Learning in 2010

(published January, 2010: Chief Learning Officer Magazine)

As we head into 2010, many, if not most, in the learning and development community are anticipating at least some level of change. Here, I present a list of predictions for the world of learning in 2010 — a combination of actual trends that we are tracking at The Masie Center as well as some early data points that could affect learning’s impact.

Compliance weariness, push back and alternatives: For the past three years, we have tracked the growth of compliance-driven learning. In many organizations, almost 70 percent of all e-learning offered is for compliance rather than performance and development purposes. We are beginning to track a push back from large organizations, especially when they consider the total wage and motivational cost of so much compliance-driven e-learning. Organizations are starting to resist and consider alternatives, including sampling worker compliance, continuous micro-testing to surface compliance vulnerabilities, and better integration of compliance elements in performance-enhancing activities. Watch for a large number to surface with regard to the total cost of organizational compliance training in 2010.

Designable and actionable social networks: Right now, most social networks — either at work or in our personal lives — are places to visit, interact or just gawk. But most social networks do not allow instructional designers to design an actionable request. For example, if I am building a management development program, could I configure the social network to require that each learner have an in-depth conversation with a peer in the organization who meets key criteria? Could I design a collaborative project that would leverage an internal social platform, like SharePoint, and structure the action in a visual format?

Video annotation and editing made simple: As we grow the use of YouTube-like video, demand for simple editing and, more importantly, annotation of video will rise. So, if I take a video of how to load paper into the copy machine, how could I easily add a comment and even a big white arrow pointing to the button that needs to be pushed? Most workers are not going to learn in-depth or complicated video editing programs; therefore, you will see at least two Web-based, online video editing sites become popular in 2010. They will have a range of templates and even allow for multiple annotations in different languages. Also, watch for a beta version of a video-to-text auto transcription capacity pop up in one of these services.

Skype, Google and Microsoft video come to work: Currently, millions of people are using platforms like Skype to chat with their friends, family or colleagues around the world. Still, simple desktop video has not really taken hold in the workplace. IT groups don’t want to see it waste bandwidth, and legal groups wonder if they need to store video chats for future lawsuits. But just as the use of color monitors and speakers started at home and then invaded the office, watch for the rise of desktop videoconferencing using tools like Skype, Google or Microsoft in the enterprise.

Project-based learning grows: Watch for organizations to increase their use of structured projects for learning. Instead of registering for an instructor-led class to hear a lecture or take an e-learning module, project-based learning models assign “stretch” projects to workers for the purpose of learning. They may be asked to do such projects independently or in small groups. Learning resources are suggested, and the learner or group has access to subject-matter experts for assistance, perspective and feedback, but the focus is on doing the project. Projects can be real work or simulated tasks, both of which give learners the ability to immerse in work as they learn.

New, thinner, cloud-based learning systems: We are seeing early signals about new learning systems — LMS and LCMS — that may be headed to the market or to the open source world in late 2010. These systems are slim in size, located in the computing cloud and more focused on learners who engage in social, mobile and contextual learning. One of the ventures is based in Asia and the other is coming out of a higher education project. Interestingly, both see themselves as systems that could be deployed by small workgroups, individuals or enterprises. I give them about a 40 to 60 percent chance of making it to market.