e-Learning: What’s hot, what’s not
I received a request from a colleague last week who is helping a company put together a learning strategy, part of which will focus on e-learning. Her question was this:
what’s hot and what’s not in e-learning these days ?
I gave it a bit of thought and came up with the following lists. I would love to hear your additions or deletions from the list (as would my colleague).
This list is more what learning professionals and e-learning designers are talking about than what they are actually doing. Very little of the following has moved to the mainstream of practice as far as I can see.
- Social media and e-Learning 2.0
Take a quick scan of professional conference topics, e-learning blogs and tweets, professional publications and pretty much any discussion between e-learning professionals and the conversation is crackling with web 2.0 and learning 2.0.
Almost everyone is trying to figure out how to best use web 2.0 technologies for learning. Like learning 1.0, it will need the broader acceptance of a generalized web 2.0 platform on which to piggy back and an acceptance of the legitimate social and informal aspects of learning before it really takes off inside organizations. It’s coming.
- Informal Learning
Tell me you haven’t had at least one “70-20-10” conversation in the last month. The “rule” that development is best achieved through a mix of experience (70%) mentoring/coaching (20%) and formal learning (10%) has been around for a while (most sources point to it’s origin at the centre for Creative Leadership in the late 80’s) but has caught a second wind in recent years.
Entire programs of learning are being developed around the principle. Or at least classroom programs are being extended and enhanced with attempts at informal learning. Web 2.0 is filling a need by providing a platform for the 70-20 part of the equation. I think this is all a good thing although formulaic adherence to the “rule” seems a bit silly.
- Simulations and scenario-based learning
While web 2.0 and informal learning are dominating the e-learning zeitgeist some good old fashioned Web 1.0 ideas are making a comeback. Simulations, Scenario-based learning and other forms of immersive e-learning have long been heralded as superior learning strategies that emphasize doing over telling.
Until recently they were technically and financially difficult to implement but recent templates, tools and creative thinking has brought them back to the table. It’s hard to think of a management development e-learning solution that does not contain some form of scenario-based exercise. .
- Virtual Worlds
I’m yet to be convinced of the real value Second Life based learning environments in organizational settings, but there’s no denying the inroads they are making. There is lots of info out there. Here are some links to an ASTD question of the month on Second Life/Virtual worlds. Make up your own mind. Don’t let your demographic get in the way .
- Rapid Learning Tools
For better or for worse rapid e-learning tools continue to grow. The popularity of blogs like the Rapid e-Learning Blog and others are a clear indicator. There is truth to the argument that in the right hands highly effective learning can be created from the likes of Articulate, Adobe Connect and Lectora. But more often than not they simply result in another PowerPoint with obligatory quiz.
- Mobile Learning
Another “future” technology that is finally seeing its day. Blackberry, iPhone and other PDA’s are now more or less portable internet devices with impressive media capabilities. Both highly useful for mobile e-learning. Larger organizations with mobile workforces are leveraging the capabilities for some interesting just-in-time training. Here’s an interesting example from Sun from an earlier post.
- Open source learning technologies and tools
Web 2.0 has had a democratizing effect on the web and it’s no different in the learning world. Free and open source learning tools such as Moodle (LMS), Dokeos (authoring, LMS, (collaboration), NING (custom social networking ) DimDim (web meetings) and many others (Jane Hart’s e-leaning pick of the day is always a rich source) are a growing alternative to proprietary tools. The proprietary vendors are taking note. Microsoft recently offered it’s Learning Content Development System for free download.
- Performance support
Is it just me or is electronic performance support making a comeback as a vehicle for informal learning. If so, I’m all for it.
- Learning 1.0
Still the mainstream of e-learning. Some can be very good, but budget realities and less than creative learning designs have resulted in a collective sigh of “is that all there is?” by users who appreciate the convenience of e-learning 1.0 more than it’s quality. (Senior management appreciates it cost savings more than its quality) Static pages turners, and linear assessment driven programs will soon see their day.
- Learning Objects
If video killed the radio star then web 2.0 killed the learning object. It was a compelling concept that was difficult to implement and maintain, not to mention that in the six or seven years it was “hot” nobody could land on a decent definition of a learning object.
Articles like this one started to appear a couple years ago. Now people ask , as Gary Woodill did on a recent CSTD LMS panel, “does anyone talk about Learning Objects anymore”?. I’ll admit, I still like the idea of knowledge and media objects that can be used in the context of learning, communication and performance support. Objects a little further down the food chain than the a “learning object” are easier to implement and more truly re-usable.
- Learning Management Systems
When LMS vendors introduced e-learning delivery and management to their bag of tricks they very effectively created an excitement around what used to be the boring administrative tasks of training and created an on-line home for all things learning. Now everybody’s got one. Not so exciting.
With notable exceptions, they have been slow to adopt Web 2.0 collaborative tools and when they have it’s been more of an add-on to what is essentially a learning 1.0 environment. As learning 2.0 starts to get more traction the LMS will either be replaced by other more open learning environments or evolve in that direction themselves. Dan Pontefract at Training Wreck gets to the heart of it here: The standalone LMS is Dead