Educate everyone

My all-time favourite example of augmented reality has been reinvented.

When I first saw BMW’s augmented reality glasses on YouTube over 8 years ago, I was excited. It heralded a new dawn in educational technology. A golden age in which learning & performance would be transformed.

Then… nothing.

For years afterwards, augmented reality seemed to be trapped in the mystical realm of what it “could” do in the future. Indeed it offered amazing potential, but with too few examples of the technology in use, not much reality was really being augmented.

More recently, Google Glass has been making in-roads, though I consider it more of a data display device than an AR headset. And Microsoft’s work on HoloLens is truly inspiring, but it’s not quite ready yet.

Then… BOOM!

At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, Hyundai unveiled its Virtual Guide. Overnight, the Korean boffins made BMW’s augmented reality glasses a reality for the rest of us.

Now, I use the term “overnight” with poetic licence. Hyundai actually unveiled its AR app in the previous year. And yes, there have been other practical applications of AR done by other companies. Heck, they’re not even the first car maker to do it.

But all that is moot, because the point is this is the first time in a long time that I’ve been impressed by a mainstream brand. To me, Hyundai stands out from the myriad other car makers as a leader – not only in innovation, but also in customer service.

I compare them to Honda, for example, whose Civic can’t even play the songs on my Samsung smartphone.

Surprised koala

Hyundai’s app prompted me to consider the relationship between e-learning and marketing in the corporate domain.

Traditionally, e-learning (along with the rest of L&D) is inward focused; its specialists are charged with developing the capability of the organisation’s employees. In contrast, marketing is outward focused; its specialists are charged with attracting more customers.

Indeed there has been consideration of combining marketing with e-learning to promote and motivate employee development, but how about the reverse? How about combining e-learning with marketing to engage customers?

As Hyundai has demonstrated, e-learning can be used as a vehicle to establish a leadership position for the brand. Yet it can do more.

Consider an insurance company. Like cars, this is another sector that is usually considered boring by the general public and faces stiff competition. How about another TV advertisement featuring a loving family and a dog and… yawn… sorry, I can’t be bothered finishing this sentence.

Instead, how about a customer education strategy that teaches the public the fundamentals of insurance, providing a clear explanation of the concept, untangling its mind-boggling options and variations, ultimately helping regular folks like you and me make better decisions about our finances.

The strategy might involve a YouTube channel, an expert-authored blog, a moderated discussion forum, a free webinar series, a corporate MOOC… all open to the public.

Could someone consume your wonderful content and buy their insurance from someone else? Of course, some people base their purchasing decisions solely on price. But many don’t. With the trust and goodwill your education generates, I’d wager that plenty of prospective customers will prefer the brand that empowered them.

At the very least, you’d attract more customers with an education strategy than without one.

So don’t just educate your staff. Educate everyone.

8 thoughts on “Educate everyone

  1. Hi Ryan:

    You had me at “Release two screws…”

    There’s actually a term for this: “Extended Enterprise Learning” (or Training).

    I just discovered it last week while researching a blog about eCredentialing for product training… latest chapter in my Open Badges obsession.

    It seems to be a burgeoning industry in the US at least, complete with fit-for-purpose LMSs, conferences, etc. and even some talk about badging – not only customers but other partners in the “Value Chain”: suppliers, distributors, retailers…

    Businesses love it because it links learning with sales and marketing, with tangible bottom line benefits. Much sexier than employee training, as you said yourself. I’m hoping that Open Badges are the icing on the cake.

    Plenty of interesting links in my last two posts:

    This is what used to be called a meme…an idea that was spontaneously or virally generated in different places, almost at once.

  2. Great post Ryan. Again marketing is in front with innovation while L&D slowly trail behind. We (L&D people) should look outward more often and see what is happening. eLearning is often dull and could do with it’s own touch of marketing to engage all users. AR is a great tool to engage users, unfortunately has not been adopted well.

  3. Yes Matt, it’s still early days, and in the early days there is typically little for Average Joe to do unless he has deep pockets.

    I see you’re running an AR/VR pre-conference workshop at AITD next month. I’ll have to pick your brain about it ;)

  4. Hi Ryan, great post. Yes, let’s educate and engage everyone! My business, which is in its infancy, sits at the intersection of marketing and learning as I have skills and experience in both. I recently created an elearning resource for a client which is designed to promote the business and engage their clients. I will be launching my website soon and look forward to seeing the developments in this area.

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