Future eLearning

The Longer Term Future for eLearning

About fifty of us participated in the April meeting of eLearning Forum this morning. Forty people met F2F in a classroom at the HP Nonstop Learning Center; eight to ten people joined us remotely via HP Virtual Classroom, a private-labeled Placeware derivative.

Our host, Tom Hill, is Program Manager, Advanced Learning Technologies, Hewlett Packard Education & Training Center, NonStop Enterprise Division, and a long-time member of eLearning Forum (back when we were the Silicon Valley eLearning Network).

Tom explained that our topic is the future of eLearning, but not the close-in future one can predict through extropolation so much as the future five years from now when things will be really different.

Jerry Neece comparing early eLearning to our microphone holder constructed of Bic pens and Scotch tape.

Jerry Neece, an eLearning pioneer in his years with Sun, noted that Mosaic is celebrating its tenth birthday this month! For many of us, this first browser was the wake-up call for the idea that marrying technology and education could yield tremendous results. Yet eLearning has failed to live up to the promise. Why?

    1. The (non) Human Factor – first systems were built from the administrator’s standpoint, not the learner’s
    2. Inherited, outdated paradigms – “put a week of learning on the web”
    3. Piecemeal solutions – have to log into three or four different systems with different passwords
    4. Proprietary systems – defendable from competition but not interoperable

The future is promising because of such things as:

  1. Open architecture based on J2EE, modularity, and learner-centricity. MIT is offering a free LMS. U-portal is free, developed by colleges, now 500 institutions. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of engineers are working on these open systems. Web standards such as SOAP, XML, UDDI, etc. mean that engineers can work on a module rather than the whole enchilada. For example, Villa Nova University, has tied together registration, the grading system, and student information to provide professors with a composite class list (with photos) and a single interface for attendance and grading.
  2. More personalized learning enabled by identity management, profiling, and quality of service. Adaptive, based on learner’s historic behavior. Rank-ordered list of what I need to know (based in part on what I already know).
  3. More standards, leading to reusable learning objects, giving increased quality at lower cost
  4. Paradigm shift: learning comes to you rather than you to the learning. Take the mountain to Mohammed.

Trace Urdan, Research Analyst, Think Equity Partners

Trace Urdan joined us by phone, identifying three seismic shifts in eLearning:

1. shift of training responsibility from corporations to individuals

volatile employment conditions, labor a variable cost
proven benefit of credentials and degrees – the boost pay and are portable
rise and redefinition of trade schools, e.g. University of Phoenix
web-based degree programs

2. outsourcing

EDS, IBM, Thompson making their moves
Farm out what you don’t understand well

3. disintermediation of content development

companies will roll their own
steadily advancing power of tools

Wayne Hodgins, Autodesk futurist, phoned in from a car hurtling along an L.A. freeway. Wayne starts 3-5 years out and tries to go out another 50 years. Our world is speeding up. Like driving, the faster you go, the further ahead you have to look. Wayne shared three alliterations with us.

Small, smart, standards
No one is thinking small enough
How small? So small it’s never used by itself
This maximizes flexibility in reassembly

Low level of intelligence we gain thru pattern recognition
Substitute proactive for reactive
Subjective metadata – gathering peoples’ opinions
Use this for predicting what people will and won’t like
NetFlix can predict how you’ll rate a movie

Standards are a long haul but an important one
Progress is being made. XML, XMS derivatives, RSS, SOAP…
MOTO = metadata, objects, taxonomies, ontologies

Personal, proactive, performance
Teacher for every teachable moment
“When the learner is ready, the teacher will appear” (Confucius)

Key on the proactive side
We have set our expectations way too low

Results and performance are what matters
Readiness to respond to the unexpected
Business trend: performance-based contract payouts

Content, collaboration, context
Current content sucks. Neither compelling nor relevant
New kinds of content, e.g. visual language, Scott McCloud’s comics, simulations – compelling, not entertaining

Collaboration -- check Wikipedia, 100,000+ nodes generated by readers
Once you start to provide enabling things, responsibilities shift to the users

Customers will develop the taxonomies and vocabulary

Peg Maddocks describes the changes at Cisco.

Peg Maddocks told us about her exciting new assignment at Cisco, working in a new business unit, Learning Strategy and Development.

John Chambers recently observed that Cisco "was not flying in formation," i.e. the company was trying to tackle too many things in too many ways. Peg's new group was established to create a unified learning strategy for all of Cisco. One of their objectives is to enable employees to move around, cross-fertilizing the organization. To pull this off, Peg foresees creating common learning models and supportive business processes, taking a user point of view, and making content interoperable across all Cisco divisions. New eLearning business council has SVPs; they will make decisions about learning strategies.


Tom Hill described trends he's seeing at Non-Stop University.

Tom Hill talks about trends at HP Non-Stop.

Overseas online learners are two to three times more active than the typical North American.
90% of content champions are from Europe
Caution: don’t be America-centric

Economic – MIT Technology Review says next major information technology corporation may come from India
Realtime, around-the-world financial markets
Strategically, you’re either selling the product or building it

Collaborative – increase engagement, two-way, organic. Nurture -- you can't force it.
Agents – learner controlled, centric
Embedded learning
Mentoring – accompaniment, great book on this: Working Wisdom
Self publishing – user contributions

UI – fewer steps, clicks, and pain; “more dashboard” but make it a customizable dashboard

End user
Anxious User/Customer (no travel, fewer offices, more products coming out)
IBM – I’m by myself. (Gerstner). We live in a technology envelope. More high touch coming.
Self-efficacy. Managing my own learning, Flow
Iterative – spiral, adding to mental map.

Katie Povejsil debriefs the discussion groups.
Katie Povejsil of Catalyst Consultants facilitated the formation of discussion groups on technology, users, and content.

The Technology group wanted an expert voice in the ear that follows them around. Social network analysis will help pinpoint expertise. For the next five years, most knowledge will still come from people. The Learner group figured that everyone will be a learner; the term will lose meaning as learning becomes part of the tapestry of life. The Content group foresees a shorter distance between SME and learner. Already, knowledge centers (think call center for learning) are being established in India.




Our next meeting, on May 16 at the Microsoft Campus in Mountain View, will deal with informal and social learning. Google will be joining us, along with leaders of the social software movement, edu-bloggers, and a new technology. You'll need to sign up early since attendance is limited to sixty.

This is only a prelminary report of our April meeting. This is what I would have blogged live if HP had Wi-Fi in the classroom. Mentorware is creating an electronic summary for the eLearning Forum archives. The results of our pre-meeting member poll are already there.

Additional links

Emerging Technology Conference wiki

Social Software Alliance Wiki

Social Software and Social Capital


Posted by Jay Cross at April 25, 2003 09:58 PM | TrackBack

Dear Elearning Expert,

Delphi Mehod Survey on Elearning Integration in Malaysian Polytechnics Education.

With reference to the above, I ask your cooperation to comment the proposal questionaire at the following website:

Thank you.

[email protected]

Posted by: Mohd Nor Ihkasan at April 27, 2003 08:56 PM

Dear eLearning Expert,

Delphi Method Survey on eLearning Integration in Malaysian Polytechnics Education.

With reference to the above, I ask your cooperation to comment the proposal questionaire at the following website:

Thank you.

[email protected]

Posted by: Mohd Nor Ihkasan at April 27, 2003 08:58 PM

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