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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

eLearning Innovation 2010 – Top 30

I had an interesting conversation the other day about whether there’s that much new going on in eLearning here in 2010.  The general sentiment around the room was that many workplace learning organizations were focused on nuts-and-bolts training, and that there was little innovation.

I’m probably not the best judge of whether there’s innovation going on because:

  • People call me when they want to do something innovative.  I tend to work on things that are a bit leading edge like Data Driven performance solutions or eLearning Startups or the next great idea that someone has.
  • In the world of eLearning, I generally pay attention to other innovators.  These are often bloggers as exemplified by the great bloggers found via eLearning Learning.  I also might be talking to people I’m talking to in conversations who are thinking about something innovative.

So, I’m afraid that I’ve a skewed perspective.

That said – I’m still under the impression that my central eLearning Predictions for 2010 is going to come true.  At the end of the year, we will be saying:

“Wow, 2010 was a crazy year!”

I was asked for some specifics and at the time I didn’t come up with really good answers.  I suggested that they review my predictions – which is a pretty good indicator of where I see some more interesting innovations coming.

But I also thought I’d cheat and use what eLearning Learning is telling me the hotter topics are for the first 3 months of 2010.  What are these?  These are topics that are coming up in the participating blogs more during this time than they have in the past and that have good social signals.  So, I pulled the top 30 terms.  I’ve grouped them and commented on what I’m seeing.

So, here’s what we are already seeing this year.

Google Buzz, Google Wave and PKM

PKM stands for Personal Knowledge Management, which is a definite passion of mine (see Work Literacy and Social Media for Knowledge Workers).  Interesting to me to see that these pop to the top.

  1. PKM in a nutshell, March 22, 2010
  2. PKM in 2010, January 27, 2010 
  3. Google Buzz in eLearning, February 11, 2010
  4. Seven (Possible) Ways to Use Google Buzz for Education by Jeremy Vest, February 17, 2010
  5. Google Wave: 100 tips & tricks, January 25, 2010
  6. New Features Added to Google Wave: More useful for e-Learning by Bill Brandon, January 26, 2010

iPad, Mobile Learning, iPhone

The iPad and other mobile solutions offer something pretty interesting.  Retail, restaurants, construction – great stuff!

  1. Making Sense Of The iPad For Online Learning, February 8, 2010
  2. Apple's iPad: What does it offer for e-Learning? by Bill Brandon, January 27, 2010
  3. The iPad and its impact on m-learning., February 22, 2010
  4. Tools For Mobile Learning Development, March 21, 2010
  5. Five Mobile Learning Implementation Tips, March 1, 2010
  6. The Advent of Mobile Learning Technology, January 7, 2010


Interesting to see this up this high.  But it makes sense.  Do you remember when you couldn’t do video because the network didn’t support it?  And when it took too long to shoot the video and put it up?  That was probably only two years ago for most of us.  And now that’s pretty radically changed!

  1. Planning A Video Production, January 8, 2010
  2. Instructional Design for Videos, January 22, 2010
  3. 25 places to find instructional videos, February 8, 2010

Social LearningSocial MediaTwitter, Facebook

Not a surprise to see that there’s lots of discussion of social learning and specific social media tools for social learning.

  1. Twitter for Learning – 55 Great Articles, March 24, 2010
  2. Social Learning Strategies Checklist, January 11, 2010
  3. How to use Twitter for Social Learning, March 20, 2010
  4. Checklist of Social Learning Strategies, January 12, 2010

Virtual World

The tools are starting to get there where simulations in 3D worlds makes sense. 

  1. Eight 3D Virtual World Design Principles, March 8, 2010
  2. Virtual Immersive Environments: From Theory to Practice, February 7, 2010
  3. Instructional Design for Virtual Worlds, January 22, 2010

Nuts-and-Bolts Topics

Here are other topics that come up.  I’d suggest that these would argue in favor of nuts-and-bolts.  But you can be the judge of that.

Not Sure

Here are the final two.  Not sure how to categorize these things.


I’d be curious your thoughts?

BTW – did I miss anything that you see as a big discussion topic already this year?

And I’m curious if you think that 2010 is so far a year of nuts-and-bolts or if you are seeing innovation?


Ray Jimenez, PhD said...

Hi Tony,

Great question on innovation in eLearning.

The innovation we have been involved has been in providing integrated solutions from assessments to delivery to tracking of performance results. This link provides a good overview of a sales strategy and performance process, almost close to your performance metrics system. Performance Metrics

I think there is more attention to narrow penetration and use of social learning and eLearning tools.

We have been digging hard on making headway with our social learning by penetrating further niche solutions - We have 13,000 members and 500 individual company accounts now and lots of learning. We are learning a lot by doing and experimenting in widgets and small apps. In our humble way, we see that social learning could apply in narrow niches.

Finally, I see reducing cost and raising efficiency efforts in delivering reusable flash engines, like our project 3minute elearning games at Reusable Games

I am asking a lot of questions on the 10-15 year growth of eLearning. Sometimes, the lack of innovation means that we are now in the times of great use of elearning rather than great hype.

May be it is a good time to see if we have real returns from all our innovative efforts.

However, there plenty of needs and disenchantment to breed innovation.

I will share some, after I surface from the grind and dungeons of implementation.. oh boy, oh boy.

Best, Ray

ryan2point0 said...

I'm wondering about the uptake of Google Wave.

Pre-launch, when I expressed to the Twittersphere my uncertainty about its applicability in e-learning and asked for further guidance, none was forthcoming. To me, that was a sign that the echo chamber was in full force and that maybe "Google Wave" was a transient buzz word (excuse the pun).

Of course, Tony, you have noted some excellent applications of Google Wave in the real world, and there may be more exploration of this platform as the year goes on. But having said that, I think most people would agree that the uptake hasn't met expectations.

In contrast, I am much more interested in the new features being integrated into Google Docs - which I can't help but see in terms of "jumping ship" from Wave.

The increasingly collaborative version of Docs makes much more sense to me!

Tony Karrer said...

@Ray - great points!

And I hear what you are saying about the cycle of what seems like lots of innovation followed by it becoming a bit more of the norm, followed by innovation. The funny thing is that it feels like a bit of both right now.

@Ryan - I have seen Google Wave used a bit, but I would tend to agree with you that it doesn't feel like something that will be as big as other categories of technologies. And your comment about the new features in Docs is quite interesting.

There's an underlying trend around the real-time and collaborative aspects. That's quite a leap forward from email - which is still often the default choice for knowledge workers.

Alon @ Odijoo said...

hi tony,

great post!

while a lot of the larger organizations have been sticking to what works and to what they know, the nuts and bolts...

i find that the smaller businesses, the one person operations and the innovative SMBs have been really open to new ideas. It also doesn't hurt that newer products which utilize new ideas and new ways of thinking, are often just trying to establish a user base and are therefore a lot more affordable ;-)

gih said...

That's great for us Ray. Keep it more informative as we follow what you did. Thanks.

Ryan said...

Actually, just this year KeyStone Learning Systems has rolled out some innovative new features in the online training platform KeyStone OnDemand.

They've already taken their existing content from hundreds of courses and integrated them into a system that allows an entire organization to search, edit, and even rate content taken from the courses in digestible and helpful bits. So instead of having to push through an entire course for hours you can just jump directly to something that will teach you what you need to keep working on the task at hand. It even will show what lessons are popular within the company or group who are utilizing the system.

An example of the newest features is the ability to take an existing course and add organization specific lesson within it using video upload or creating a new video screen capture right from the browser to integrate and share with co-workers. The goal is of course not just training anymore, but increased workplace productivity.

These are the sort of Web 2.0 features I expect from the future of eLearning.

subquark said...

In your 2010 predictions post, I liked number 1 on hacking work. Here is a very simple example of hacking together things that I would have never done a few years ago.

A simple website email contact form. I develop a few sites a year for people and very small businesses and typically have a simple PHP driven email form.

But now I simply use a Google doc to collect the same information as before and set the document to send an email notification of when it is updated.

All the information is in a spreadsheet, making it easier for the site owner to do mailings and so on.

In the past, there was a sense of pride in coding everything yourself when building a site (I can hand code HTML and CSS, aren't I special) but why?

In this example, Google docs are secure, convenient, and frankly, no one cares anymore. Actually, it is often seen as favourable if you can hack together the best of the best out there.

Yep, I think most of your predictions are spot on!

Tony Karrer said...

@subQuark - yeah, it's pretty amazing how easy the old contact form has become. I think there's going to be a lot of that stuff happening. A bit like what happened when VB first came out.

Ray Jimenez, PhD said...

@subQuark Nice insight. You are describing what I call the back to do-it-yourself culture of the crafts people. The tools are making it easy for contributors to be creative and focus on ideas and content and less on technical hurdles.