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Some blue sky e-learning required

This blog first appeared on the Epic website on June 3rd 2011

According to the screen in front of me, I am writing this blog entry on a plane 18375 m high somewhere above the Atlantic, and this got me thinking… Epic produces a lot of e-learning for airline cabin crew, but where is the e-learning for passengers?

It strikes me that long plane journeys are an ideal place to engage in some e-learning. With hours stuck in a seat in the sky, of course, I can watch a film, listen to music, or read a book.  But I’d also like the opportunity to brush up on a bit of local knowledge for my destination.

For example, an interactive lesson, or even a fun game, that introduced me to the Kuala Lumpur subway system, or the process of getting a cab in Cincinnati Airport (just in case you ever travel there, you cannot go directly to a taxi rank – you have to go to a desk inside the terminal and get a taxi number) would have served me well, saved me time, and also somewhat reduced my stress! Yes, I know, I could have bought a travel book.  However, on short business trips where there is no time to see the sights, the thought of finding out about the places I won’t have time to visit, see, or enjoy, understandably doesn’t appeal.

Then there is the local lingo. Often I want just a few key phrases:  ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘please’, ‘not now thank you’, and ‘I might come back and buy that later’ would do me just fine. Again, yes, I know, I could buy a travel book. But, if you have a learning style anything like mine, you’ll need to hear (rather than read) the language in order to stand the remotest chance of being understood (and, no, I don’t want to buy a 4 hour CD beginners’ guide – guaranteed to give me all the most useful phrases, when I only want a few!)

And an introduction to local culture wouldn’t go amiss either. A lesson in the hand signals used by Israelis when they want you to wait a moment would certainly have prevented me from spending time on my arrival in their country feeling rather offended.

In all these cases, a bit of e-learning on board would have certainly made for a better prepared traveller, a smoother experience on landing, and, all in all, a happier customer.