Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The State of eLearning

First post, seems reasonable to address the broad scope of this industry. So here's my assessment...

1. There are more good technologies available to be used for learning than I have ever seen before.
2. Hardly anyone is using them really well.
3. Almost everyone is trying something.
4. The next couple of years are going to be massively exciting.

In the short term, social networks are going to see the most use (and perhaps abuse) as elearning operatives tire of Facebook and start looking at private networks. Use of video is also going to increase, though in spite of what would seem the more obvious lessons of YouTube, I fear we will continue to see lots flapping lips. People want pictures with their stories, but the webcam-as-mirror is just too seductive for those with a narcissistic bent. (There's a modern-day treatment of the ancient mythology just waiting to be posted!). Regardless, the power of video is clearly emerging from a long hibernation, as bandwidth, compression, and "home-made" video capabilities begin to multiply and be fruitful.

In the medium term, look for big moves on the eBook, textbook front. No one is happy with the current hardcopy/PDF dichotomy, including publishers. Kindle may be the best web 1.0 tool ever, but it's still little more than a PDF in a bucket. This is a big industry with a lot of money at stake, and there are a lot of Davids aiming at the Goliaths. The iTunes of the textbook world may well be approaching from within this rowdy crowd, wanting to take textbook publishing down the road music publishing has already trod. Someone will win big.

In the long term, 3D virtual worlds will gain power and prestige. This technology, potentially, really does have the bloodlines to claim the throne. Will there be a lot of web 1.0 pretenders poking around the castle grounds before the true heir can draw the sword (hint: learning objective) from the stone (hint: quest)? Undoubtedly. But the sword is there for the taking.

So there you have the major sources of my ramblings, rantings, and ravings (mostly ramblings). I'll keep you posted!

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