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Monday, January 26, 2009

12 eLearning Predictions for 2009

Last year I laid out in January my Ten Predictions for eLearning 2008. In my post, 2008 2009 - written in December 2008, I looked at how well I did in those predictions, and my results were pretty good, not perfect. So, let's try it again this year ...

#1 - "Self-Directed Learning" Increases

Due to economic pressures, companies are going to reduce training budgets to a point where it doesn't make sense to create content on marginal topics. Instead, we will call this "self-directed learning" and will do our best to support the workforce to learn it on their own with minimal guidance and support.

#2 - eLearning 2.0 Grows - But Creating "eLearning 2.0 Strategy" Fails

One of the better, cheap support mechanisms for self-directed learning are web 2.0 tools. As such, eLearning 2.0 will show continued growth. We will especially see a rapid growth in the use of wikis for content presentation. There will also be growth in discussions and social networks for collaborative learning.

At the same time, organizations who try to create big eLearning 2.0 Strategies will move much slower than organizations who adopt easy to use tools and make tactical use of these tools.

Corollary: if you have SharePoint installed, you will be using SharePoint a lot more this year.

#3 - Increase in Consumer/Education Social Learning Solutions will Increase Pressure for Social Learning Solutions in Corporate Learning

Sorry, I couldn't figure out a shorter way to say this. 2008 was an interesting year that saw a myriad of new start-ups offering content through interesting new avenues. Social learning solutions like social homework help provided by Cramster; CampusBug, Grockit, TutorVista, EduFire, English Cafe, and the list goes on and on.

What will happen to about 20% of the workplace learning professionals is that some VP/C level in your company will have their teenager or college age kid use one of these services and tell them about it. They will they proceed to wonder why you aren't doing something similar.

It's the change where consumer leads education leads corporate.

#4 - Quick Wins & Toolkits

With the tough economy, everyone will be looking for quick wins. How can you improve performance quickly and at low cost? The answer for many organizations will be less training and more performance support in the form of toolkits. Teach me less about communication and give me more templates for important, tough communication points.

Off-the-shelf content companies will be moving to meet this need by emphasizing quick wins through resources.

#5 - Virtual Classroom Tipping Point

Based on a few different conversations and experiences, I believe that we've reached a point where virtual classroom training is no longer seen as inherently inferior and a lower value. Some training will still be preferred face to face such as when team building or in-person soft skills are important, but 2009 will be the year when we realize that we should be justifying any in-person training. Price points for virtual classroom training will begin to be virtually the same as for the same in-person classes.

Corrollary: transition to virtual means greater demand for help on effective virtual classroom training and for people who are good at creation effective remote experiences.

#6 - Greater Domination by Leading Tool Vendors - Captivate, Articulate, Lectora, Camtasia

Captivate 4 is going to be a great tool. Articulate has a great tool set. Lectora is great at packaging. Camtasia is good at screencasting. It's going to be tough for me-too tools to push out these players in the corporate market. In some settings, free authoring tools may do better, but they probably won't get much traction in workplace training.

#7 - Niche Tools Emerge and Get Traction in Niches

So the caveat to the above statement about the big players getting bigger is that I believe we will see more and more niche tools get traction. We've seen some traction by the game show type tools such as those by LearningWare. We may also see use of Flash Quiz Tools, polls, survey tools or something like Harbinger Knowledge's Team Pod. These things can create fun interactions that easily fit into a course built with one of the above tools. They also fit into a wiki page. It's also interesting to see effort's like Articulate's Community Interactions - which is essentially the ability to add specialized interactions including new types of interactions from the developer community.

#8 - More Wiki Pages - Same Authored Minutes - Less Classroom Minutes

I pretty much already said this, but I might as well mention it again. The above trends around eLearning 2.0, self-directed learning, quick wins and toolkits all suggest that more web pages - authored via wikis - will be the name of the game in 2009. The goal of lower cost will continue the transition from classroom to courseware which will keep the total number of authored minutes about the same, even with the move of content from courses to web pages.

#9 - Knowledge Worker Skills

Topic growing rapidly, problem getting recognized, more and more people offering workshops and solutions to address this

I realized in 2007 that there's a very important Knowledge Worker Skill Gap
emerging. In 2008, I felt compelled to launch Work Literacy, and help help people and organizations upgrade skills like Leveraging Networks, Network Feedback, Finding Expertise, Using Social Media to Find Answers to Questions, Learning through Conversation and searching, scanning, etc.

2009 is going to be a big year for this issue. The fact that this is one of the general sessions at ASTD TechKnowledge is interesting way to start 2009. We are now offering a Work Literacy Skills Workshop. This is going to get more and more attention this year. Especially as employers move more towards self-directed learning.

#10 - Mobile Learning Niche Growth

Last year I said mobile learning would be well below where people were expecting. While I still think this will be a relatively small percentage of activity, this year, I expect to be a year in which mobile becomes more I believe that we will see continued increase in the percentage of people walking around with mobile web access. This will offer increased interesting opportunities such as:
  • Real-time Polls - We are just beginning to see tools like Poll Everywhere that allow mobile polling. That way an audience sitting at an in-person conference will have some of the capabilities that they do online. (Did I mention the move towards virtual classroom?)
  • Job aids / quick reference - about 30% of you are going to be asked to make sure your content is viewable on an iPhone.
  • Podcasts / Vidcasts targeting mobile professionals (ex. sales people)
  • Sales challenge scoreboard - For some mobile professionals, specific types of content such as sales challenges will be delivered through mobile solutions.
At the same time, the wild enthusiasm for mobile learning that was present in 2007 and died down a bit in 2008, will remain somewhat subdued. And we won't see much adoption as the central vehicle for learning content delivery.

#11 - Micro Virtual Conferences

The move towards acceptance of virtual classroom means that there will slowly begin to be acceptance of virtual conferences. Conferences this year will also do this because their other alternative is to be canceled from lack of people able to pay for travel. But because we are all going to be maxed out, expected to do 10% more work with 10% less people, we won't have time to go for several days. Instead, we will see the creation of things that are in between a full virtual conference and something that's a few sessions. These things will be more targeted and deeper. Many of them will be from ad hoc sources, such as George, Jay and myself.

#12 - Data Driven

With the economic situation, there will be greater demand for results and thus more interest in data-driven performance solutions.


Ethan said...

As an eLearning Technology Consultant, I'm constantly working with clients on the same kinds of questions and problems. I wonder what "packages" or "tookits" other professionals have developed or found to implement. I would definitely like to explore these resources in my organization for 2009. Anybody care to discuss what they have found useful? Any good resources out there?

Gary H said...

Great list, well thought out and presented. I think user authored content will have a bigger impact on internal training than on external training. I don't see wikis playing a part in customer training. Podcasts and RSS delivered content definitely have a place.

In terms of #5 - Virtual Classroom Tipping Point, we are already there. Virtual Classroom accounts for about 25% of our training and is priced the same as our in-person training. It will continue to grow, especially as our customers cut budgets. Virtual is overall much cheaper because there are no travel costs.

Tony Karrer said...

@Ethan - great question. I may highlight it in the future.

@Gary - I'm not sure if I'm reading your comment correctly - you don't see wikis playing a part in customer training? I think it's different with customers (or any third parties) but there are so many success stories of customers generating content that if anything the opposite may be true. At first you might control things a bit more with customers and limit opening stuff up. Or maybe I'm missing your point.

On Virtual Classroom - I think you may be slightly ahead of where other folks head is at, but you represent another data point that says we are at that tipping point.

Anonymous said...

Tony, I agree: in many cases -- more than seems apparent -- customer contributions could greatly enhance customer training.

That doesn't mean the org should give up. I see one potential source of real value: having a knowledgeable person (insider or not) assimilate, reformulate some customer suggestions. Not everyone can write clearly; an editor/integrator can pull together helpful-but-hidden elements.

That editor could of course be one of the customers, though I think the organization ought to show a little initiative.

Faraz Qureshi said...

Great list Tony. Agree with all the predictions.

I think another trend that will gain traction in 2009 is the use of web video in elearning 2.0 solutions. We'll see more niche solutions like (video based technical training) with more collaborative features (e.g. wikis). As you mentioned, these consumer solutions will eventually make their way into corporate products and drive down the cost of virtual training even further than the tipping point today.

I'm not sure all of this will happen over the next 11 months...but it will be interesting/fun to watch nonetheless!

Gary H said...

Tony - I guess I'm thinking of my own situation regarding wikis. We have a very technical product, and one customers' "right way of doing things" could be a disaster for another customer. There are best practices that could be shared, though. Wikis are good for products/programs that have a large customer base, like wikis for JavaScript, Flash, PHP, etc. I'll have to look into more, it could definitely be used internally, especially for our support group.

Jenn Dudley said...

Thanks for the list! I am an instructional technology specialist for a hospital that is a good 5 or more years behind the curve when it comes to learning. We are just beginning to look at an LMS implementation. I think this is necessary to deliver eLearning given the size of our organization, but I don't want to forget about performance support. What do you think is the best way to deliver as-needed support tools? I'm pretty new to the game. Are there desktop and/or mobile apps that give access to a knowledge base without having to navigate an LMS, but that can be integrated with it?

Manish said...

Hi! Ethan,

I can understand the emerging trends into the market and its impacts on all stake holders. I still consider the LCMS holds the key of e-Learning markets because LMS has has its own limitation. The custom contents will be new area of scopes for all the LCMS tools companies. I have created one LCMS that works seamlesslely with LMS and holds the key for custom authoring. LMS with Web 2.0 and other features can be expanded but LCMS or Authoring Tool will always score over LMS.

Please let me know if you need more information on this. You can catch me

Dan said...

I agree that self-directed will increase. Easy access and affordability are the keys.