Learn and Lead

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eLearning and Content Development Trends for 2008

Learning Circuit’s January Big Question is about predicting trends for the year 2008. Here’s my take on what we can expect in the coming year.

Web 2.0 in Learning
Web 2.0 will be the killer buzzword for the year 2008. Everyone will want to use the technology for learning and training. Bersin report for 2008 talks about it, Brandon Hall has announced new categories of awards, and most bloggers are talking about it. I believe 2008 will continue to be the year of discovery and experimentation with Web 2.0. Web 2.0 techniques will not yet be used in formal training, but each company will have an initiative around it.

In my view, corporate intranets and extranets have been around for years and have been attempting to do what Web 2.0 is expected to do. Are Web 2.0 techniques different from corporate intranets? Will employees feel more compelled to use these as compared to corporate intranets? Will companies provide the Internet freedom culture on their corporate Web 2.0 environments? Will companies adopt open sites like Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare for allowing employees to post and share corporate content on the Internet? Or will these sites provide secure environments (inside firewalls or hosted) to the corporate world? Do we have a new business model here? Or will Web 2.0’s usage be limited to building communities by product companies?

Training managers will still be required to measure success in training days/hours per person, which will make Web 2.0 in formal training and learning environment extremely difficult to adapt for formal training. What is required is another path breaking research that can provide some return on investment figures of using Web 2.0 in learning and training. I expect more research towards this in year 2008 rather than training managers embracing Web 2.0 as a mode of formal learning.

Virtual Environments
Virtual environments will find increasing use in building communities and new product launches by technology customers. Will Second Life be used for actual training in the corporate world? I don’t believe 2008 will be the year for mass adoption of Second Life in training. There will be questions of security, access through corporate networks, and of course tracking progress in Second Life. However asynchronous virtual environments will find their way in training in a limited way. Most of these will be showcase training module as opposed to bulk of training being developed as virtual environment. There will be a conflict between rapid development and real-life imitating virtual environment training. I am also very impressed with The 3Di-Web Singularity is Near by Tony O’Driscoll. This will certainly change the way learning happens. I am not sure about its adoption in formal “training” in the next year or two.

Form Factors
The 2000-01 downturn saw a trend towards formalizing elearning as a mode of learning. There were mechanisms to justify the return on investment on elearning. As the economy improved, we moved to blended learning. Even as elearning increased, most industry reports still indicated that instructor led training led as the preferred mode of learning. In the last few years, we as a training and content development organization have seen an increase in projects developing instructor led training material. Now with the US economy showing signs of slowing down (no one actually conclusively knows which way the US economy will actually go but most reports are tilting towards “caution”, “slowing down”, “start of recession” etc.), my guess is that we will once again see an increase of elearning development.

What constitutes elearning has also changed. Most instructor led training now a days has an element of ‘e’ in them, whether it is in the form of demos or virtual images. In 2008, we should start to dump the ‘e’ and start classifying training as synchronous training and asynchronous training.

The training in 2008 will tend towards online synchronous training. We will see more of “VILT”, “online sessions”, “online conferencing” etc. The technology now has matured; online conferencing tools are easily available without significant investment option to be made by organizations.

Rapid Development and Development Models
Rapid elearning will continue to be a buzz word. PowerPoint will reclaim its position as a rapid elearning development tool. Sites like SlideShare will help PowerPoint in this endeavor.

Of course, being the buzzword, along with “collaborative development”, “self organizing groups”, “user generated content”, training managers will have harder time convincing management to spend training dollars in an already weakening economy. Most management will want to know what value instructional designers add when all content is driven by subject matter experts in user generated content mode. Instructional Designers will be required to acquire new skills for content development and interacting with SME and reinvent themselves. The development models will change to factor in collaborative development and rapid development needs.

In summary, we will see a lot more talk about Web 2.0 in learning and training. However 2008 may not be the year of adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in "formal training". Rapid development will be key and instructional designers will need to reinvent themselves and development models will evolve.

Would love to hear what you are seeing as trends within your companies or you’re your customers are implementing. Share your practical experiences.

Directory Blogging

Directory Blogging

I discovered SlideShare and liked it very much. It is the slideshow version of YouTube. Currently takes PPT, PPS, PDF and OpenOffice files only. Slideshare allows you to embed presentations on your site just like YouTube. Figured that the site is already about a year old. Will this be the next YouTube or Facebook? Time will tell but I would put some money on it. Read about Rashmi Sinha, the co-founder and CEO of SlideShare.

Found a great presentation that describes different styles of blogging by Rohit Bhargava and Jesse Thomas of Ogilvy.

Inspired by this, here is my Directory Blog article this time. Here’s the list of websites, blogs that you might find useful.

Learning, eLearning, Training:

  • I loved Cathy Moore’s blog on ideas for lively learning. This is a great repository of ideas to make elearning and all content interesting and lively. Truly a “Get a life” site for content development ideas.
  • Clive Shephard describes himself as consultant with an interest in all aspects of technology-assisted learning and communication.
  • Brandon Hall research site – needs no introduction. View RSS feed on the side bar.
  • Learning Circuits blog – love their Big Questions. View RSS feed on the side bar.
  • Learning TRENDS by Elliott Masie
  • eLearning Technology, Tony Karrer’s blog. This blog also has a huge listing of other related blogs.
  • Bersin and Associates – Research on what works in enterprise learning and talent management. Lots of reports and papers, mostly paid. However you can still find enough free stuff, mostly 30,000 foot view.
  • CLO Media – Must subscribe to their email newsletter. Also get access to the digital version of CLO Magazine. And it is always good to see familiar names like Nafay Kumail on this site.

Indian learning, content development community:

And of course, I am begining to like del.icio.us very much. Add me to your network and we can share our Internet bookmarks.

iPhone – The Dumb Blonde of Phones?

When I went looking for a new computer for my son, I chanced upon the new iStore in Noida. As I played with the iMac, I instantly fell in love with it. The effects were too cool and it seemed like a computer built for true home computing. The fact that the design of the machine itself was also very s**y helped me make my decision to buy the iMac. It was reasonably more expensive than an equivalent PC but I think it was worth it. My son wasn’t too impressed though. The games he was used to playing didn’t run on the new Mac. This was of course an opportunity to get new games. Many of the games came with really cool graphics. The overall experience was close to the gaming station. Of course, it made my wallet lighter quite a bit.

When I saw the video preview of iPhone I was hooked. I salivated at the features presented by Mr. Jobs in the video. This will be my next phone I thought. So finally when I managed to get hold of an iPhone for myself, I was a little boy with a new toy. I was lucky to open a firmware version 1.1.1 of iPhone. This made it easier to unlock it and use it with my existing sim card. The next two days went in playing with my new toy, upsetting my family for not giving them enough time over the weekend.

After the initial euphoria of the new toy, I finally managed to use the "phone" of the iPhone, and I instantly missed my old Nokia. To start with, I couldn’t access the phone numbers and SMSs stored on my old sim card. iPhone doesn’t recognize sim card as a device on which phone numbers and messages stored. So before upgrading to iPhone figure out a way to get your phone numbers in Microsoft Outlook Contacts.

Finally after a weekend, I started on the Monday morning drive to office. The earphones are convenient contraption for hands-free driving (which unfortunately is as illegal in Delhi as using the phone itself while driving). Anyway the earphone on iPhone are very good for music but not for hands-free usage while driving. The earphones do not have any button to take a call or disconnect a call. So if you are using iPhone while driving, you still need to do things on the phone to take a call. I recommend getting a Bluetooth earpiece for hands-free on iPhone.

You will be absolutely enthralled by the finger scrolling on iPhone. It is undoubtedly one of the coolest features on iPhone. But if you want to find a contact in your contact list, you can’t just simply type the name for quick search. You still need to scroll through the list to find the contact, which is a pleasant experience initially but I miss the ability to type the first few letters of the contact name to quickly get to what I am looking for.

iPhone can’t separate the country code/city code for incoming numbers. So when I got a call, my iPhone displayed the number instead of the name, since the phone number stored in the phone was without the country/city code. I of course failed to recognize the number. The one thing that mobile phones and new technology has done is that it has reduced my ability to remember numbers. (I beginning to feel it is critical that kids get their math education without calculators.) So when the person on the other side of the line reminded me gently that he was my boss calling, I had to quickly recover from my lack of recognition. To ensure that your iPhone displays names stored in the contacts list, store your numbers including country code and city code, e.g. +91-98… or +91-11-234… etc.

iPhone also can’t send business card, or at least I haven’t figured out a way of doing this. So I am not sure how I can simply forward a phone number stored in my contacts list.

Of course, there is no end to the cool features. The SMS stored as conversation is really nice. You can see all the messages together with history. The finger scrolling feature has all the s*x appeal. The photo scrolling, zoom in and out of photos, websites etc. is fantastic. Overall the iPhone is too cool. Notwithstanding the fact that there is much improvement required in the actual "phone" of iPhone, you are sure to turn heads when you flaunt it.

PS: In case you are wondering why am I being such a prude not writing s**y etc. like DD network, it is because I am not sure what AdSense will do with the contextual advts that it shows on this site. So I am playing it safe for now till I figure these things out more.

PS PS: Do read the comments for more info. Please rate this page by clicking on the stars below. Thanks.



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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my employers and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

Creative Commons License This work by Manish Mohan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.