Expert Session: Publishing Meets E-Learning

Learning content is increasingly available on the Internet without any cost. The presence of open educational resources may help promote goals like lifelong learning and access for all, but at the same time new problems arise. What about the quality of free online courses? How can learning content be delivered systematically and sustainably? And which role does the publishing industry play in the future of e-learning? At OEB 2008, an expert session chaired by Dr Richard Straub, Secretary General at the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG), will shed light on these emerging issues.

When talking about publishing and e-learning notions like digital content repositories and marketplaces, user-generated content, open access and open education resources come to mind. In a recent research report from a global corporation, I read the following provocative statement: “In the age of free content, the future (and the money) is in context.” Hence the question: Is this the emerging reality and what does it mean for the publishing industry?


Nobody can deny that the production of quality content has significant costs attached to it, especially for peer-review, quality control, author compensation, versioning, marketing, etc. Looking at educational content, the requirement of a “facilitated context” via teachers, tutors and co-learners comes up immediately. A free “content object” by itself may not be of much value. However, when integrated into a well- orchestrated learning process as its context, it may be very powerful.


New pressures are coming up in our advanced societies. Longer lifespan, later retirement, multiple career changes, learning and re-skilling are truly lifelong requirements. But also the need to broaden access to education and learning for increasing parts of the population in emerging economies and battling exclusion in our Western countries are increasing the drive for innovation in terms of scalable models of education. How to deliver high-quality education based on high-quality content to an increasing number of human beings at affordable cost?


While this situation may be perceived as a threat by industry players, there may be also generational opportunity in front of us. Advanced information and communication technologies showing up in new applications, broadly known as Web 2.0, have now reached a level – maybe the famous “tipping point” – where innovation in learning, including the content elements that go with it, should finally reach the next level. Yet, simplistic slogans like “content is free” or “user-generated content as alternative to publishing content” will not get us there. All stakeholders will have to work together to come up with new approaches such as sustainable business models supporting sustainable quality and new innovative ways of giving “life” to learning content by creating rich contextual settings and by integrating them into Web 2.0-enhanced learning processes.


In expert session “Publishing Meets E-Learning”, the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG) will bring together service providers, content producers and publishers to discuss some of the issues arising. ELIG put a strong focus on publishing and its role in e-learning at its latest annual general meeting in Sestri Levante, Italy. The group also just co-organised a workshop with Giunti Labs with 130 participants from industry and academia where these issues were discussed. A published declaration from this workshop will be available  at OEB.


Taking part in the session are Stephen Bradley from Elsevier Science + Technology, UK, Tim Collin from Blackboard, UK, as well as Eric Baber form Cambridge University Press, UK.


The expert session “Publishing Meets E-Learning“ will take place on Friday, December 5, from 11:45 – 13:15.


By Dr Richard Straub


Dr Richard Straub

In the course of his international career Richard Straub held various executive line and staff positions in IBM such as Assistant General Manager PC Marketing for IBM Europe based in Paris, Chief Learning Officer in the US with global responsibility and Director of Learning Solutions for Europe, Middle-East and Africa.


He is currently senior advisor to the Chairman of IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa, Secretary General of the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG) and Director of Development and CLIP (Corporate Learning Improvement Process) at the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). He is also President of the recently formed “Peter Drucker Society of Austria”.


For the last 10 years he has been deeply involved in European Union level industry initiatives in the area of skills, lifelong learning and innovation in roles such as President of the European Career Space Consortium (ICT skills and new University curricula required for the 21st Century Economy), the Living Labs Policy Group and Chair of the Open Innovation Strategy Group with member such as Nokia, Intel, BT, IBM and SAP.


As a thought leader at the intersection of Academia and Business he is a keynote speaker at international conferences and member of business school boards. He has been named “Visiting Executive” at the Helsinki School of Economics, a new advisory role with focus on industry/academia linkages.

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