Stop Press! What eLearning can learn from journalism.


Long gone are the glory days of print media. Journalism is an industry going through more of a rebirth than a facelift. The very principles of good journalism still stand, but as more and more people migrate away from traditional newspapers, the more desperate those providers get.

At first, it was the sheer refusal to accept the internet as a rising force and the stubborn belief that newspapers would always be successful. Then it was the rushed implementation of online news strategies. News companies are making less money through lack of advertising and sales. As traditional media providers try to balance their books, a massive amount of journalism jobs have been cut. Newspapers haven’t found a way to make money in a digital age. But in Australia it has seen smaller news providers, mostly in niche markets flourish. There is still plenty of room for good journalism; Crikey and the Guardian’s Australian edition have found themselves a nice little place in the online media sphere.

The New York Times had embraced the changes of technology and produced groundbreaking presentation Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek and was awarded the Pulitzer prize for their efforts. The issue is that those kind of productions take up a monumental amount of time and effort. In a world where gaining the exclusive story is the absolute priority, the amount of quality productions like Snow Fall are very few and far between.

Long story short, the technology available is incredible. It just isn’t used smartly enough.

Sound familiar?

As an industry, eLearning has an incredible asset at its disposal: Technology. The potential for eLearning to grow can not be underestimated, but time after time we see it under-utilised. We are in an age where we have the ability to access any information with our fingertips at any time we wish. The technology is only going to improve.

eLearning should not be second-rate material restricted to slides on a PowerPoint presentation because the options available will allow for so, so much more. With the rise of touch screen technology as Brenton discussed in another blog, as well as other emerging technologies, it is important to consider specific elements when designing for various mediums.

It is a lot of hard work, without a doubt, but the rewards are there to be had. eLearning has the potential to be its own art form and the tools are available, but Mona Lisa didn’t come about by Leonardo throwing a bucket of paint on a canvas. Every single detail needs to be considered carefully. Every angle needs to be explored, tested, broken and fixed. If you spend three minutes whipping up a course, the finer details will be missed. Da Vinci worked on Mona Lisa for up to 14 years.

eLearning is always going to revolve around technology, as its title suggests. The industry can look at journalism as a great example of what not to do. Embrace the technology we have available and be open to the inevitable changes that will follow. Don’t just test existing boundaries; try to smash them down and make your own. Landmark projects, be it in eLearning, journalism, art, business or whatever it may be, are only landmarks because they are ground breaking. They are ideas that have never been executed before.

The best ideas, however, are still yet to be thought of.