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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

2009 Predictions How Did I Do?

One of my most popular posts each year is my list of predictions. In fact, my 12 eLearning Predictions for 2009, was most popular post for 2009 (see 2009 Top Posts and Topics) and it came up pretty high in the recent Top 125 eLearning Posts of 2009.

I will definitely be coming out with my 2010 predictions. In fact, I’ll be doing a virtual presentation around it as well. Of course, the problem with predictions, especially written predictions, is that you can look back and see how you did at the end of the year. So this post is my chance to go back to the predictions I made at the start of 2009 and see how I did.

#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.

The first half of the prediction – budgets being reduced was on the mark. But the reality was more than that as I explored in posts like Business of Learning and Models for Learning Questions. They point to an environment of:

  • Decreased L&D budgets (see )
  • Faster pace
  • Increased workforce mobility
  • Shorter job tenure
  • Increased job fragmentation - fewer numbers in any one role
  • Constant increase in complexity
  • Greater concept work
  • Need for faster proficiency
  • Changing expectations for learning

which leads straight to the need to do more with less, respond more quickly, etc. So, it’s a far richer problem than indicated by my prediction.

The second half of the prediction “self directed learning” got less attention during the year than I anticipated, but it was there and certainly was a big part of the discussion around social and informal learning. The specific term had some recent great discussion by Jane Hart and Harold Jarche in the posts Social media and self-directed learning, Using social media for different types of learning that included the following diagram:

Grade: B

#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.

As I discussed in my look at what I learned during 2009, I’ve found that the term eLearning 2.0 has fallen a bit out of favor and instead we are discussing these as social and informal learning. Certainly the Hottest Topics in eLearning for 2009 were social and informal learning. So, I think the first part about growth of wikis, discussions, social networks for collaborative learning is right on the mark.

As far as companies who focus on creating strategies around eLearning 2.0 moving slower – I think I’m right on the money around that. Yes, I have found myself involved in helping organizations look at their eLearning Strategy that includes a broad mix of solutions including eLearning 2.0. And I think defining this is needed and valuable. But if that’s the only thing you are doing and something that has to come before you begin to do tactical solutions, then I think it’s fair to say you are moving more slowly.

Unfortunately, I used the term “fails” which is not really the case. Companies are moving more slowly, but not really failing at it. So, on what otherwise would be an “A”, I’ve had to mark myself down.

My thinking has definitely evolved around this in 2009. Particularly, I’ve decided to always be a “Jack” … if you don’t know what that means or what it means about selling social learning then you should look at: Selling Learning Communities – Not Everyone Will or Wants a Group Hug.

Grade: B

#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.

Certainly there’s tons of buzz around lots of consumer social learning solutions. Here are just a few of the many web 2.0 / social learning companies being discussed in 2009:


Consumer, K-12 and higher ed are all relatively hot investment spaces. Has this translated into corporate awareness and demand?

I’ve heard from a lot of learning professionals at all levels where the VP/C Level who are asking about and expecting solutions that have these kinds of aspects. But they also are expecting great content to be built – and the expectation is that it should be done fast, cheap and good. Part of this, that wasn’t well captured in my prediction, is that a lot of these solutions aim at providing Free content. This has a dramatic impact on the Business of Learning and perceptions around value and cost.

Overall, while there has been some awareness and demand, probably not to the level I anticipated.

Grade: C

#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.

The buzz is definitely increasing around this. During 2009 we saw things like Using Toolkits to Aggregate Learning Resources, where BJ Schone tells us:

I’ve recently seen a trend (ok, maybe it’s just new to me) where training departments create toolkits for employees in order to aggregate learning resources for a particular topic or project. Essentially, the toolkit is a web page containing a ton of great information, links, etc. This way you can send learners to a "one-stop-shop" to get the info they need.

And I just posted about recent growth of eLearning Templates.

Grade: A-

#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.

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

I believe this is very much proving itself out.

And on the corollary – I was reminded throughout the year (Learning from Others in the Room, Narrowing Gap between Face-to-Face and Online Presentations) that I need to put myself in a continuous learning mode to get better at virtual meetings, collaboration, presentations, etc. We even made the Big Question one month: New Presenter and Learner Skills and Methods.

Grade: A

#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.

I’m looking for the numbers on this, but I believe it’s true based on anecdotal evidence. Does anyone know or have the numbers?

Grade: ???

#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.

While there are some definite challenges facing New Learning Solutions, I believe that we are seeing some real innovation. The LearnTrends Innovation Award Winners 2009 had several very interesting niche tools highlighted. And we are beginning (three years later) to hear more and more about Add-ins & Mashups to build richer experiences. At DevLearn, I saw a demo of twitter being embedded inside Captivate as the basis of a social learning experience.

Grade: B

#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.

Again, I searched for numbers that would tell me this, but I don’t have them. My sense is that it’s true, but I’ve seen some numbers that suggest that classes and courseware are going strong as well.

Grade: ????

#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.

While I had a chance to be involved in lots of discussions, found many people similarly concerned about this issue, I must say that most workplace learning professionals and most organizations don’t really have this on their radar. I still feel like it’s a big issue. Information overload, distraction, need to work effectively in networks and parts of virtual teams, etc. are all coming up as important. But the recognition of the larger issue is still not there.

Grade: D

#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 common. 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.

I feel pretty good reading this prediction. Certainly, we are seeing more smart use of mobile learning solutions. Some organizations are making big use of it. And we are seeing more content getting delivered on mobile devices. That said, for most workplace learning professionals, this is not a day-to-day issue.

Grade: A

#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.

Certainly there’s been a lot of this happening this year. LearnTrends had a bunch of these. And I’m finding myself getting involved in more and more virtual sessions, conferences, etc.

However, I’m not seeing as much of this being adopted by others. I believe that’s still a matter of time.

Grade: B

#12 - Data Driven

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

Certainly there’s greater demand for results. Not sure that’s translated into data-driven performance solutions.

Grade: F

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