Top Ten Trends In eLearning
Based on research from the Gartner Group, the University of Pennsylvania, and other prestigious think tanks, we can identify ten vital trends that will influence the growth of eLearning over the next ten years:
1. ASPs offer more quick start options.
Governments, companies, and learning institutions that don't want to reinvent the wheel can lease or purchase turnkey Application Service Provider (ASP) eLearning systems. As eLearning processes become more standardized, clients benefit from shared research and development expenses, lower costs, and fast deployment. Even organizations on low budgets can implement open source eLearning platforms like Moodle on third party servers in a matter of hours.
2. Companies integrate eLearning into their infrastructure
As more organizations deploy departmental or company-wide intranets to increase communication and productivity, savvy managers use the same tools to release eLearning programs into the wild. Professional development directors can easily integrate learning modules into staff communications, while human resources directors can add similar tools to web-based benefits and payroll systems. Not only does this emphasis on learning encourage workers to participate in more training, the modular nature of eLearning content allows employees to learn at their desks in smaller chunks.
3. Churning skill sets require eLearning initiatives
With job descriptions and daily tasks evolving faster than schools can produce qualified job candidates, many employers rely on constant, on-the-job training to remain competitive. eLearning programs help companies push new skills and critical improvements to line-level staff members quickly and efficiently, without the lag time of classroom or retreat-based training.
4. eLearning cuts the cost of high quality content
Ivy League institutions like the University of Pennsylvania once traded on their exclusivity to justify the high cost of enrollment. Today, even the Wharton School of Business understands the value of repurposing classroom content for distance learners around the country. By developing classrooms without walls, eLearning programs can reduce the costs of participation without negatively affecting the compensation for renowned lecturers, researchers, and presenters.
5. eLearning levels professional playing field globally
Workers in niche industries once had to travel to specialized learning centers to discover the best practices in their field. Today, eLearning connects students in rural communities to urban experts, and vice versa. We are only starting to see the effects that quality education is having on business and industry in developing countries. Likewise, small businesses can access the same caliber of high-level information and insight that was once only available to Fortune 500 companies with large human resource budgets.
6. Gamers bring interactive skills to eLearning
Human beings love to learn through experience. Many eLearning providers have discovered that they can use video game technology to develop fun, engaging, and effective simulations. Industrial employers can train workers to handle sophisticated tasks without risking injury or production quality. Other types of teams can grow skills and learn best practices by participating in simulated quiz shows or treasure hunts. Fun eLearning programs help boost staff morale while reducing the time it takes for team members to integrate new skills and ideas.
7. Governments deploy eLearning at all levels
In addition to the obvious business uses for eLearning, governments around the world have discovered that eLearning programs can dramatically improve the quality of life for citizens while reducing the financial burden on taxpayers. Local schools in underserved rural areas or dangerous urban neighborhoods can rely on eLearning to offset the lack of skilled teachers in their districts. State university systems can keep talented students from crossing borders by importing highly specialized programs from other schools. Governments in developing countries have invested heavily in eLearning programs to build eager, talented, work forces.
8. Partners use eLearning to get on the same page sooner
As conglomerates un-bundle themselves into smaller, more tightly focused companies, the connections between these operating units determine the success or failure of projects and products. Strong eLearning systems allow team members at collaborating companies to understand shared objectives. Workers can quickly learn about the inner workings of technologies and techniques. As a result, outsourced call centers and repair facilities can serve customers transparently, while parts manufacturers can respond to end user demand with dramatic turnaround time.
9. Wireless helps eLearning initiatives "cut the cord."
Until distance learning programs brought specialized skills and best practices to far-flung corners of the world, professionals often had to travel to urban centers to benefit from innovative research. Today's wireless technology allows educators and development specialists to reach even further into rural areas, farms, deserts, and rainforests. With radio, satellite, and Wi-Fi signals beaming two-way information from distant locales, people can participate in an almost endless array of learning opportunities.
10. eLearning's Movers and Shakers.
Brian Alger wrote "The Experience Designer," one of the first comprehensive guides to modern eLearning, in 2002. Alger explores the connections between the way we learn through storytelling and experience and the kinds of technologies we can use to emulate the learning process online. To keep readers and colleagues up to date on current developments in eLearning research, Alger posts new findings and links to his Experience Designer Network weblog.