In a first of its kind and no holds barred interview, Dr. Ruth Clark, revered by many in the Instructional Design community tells The Learned Man about her frustrations in working with Indian vendors and future plans for India.
The Learned Man: Hello Dr. Clark. This website had reported sometime back about the shortage of Instructional Designers in India. The off-shore eLearning Industry in India is booming but one of the major pain points is the lack of qualified ID's. These companies, due to lack of choice recruit everybody from journalists, copy writers, teachers and try to teach them the basics of ID. You are an extemely popular figure and widely read author among the ID community in India. The Learned Man has put together a few questions that I am sure a lot of us have on our minds, for you:
The Learned Man:1)Have you worked with any Indian eLearning companies? What has the experience been like? Dr Clark: I had extensive discussions with Maximize Learning to deliver a week of seminars in India for them this past Spring. Because Maximize Learning was bought out by another company, we never carried out the plan. The experience overall was frustrating. This I am sure was a unique situation and does not characterize the Indian e-Learning market in general.
The Learned Man:2)Have you considered a partnership with Indian Universities to help address this problem (shortage of ID's) given the wide use of your materials in India? Dr Clark: I had discussed this possibility with Maximize Learning and they were planning to set up meetings with the local university. Again, this did not materialize. Given opportunities for distance learning via webcasts etc. I would think this would be a viable option. Perhaps if I can get some referrals to some universities, I could initiate some contacts.
The Learned Man: 3)Would you consider revising the prices of your online courses to make them more accessible to Indian students desirous of gaining a certification from you? Dr Clark: I believe something could be worked out. For example, we could increase class size and in that way reduce per person cost. As everyone is aware, travel costs to India are high (compared to within U.S. travel) and the time commitment would preempt other US seminars I can teach. Thus work in India is expensive for me. We can discuss options.
The Learned Man: 4) Are you planning a visit to India anytime? I know that there are lots of people here who would be eager to meet with you and benefit from a lecture or talk Dr Clark: After the previous problems working with Maximize Learning, I have not pursued any further trips. My schedule tends to book out about 3 months. If you are interested in coordinating some kind of event let me know and we can discuss specifics. We could organize two seminars plus a speaking engagement in a 1 week time frame. Our busy time period here in the U.S. is Q4 - so I would be available March of 06.
The Learned Man hopes that eLearning vendors, universities and colleges across India will take note of this and hopefully we will get to see Dr. Clark in India sooner than later!
Fact: Ireland now has over 60 e-Learning companies.
Thats as many, give or take a few, as India has. In November 2002, the Irish Government devised its strategy to position Ireland as a global leader in the digital content industry with emphasis on e-Learning apart from digital games, digital libraries, telematics and wireless services, and non-media applications.
Over 280 companies are estimated to be involved in the development of digital products and services in Ireland. Similar to international trends, the industry has developed in clusters, namely in the digital film and television, business publishing (including web design) and e-learning areas. The primary cluster is located in Dublin, where it is estimated that about 87% of the companies are based. Other clusters exist in Limerick, primarily in the e-learning area, and in Galway and Cork. (These numbers are from a mid-2003 report)
Ireland has thrown up companies such as SmartForce and WBT and houses major development efforts for groups such as NetG. The Irish government has been proactive in providing tax incentives to this sector. Smaller Indian companies have traditionally hankered for business from players like Riverdeep and ThirdForce. It is now time to see the larger picture which is one of increasing competition from Irish companies.
Finally after a year of wondering if this blog would get the necessary support, I have no more doubts. The numbers talk for themselves.
30,000 hits in the first year from a niche audience interested in eLearning.
Over 75 subscribers (and growing fast) to my newsletter from eLearning companies across the length and breadth of India and around the world. This includes instructional designers, sales professionals, students, graphics wizards and tech gurus. All of whom have given The Learned Man! blog a resounding thumbs up by signing up for the newsletter and posting regular comments on the blog.
In additional 63 people have thus far bought India's first ever eLearning vendor directory.
A big, big thank you to all of you. You have given me a reason to bring you more research that will not only help you in your careers but also drive the industry forward!
Let us together continue to grow India's first common platform for eLearning professionals. This blog no more belongs just to me. It belongs to each one of you, who keep coming back to gain more and to contribute even more.