also becoming ubiquitous. It is no wonder, given these pedigrees, that many of the new e-learning tools are being sold as enterprise applications, and getting closer every day to either ERPs or knowledge management systems.

This infrastructure focus, both on the vendor and enterprise side, is in essence a huge promissory note. There will be sophisticated content coming, everyone seems to be promising, to make these purchases worth it.

Probably the best model to fill the hole will be immersive simulations. During late 2001 and early 2002, a slew of off-the-shelf business simulations will be available. You can already hear the marketing machines revving into high gear.

Yet many of these companies will disappear by 2003. Building a good simulation is difficult, a high stakes gamble for the vendor. And because of the number of options that will be available, choosing the right one will not be easy for the enterprise.

Here are the nine criteria that need to be considered when evaluating simulations:

Real, identifiable situations: although some early simulation providers have chosen metaphorical or fantasy settings, the scenarios must feel authentic and directly relevant to the employees’ task at hand. "Realism is only a technique," Shakespeare scholars may say, but in this case, it is the technique of choice;

Real time: the pressure of immediate decisions breaks through the attempts of most students to psyche out a course. This is also valuable as these tools are used for evaluations. As with life, time moves ahead, and doing nothing has to be an option (and sometimes even the right one);

Infinite pathing within a finite world: the user must have the feeling of unrestricted options, albeit within the relatively small simulated world, much like an ant’s sense of freedom on a basketball. Every wall hit by the user breaks the mood. Simulations should be an analog, not discreet, experience;

The learning takes place from the interactions, as opposed to between interactions: so many early, misguided models revolved around an “entertaining” setting framing drier content, such as a loud game show veneer on multiple choice questions. This is probably the worst of all worlds, arming critics that simulations obscure. In simulations, the lessons have to come instead from the way the environment responds to the student, including the “physics” of the business model, and the domain knowledge of autonomous characters. Only this will drive the learning at the multi-processing intuition level over the linear logical level;

Dynamically generated graphics and sound: Like it or not, computer games are to the e-learning industry what racing cars are to the automobile industry. In these experiences, creating infinite options and maintaining the sense of a unique experience requires the dynamic generation of feedback. This strongly favors computer animation over video. Further, video cannot be updated over time, while computer animation can;

Replayability taking on different approaches: just as a pilot in a flight simulator can try conservative and aggressive strategies, so to in business simulator must users be able to try out different personalities and approaches;

Core engine with easily customizable scripts: when businesses spend large sums on simulations, they should expect to customize the experience to their unique culture, as least as much as people buying new cars can customize style and options;

Branded content: as with Hollywood sequels, branding provides a reason to commit for the user and some assured base for the vendors’ expensive content;

Built in coaching and reflection: learning requires some mulling. In some cases, these tools will even act as a stand alone performance support tool that the students can access well after the simulation is over.

- Aldrich, C. (2000), 'Something About Simulations.', Online Learning 4(10), 90-91.

I wrote a piece called Customer-Focused E-Learning: The Drivers, that was first rejected by Gartner when I turned it in as an analyst, then accepted by ASTD's magazine, Training & Development, and then, a year after it was written, was featured by Gartner in one of their glossy magazines. (All of my years with Gartner was marked by my getting in trouble for activities that would become company policy a year later. Sigh.) It represented another attempt to de-aggregate something that was often lumped together (E-Learning), and remind the training community that they had an opportunity to be more strategic, if they wanted to be, but others were more than happy to pick up their slack if they didn't.

E-learning is fast becoming a differentiator, one that gives leading-edge firms a powerful new tool for marketing themselves to customers.

Business Problem Need Tools
Increased "Mind Share" Competition Broadcast Thought Leadership Virtual Keynotes, Seminars, and Classrooms
Increased Complexity of Offerings Scares Customers Overcome Fear of Technology Interface Test Drive Simulation
Requirement of Infinitely Scalable Business Models Reduce Cost of Transaction Embedded Courses
Pressure for Increased Revenue Offer Training Without Being a Training Company Leveraged Learning Options
Non-Differentiated Buying Experience Sticky Sites Integration of CRM, KM, and E-Learning

- Aldrich, C. (2000), 'Customer-Focused E-Learning: The Drivers.', Training & Development 54(8), 34--36,38.

2000 Published Writings Include:

Aldrich, C. (2000), 'Something About Simulations.', Online Learning 4(10), 90-91.

Aldrich, C. (2000), 'Losing By Winning: The training department gets sidelined as e-learning grabs the eyes and ears of top execs.', Online Learning 4(9), 86-87.

Aldrich, C. (2000), 'Means to an end: Be wary of vendors that promise end-to-end services.', Online Learning 4(8), 84-85.

Aldrich, C. (2000), 'Customer-Focused E-Learning: The Drivers.', Training & Development 54(8), 34--36,38.

C. Aldrich, Learning-Management Systems: The 2000 Magic Quadrant: Gartner ranks 10 vendors of learning-management systems according to their ability to execute and completeness of vision. Gartner Research Note COM-11-6673, 11 August 2000.

C. Aldrich, The Justification of IT Training: Gartner quantifies the relationship between IT training and productivity for professionals and end users. Gartner Research Note DF-11-3614, 10 July 2000.

C. Aldrich, The Effective Use of Discretionary Training Funds: Discretionary resources are very hard to come by. Spending them well is critical to the long-term success of the training department. Gartner Research Note DF-11-0529, 22 June 2000.

C. Aldrich, The E-Learning 2000 Hype Cycle: Gartner compares the risks that enterprises face in adopting 16 different applications of e-learning. Gartner Research Note COM-11-1873, 13 June 2000.

C. Aldrich, E-Learning Power Players, 2003: We outline the expected changes in the e-learning marketplace through 2003, and describe the characteristics of the most influential vendors during each stage. Gartner Research Note M-10-7085, 6 April 2000.

C. Aldrich, C. Ross, Virtual Classroom Providers — A First Quarter 2000 Evaluation. Gartner Research Note R-10-2078, 16 March 2000

C. Aldrich, End-User E-Learning: Get the First Taste Right: The success of a new end-user e-learning program rests primarily on the students’ initial experiences. We offer strategies to ensure that the first e-learning experience will be an enjoyable one. Gartner Research Note TU-09-3888, 7 March 2000.

C. Aldrich, Learning Portals and the E-Learning Hype Cycle. We position learning portals on the corporate e-learning Hype Cycle, describe evaluation criteria for enterprises considering learning portals and outline potential pitfalls in
early relationships. Gartner Research Note M-10-1959, 3 March 2000.

C. Aldrich, Off-the-Shelf E-Learning Content Providers: The 1Q00 Magic Quadrant
We rank seven off-the-shelf e-learning content vendors by ability to execute and
completeness of vision. Gartner Research Note COM-10-0994, 23 February 2000.

C. Aldrich, The Effective Use of E-Learning: The 2000 Study: We have studied the effectiveness of implementing broad e-learning strategies. Here is the summary of the results, with some best uses of different channels. Gartner Research Note COM-09-9186, 7 February 2000.

C. Aldrich, SAP End-User Training: Questions and Answers: SAP end-user preparation is the hardest training challenge some companies will ever face, yet is essential for a successful implementation. Here are some best practices. Gartner Research Note QA-09-6818, 20 January 2000.

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