Wednesday, April 28, 2010

SkillSoft's inGenius: About adding meaningful context...

SkillSoft recently (about 3 weeks back) announced the launch of inGenius. This social learning layer will integrate with SkillSoft's Book 24X7, a vast repository of technical and IT-related literature that many organizations use as off-the-shelf content to enable their employees.

inGenius will allow users of Books 24X7 to post comments on the books, add notes, start discussions, rate content and perform other similar activities that will enable the addition of CONTEXT to make the generic Books 24X7 content organization specific. Learners/users, by rating the content in order of specificity for their organization can point other users in the right direction. All of these undoubtedly can improve the overall efficacy of the content in question.

For organizations that have already invested in licenses for access to Books 24X7, inGenius could be an added benefit that would allow users to collaborate and add context. John Ambrose in his post Social Learning Will Fill Enterprise 2.0’s Empty Drums, Part II points out the advantage of "leveraging the amplification benefits of social technology" tools like inGenius.

Tony Karrer, in his post, Social Learning Tools Should Not be Separate from Enterprise 2.0: eLearning Technology, while applauding the effort SkillSoft is making to integrate Social Learning, does criticize the fact that they are tying this to SkillSoft and to books as learning resources.

But he adds the most valuable point about social learning that drives adoption and increases the perceived ease of use manifold: Same tools as your work tools.

To summarize, what could be the advantages of inGenius for organizations already using Books 24X7?

1. It is integrated into a platform that already has content
2. Users are thus free to add context by co-creating, sharing, commenting, rating, discussing...
3. Because it is a part of SkillSoft, it will be perceived as a more secure way of collaborating and is likely to get more buy in from enterprises
4. It will also be seen as a safe and secure launching pad for organizations wishing to introduce the concepts of and explore the benefits of collaborative learning, user generated context and content, community building, etc.
5. Most importantly, it does not require familiarization with a new set of tools as users would already be accessing SkillSoft in the course of their daily work

On the downside, inGenius is very SkillSoft centric and will not give a true sense of collaboration and networking. But, it indeed is a good start...

One more point that could make organizations happy: it seems that future releases of inGenius will extend support to SkillSoft's SkillPort LMS and other e-learning modules. (Source: SkillSoft Raises the Bar for e-Learning with its inGenius Social Learning Layer)

However, there seems to be a dichotomy here. LMS' are top down management tools used for tracking and has really nothing to do with "learning." Collaborative features/informal learning features and are essentially bottom up. How the two would be integrated in spirit depends on the philosophy of trust practiced by organizations.

It should be interesting to see how inGenius gets adopted in organizations and how it evolves to be the bridge between formal and informal learning...


Note: The Books24x7 library includes more than 25,000 titles, on-demand resources comprising digitized IT and business books, book summaries and videos on a wide range of relevant information technology, business skills, computer desktop skills and compliance subjects. (Source: SkillSoft Raises the Bar for e-Learning with its inGenius Social Learning Layer)

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