So you’ve been in the training field for a while and you’re doing pretty well, but new dimensions of eLearning are coming at you – fast. And just when you think you’ve figured it all out, it changes. Courseware and instructional design must make room for informal learning, social media, mobile learning, and performance support. The definition of blended learning keeps changing, and the advances in technology – well, it’s almost overwhelming.

Where to focus? If you are a training manager, you want your team well positioned to provide a high level of quality and service. You want to better allocate your resources – people, technologies, and money – to get the most bang for the buck. But how do you do this in such a dynamic field? How do you plan for new eLearning projects when the very nature of eLearning is so fluid?

If you are an instructional designer, even if you have some experience in “traditional” eLearning, it’s probably time to rethink the notion of learning in the digital age. Does everything have to look like a course, or do other, more informational approaches also matter? When do you need to teach, and when do you need to guide? When do you need to put people in class, and when do you need to support them at work?

If you are into learning evaluation, you know that accountability and results are more important than ever. As your clients increasingly demand a focus on performance and the bottom line, especially when they are investing more in new learning technologies, you begin to realize that a simple multiple-choice test at the end of an online course just doesn’t cut it anymore. With more calls for certification and compliance, how do you show that your eLearning efforts, or your training efforts in general, really work?

If you are an instructor, you know that good teaching is both science and art. Perhaps you are interested in moving more towards technology-based learning. If so, a great way to start is to teach an online class using synchronous virtual classroom tools. It’s not the same as what you’ve been doing, but good instructors can make the transition, expand their repertoire, and ultimately impact more learners than ever before. How do you make this transition?

If you manage learning technology, no doubt you’re trying to keep pace with all the advances in the field. You probably have a LMS or are looking to implement one. You may also be in the growing pool of organizations that are upgrading their LMS, or replacing it entirely. On top of this, you have to keep your organization up-to-speed on authoring tools, testing tools, SCORM engines, and now, collaboration, knowledge management, mLearning, and performance support tools as well. Add to this is an increasingly complex relationship with your I.T. organization and an increasing focus on security, and it’s easy to see why the challenges of learning technology and infrastructure can be so daunting. How do you keep up with the changes?

If you are managing vendors, you know that the marketplace is constantly in flux. It can be hard separating the wheat from the chaff. Yet the amount of investment you are making in outside support may be increasing, along with the risks of making a bad selection. In an age of expanding eLearning choices, how do you manage vendor selection better?

If you are a Chief Learning Officer, you’re going-forward strategy should be paramount. Can you answer the question, “Where do you want to be two or three years from now?” Gathering your team and your stakeholders to work on this may be the most important thing you do.

Finally, if you are an eLearning client, how do you know what you need, and what to ask for? Do you really need eLearning courseware, or would a performance support approach be better? Should all your people take the same training, or should you personalize the learning more? With a limited amount of money, a genuine performance need, and expanding options, how do you pick the right path?

There’s so much going on, and so much to learn! It reminds me of the story of the hiker and the woodsman. Coming upon the woodsman, the hiker pitched his tent to watch him chop trees. After several days, the hiker made an observation. On day one, the woodsman had cut down 20 trees. By the third day, the woodsman had cut only 10 trees, and by the fifth day, only five trees fell. The hiker said to the woodsman, “You are cutting fewer trees each day; your axe may be dull, so why don’t you stop to sharpen it?” To this, the woodsman replied, “I can’t stop; I’m too busy chopping down trees.”

It’s time to sharpen our axes. For many of you, as part of your professional development, it might be time to attend eLearning boot camp. At the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando in March, you can attend a special two-day preconference program, the eLearning Foundations Intensive, which will provide the most intensive set of briefings available on all facets of eLearning. If you are new to eLearning, about to face new eLearning challenges, or just looking for fresh perspective, and you want an opportunity to interact “up close and personal” with a luminary faculty, the eLearning Foundations Intensive may be just what’s needed to jumpstart your eLearning journey.