What can we learn from Amazon.com?

One of the more interesting sessions I attended at DevLearn went by the unpromising title of “Leveraging Amazon.com: Content Strategies for e-learning”.

The presenter was Richard Culatta of www.innovativelearning.com which is well worth a visit.

A recent US survey of e-learning users found that the top aspiration of users is for a more personalised experience.

RC used Amazon as a case study for how a web 2.0 platform like SkillsServe can improve the user experience by using your personal data.

Amazon collects relatively little info about you (we know far more about most of our users). But it then uses it intelligently to personalize your experience. For example, “recommended for you”, “Customers with similar searches purchased …”. It also uses familiar tools like rating and customer reviews to enhance the usefulness and collaborative feel of the site.

As a result, Borders is in administration!

So for e-learning – what user data do we collect, what could we easily collect, and how can we use this intelligently to personalize the user experience and encourage higher usage rates and value added purchases?

RC argues that we tend to use data retrospectively, i.e. we collect info from the current users that we might then use to improve the experience of the next lot. The challenge is to use data proactively to create custom user experiences.

SkillsServe gives us the opportunity to collect user generated data, through content Wikis, rating, reviews, tagging and to use this to create “collaborative filtering” such as “similar users to you are studying …..”, “you chose course a, you may also be interested in b”, plus user related push learning and prompts.