While everybody seems to be firing staff due to the economic downturn, Microsoft manages to create a new kind of role in education centers, universities and schools, which I would like to call: ReLeC developer: Rich eLearning Content developer. When I saw their new Semblio product (btw what kind of weird name is that?) I had a vague “I’ve seen this before” moment. Not completely sure what the name was exactly back then, but it was some kind of rich elearning production software from Macromedia (now bought by Adobe).
It should be part of their next Office 14 release and geared towards very easy use by teachers to create rich learning content for their students. Don’t get fooled, in order to create those fancy demos as shown on the Semblio website, you need to be a skilled .NET and Windows Presentation Foundation developer, thus creating a new job role in learning institutions.
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Why is this interesting? Well, with all those cost-cutting and optimizing staff utilization, eLearning becomes more and more the only way to get training nowadays in a lot of companies. It also fits in what we at Capgemini likes to call the You-experience: getting what you want, when you want and how you want it. Microsoft could grab the opportunity here to open some kind of eLearning market place, built on top of their cloud computing platform Microsoft Azure where companies can exchange or sell their courses. Since it would all be using the same foundation (Windows Azure Services Platform), it could quite easily interoperate and integrate with each other. Connect that with the upcoming Microsoft Office Live (hosted office suite, SaaS-style) and you get some interesting opportunities…

Lee Provoost is an emerging technologist with a focus on cloud computing strategy and ERP+ lead at Capgemini. You can follow his ongoing stream of thoughts on Twitter http://twitter.com/leeprovoost.