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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Course and Courseware Fading - The Future of eLearning

Two very good recent posts by Jay Cross and Brent Schlenker discuss the Death of Courses. If you read my blog you know that I've discussed similar themes (see Shift in eLearning from Pure Courseware towards Reference Hybrids and Start with Courseware or With the Other Stuff?) and I have the same basic feeling that there is definitely a shift going on. It's not going to be overnight, but it will echo the shift we've seen from instructor-led training towards other delivery models.

Let's be clear. Courses and Courseware are not really dead and will never die out completely. There will always be the need for self-contained learning delivered in sequence. These will cover things like compliance training, basic skills, math, etc. I believe that many courses will begin to include different kinds of interation. Collaboration will be embraced more often and in new ways. But, there will still be courses at the end of the day.

However, if we fast-foward ten years and consider what the implications are if the course model is not the dominant model of what a workplace learning and performance function provides to the organization then it begs the question: what will replace this model? And as Brent asks: "How are the job, and skills, of the instructional designer changing (what you need to know in order to be a value add)?"

I think we are only just beginning to understand how to answer these questions (see Informal Learning - Let's Get Real). And as the delivery models and delivery patterns change, we will naturally see change.

So, rather than just helping to further ask the question, let me point to some things that I think contribute to the answer.

1. Learning How to Learn

I believe that the biggest challenge right now for all workplace learning and performance professionals is Improving Personal Learning - A Continuing Challenge for Learning Professionals. Until we become expert learners ourselves, it's hard to believe that we will be in position to be able to lead the charge.

2. Shift Towards Aggregation and Information Delivery

In the Future of ISD in a World of Read/Write Web, we will shift toward being aggregators who pull together information from various sources and provide context and meaning for that information.

3. Test New Kinds of Solutions

Use reference hybrids; move to the bottom right part of learning solutions; and avoid your LMS. By far, the easiest first step is to
Put down that authoring tool and pick up a Wiki
Why a Wiki? First, it's so dang easy to create and change content. And I'm not talking about having content created by the learners, I'm still assuming you are creating the content or pointing to other web pages and providing context for that information. Even better than the ease of use is that it gets you out of the Courseware mindset and into the information/support mindset. It will allow you to have your content emerge and change over time in ways that a linear course doesn't allow. It will be searchable and likely much more useful at the point of need. This is the lowest hanging fruit right now, today, ... do it ... no really, I mean it.

Keywords: eLearning Trends


Darius said...

1) The technology will be the Open Croquet Project (An open source 3D Wiki that's Peer-To-Peer w/o a server and runs simulations w/ its own built in programming and scripting development environment) ... linked to real world data and real world instruments, controls, actuators, & sensors (not just keyboards and mice), & 3D printers for prototyping physical representation of ideas. Content will be “self published”.
[Croquet reviewed on The Learning Circuits Blog]”>

2) The methodology will be "Project Based Learning" with learning by doing – creating & building (with narrative to help the memory), and simulations to explain how that which is learned is just one component working within a larger system.

3) Places will be flash gatherings with un-conferences & continuing, persistent online communities whose membership fluctuates over time … the enamored amateurs.

4) Tutors & coaches will be drawn globally from the developing world (who have the time) for the personal touch.

5) Every capsule of information or knowledge will contain, or link to, answers to all five questions: "Who, What, Where, When, How, (and most often forgotten) Why" to supplement what’s lacking in traditional content. The “answers to why” humanize the knowledge. It’s the “people part” of it and, by implications, the ethics part of it.

6) Major principles taught would include the "long tail" and "disruptive innovation".

Brent Schlenker said...

Hi Darius,
You know I love the Open Croquet Project, and I know you guys are onto something really cool with it. But when is it REAL! When is it "ready for prime time?"
We're convinced! We're ready! Where is it?

Nancy Munro said...

I agree with this trend, I think that with the up and coming Millennium generation they are very adapt at using these types of tools. The peer to peer learning process is slowly coming into play now but I would like to see the current workforce find a way to participate in this type of learning in order to pass on their informal knowledge before they retire. Unfortunately many of them are not adapt at using the new technologies.

Anonymous said...

My school is just embarking on an international elearning project and your comments are completely inline with our ideology about elearning. The challenge is how do you create a learning experience that isn't linear with tools that put "training" at the forefront of education? Add to that the lack of collaboration and tablet functionality within these tools and you end up with programs that do the same old thing.