I received some interesting questions (and you know I love questions) from someone doing eLearning industry market research around trends in simulations, games, social learning. They said they would be fine with me posting my thoughts. I’m sure they’d love to get thoughts from others as there’s likely not enough data around this stuff to be super comfortable making business decisions.
Question 1 - As the notion of “learning as an event” begins to be replaced with true “just-in-time” learning, (in the form of learning communities and availability to portals of knowledge and information) do you think off-the-shelf eLearning programs in professional skill development will continue to be one component of a learning solution? Will they grow in need, become obsolete, or remain the same?
This is a case where I look back at what I’ve written:
- Course and Courseware Fading - The Future of eLearning
- Shift in Blended Learning - Example of Melding of Training and Support
and now I find that I probably should back step a little. I generally talk about what’s on the leading edge, but here, the questions are a bit different.
Yes, we will continue to see lots of professional skill development via off-the-shelf eLearning solutions. I do think these will need to morph to fit better with new kinds of consumption and as part of an overall blended solution. But people continue to need core development opportunities and eLearning courseware continues to be an important part of the mix.
That said – if I’m defining my business direction (which is what’s behind these questions), I would start by looking at my post on the Business of Learning. There’s a lot to question about content based business models in a time when there’s easy access to lots of content. There’s always a place for truly differentiated and valuable learning experiences. But most content is me-too – and the value proposition for that will go down.
This is further complicated by the fact that there’s expectation that learning is going to be more and more part of day-to-day knowledge work. In my recent post, I claim Social Learning Tools Should Not be Separate from Enterprise 2.0. You need to think about how your learning business lines up with the reality of work and tools in the near future. Of course, one of the big problems is that the marketplace (especially learning / training leaders) are not yet ready to replace courseware expenditure with other kinds of spending quite yet.
Question 2) As new technologies for learning grow, and the use of games, simulations and immersive learning matures, how do you think self-directed asynchronous eLearning, will compare next to these more interactive programs? Will there remain a need for eLearning libraries?
Yes, there’s still a place for eLearning libraries. I really don’t see them going away soon. I see the pressures I’ve described above.
In terms of games, simulations, immersive learning – I continue to believe that there are wonderful opportunities to create really compelling learning experiences using these approaches. But, we’ve yet to see a true blockbuster. Shouldn’t there be a Management 101 Game program that’s sold 10M copies in the US? If there was, then it would be tough to the a less compelling offering in the same space.
But clearly there are lots of other barriers that keep games and simulations in check. The numbers I’ve seen over the past couple of years don’t suggest that these kinds of solutions are really gaining broad acceptance in the market.
I should caveat that I believe that given how easy video is to shoot – simple kinds of video-based simulations will happen more often. Actually, as price/effort continues to drop for each of these kinds of solutions, we will see more of them. But we aren’t talking about massive numbers or replacement at this point.
Question 3) Who is really using what in learning? What is the use level of simulations, gaming, and avatars?
I’m hoping someone can help. The last numbers I had are a little old now. In 2008, I published some numbers from the eLearningGuild in Training Method Trends which shows a snapshot at that time. The recent ASTD numbers provide some additional insight.
Anyone know where there are some numbers around this?
Anyone with different thoughts on the trends around simulations, games and social learning?