Friday 5 December 2008

The effect of the economic crisis on (e)Learning - a lunch discussion started by Jay Cross

At OEB there are several things happening, one of the initiatives I like a lot are the Special Interest Group lunches (SIG). This noon I joined Jay Cross at his lunch initiative: what can the learning world expect/tackle in these times of crisis?

All of us agreed that the economic crisis will be here for a couple of years, resulting in job losses. Seeing that in the past the learning department was one of the first departments to be cut in companies, estimates are that nearly 70 to 80 % of the learning budgets will be cut in the next couple of years. So we all better gear ourselves to overcome this crisis, both on a personal and on an institutional level.

It was a round table, so I jott down the main topics that were raised:
  • more emphasis on open source/open resources;
  • shift in company ethics, durable (energy) solutions;
  • the world is in an economic shift going gom the industrial age towards a knowledge age => so investing in knowledge = learning will be crucial if you want your company/organisation to stay financially valid.
  • the world is in an economic shift going gom the industrial age towards a knowledge age.
  • CEO's need to be included in defining strategy for eLearning (training, coaching, awakening management will be crucial if the learning departments want to keep alive);
  • equiping people to manage the recession => that would be a business worth investing in.
  • it is time to invest in more bottom-up, informal learning;
  • dare to invest time to seize the day the opportunity to be prepared for the long-term future.
  • in times of crisis you go in search of the essence of what you have and what you need => a personal process;
  • learning is personal.
  • being confronted with dire straights inspires, the ones that dare in these times florish.
  • some companies (Volkswagen, Google) dare to incorporate learning on personal interest in the workers time.
  • personal knowledge/learning techniques will benefit the whole or the communities to which the learners belongs.
  • personal learning is essential in addition to managemental learning change.
  • learning touches all societal issues.
  • outsourcing the learning department to some extent might be a possibility.
  • increase the consciousness that learning has a definite positive impact on the complete organisation or/and person (if you cut a department, it will effect the whole; if you cut knowledge, everyone will be challenged).
  • knowledge on new learning techniques should be increased.
  • more really tailored content has to be provided. In many cases we now buy a complete package from which we only use a small percentage, because only this content is of interest to us. So focus on small content tailored for the user and standardized so it can be build on.
  • learning touches all the society.


  1. Recalling from the last downturn: invest in capability in a downturn, so you're ready to invest in opportunity when things turn around. Investing in learning capability is a meta-benefit.

  2. Inge, thanks for posting this. I just compared your notes of the discussion with mine. We need to work together, for the combination says more than either of us on our own. See