Friday, January 24, 2014

Learning Technology Trends in 2014



Learning Technology Trends in 2014


Traditionally the fields of education and training move slowly.  The adoption of technology has been relatively quick – taking place in two decades rather than the usual five decades.  Now more than 50% of companies use eLearning and most universities and school systems have adopted technology for their distance learning programs.  Still the adoption of specific new applications takes place over several years rather than in a single year.  As a result, many of the predictions for this year are the same as last year.  I have consolidated predictions from others and added my own perspective.

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  1. Mobile Learning/HTML5: In both education and the corporate world, there will be further adoption of mobile learning.  Teachers and trainers will adopt these tools right in the classroom and well as online and HTML5 will continue to evolve as a programming language to make mobile learning more effective and responsive – automatically adapting to the size and shape of the screen on the learner’s device.  It will also enable more just-in-time learning.
  2. Social/Informal Learning: This trend has been happening over the past five years or so and will continue.  The Tin Can API will help enable this.
  3. Video: I am concerned that video is often over-used.  Talking head video just uses up bandwidth and slows down people like me who learn faster by reading and being able to search.  In spite of any concerns I may have, the use of video will continue to grow.  Ways will be found to search video content more effectively.
  4. Games and simulations: Educators have long known the benefits of games and simulations.  The airline industry has used simulators for decades.  But formal education institutions and corporations have resisted this for years.  It will continue to gain acceptance and increasing numbers of LMS’s will become games friendly.
  5. eLearning authoring tools will continue to evolve to include:
    a.      publishing to HTML5
    b.      cloud-based/collaborative authoring
    c.       responsive (to the screen) and adaptive (to the learner)
    d.      just-in-time learning/ performance support
    e.      games, simulations and animation.
  6. Adaptive e-Learning Design:  More design will become adaptive to the learner – responding to the situation and needs of the learner - something classroom teachers have been doing for centuries.
  7. Tin Can API adoption: The Tin Can API gives us the ability to track learning outside the LMS – both formal and informal.  More LMS’s and authoring tools will adopt it.  The term Tin Can will stick as opposed to the ADL/SCORM term Experience API.
  8. Learning Analytics/Big Data: There will be increasing use of learning data from both inside the LMS and outside of it using data consolidation tools to get learning opportunities to people more efficiently.
  9. Industry consolidation and fragmentation: There will continue to be both consolidation at the top level of the business with HR software companies purchasing the larger LMS companies.  Smaller companies will continue to come and go.  Smaller companies have greater ability to innovate and some of the new ideas will take root.
  10. MOOC’s:  The impact of MOOC’s will continue to be debated but also will begin to influence the thinking of corporate training organizations.
  11. Personalization: There will be increasing personalization of learning – providing the learner with what is needed when it is needed.  This is closely related to adaptive learning and the use of big data tools. 
  12. The user experience:  Most LMS interfaces are less than exciting.  There will be more use of graphics in LMS interfaces to make them more engaging for learners.
  13. Flipped Classrooms: A fairly recent trend in formal education in which learners are asked to review material before coming to class and the class is used mostly for discussion.  eLearning makes this more possible.
  14. BYOD – Bring Your Own Device: The trend toward BYOD will continue in which learners are expected to have their own device and systems can adapt to smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. More and more instructors will use these right in the classroom as well as for remote learning.

See also:






Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Become an eLearning Professional - a free eBook


The prolific Christopher Pappas of elearningindustry.com initiated the idea of a free eBook on “How to become an eLearning Professional” that has now been published at http://elearningindustry.com/how-to-become-an-elearning-professional. It consists of tips by 23 professionals in the eLearning business about becoming an eLearning pro.  Since it was published in October, 2013, it has proven very popular with thousands of hits.
 
Here is my small contribution:

  1. Instructional design is even more important in eLearning than it is in classroom learning. eLearning can reach far more people and sticks around for a while. Do your analysis and evaluation. Don’t just jump in with two feet.
  2. What qualifications do you need to become an eLearning Pro? Does a degree or certificate help? Probably, but experience is most important. My Ph.D. has helped get my foot in the door in numerous situations, but it is job performance that really matters.
  3. Learn from your audience, ask them what they need, get some of them to test it before you go live and get feedback afterwards. Be prepared to make changes. You may discover that you are completely off-track or that your audience just doesn’t relate to the material you created.
  4. Be prepared for “failure”. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, clients will want things done their way. Even though you know it isn’t ideal, you may just have to do it. I have had the experience of working with people who wanted to do it themselves, rather than have it contracted out. I just had to swallow my pride and do it their way.
  5. eLearning is a team effort. Collaborate with your clients, learners, graphic designers, video and audio producers, etc.
  6. Don't forget quality. Learners will not be happy trying to read text that is too small or watching poor quality videos. Do everything you can to maximize the technical quality of your product. Do-it-yourself video (for example) is not usually a good idea. Consult with the professionals.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Reverse Theory of Education



The reverse theory of education – one of the great ironies.

All levels of education from elementary to graduate school have the objective of creating independent learners and yet we systematically move people away from independent learning.

Very young children learn to walk and talk without being "taught".  They are truly independent learners.  Elementary school teachers are first teachers and not subject matter specialists.  They are great learning facilitators and are not hung up with subject matter or "covering the content."

As we move to high school, teachers become subject matter experts – language, mathematics, science, music, etc. and tend to become more concerned with the content than the learning.  There is a shift to more lecturing and covering the content.

At university, professors are even more specialized and concerned about the content and lecturing is king.  

We have perhaps unwittingly but systematically moved people from the wonderful independent learners they were in their first two years to become more and more dependent on the subject matter expert.  Is this what we really want to happen?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Learning Management Systems Industry Consolidation



Is consolidation in the LMS business really happening?  There certainly have been some significant acquisitions lately.  Here are some examples:

  • Oracle purchased Taleo (an HR/Talent Management provider) for $1.9 billion.  Taleo had previously purchased Learn.com (one of the top 10 LMS's) for $125 million.
  • SAP bought SuccessFactors (another HR/Talent Management provider) for $1.9 billion (interesting how these numbers line up).  SuccessFactors had previously purchased Plateau (another of the top 10 LMS's) for $290 million.
  • IBM bought Kenexa for about 1.3 billion and Kenexa had previously purchased Outstart (another top 10 LMS) for $38.9 million.

These major technology corporations are moving into the HR software business that is now seen to include talent and learning management.  Oracle got into the HR software business when they purchased PeopleSoft years ago but they were probably looking for something more up-to-date. SAP has always touted itself as the ultimate ERP but it was built from the financial side and was always a little weak on the HR side so they are clearly looking to enhance their capability.

  • SumTotal Systems (probably the top corporate LMS) bought GeoLearning (another top 10 LMS) for an undisclosed amount.  Bersin estimates that this increases SumTotal's share of the $1 Billion market from 9.5% to 12.5%.  SumTotal Systems is an LMS that has expanded into the talent management market and its purchase of Geolearning was the elimination of a competitor. 

Bersin by Deloitte estimates that the total LMS market is about $1 billion and that none of the top ten LMS's had more than $150 million in revenue.

Here are two links to some discussion about these acquisitions:

  • http://www.bersin.com/blog/post.aspx?id=fa8cc8f3-7ffd-4566-a415-4fd869ee2b2c
  • http://www.bersin.com/blog/post/Taleo-Acquires-Learncom--A-Shoe-Drops-in-the-LMS-Market.aspx

It is interesting that Microsoft has not made a strong effort to enter the LMS or the online education world.  They do offer a number of tools which are well hidden on their website.  They offered the earliest online meeting tool Netmeeting many years ago but then dropped it.  They purchased Placeware several years ago and now call it Microsoft Live meeting.  It is more suitable for business meetings than for webinars.  They just don’t seem interested.

Google has made some tentative steps into it.  Of course, the Google search engine and YouTube are probably the most used tools in education.  They offer Google CloudCourse, Apps for Education and numerous other tools.

Apple has long positioned itself as the choice for graphic arts and education and now offer Apple and iBooks author but have not ventured into the LMS market.

In the education market, mainly Blackboard and Pearson have been buying other companies. 

  • Blackboard bought WebCT quite a few years ago, then Angel, then Elluminate (a virtual classroom/web conferencing tool) and Wimba, then Edline, and then MoodleRooms and NetSpot (Moodle support companies). 
  • Pearson has recently purchased eCollege, Fronter, Intellipro, TutorVista - an online tutoring service, Connections Learning/Education, Embanet-Compass Knowledge Group, and Exam Design. They purchased their Equella LCMS from The Learning Edge in Australia.  It is interesting that the large publishers who were late off the market still have the capitalization to buy an entry into the online world.

Blackboard is the dominant LMS in the education market with perhaps 75% of the commercial LMS market share.  Moodle (open source) has more users - it shows over 70 million users on its website and this may be a low estimate because of the open source nature of the product.  Desire2Learn is probably third.

Consolidation is happening but it is largely at the high end of the market. There are still 100’s of smaller LMS’s that come and go on a regular basis.  I list a total of nearly 700 at www.trimeritus.com/vendors.pdf.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What has brain science proven?



What has brain science proven?


A lot of educators today are claiming that brain science – recent discoveries about how the brain works through MRI’s and neuroscience and physiological studies – have proven that we can now design learning more effectively.


My view is that, as valuable as this brain science is, it has only demonstrated the validity of what educators have known for decades – even going back more than a century to John Dewey.


We have long known that learners learn most effectively through active engagement and practice of actual skills rather than sitting passively in a classroom.  We simply haven’t been applying what we already knew effectively or often enough.


We need to be more careful about how we use the word “prove”. I don’t believe that it is possible to “prove” anything beyond a mathematical theorem and even those “proofs” are based on assumptions.  In social science, we can only demonstrate that, in certain situations, we can say that a particular approach works well for many learners.  Perhaps I am being too literal but I believe that term “proof” is used far too loosely.