Attention deficit disorder of our online universe has some direct impact on online learning. Read on for more.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to the company Vector Solutions.
Victoria Zambito: I’m the Senior Vice President of Content and Communications at Vector Solutions. Vector Solutions provides online education and performance solution to the heroes and thought leaders who design and build our world. We are focused on three niche verticals.
In the Commercial business unit, we have design and construction and industrial market space. In the Public business unit, we focus on training firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical service providers, and the like. Our third business unit is the education business unit. It is focused on training teachers and administrators on facing compliance issues.
We have around 6,000 e-learning courses and we also provide a cloud-based e-learning and performance management platform that we built and it’s paired with these highly-focused technical courses to meet the unique needs of the three verticals I just discussed.
Sramana Mitra: Could you double-click on each of those verticals and talk about the trends and the behaviors, and the adoption of e-learning that you’re seeing in each of them?
Victoria Zambito: We’ve been in the commercial business unit the longest. The company was started in 1999 by a professional licensed engineer who saw the need for providing online courses to meet continuing educational requirements. Engineers, architects, and contractors across the country have to do a specified number of course hours every year or every two years. They have to do these courses to keep their licenses. This engineer that started it saw the trend that things are moving online.
This was very early days. It wasn’t called e-learning back then. A lot of it was called computer-based training. We would discuss this trend in all three of our verticals – really moving to micro-learning and short courses. People want to be able to reference content quickly on the job and not through an hour-long course.
The hour-long courses are still needed for accreditation purposes and some compliance cases where a Board wants you to sit for an hour. On the job, they want to be able to access shorter bits of information. We’re seeing a trend towards either micro-courses or micro-learning, which everyone defines differently.
We are looking at courses that are under 30 minutes and clips of information that are just two or three minutes long. That trend can be seen across the three verticals – commercial, public, and education business units. I would say the trends are similar in all.
Sramana Mitra: It’s not surprising. One of the great successes in online learning is the TED movement. Their whole philosophy is around 18-minute talks. They don’t allow people to talk more than 18 minutes for precisely the reason that people don’t have enough concentration to go beyond 18 minutes in one go.
Victoria Zambito: Correct. The top hurdle that we all have that has been around since the late 90’s is that we have these large collections of online course libraries that we have been developing. A lot of those courses are at least one hour long, if not more. You have a lot of longer boring courses.
It’s not uncommon to find e-learning providers and providers of online courses struggling to figure out ways to modernize their course libraries to make them more engaging and make the courses shorter and keep them updated in general. It’s a hurdle. It’s something that every e-learning course writer is dealing with right now.
This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Victoria Zambito, SVP of Content and Communications at Vector Solutions