We Sit Down with the CEO of eXact Learning Fabrizio Cardinali

Today we have Fabrizio Cardinali, CEO of eXact Learning Solutions. eXact provided content, learning, and knowledge management services and has worked with clients such as Scannia, Volkswagen Group Italia, and the Australian Department of Defense. Fabrizio is here with us to share his insightsabout education and technology.

1. You’ve worked with some fairly big European companies. Do you think there’s a difference in implementing technological solutions for European companies compared to working with American firms?

Well, both are demanding since they usually buy our offered technology after a C level decision. Such a decision is taken after the C level understands how relevant and critical knowledge and learning materials are within their organizations and how much they will invest in rapid and massive learning content material production. That’s when they decide to invest in and integrate an LCMS and/or DR solution in their learning technologies infrastructure and eco system.

US firms represent a mature market segment for this industry and tend to have key decision makers, usually CLOs, which know how to manage such decisions and subsequent large scale implementations. This often implies interdisciplinary skills from ICT knowledge, HR understanding and pedagogical soundness.

The main trend we see in such large initiatives is that organizations are increasingly conscious that having an LCMS at the core of their learning organization allow for more efficient and effective development, management, distribution and reuse their content, and frequently in a more cost-efficient way. Furthermore, these organization are capable of personalizing learning content to meet their employees needs and habits, delivering such content through different channels, such as the new iPad and/or Blackberry smart phones,.

2. What are some of the challenges you’ve run into in implementing an education system for large institutions?

Today LCMS and DR platforms are /requested by CLOs and their HR or Corporate Training departments. Other systems, including more streamlined LMS systems, are usually still managed by CIOs and the ICT departments.

Implementing cross interoperability of such systems within large enterprise infrastructures is, therefore not always a smooth process, both in terms of disciplinary and political terms. In general the training people know what they want, while the ICT people tend (or pretend) to know how to do it. Hence, you often end up with clients that require a much more intensive relationship and support system. These clients require a provider able and willing to talk to both ends of the spectrum, and that has the cultural, process and knowledge-based skills needed to build a bridge between different departments to properly fulfill an array of needs.

To best solve this, within eXact learning solutions we have defined an implementation method, which extends beyond the mere deploying our own systems, into a more general consulting and engineering approach, called the eXact Method™.

This method, delivered worldwide by a set of qualified and certified professionals, helps large organizations to conceive their learning content strategy, methodologies and environments, and to possibly re-engineer the content lifecycle towards blended learning and single source production and multi-channel delivery methods.

The eXact Method helps the company to discover and define its best production methodology, tagging schemas, classification taxonomies, XML content structures, and best of breed LCMS-LMS integration levels. It also helps organization address the need for massive rapid multi-language and multi-cultural learning content production, and the next steps of designing future proof content that will be compatible with present and future Mobile and Location based learning.

This method has helped us in implementing our solutions in more than 150 large organizations worldwide, and complements our technology offering as a distinctive feature of our positioning.

3. What can we expect from eXact learning solutions in 5 years in terms of new technologies and methods?

eXact learning solutions is very active in large EU Research initiatives. All of our R&D activities therein are framed against what we call PALS (Personal Ambient Learning Solutions), meaning the ability to “embed” learning experiences within the environment (i.e. ambient) transparently and simply by adapting to users’ needs, their devices, position, skills and competency, portfolio of habits and abilities – in a nutshell “personalized” learning.

Personal learning can then take place for the benefit of students, employees and citizens of the new Knowledge Society scenarios, while on the move, ubiquitous, on the ground, and moving across task, jobs, educational and corporate training systems, receiving personalized learning nuggets that are adapted to their profiles.

This may be achieved by making learning content repositories work with location based tracking on delivery systems (now streamline), and extracting personal learning style information from learning records and portfolios. This information is then used to adapt content to the specific device, location and context of use.

Within such context we have been awarded very large mobile and location based learning projects, such as Mobilearn and IRMOS (www.irmosproject.eu) as well as Virtual Learning Worlds Initiatives such as Sculpteur.

4. What other innovations in the educational technology field excite you the most?

Today iPad has toggled the scene, making a mobile learning machine now affordable and accessible beyond the limits and frustration of poor visualization and connectivity. It is both effective and efficient in terms of pedagogy soundness and semantic richness.

The use of tablet-based learning will explode in the next months.

Tomorrow you will literally be able to extract a personal learning machine from your pocket and it will understand where you are (location based), who you are (personal digital ID management) and what you are good at or interested in(portfolio management). It will hook up to publishers, web and narrowcasters stores offering just the right content you need, wherever you are and at whatever time slot you are able to use it, on demand and paying for just-in-time. This scenario is not only viable, but fully sustainable.

Like Google in the Information Search Era , those who will define the best knowledge personalization offering and algorithms today, will lead the way, jumping ahead the long-lasting establishment of old publishing and academic establishments.

The closed eco system on which Apple is trying to protect this business on its own digital marketplace, is due to fail.

New Android tablets will mature and appear, making (rich) digital content marketplaces open and interoperable so that large Broadcasters, Publishers and service providers will start investing in the future of publishing, knowledge personalization and intermediation between the overwhelming availability of web information, and the specific needs and wills of individuals.

Something we have started calling “ Narrowcasting”.

Narrowcaster will jump back in the learning and educational online content markets, and those who survived eLearning 1.0 (and self generated 2.0 content) will benefit large investments to develop what can be seen as a new dawn of online learning. We can label this new era as eLearning 3.0: that of personalized, ambient aware, learning content experiences, wrapped around rich media offerings now available on 4 and next G telco infrastructures.

An open market for educational contents will mature and advanced tablets will make the price needed to access it collapse below the 100 dollar computer threshold, getting flocks of new learners online, surely also from emerging economies, and hopefully from third world regions.

And I am pretty sure that will be an interesting marketplace to work in for those who have survived the rocky train of eLearning till today…

Thanks for talking to us Fabrizio! Again you can check out eXact Learning Solutions here. For more information about revolutionizing education, see Udemy.com.