ACM Logo  An ACM Publication  |  CONTRIBUTE  |  FOLLOW    

Predictions for e-Learning in 2011

By eLearn Magazine staff and contributors / January 2011

Print Email
Comments (1) Instapaper

At the start of each year, eLearn Magazine's editors, advisory board members, and other contributors predict what changes are afoot for the coming 12 months. Here are our predictions for 2011.

The Rise of Curation

The massive amount of information online needs better curation so that more people benefit from it. You know what I mean if you ever tried to benefit from a conference or course remotely by reading the Twitter stream. Just like teachers curate to provide a cohesive view of a topic, more curating is needed to help students learn.

With the increased use of technology in all education and training and the increased use of mobile phones globally, it makes less sense than ever to talk about e-learning and m-learning. (In fact, eLearn Magazine might need a new name.)

Lisa Gualtieri, eLearn Magazine editor-in-chief, and adjunct clinical professor at Tufts University School of Medicine [Twitter: @lisagualtieri]

Change One Teacher at a Time

2011 will see more progress, albeit at a leisurely pace, of new technologies in the classroom. However, the changes will seem grassroots, coming from the fresh college graduates, who are now digital natives, as they become the teachers of tomorrow. The tools won't be purchased or sanctioned formally by administrators, and will be the everyday devices and software carried by students and teachers alike, integrated seamlessly, finally treated more like books and pencils than toys.

Jill Duffy, formerly senior editor at eLearn Magazine, writer and editor covering technology in New York [Twitter @jilleduffy]

Working and Learning Merge!

Learning integrated into work has been shunted into a siding for at least the past 100 years as training systems mirrored industrial efficiency models. We're now returning to better ways of building capability—learning in context and learning through experience, practice, conversation and reflection. The artificial context of the classroom and eLearning course will be seen as a poor substitute for the context of real work. Sometimes workplace learning solutions will use technology, sometimes not.

Charles Jennings, Duntroon Associates and Internet Time Alliance

Death of 'You Will Need it Later'

Education is dominated by the idea that learning means acquiring knowledge that will be "needed later." Often later never comes, or, it comes after the knowledge has been long forgotten. 2011 will be beginning of the end of the "you will need it later" model in e-learning. It is time to return to the "just in time" model that is the basis of apprenticeship and good parenting. E-learning will lead the way.

Roger C. Schank of Socratic Arts, and opinion columnist for eLearn Magazine

Networked Learning

As speed and complexity in the workplace increase and the jobless recovery continues, informal learning will rise in importance, especially personally directed professional development. More people will create their personal learning networks, while snake oil salesmen will attempt to put this in an attractive box and sell it to unsuspecting organizations. Plus ça change...

Harold Jarche, principal at Internet Time Alliance

Going Deeper

I think we'll see some important, but subtle, trends. Deeper uses of technology are going to surface: more data-driven interactions, complemented by both more structured content and more semantics. These trends are precursors to some very interesting nascent capabilities, essentially web 3.0: system-generated content. I also think we'll see the further demise of courses über alles and the "all-singing all-dancing" solution, and movement towards performance support and learning facilitation driven via federated capabilities.

Clark Quinn of Quinnovation and the Internet Time Alliance, and advisory board member for eLearn Magazine

e-Learning for the Right Reasons, Please!

For what feels like forever, the shift to e-Learning has been driven by cost reduction. In 2011 let's do it for substantive purposes: to move learning, information and support into the workplace or wherever they will be needed and used; to deliver on demand; to encourage conversations and community; to enable many perspectives and tons of practice; to distribute expertise; to engage and immerse; and to measure and provide transparency into results and progress.

Allison Rossett, Professor Emerita of Educational Technology at San Diego State University, and advisory board member for eLearn Magazine [Twitter @arossett]

Three Training Technology Predications

Three predictions: 1) Dramatic increase in gamification of learning and instruction. More game elements—time, accuracy and point systems integrated into all types of training programs encouraging employees to achieve desired goals. 2) In social media more organizations implementing draconian policies and procedures limiting the use of social media in collaboration and work contexts. 3) Killer augmented realty app will be developed for one or two limited but powerful learning related activities.

Karl Kapp, Professor of Instructional Technology, Bloomsburg University, and advisory board member for eLearn Magazine

Continued Strength in the Workplace

For workplace e-learning: 1) What's hot? Informal learning and apps for the iPad and similar tablets. 2) What's challenging? Managers will increasingly wonder whether e-learning programs represent the best investment of their funds. Customizing off-the-shelf programs and moving from sophisticated tier 3 to simpler tier 1 and 2 programs will look increasingly attractive. 3) Length? The trend will be toward shorter programs. 4) Resistance will continue to whither. e-Learning is accepted part of the regime.

Saul Carliner, Concordia University, and advisory board member for eLearn Magazine

Expertise, Niche Products, and Innovation in Live Online Training

Virtual classroom tools haven't changed much over the past several years. That will change. Personal videoconferencing, telepresence technologies, tablets, and integration with existing systems will drive innovation in this area. We'll see a flood of enterprise-level mobile apps developed. More outsourcing, especially to niche providers, will lead to more internal vendor management. We'll see more stand-alone and integrated collaborative platforms designed to capture expert knowledge. On the horizon: alternate reality games and other social gaming.

Janet Clarey, Independent Analyst, Technology Editor at Elearning! Media Group, and advisory board member for eLearn Magazine

Learners as Designers, Learning Apps & Video Galore!

In 2011, we will see three major learning evolutions: 1) Learners as designers. Learners will be more involved and engaged in the design of their own knowledge and skill acquisition. 2) Learning apps. We will see a shift towards small, simple, cheap and rapidly upgraded learning apps. 3) Video galore. Video for learning will continue to grow in two directions—live video (video chat, desktop video, Skype and video-accessed expertise) and on-demand video stories.

Elliott Masie, Chair of the Learning CONSORTIUM @ The MASIE Center

Status Updates within Blackborg

Eager to jump on the social media bandwagon, several major learning management companies will release or announce new versions that allow all users to post status updates in all the courses under that system umbrella. None of these systems will allow the user to also simultaneously post the updates in any media stream outside the LMS. As a result, we will all still be unhappy with our chosen corporate learning management system.

Maria H. Andersen, Learning Futurist for The LIFT Institute at Muskegon Community College and Higher Education Editor for eLearn Magazine

Learning in the Cloud

Technology is changing so fast, so do cloud computing. Many e-learning applications will be placed in the cloud, e-learning content will be shared in the cloud and e-learning services will be operated from the cloud. So cloud computing is here to stay!

Hend S. Al-Khalifa, King Saud University, and advisory board member for eLearn Magazine

Uncovering the Unknown with the iPad

As the iPad becomes more popular, I predict that more time will be spent trying to uncover how e-learning will be impacted by this new technology. How might online courses need to be modified to take into account the many ways in which students are now attempting to access these courses and interact with content? How might teachers need to change their ways of teaching to accommodate learners who are using various new technologies?

Michelle Everson, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota, and eLearn Magazine opinion columnist

Learning Management System App Stores

The availability of web service standards will mark a turning point as one or more LMS/CMS vendors develop an "app store" model for delivering new functionality to their systems. This model will move the traditional LMS from attempting to be an "all-in-one" solution to extensible platforms providing data and analytics. Third-party vendors and even individual programmers will be able to create apps that are extensions to an LMS and easily sell them directly to customers.

Rovy F. Branon, Associate Dean of Online Learning, University of Wisconsin-Extension, and eLearn Magazine advisory board member [Twitter @rovybranon]

Apps, Not Courses

Apps (with a lower cost of ownership, higher rate of experimentation and continuous rather than disruptive updates) will replace e-learning courses. Years ago, there was a view that eLearning gave learners control of learning, and e-learning's availability and flexibility empowered people to learn what they wanted, as and when they wanted and where they wanted. The arrival of mobile devices and, with them, apps will make yesterday's dream (or, if you're cynical, hype) reality.

Bob Little, Senior Partner at Bob Little Press & PR [Twitter @BobLittlePR]

Sharing is Better Defined and More Sustainable

The Open Education Resources movement will stumble (but not fail) as it comes to terms with the profound differences between collaborative production of Open Source software and collaborative production of open content more generally. Uptake of (and understanding of the need for) services that support persistent referencing of resources on the Web will grow. Universities and colleges will start to make substantial progress in their routine use of shared services.

Seb Schmoller, Chief Executive of Association for Learning Technology U.K.

Open Government Data

A few ambitious educators start to venture into exploring all the free and open government data available at sites like Their students start learning civics by creating new and useful infographics, the best of which get noticed by the Open Government sites and mentioned on the White House blog. Most teachers, however, dismiss this as too geeky and miss out on the chance to allow their students this hands-on learning opportunity.

James Hendler, Tetherless World Chair of Computer, Cognitive and Web Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [Twitter @jahendler]

Pedagogy Guides Technology, Not Vice Versa

First, there will be an increased interest in teaching and learning theory that must guide the choice of technologies used in e-learning. It's pedagogy that guides technology in e learning, not vice versa! Second, we'll see an increase in courses that blend traditional learning with e-learning components, and an increase in stand-alone online learning in academia, business, and government worldwide. Third, there will be increased concerns for the accreditation of e-learning offerings from academic institutions.

Badrul Khan, Ph.D., Founder and President, McWeadon Education

Blending Live: Online and In Class

Higher education will increasingly use electronic meeting applications such as Adobe Connect Pro to blend in-class and online learners in Live Virtual Classrooms. Blackboard's acquisition of Wimba and Elluminate! surely signals that synchronous eLearning is seen as a way for colleges and universities to reach more students without losing the learning élan of the classroom.

Peter J. Fadde, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University

Share and Share-Alike

Stretched to the limits by local budgetary constraints, teachers in k-12 schools will seek means of sharing lesson plans. No need for each teacher to recreate every wheel! Experts in one topic will share their lesson plans, and borrow lesson plans from others who are expert in different content. This process will be web-facilitated by OER (Open Educational Resources) repositories operating under Creative Commons "Share-Alike" licenses. We can all learn and teach from each other.

Richard C. Larson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Science of e-Learning

The science of e-learning will continue to develop, including new research evidence on the effectiveness of instructional features that affect learning with serious games, online pedagogical agents, and hand-held devices.

Richard E. Mayer, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, author of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition, and co-author of e-Learning and the Science of Learning, Second Edition

Situated Learning

Learning is ubiquitous (look at all the mobiles and touch pads!). Augmented reality moves towards augmented learning with easy tools: Wikitude, Layar, ARToolKit... Situated learning (learning within context in a community of practice) grows thanks to augmented mobile reality. Educational institutes don't only think on how to change, they actually change. Virtual classrooms and smart-boards are used in a more student-centered way (not putting all the attention to one person up-front=bad).

Ignatia Inge de Waard, Institute of Tropical Medicine

Monster Mash-up

As the economy picks up steam we will see increasing integration of learning applications with the workflow, which means data, tools, and collaborative software, all in context, focused on the task at hand. Instead of separate e-learning applications, we will see increasing blending of needed capabilities and skills within the performance tools required to do the job. Intellectual capital will be identified and directed—in bits—to people who need it, as and when required.

Jonathon Levy, Chief Strategy Officer, LeveragePoint Innovations Inc. [LinkedIn: Jonathon Levy]


  • Wed, 12 Jan 2011
    Post by Thomas Jenewein

    Sustainability: at least I wish that this Megatrend influences Learning - in all facets, e.g. is the companys learning approach and offering sustainable in the 3 dimensions 1 social/ pedagogic; 2 impact on the environment (less binders, flights etc.), 3 business Much has said on Mobility, Tablets, Social Media, Video - so i do not detail that Another Trend will be the Transformation of the Learning function as it sooner or later is a must to expand from trainers, LMS-admins or Instructional designers to community facilitators & performance consultants. The discussion is already older - but in real live I can not see it implemented broadly at least in larger corporations