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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Top eLearning Sites

I was asked what the biggest traffic sites are in eLearning that were not vendor specific sites. This was from a marketer trying to reach eLearning professionals.

My quick answer was that Jane Hart’s site, eLearning Learning and The eLearning Guild would be among the top. But I really didn’t/don’t know the answer. I did promise I’d do some research and post what I found.

I used It’s definitely not accurate as it way under reports traffic for eLearning Learning. However, after reading various sources that compared different traffic estimation tools, I was convinced that it was generally a decent indicator.

Thanks to Harold Jarche and Susan Lewis (via twitter) and Cathy Moore and Dennis Wilen (via Facebook) with help on this. Cathy pointed me to questions about Alexa (Wikipedia article). Susan pointed out that none of this accounts for RSS subscription. Of course, it also doesn’t count email subscribers or twitter. So, yes … This is only rough estimating.

Top Sites

Using it, I plugged a whole bunch of different sites into it and produced the following graph of some of what I perceive to be the top sites.





After doing this, I realized that eLearn Magazine don’t seem to have that much web traffic. In fact, according to Compete, eLearning Technology (this blog) and Stephen Downes’ Site come in higher that eLearn Magazine. Here’s a chart with those sources included:



Of course, Stephen covers more than eLearning. And there are sites like ASTD that go well outside the world of eLearning.

So to be clear, things I excluded:

  • Vendor specific sites, e.g., Skillsoft
  • Sites focused on broader topics like HR, Talent Management, Training, etc., e.g., ASTD (which has good traffic), CLO Media (which doesn’t seem to have good traffic volume)
  • Sites that I can’t get accurate numbers separate from the base site. Learning Circuits is part of ASTD.

Other Sites I tried but came out lower:

It’s a little bit of a surprise to me some of the traffic numbers.

Is this a surprise to you?

What sites did I miss here?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Future of Virtual 3D Environments for Learning

Based on the recent Big Question - Learning Technology 2015 – I received an interesting question:

"Tony, what do you think of environments like Second Life? Do you think these have a great future in the world of learning for adults?"

This is a topic I’ve talked about a few times.  Probably before you begin to read my predictions, it’s worth looking at: Second Life Learning Videos where I’ve collected a few different examples of learning in Second Life.  You might also look at Second Life and Learning and Second Life as a Learning Tool.
There was a great recent article (found via  Gary Woodill) - Where Have All the Avatars Gone?  The basic point of the article is that despite not hearing as much about Second Life and other virtual worlds, a lot is happening where you can’t see it.  A couple of points from the article:
  • Over 2,000 global enterprises, 600 universities, 35 international governments, and several divisions of the U.S. federal government — including the Departments of State, Homeland Security, NOAA, NASA, Army, Navy and Air Force — now exploit Second Life technology to connect with stakeholders around the world, communicate complex ideas, train and collaborate.
  • In Second Life, the Michelin Group, for example, has an "extremely successful complex training program and interactive simulations for training worldwide employees in Enterprise Architecture.

My personal experience with Second Life is that there's something really compelling about conducting meetings and events in virtual worlds.  You really feel like you are more there.  I also think there are some incredible opportunities to use things like Second Life to create virtual learning experiences very much like the experience of visiting the Plymouth Plantation or Colonial Williamsburg – without travel or cost of the venue.  Forms of this are happening already.

But I also think that the current technical hurdles and learning curve is putting a damper on adoption.  It’s a bit like video conferencing systems.  If it’s not as easy as picking up a phone, then you need something pretty compelling to make it worth the headache.

So to answer the question directly:

  • Virtual worlds offer the possibility of creating some incredible learning experiences, however,
  • Current technical and learning curve adoption hurdles make it a niche technology, thus
  • If I’m creating a new company, product, etc., I’m pretty skeptical about basing it on these technologies.

What about by 2015 to go along with the big question?

My belief is that true 3D virtual worlds like Second Life will remain a bit more of a niche.  But I think there’s something that will come in from the back door that could cause significant adoption by 2015.

We’ve reached a tipping point for web conferencing where it’s equivalent too and often preferable to face-to-face (Learning from Others in the Room, Narrowing Gap between Face-to-Face and Online Presentations, New Presenter and Learner Skills and Methods).

I’ve predicted for a few years (Ten Predictions for eLearning 2008) that we would see adoption by mainstream web conferencing / video conferencing tools of something I would call a 2.5D environment.  Give people an avatar or picture.  Allow something along the lines of conference seating and break out rooms with separate voice streams in each.  But I’ve yet to see this materialize.  I think this changes the adoption dynamic entirely.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on where this is going and where we will really see adoption for the mainstream.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Beginning of Long Slow Death of Flash

Earlier this year I questioned why there was Still No Flash on the iPhone and iPad. It’s become quite clear that Apple (Steve Jobs) is going to block putting Flash on these platforms.

Today the big news is Scribd Switches to HTML5; Adobe To Make Tools for HTML5.

As a Part-Time CTO, I am continually making choices about what platforms to use, what do we build for, how do we integrate with social networks, etc. And just like a few years ago when it became clear that you shouldn’t build desktop applications anymore, I think we are hitting a tipping point where you have to question building anything that uses Flash as the delivery mechanism.

Scribd today announced that they are going to be changing their Flash player to be based on HTML5.

"We are scrapping three years of Flash development and betting the company on HTML5 because we believe HTML5 is a dramatically better reading experience than Flash. Now any document can become a Web page," Scribd co-founder and CTO Jared Friedman told TechCrunch.

This comes at the same time as Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch: We’re Going To Make The Best Tools In The World For HTML5. Kevin doesn’t say that they are moving away from Flash – rather that they will support Flash and HTML5 as output. But it’s pretty clear that even Adobe sees the problem here.

What does this mean in practice? Well Captivate will produce HTML5 so that it can be run on an iPhone, iPad and everywhere else.

Right now, I believe this is a tipping point moment. It’s the beginning of the long slow death of Flash.

The only question is my mind is how long/slow it will be.

Oh and if I'm predicting relative to the big question this month: Learning Technology 2015 then my prediction is that we won't be building for Flash delivery in 2015.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ning Alternatives that Require Little to No Work?

I was hoping that Ning was going to come out with a inexpensive plan that would support the different Ning sites that I have a hand in.  They do have Ning Mini at $3/mo, but it only allows 150 members.  That’s not going to work for:

I’ve read a bit about alternatives, but each will require a bit of work.  Harold Jarche is trying to figure it out for the Work Literacy site.  I hope he comes up with a good answer and I can piggy back his efforts for the other two.


Performance Support in 2015

The Big Question for May is Learning Technology 2015 – it asks what we expect workplace learning technologies to look like in 2015.  I definitely want to include Performance Support as part of the discussion. 

In a post on my CTO Blog, I talked about Match Performance Support,the performance support that goes along with many matching solutions such as in eHarmony. A lot of people miss that we are being tasked to do so many different kinds of things and are doing them infrequently so we basically are not very good at it.  Examples in matching were:

  • People to Projects
  • People to Jobs
  • Students to Tutors

In each of these, it has the classic characteristics that point to Performance Support:

  • Infrequent 
  • Complex
  • Important to get right

I would claim that as knowledge work becomes more complex and we move towards being concept workers, we are being asked to act like experts even though we aren’t experts.  See Does Deliberative Practice Lead to Quick Proficiency?

I think we are reaching a time when we are going to see an explosion of Performance Support.  You will get help when you:

  • Try to find the right project, start the project, perform the project, complete the project
  • Hire someone
  • Sell a house
  • Improve customer satisfaction (data driven).

This is going to first take the form of hundreds of thousands of different little applications that each provide performance support for particular tasks.  We are already seeing this in terms of lots of startups aimed at particular elements of knowledge work.  But these will be getting better.

I also think there’s a really interesting opportunity to create an online Performance Support builder that could make it easy to build out simple performance support tools.  Crowd source creation of the tools.  There’s a nice business there.

Anyone want to fund that business?

Let’s check back in five years and see how I did?

Please add your predictions to the big question.

Other posts (via eLearning Learning) on Performance Support:

  1. Performance Support- eLearning Technology, August 26, 2008
  2. About Declarative and Procedural Knowledge and the Expert-Novice Divide- ID Reflections, October 17, 2009
  3. Are Web 2.0 tools designed to support learning?- IDiot, January 27, 2009
  4. Harvesting Learning’s Fruit: A Downstream Training Investment- Living in Learning, September 4, 2009
  5. Conceptualizing the Performance Ecosystem- Learnlets, April 9, 2009
  6. 10 Strategies for Integrating Learning and Work (part 1), June 15, 2009
  7. Whatever Happened to Performance Support? — Informal Learning Blog, December 29, 2008
  8. A Better Learning to Performance Model and Job Aid, August 22, 2008
  9. Not by performance support alone, August 2, 2009
  10. Organizing for Performance Effectiveness, June 1, 2009
  11. Performance Support Lab - PS Links, July 11, 2009
  12. The Future of the Training Department, October 21, 2009
  13. Integrating Learning and Work, June 16, 2009
  14. It’s the performance, or, what every manager should know about Bob Mager, March 8, 2010
  15. Performer Support and the Moment of Change, September 18, 2009
  16. 7 Informal Learning Services for the Training Function, April 2, 2009
  17. The Science Behind Learning: Cognitive Tips and How Tos for Corporate Training, February 28, 2010
  18. On-job support is critical, December 19, 2008
  19. Upgrading - A PERFECT time for Performance Support, February 16, 2010
  20. Life Support Can Be Expensive- aLearning, March 27, 2010
  21. Work Context: The New Classroom- Living in Learning, March 22, 2010
  22. 21st Century Learning Strategies- Spark Your Interest, April 15, 2010
  23. PDR Design Model Supports Shift to Learning Design in the Work Context- Living in Learning, August 23, 2009
  24. When it's just so obvious NOT to train it's painful to watch it happen- Performance Learning Productivity, June 12, 2009
  25. New skills for learning professionals- Informal Learning, July 1, 2009
  26. Beyond the course- Learnlets, December 1, 2008
  27. Transfer of Learning - Theories and Implications- Designed for Learning, October 31, 2009
  28. Checklist of Social Learning Strategies- Engaged Learning, January 12, 2010
  29. Deeper Instructional Design- In the Middle of the Curve, November 13, 2008
  30. Scope of Learning Responsibility- The Learning Circuits Blog, March 3, 2008
  31. Pointing to the Five Moments of Learning Need- Integrated Learnings, July 25, 2009
  32. Content Organization Cheat Sheet- The eLearning Coach, November 30, 2009
  33. How not to train- Good Practice, July 28, 2009