I just read a very interesting article, Two Ships Passing in the Night, posted by Rick Nigol on the elearncampus.com newsletter “Breakthrough Briefing”. Basically, he compares the very different approaches to e-learning that for-profit and non-profit take.

Big business (for profit), at least in what I’ve read and seen advertised, relies heavily on technology. However, they’re big business for a reason…they don’t have a lot of time to spend on development (hopefully more GUI design rather than learning, but you never know). Therefore, they look for shortcuts and technology is one of them.

Non-profit relies on tools that will cost less but do a good job. The focus is more on learning design and the technology that supports that particular design. Open Source and free software/technology is a good solution to those needs.

And, while working for a small/medium sized for-profit corporation, we’ve used Open Source and free software to fulfill some of our needs for e-learning development. There’s lots out there. Zoho.com, Google Docs, Wikispaces are just a few that we use on a regular basis. I think, personally, that pricier learning technologies are not necessarily better. On the other hand, open source and free technology don’t have a lot of customer support (for the most part) and may not fit your needs as your development grows.

But I do believe this: learning design should come first and the technology should only be used to uphold and promote that design (form follows function).

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