Reordering the Serious eLearning Manifesto

So, as you may know (and if you don’t, you should), almost three years ago now, I teamed up with colleagues Michael Allen, Julie Dirksen, & Will Thalheimer (all worth knowing about) and put together the Serious eLearning Manifesto.  And I believe it’s a good thing. But it needs an update.

So, we were (and are) frustrated with what was and is happening under the rubric of eLearning.  Michael was intrigued by the concept of Serious Games, and wondered why we didn’t treat elearning seriously as well. (A rant I’ve made before ;). He came up with the idea of a manifesto, and we agreed to work with him on it.  And we finalized a list of 8 ways in which typical elearning differed from what we call Serious eLearning, and 22 research concepts behind it (drawn from work across decades and around the world, we don’t claim to own it). And we put it out there for free (Michael graciously sponsored it through his company with no attribution).

We don’t claim that these are the only ways that good elearning differs from what’s typically seen, of course, we just feel that these are the eight most serious ones that, if followed, have the biggest impact on your learning outcomes.  It wasn’t easy getting the four of us to agree, and we’ve received quite a few suggestions of how it could be expanded or improved, but we’re comfortable that this is a reasonable stance to take.

And it’s gotten a reasonable amount of attention. We had 30+ ‘trustees’ who put their names to it (and many more worthies would have), as well as sponsorship by the appropriate societies.  We’ve been given opportunities to speak and present about it. And we’ve got an ever-growing list of signatories. People recognize that it’s right, even if it hasn’t gotten the traction we’d like (e.g. everyone making a concerted effort to shift to it since it’s release).


When I explain it to others, I realize that I have a trouble with the ordering.  Most of it’s great, but one element somehow slipped out of position, in my mind.  So I’ve made an attempt to remedy that, reordering the list. I’ve made this as similar to the original graphic as possible, except that I’m not using the right fonts. So sue me.

8 differences between typical elearning and serious elearningWhat’s different is that I’ve grouped Real-World Consequences with Authentic Contexts and Realistic Decisions. The consequences naturally follow from realistic decisions made in authentic contexts. Then we can talk about Spaced Practice and Individualized Challenges. The latter of which, by the way, is the only thing that is (mostly) specific to elearning, otherwise it’s applicable to learning in general. The rest is the same.

So this is the version that I’ll be using, going forward.  I still hope you’ll visit the site, sign on, and work towards it. No one expects you to get all the way right away, but it is the right way to go.  If you need help, I’m happy to assist.


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