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Two Takes on the Future of Workplace Learning

— by Tory Putnam

What’s on the horizon for learning and development technologies over the next few years? At Brightwave’s recent Learning Technologies 2011 Exhibition, a group of trainers, training managers, and other learning and development pros offered up their best forecasts. A few highlights from live audience polling:

  • 55 percent believe learning technology will — overall — play a “critical role” in improving workplace performance for the next decade; the remaining 45 percent believe it will at least play a supporting role.
  • Of all the learning technologies, which ones will have the biggest impact? 36 percent ranked social media and collaboration tools with the highest potential; just behind those were mobile devices and apps (28 percent); and live online training (17 percent).

Want a more detailed outlook for the short term? Tony Bates has an interesting, and more critical, take on the top trends facing the industry this year  — it’s worthy reading. A few brief excerpts below:

Course Redesign

“The wave of new web 2.0 technologies, such as student blogs, wikis, and especially e-portfolios, and open source content management software such as WordPress, are beginning to expose the limitations of commercial or ‘off-the-shelf’ learning management systems. In particular, these new web 2.0 tools enable students as well as instructors to create, load and edit content.”

The Future is Mobile

“Despite current limitations and barriers, the future of online learning is clearly in mobile technologies. Laptops and desktop PCs will remain necessary for specialized learning applications for the next few years, but in 2011 all educational institutions should be thinking of course design and teaching in terms of its transportability to mobile formats.”

Open Educational Resources

“The principle of making available online educational materials for free use for educational purposes is hard to argue with. Projects to develop open educational resources have received substantial funding from the Hewlett Foundation, and support from both the World Bank and the Commonwealth of Learning, as well as many institutions, such as MIT, Carnegie Mellon and the British Open University. However, it is a development that still falls far short of its promise.”

More Multimedia

“The use of video in particular is growing. It is now very cheap and easy to use video in short 3-4 minute clips to demonstrate processes, equipment or real life contexts, mainly to support direct online instruction, but also sometimes to encourage analysis of the video material by students themselves, or to enable learners to master a technique or process by repeated playing of the video clip as they practice.”

Learning Analytics

“Learning analytics is likely to be the next buzzword in online learning… It provides the end-user with tools in the form of a dashboard on the desktop computer that allows the end-user to call up data and easily analyze it in the form of graphs, pie charts, or tables. The main challenges to the use of learning analytics is making sure that data are collected and stored in ways that are useful for the kind of questions asked by end users (for instance, coding courses by the type of delivery, such as blended, hybrid and fully online), training end users such as faculty in the use of such tools, and ensuring that all concerns about privacy and data security are adequately addressed.”

>>Read more on e-learning development on the Mindflash blog.

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