Friday, 17 February 2012

Updating e-learning

In my 2009 book, Delivering E-Learning, I made a number of forecasts, and as I wrote those three years ago, it seems timely to review them.

Arguably, the most glaring omission of the book is its complete lack of reference to Twitter, or micro-blogging. Given the relatively recent explosion of this phenomenon, I beg leave to be excused. I did say that social networking was “just the beginning, and people will find more new ways to interact with a much wider community of contacts, using digital technology”, so I spotted the trend, just not the way it would manifest. As an aside, this may sound a cautionary note to those rushing to buy shares in Facebook – have you seen the bell curves (growth then decline) of Friends Reunited, MySpace and Bebo? Why should Facebook be any different?

Back to my crystal ball. Essentially I made four predictions:

Virtual reality. I think I got that one wrong. I’m not aware of significant new developments in this sphere is the past thee years, and if anything I think its prospects have receded. I’m not clear why that should be, and I’d be interested in others’ opinions – the potential remains massive.

Mobile learning. While deploring the term “M-learning”, I argued that “mobile learning must surely grow in scale of use and in complexity”. I see that as a tick in the box, as more and more of us are using smartphones and tablets for learning.

New interfaces. This has not moved as fast as I hoped, but the huge take-up of touch screens and voice recognition is a clear sign that we are on the way. I stand by my claim that “more intuitive user interfaces are surely just around the corner”.

Personal learning environments have not grown as I predicted, but we can certainly hear the death-knell of proprietary online learning environments, with a flight to open source versions or (more significantly) away from dedicated learning software to more generic, and more flexible technologies, which are easier to embed in organisations’ systems and which employees adopt more readily.

Overall, about 50-50, which I’d argue is not a bad average for predicting. And I don’t think I missed any significant new trend other than Twitter.

Any views?

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