crossing the chasm – mixing metaphors part 1

3 03 2004

recently in a conversation with a colleague i asked why she thought the adoption rate of e e learning has been low at start up in the past month. i had already picked out the easy explanations: “these things take time,” ” they’re busy with a lot of other things” etc. but my colleague said to me that perhaps people are intimidated by all there is to learn. it thought about it and quickly realized she’s right. there’s already a lot of stuff on this blog and I’ve only just begun.

well, i have to tell on myself because, in my mind at least and probably out loud, i drew on the old self-deprecating one-liner “well if a bozo like me was able to learn this field then surely these bright people can too.” that’s just a cop-out from doing the real work of communicating the field of elearning to newcomers. helping people learn new and seemingly alien languages and landscapes is hard work. period. and helping people learn about elearning is just an inescapable part of my job.

first, i think it’s important for us all to look at where this field is today. elearning has grown at an astounding and fear-generating pace. practically none of the tools we use today existed 10 years ago. in a clear demonstration of rogers’ diffusion of innovations curve the innovators built the ideas, tools and vision of what learning could be and the early adopters began cobbling together a marketplace out of thin air.

now we see the hundreds of elearning companies starting to merge. as geoffrey moore so clearly points out in his book crossing the chasm, we are facing that critical point in the adoption of innovation cycle where elearning will need to become more scalable and clearly defined in a “what do i get out of it if i take a chance mentality.” that is a characteristic of the early majority.


companies and even entire fields like elearning will have their ability to change their message tested to the breaking point as they move from a world of innovation and complexity to a reality of reliability and meeting customer expectations. some companies will make it over this chasm. others won’t. will elearning become the dominant paradigm that so many people believe it will? or will it come be know as that fad at the turn of the century that failed?

so….here we stand at the edge of the chasm. a vast ocean of ideas and technologies lies before us. how do we even begin?

in part two i’ll give a suggestion of how to approach elearning and all that it is. if you have any questions or comments on this post please click on the comment button below and share your thoughts or concerns. If you feel i’m missing the boat on making things clear, let me know, that’s the way I’ll learn how best to do my job. as always, if you want to reach me directly just email dave.

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