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Monday, December 04, 2006

LCB Question for December - Past Year, Present Challenges, Predictions

The Learning Circuits Blog Question for December has been posted. The questions this month are:

What will you remember most about 2006?
What are the biggest challenges for you/us as head into 2007?
What are your predictions for 2007?

Answering this question is a bit more of a challenge for me. So it may take a few posts. Let me put out a few initial thoughts, but I’m expecting that other posts will spark more thoughts.

What will you remember most about 2006?

I believe that I will remember 2006 as one of the more important transition years for me. It is the year that I recognized that there is a revolution going on in eLearning similar to 1996 when I saw that web-delivery of tools, content, etc. would grow to dominate in what was then a desktop/CD-ROM world. The revolution in 2006 is possibly even more profound.

Some of the more specific memories from 2006:
  • I started my blog in February 2006.

  • I started using and Yahoo MyWeb to save bookmarks - locally saved favorites seem rather limited now.

  • I had a real "aha experience" after using add-ins to provide features inside my blog. Boy were they easy to use. It's all pure service. And this experience kept coming all during the year with Wikis, and more (Incredibly Cool! Vision of Future of Application and eLearning Development)

  • I found myself no longer recommending the use of RoboInfo or other similar programs for reference materials. Wikis are way better even if the end-users don't edit.

  • I had a very interesting disagreement with a client about the technical direction for their solution - they wanted local editing via a Word add-in locally installed - I advocated providing a pure web delivered solution. I lost the argument. In the long run, they'll lose. No one should advocate putting stuff on a desktop anymore without a dang good reason.

  • I found myself using Wikipedia early in research tasks on all sorts of topics.

But by far the most vivid memory of 2006 comes from a comment made during a panel that I was moderating on eLearning 2.0. We had discussed Wikis, Blogs and were embarking on Second Life. Someone from the audience in all sincerity said:

“This stuff is freaking me out.”

She is right on the money. It is freaking us out. We know something pretty special is happening right now.

If you are a glutton for more of this, take a look at:

What do you see as the biggest challenges for 2007?

I could answer this as the biggest challenges for Learning Professionals generally, and maybe I'll come back and do that, but for now, let me just write what I see as some of my bigger challenges in 2007.

  • Finding high quality people, especially programmers

    This may come as a surprise, but it's really hard to find really good on-shore development talent. Especially since I'm spoiled by a really great, really nice, fun group of developers.

  • Deciding if I should be speaking more or less at conferences?

    I love going to conferences when there's energy and I meet interesting people with interesting problems. I hate hearing the same presentations over and over. The last couple conferences have been interesting again, but I'm not sure if that trend will continue. In the meantime, I'm spending more time blogging and in virtual sessions. Those seem to have been a good replacement for my conference time. I'm still unsure how I should spend my time.

  • Retooling my knowledge

    I've been paid to be a CTO type consultant on a broad range of topics. And if you are talking Reusable Learning Objects, Courseware Templates, Tracking Mechanisms, Content Management, etc. I'm really well positioned. Of course, since I'm truly believe that the form of what we will be building in the future is changing and things like RLOs and Courseware are going to become much less important, then my current knowledge base seems diminished. Instead, I now need to get smart on things like community, networks, personal knowledge management and other such topics. These have normally been tangential, but I see them as core moving forward. I've already started on this, but the challenge is knowing where to focus.

  • What does all of this mean? What will the landscape look like in 10 years?

    Along the same lines, I really am challenged right now to understand where all of this is going. If it doesn't look like a course and doesn't look like a reference system, what will it look like? What is the form of informal learning?

  • Why am I not finding more opportunities to create front-end tools?

    I am a big believer in the ability of web sites to provide simple forms that a user can fill out, that captures data that can be reused, and then feeds the data into templates that provide significant value. At the simplest, these are dynamic job aids. More complex solutions look like marriage matching (eHarmony), action planning solutions (large retailer), marketing support tools (large financial services). These are the most powerful and best solutions that I can personally be involved in. Yet the projects are sparse. My challenge is to find more of these projects.

  • Find Lots of Examples of eLearning 2.0

    I've already started to identify some of the initial eLearning 2.0 kinds of solutions that people can adopt right now. But 2007 would seem to be a good time to find even more smart, small, starter examples of solutions that don’t fit within classic eLearning, eReference type solutions.

What are your predictions for 2007?

First, let me say that before I predict anything, I always start with a couple of quotes that keep me grounded:

A consistent pattern in our response to new technologies is we simultaneously overestimate the short-term impact and underestimate the long-term impact.
–Roy Amara of the Institute for the Future.

The future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed.
–William Gibson – Author

So let me start with a prediction that I always get right. 2007 is going to look a lot like 2006.

That said, let me suggest a few specific predictions:

  • More learning professionals are going to find themselves blogging.

  • Discussion will emerge/increase around the next generation of LMS that focus on quick access to content, search, web 2.0 capabilities, with tracking being done behind the scenes. In the meantime, LMS Dissatisfaction will continue to the Rise and Do You WANT an LMS? Does a Learner WANT an LMS?

  • Discussion will emerge/increase that SCORM doesn't fit next generation learning.

  • 2007 will have even more creativity around types of solutions and how those solutions get created.

  • Informal learning will be a big topic and will become more formal

  • Courses and Courseware are going to continue to fade

  • Training 2007 will still have a blind spot around eLearning 2.0, but one keynote by IBM will open some eyes

  • It will be harder and harder to find any software getting installed locally

  • We will start to see Wikis and tools like ZohoCreator being used by normal people like us to build simple web applications - similar in complexity to spreadsheet programming.

That's it for now, I'm sure I'm going to want to add to this as I read other responses to the questions.

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