Monday, March 16, 2009

SAP into learning 2.0?

A few days ago I was able to attend a presentation by SAP Education on their SAP Enterprise Learning solution. As SAP indicates on their own website "SAP Enterprise Learning is the only enterprise solution that integrates back-office ERP functionality with functionality for both learning management systems (LMS) and learning content management systems (LCMS) in a single offering. As a result, you can improve competency management, performance management, and analytics, including support for ad hoc reporting". In my opinion the presentation clearly showed that the core of the system is still in the HR domain. The presenters used four scenario's in order to demonstrate how a manager, a trainer and an employee could work with the system. It showed that the traditional workflow (scenario 1) of an employee who wants to enroll for a F2F training or course is perfectly covered. The employee can send a request, which needs to be approved by the manager. From an organisational perspective it's possible to organise course offerings, including all the organisational and logistic issues that are involved. Of course the monitoring and registration of achievements are well taken care of and can be included in the personal files of an employee. The second scenario was not that different from the first one, except for the fact that an enrollment for a F2F training was subsituted by an enrollment for a WBT. The employee gets access to the WBT using a content player that is included in the SAP Enterprise Learning environment. The third scenario was on using a virtual classroom as a possibility to support a 'learning 2.0' scenario. I found two remarkable points in this scenario: firstly, the virtual classroom was organised in a formal setting. As a default mode, the trainer decides when, how and what happens. Secondly, I noticed that the system used Adobe Connect as a plugin. The fourth and last scenario was on collaborative working using a wiki. The wiki however is part of the SAP Portal and seems to be a little bit separated from the learning environment.
SAP acknowledges that Learning 2.0 / Social learning is on their roadmap for 2010. For 2011 it is foreseen that it may become an independent solution, less intertwined with the HR domain as it is at the moment. During the presentation I got the idea that the learning 2.0 facilities are still very basic and were shown to us because the presenters knew, that the possibility to support informal learning processes was an important requirement for the audience. Perhaps SAP will succeed to keep their learning 2.0 promisses, but at the same time it's a difficult decision for them. On the one hand the integration with SAP HR solutions is a strong advantage for companies that are already using SAP, on the other hand it's the question whether the SAP Learning solution can become strong (from a learning perspective) as long as the core of the system lies in the SAP ERP back-office. A scenario that may well be followed is the furthter development and improvement of a library of plugins. SAP already uses Adobe Connect and Questionmark Perception plugins to cover for specific functionality that they can not deliver themselves.

See also: SAP Enterprise Learning