As a friend of mine has recently observed: “Today all the moons are in alignment for the very first time.” How right he is. But I am not convinced that many of us who work with the new e-Learning technologies really understand the opportunity that’s out there. Suppose that once every five hundred years or so, you find yourself handed a set of keys which can help advance society and personal living standards, if only you know what to do with them. The answer to how you can use these new keys to unlock the ‘barriers-to-entry” for tens of millions of our “opportunity-starved” citizens will depend on your genuine understanding of the creative process.

Imagination is the single catalyst that drives creativity. One of America’s greatest scenic artists, Robert Edmond Jones, defined that process most appropriately when he wrote, “Imagination is the faculty for realization.” No one can create anything meaningful unless their imagination can foresee that created object or concept already realized in their own mind. Imagination is not fantasy. Fantasy is inner-directed, while imagination lets us envision worlds outside ourselves. And, if we are all going to fully grasp this moment, we will only do so if we can exercise a genuine imagination, which can empower us to see into the future of learning. A future, incidentally, which will be essential to economic advancement around the globe as well as the twenty-first century means for advancing individual achievement and any resultant social harmony.

So, where is the fit?

Let’s quickly eliminate the current types of reading-based e-Learning that contribute little to the learning challenges of the twenty-first century. Transporting words, numbers, graphics, and still pictures across digital networks is relatively easy today. It is also very useful for that information flow to be directed at the one-third of us who are “reading advanced.” Hooray! Let that work continue. I like it. You like it. I take advantage of all that information so readily available and so do you. I am happy to be a part of the “reading culture” and would not have it any other way. I look forward to reading my one or two biographies and history books each month. I read the newspapers, subscribe to about a dozen journals, and can’t wait to discover new things on the Internet. Great! Wonderful! And for the purposes of these remarks, I don’t very much care.

You see, I (and you, as well) can function, come up with informed opinions, cast responsible votes, earn sufficient personal income, and communicate without the richness of multi-sensory e-Learning. Oh, I like having multi-sensory e-Learning available. I can learn more “stuff” than I ever have previously; have access to more knowledge; and do all of it faster and more efficiently than I was ever able to do before. But, I don’t need it; I made out just fine before the video and audio aspects of multi-sensory e-Learning came along.

And, yes, lots of companies and lots of investors have made lots of money by capitalizing on that relatively easy type of reading-based e-Learning — which, by its very nature, is more “informational” and less “instructional” in its effects.

However, let’s get to the real point here. The opportunities in multi-sensory e-Learning that I am challenging you to think about are those instructional designs which should be directed at the current two-thirds of Americans who are cut off from that reading-based learning culture associated with the CBT-design world of the 1970’s. Our future multi-sensory instructional designs must become part of that television learning culture — which supplanted the printing press world as the primary medium for communication — beginning in the 1950’s.

More on Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning