Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

The Future of E-learning (part 1)

I remember back in the early 2000’s when e-learning first appeared. Even though it was clunky and expensive at the time, there were many articles saying that L&D teams would disappear.

Of course that wasn’t true at all. People learn in different ways and while e-learning is part of a modern blended learning approach, it’s not the only way.

But e-learning has changed significantly over the years and it’s going to change further.

Two innovative, inspiring and pioneering women in the field of e-learning are Robyn Viljoen from Modlettes and Sussan Ockwell from Optimism. Both were sponsors at our HR and L&D Game Changer Conference and I asked each of them what they thought the future of e-learning was.

Robyn (far right  by window) is the founder and one of the Directors of – an online learning platform (not an LMS!!) which provides easy to build, do it yourself e-learning modules.

Sussan and Robyn and Colin

Asking Robyn about the future of e-learning she told me:

Having created an eLearning Platform as opposed to being a Customer of on LMS means I have got a behind the scenes view of what technology can do. It also means I have been able to spend more time understanding what customers what from eLearning rather than forcing them to fit their needs into a product or system. For me the exciting thing with technology is…..anything is possible. The question will it be…how will the technology be used and how much value will it add to the individual and the organization?

In my opinion the future of eLearning is going to be about deregulation of control. eLearning portals are going to be engagement and knowledge hubs. HR and L&D managers will give up dictating learning pathways and allow the learner to grow, explore, create and share their skills and insights to the benefit of themselves others.

This will mean some individuals will discover talents along the way like being great content creators or having a knack of explaining something in a simplified user friendly way. Other people will be awesome behind the camera or we’ll have a few unexpected stars in front of the camera.

Learning will become less formal, more practical and on demand.  Businesses will challenge expensive, high maintenance and complex licensed software solutions. As Millenials move into Management roles they will drive paperless, agile, fluid learning experiences that are focused on a “one size fits one” experience. They will not be afraid to change old outdated legacy systems in exchange for new, current and low cost solutions.

As L& D we need to realize we are no different to other business models. We need to look outside of our bubble and take note. A classic example is Sky TV vs Netflix. Sky is losing revenue and more than 2% of their customers per month, their CEO John Fellet still thinks their model works. He might have to look in the mirror and realize that television viewing has changed in the 20 years since he became CEO. With the first LMS programmes launching in the 1990s and open source software like Moodle being around since 2002, we might be using technology that is old and outdated but hanging onto it because its what we comfortable with. I think the LMS is dying in its current format is dying. It’s time to embrace a new format of learning.

Robyn also shared a great case study of a business using Modlettes. Ruth Nicolson owns a business called NZ Laser. Her business specialises in training individuals on how to safely use a laser for cosmetic and medical reasons. She works with plastic surgeons, beauty clinics and medical practitioners. Ruth was looking for an eLearning system that would help run her workshops more efficiently. She wanted something that would share videos and generate pre and post workshop content. Ruth was quoted $20,000 to build a platform that would help her address these issues.

At a networking breakfast two years ago, she discovered Modlettes. She now spends $900 per year on a platform that does everything she asked for and more. Ruth was able to invest her money into other areas of her business and has expanded her product offering, increase the amount of students she teaches, grow her revenue and her reach to more cities. She considers Modlettes to be a key ingredient in her business and the Modlettes team value her input and feedback as a customer and continue to make improvements based on her suggestions.

Ruth is the classic example of customers that Modlettes would like to serve. She is not an L&D specialist nor has a big team but she is one of the SMEs that make up 97% of New Zealand Businesses and that employ 590 000 people. She does not have the capital nor the support staff but has key knowledge and insight to share. She is one of thousands of SME’s that contribute to 29% of NZ’s GDP and have largely been neglected by the training industry because they are not corporate nor have thousands of users. It is based on these small companies that Modlettes has decided that all our features of the system will be available to all sizes of organisations. We don’t give you more features because you have more users… even the little guys can enjoy what has always been reserved for the big boys.


What do you think about the future Robyn sees?

  • Do you have plans for your LMS changing into a learning hub in the future?
  • Will learners be able to work out their own learning path rather than it being put together by HR, L&D or their manager?
  • Do you think learning will become more on demand with less formal programmes?
  • Will we move from one size fits all, to more individualized learning?


Thank you to Robyn for some really interesting ideas about the future of e-learning. In Part 2 we’ll hear from Sussan Ockwell from Optimism.

If you’d like to learn more about Modlettes click here.


Angela Atkins is the People and Learning Director of Elephant Group and was MC at the HR and L&D Game Changer Conference in March 2018.


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This entry was posted on March 25, 2018 by in Learning and Development and tagged , , .
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