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Monday, July 20, 2009

eLearning Topics

I've done a few posts in the past that take a look at the topics that are Hot Topics in Training.  In each case, these are crude in that they look only at what terms people are using in a given content set.  Back in 2007, I pointed out various aspects of what I was seeing:

  • strategy/strategic and performance are back as topics after dropping way down in 2006
  • surprisingly trainer is also back, you would think in the age of eLearning 2.0 this would be down
  • notable dropping topics: games, simulations, knowledge, interactive and blended

Karyn Romeis commented:

Hmm. I have doubts about the validity of these data. Perhaps some topics are on the wane because they have become so integrated as to be invisible and no longer a topic to remark about. Just a thought.

And she's absolutely correct, that these are only general indications of what people are talking about.   Also, it only indicates what the presenters and conference organizers (for that data set) thought that the audience would be interested in and was worth presenting at the conference. I still maintain that it's helpful to keep an eye on these things.

And now, because of eLearning Learning, I have a much better way to track these things over a much more interesting content sets.

Background Explanation

By selecting LMS, I've selected content that is the latest and best stuff that's associated with the term LMS.   The keywords on left side are changed to keywords which are more closely associated with that term.  For example, we see terms now at the top like Learning Management System, AICC, SCORM. Take a look at the companies:

  • Saba (28)
  • GeoLearning (17)
  • SumTotal (22)
  • Meridian (9)
  • Cornerstone (19)

    You notice the counts are out of order (not descending).  That's because they are ordered according to how closely the system thinks the companies are associated with the selected term within the content set.

    This works across any subset of the content including sources, keywords and arbitrary searches.

    For example, when I view my blog's content through the eLearning Learning lens, it shows me that relative to other sources of content in the system, I tend to talk about:

  • eLearning 2.0 (130)
  • Work Skills (26)
  • PWLE (16)
  • Flash Quiz (8)
  • Knowledge Work (40)

    That's a pretty fair representation of topics that I talk about.

    Topics by Year

    By selecting 2009, I've selected a subset of the content, but in this case it's basically content associated with this year.  When you look at the keywords on the left you see things like:

  • Social Learning (356)
  • Social Media (411)
  • Twitter (725)
  • Google Wave (22)
  • Camtasia (76)
  • Adobe Captivate (71)
  • Social Network (460)

    Now, the content set in this case are highly skewed towards innovators as compared to the topic sets being used by my past analysis (training conferences).  But still, this gives a general indication and it's especially interesting when you compare it to 2007:

  • Corporate Blog (20)
  • Personal Learning (23)
  • eLearning Tools (323)
  • Software Simulation (21)
  • Qarbon (6)
  • Second Life (135)
  • PowerPoint (148)
  • Google Scholar (9)
  • Authorware (16)

    Ah the good old days of 2007.  Seems so long ago. :)

    How about 2005?

  • Folksonomy (11)
  • Knowledge (233)
  • Off-shore (7)
  • Leadership (44)
  • Creative Commons (16)

    Back when we still had hope that folksonomy (tagging) would make sense of the flood of content. 

    Year by Topic

    You can also go the other way to see things like selecting Twitter and you can see that the associated years are:

  • 2009
  • 2020 
  • 2008 

    2020?  That indicates that someone is talking about that year and about twitter in the same content.  So, predictions for the future and how twitter might relate. 

    This stuff is definitely not exact, but it gives a general indication.  Twitter is a hot topic right now as compared to some others.

    The years associated with Wiki suggest it was more discussed a couple years ago and now is discussed less.

  • 2006
  • 2010
  • 2007

    Does the associated years for SharePoint suggest it's a technology for the future?

  • 2010 
  • 2015 
  • 2011 
  • 2013 

    You can pretty much do this endlessly.

    I often will use this technique when I run into a new company to see if anyone is blogging about it and generally what is associated with it.

    Looking Back

    So when I go back to Hot Topics in Training, the topics that were hot then and by looking at the associated years I can get a sense that:

    This is definitely something that I'll be using as I go forward. 


    Donald Clark said...

    Tony, I'm not surprised "training" is back. I think for a while it was almost shunned -- almost a dirty word in our profession. But when performed properly training is learning... and at times it supplies a better context on what is actually taking place than trying to use some other word or phrase.

    V Yonkers said...

    Do you think assessment and performance are no longer as popular might be because we have not devised a way to measure the learning using the top topics of the year: social media and social learning? Or is it because organizations are moving away from quantitative measures as a whole and moving into PLE's?

    Tony Karrer said...

    Donald - training is such an interesting term. I avoided it for a long time, but with my recent focus on deliberative practice for building expertise - which is definitely training - I think that my tune is changing.

    Virginia - interesting question. I would have expected that assessment and performance would have been popular right now. Many people suggest that training companies need to be bottom line focused. But assessment and performance don't seem to be the language we are using to express that. I wish I could give you a better answer.

    Certainly, things like personal and social learning make some kinds of measurement harder. There's also possibly a divide between performance focus (getting certain behavior / performance) vs. social learning which tends to be more open about the how.

    But that's not really something I've thought about before your question and I don't know that I have a good answer.

    Gary Wise said...

    I'm surprised that "outcomes" and "evidence" did not surface in your analysis as part of the new and popular buzz jargon. I do think the conference organizers have to keep finding "fresh" perspectives to retain participation, and what better way than to re-spin something like training.

    It makes sense when you think about it though...we've been training forever...connecting people with new knowledge and skills in order to create an ehanced capability. Matters not what we call it. Next month it will be a new spin on what we do. Maybe it will be something like... sociocollaborenhancamancipation.

    Tony Karrer said...

    Gary - I would have thought that similar terms, e.g., accountability, evidence, outcomes, etc. would be super hot right now. I believe they are the reality of what you need to focus on as a learning professional today (and always). Of course, I'm somewhat business / performance focused.

    It's interesting that in our rush to social and informal, we are not discussing outcomes, accountability, etc.

    I might challenge some folks on that on Thursday.