June 17, 2005

E-learning Trends

Before I got too far into my day I wanted to post a longer blog entry on elearning and where, from my view, it my be heading. Some of the obvious directions is providing the learner or employee with as much information as possible digitally. This could be through video, audio, images, and text and every combination there of. There are many creative and exciting combinations. Blogging, Screencasts, Podcast, and virtual classrooms are all packages of media. We must also provide the learner with the tools to edit, redistribute, and discard this content. This is a great place for K-12 and Higher Ed to focus on. They probably think they have, but that's not what I've seen.

The collaboration component will continue to be a critical piece that allows learners to interact with supervisors, peers, customers, and others to continual get the engaging feedback and exchange. There are some great new tools surfacing but they will continue to get better. Anyone who questions whether broadband is horribly lacking and limited by the telecommunications industry need only look at this space to see the needs and the solutions are just not coming fast enough. Come on... We need a Moore's Law equivalent for bandwidth.

To increase these opportunities to engage in new ways of doing things or trying things, we will start to engage modeling, simulations, and games. This will begin to move training from a reactive model to a proactive model in the workplace. Image having your work environment, particularly in terms of cost and activities modeled in a virtual world that acts similar or reflective to your world. We do this on a micro-bases now with Excel spreadsheets and a large bases with Americas Army. Someday the tools will allow is to do it with a team or process. We can then adjust the process and see the results. A real systems-based approach. The learner will then train, experiment, and innovate in that space. Other programs will include gaming components to support or provide motivation for the learner.

Another key movement will be the aggregation of content and its dynamic packaging to serve the individual learner. While this is the vision of learning objects, it seems to be more of a reality in web service-based google mash-ups. The idea of data in two completely separate systems brought together to present a new understanding of a concept. In the web2.0 world the context of the task is still provided by the user and no one would argue that there is no inherent instructional design, but man there is some learning going on and it is happening on a lot of levels. It might be an interesting approach to try to use these emerging tools to teach traditional disciplines. In addition, these new overlays will still need to be filtered throught the learners needs. So you will have a learner profile that will be mashed-up with the existing mash-up to create the unique experience that the learner needed. Could the learner bring the instructional design to the expereince?

Maybe I am just not exposed to it, but I really think that we have fallen way short on using learner profiles as a mechanism to allow the learner to customize their experience. We have made several attempts but it is really going to have to be driven by the user, so the user experience will have to be so compelling that they really want to provide the insight needed to make the case for developing strong profiles. Also, the profile must be attached to the learner, not the environment. So when they learner leaves it stays with them. I realize nothing new... just my take.

The profile service also leads into the need for improved evaluation services. There needs to be significant innovations in the how skills are evaluated. This is going to be difficult.

Well just some ideas...

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