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Predictions for 2010

By staff / January 2010

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At the start of each year, eLearn Magazine's contributors predict what changes are afoot for the coming 12 months. Here are our predictions for 2010.

Back to Basics
My prediction and hope for 2010 is that education will go back to basics: learning and mastering the skills of 1) how to learn, 2) reflection, and 3) digital literacy. With smart phones finally breaking the barriers of screen resolution and access, and social media connecting more people, knowing how to search for information and expertise and how to utilize them is necessary for all education, not just online. Just imagine the impact if all educators encouraged these skills in learners of all ages across all disciplines. I try to do that myself with my students in the classroom, and know I've been successful when they demonstrate their mastery.
—Lisa Gualtieri, eLearn Magazine editor-in-chief, and adjunct clinical professor at Tufts University School of Medicine

2010 will be the year the economic crisis hits the education sector as governments across the board address the deficits accumulated through 2009. Corporate e-learning will benefit a bit from the decrease in business travel. But otherwise, institutions will look to save money by shedding positions and increasing class sizes. At the same time, the demand for learning opportunities will increase, leading to a variety of commercially motivated online learning schemes from both the private sector and, increasingly, from traditional institutions. There will be a lot of support for lessons offered through the new proprietary e-reading and internet tablet platforms. It will be difficult to sell access simply to learning content, but 2010 will be the year of the synchronous online learning event, and a banner year for synchronous media and desktop conferencing generally.
—Stephen Downes, National Research Council of Canada

Mobile e-learning will go away. There is always the latest thing in e-learning that everyone must do. One of my least favorite of these is mobile e-learning. E-learning will not happen, at least not seriously, on mobile phones. Why not? Because it takes time to learn something. You have to really understand a situation. You have to practice a skill. You have to consider alternatives. You have to create deliverables. At least you do for the e-learning that I build. This takes time—a lot of time. It was seriously suggested recently in a full year all day every day course I was building, that we needed to make it available on mobile phones. I don't know about you, but staring at mobile phone for an hour makes my eyes hurt. Try doing it all day for a year. It makes no sense. We don't learn anything instantly. Real learning is not done on a train or a bus. The kinds of courses that can be delivered that way will be shown to not be particularly useful.
—Roger C. Schank, Socratic Arts Corp., and eLearn Magazine opinion columnist

Twitter Thrives, GoogleWave Languishes
Economic softness and greater familiarity nudges higher education institutions toward open source solutions, with at least one new major collaborative effort in community source development continuing the trend of Sakai and Kuali. New and improved products in the eReader space lead more colleges to experiment with eTextbooks. Kindle leads the special purpose devices, but an offering from Apple pushes the market towards general purpose computing devices with book-like form factors and multi-platform (phone, eReader, PC) delivery of materials. Twitter thrives; Wave languishes in techie backwaters.
—Mark Notess, development manager Indiana University

Wave Crests
Google Wave is already set to become a very popular tool this year, and I think it represents the way that tools are going to evolve in the near future, that is that the social functionality found in standalone tools is going to merge and become amalgamated into more integrated "learning" tools. Also I think (and hope) we will see learning systems moving away from managing or controlling users and instead providing open learning environments that enable both formal and informal personal and group learning to take place.
—Jane Hart, social learning consultant at Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

More Games, Fewer Books
In the realm of educational technology, first, educational games will increasingly appear in the market but to be effective they will need be based on clear instructional goals and research-based pedagogic methods. Second, textbooks and other commercially available course materials will increasingly migrate from print to electronic formats but to be effective they will need to use appropriate instructional methods and interfaces that take advantage of the new medium. Third, presentation software will increase in sophistication but to be effective slide presentations should be based on the science of learning and research-based principles of multimedia instructional design.
—Richard E. Mayer, professor of psychology at University of California-Santa Barbara

Move It or Lose It
This is the decade of time. Time-to-performance will become the dominant metric for learning. Businesses in 2010 will become faster-paced and more unpredictable. Quick and agile companies will overtake hide-bound traditional organizations. Speedy change requires rapid learning, workers will increasingly set the pace. Mobile, geo-aware, smart phones will provide performance support. We'll focus more on nurturing learning ecosystems ("learnscapes") than on finger-in-the-dike point solutions. As Elbert Hubbard warned, "The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it."
—Jay Cross, chairman of Internet Time Alliance

Students Outpace Teachers
Some key trends in Web technology for 2010 are moves towards semantic, real-time and/or social-based searches (supported by a combination of language, knowledge, Semantic Web, and online-data technologies). I've learned, however, through tracking this column the past few years, that online education lags behind these leading edges. So I predict in 2010 students will be using these more and more, especially coupled with Twitter, but that very few instructors will yet understand or use these technologies - in short the technology gap between the students and the eLearning world with respect to "new media" will widen greatly.
—Jim Hendler, tetherless world professor of computer and cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Design Before 'Cool'
2010 must be the year for Learning Design. We must take the "cool" technologies (gaming, social media, video connections) and do the hard work of designing learning methodologies that can cost effectively scale. Leave the hype and fascination about 2.0 or 3.0 and let's design! 2010 is also the year of the Story! Our learners want stories that have high credibility, actionable content and rich field context. Stories captured on video, stories shared in the classroom and stories embedded in our organization. Leaders (in person and virtual) will increase their storytelling, story gathering and yes, story listening skills in 2010.
—Elliott Masie, chair of The Learning Consortium, and CEO of The Masie Center

We know there is more e-learning, but it isn't what you expect. Is it lessons in a virtual classroom? PowerPoint slides with an audio track? Scenario-based e-programs? What of 2.0? After an opportunistic study of nearly 1,000 practitioners, Jim Marshall and I were surprised. Instructional design practices made a strong showing. Tutorials, scenario-based learning, and problem-solving strategies were popular. Testing online was most frequently reported. On the other hand, e-coaching and the use of mobile devices were rare. 2.0? Not much, not yet. For more on this, see forthcoming issue of T&D.
—Allison Rossett, San Diego State University

e-text Books (and periodicals)! 2010 will be to publishing what 1998 was to e-learning. The move from printed to digital content won't happen overnight, but could be rapid thanks to Apple's iSlate. For authors, it means adapting those online teaching and writing skills to text books and receiving payment through entirely different royalty structures. For publishers, life could resemble life for music companies after the iTunes store. For teachers, it means assembling books from articles, chapters, and other digital resources. And for students, e-books could mean significantly lower textbook costs (and fighting Facebook and chat temptations while studying).
—Saul Carliner, Concordia University

Social Learning Achieves Adulthood
It seems that almost every learning conference, during the previous year was centered around Web 2.0, social learning, and user-generated content; yet there still are only a handful of companies that have actually established social learning as a practice. We have some great examples from companies such as Sun Microsystems, Pfizer, Motorola University, and the Peace Corp on the benefits and results of collaborative learning, communities of practice, and informal knowledgebases. Based on the number of client requests alone, I predict that 2010 will be the year that we start to see some tactical movement toward "real" implementations at the enterprise level (still early adopter stage).
Bryan Chapman, chief learning strategist at Chapman Alliance

Corporate Giants Get Virtual Worlds
Virtual immersive environments (VIEs) for corporate use gains traction in 2010 with major announcements concerning integration with traditional enterprisewide software, such as MS SharePoint. Even though virtual worlds still are in the "trough of disillusionment" in the technology hype cycle. VIEs will pull out of the trough in fourth quarter 2010 as productive uses of these worlds begins to proliferate—fueled by breakthrough examples of productivity improvements. These implementations will capture the imagination of many and activity around VIEs increases. The VIE industry encounters a shake up of player consolidation, new player arrivals and existing players seizing larger market share.
—Karl M. Kapp, assistant director at the Institute for Interactive Technologies, and professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University, and co-author of Learning in 3D

Augmented Realtiy, Oh Yes, It's Coming
We will see more "platform as a service" (PaaS) solutions with further computing enhancements to support the "micro" movement. Aggregators, mobile support, and real-time collaboration will bring a new level of complexity to the increasingly distributed, knowledge-driven workplace. As we process more fragmented information and sources, content curators will be needed to support transfer of learning. Tight budgets and renewed fear of travel will bring more innovative blended learning solutions that include online presence support, 3-D immersive environments, and gaming solutions. "Rogue" will give way to acceptance as companies reconcile the privacy and productivity concerns associated with social media. As a result, we'll see the formation of richer online networks and communities. On the horizon ... augmented reality.
—Janet Clarey, Brandon Hall Research

Break Out!
I'm hoping this will be the "year of the breakthrough." Several technologies are poised to cross the chasm: social tools, mobile technologies, and virtual worlds. Each has reached critical mass in being realistically deployable and offers real benefits. And each complements a desired organizational breakthrough, recognizing the broader role of learning not just in execution, but in problem-solving, innovation, and more. I expect to see more inspired uses of technology to break out of the "course" mentality and start facilitating performance more broadly, as organizational structures move learning from "nice to have" to core infrastructure.
—Clark Quinn, executive director of Quinnovation

Gadgets Invited to Classrooms
In my opinion, 2010 will be the year of experimenting with Augmented Reality in the classroom using portable devices such as Smart mobile phones and Nintendo DS terminals, and exploring the potentials of this technology in teaching and learning. The pedagogical expectations of using such a technology in the classroom, will greatly impact students' learning and kick start a new learning experience!
—Hend S. Al-Khalifa, assistant professor, Information Technology Department at CCIS, King Saud University

The Collective
Cuts in public funding will create pressure for provision to be organized on a larger scale than individual schools, colleges, and universities can manage. There will be a resurgence of interest in interacting face-to-face. Web-accessing and location/context aware "always on" devices will continue to grow in importance as tools for learning, with designers adjusting (or not!) to the constraints of small screens, slow keyboards, and, for now, slow connections. Users will want to understand how what the "cloud" knows about them (location, search history, past interactions and so on) affects what they find in the cloud.
—Seb Schmoller, chief executive of the U.K.'s Association for Learning Technology

Army of One
The same three trends of 2009—connectivity, globalization, and DYI tools—will continue in 2010. Pervasive access to the Internet and connectivity will affect how training is designed, developed, and delivered. Connectivity will change who creates training and how it is consumed. Globalization and the 24/7 economy will shape how we operate by making trainers more reliant on global resources; shortening the time from concept to completion; and increasing dependency on DYI tools. These factors will drive trainers to assume new roles supporting subject matter experts, acting as an army-of-one, and piloting new strategies. The line between training and information will continue to blur, while SMEs and line of business will assume responsibility for creating and delivering materials.
—Margaret Driscoll, IBM, Business Process Delivery

Learning With a Capital L
In 2010 the learning focus will favor pedagogy over technology in innovative learning discussions. Distinctions between eLearning, TELearning, mLearning will fade and give rise to Learning. Augmented reality will be the technological rave, enabling us to use our mobile devices to get in-depth knowledge on a variety of topics (while standing in front of the Eiffel tower, for example, you could see on your mobile screen how Paris has changed over the years). Educational institutions will reinvent their curricula realigning them with the new learning possibilities, for example Quest to learn. Ubiquitous learning will flourish!
Ignatia "Inge" de Waard, e-learning coordinator and researcher at Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp

mLearning Strengthens in Developing Countries
The same old challenges will exist in the world of education. We sadly realize that the economic budget is getting smaller for the higher education institutes that are working harder than ever to dissipate its limited resources to learners. On the other hand, developed countries allocate huge amounts of their budget in order to increase their technological force over the less developed ones by defending technology that is believed to be the greatest opportunity. In this connection, mLearning can be a primary factor for effective learning for developing countries in due course.
—Ugur Demiray, editor-in-chief of the Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, Anadolu University

(Please Let's See Some Improvements?)
Instead of predicting what I want to happen and being disappointed, I'm going to predict what I don't want to happen, and then if (when) I'm wrong, I'll be very happy. People and organizations will continue to:

  1. think of "social learning" as something related to technology
  2. confuse learning, training and education
  3. "design" by using 50 year-old models, based on largely unexamined science and bereft of any modern, interdisciplinary context
  4. think of virtual worlds as ways to design virtual classrooms and wonder why people hate them (see recreation of "next" button)
—Mark Oehlert, innovation evangelist and project manager for advanced technology at Defense Acquisition University

Lesson Plans for Sale!
High school teachers will discover scalability of the web and increasingly offer (both for sale or for free) lesson plans for their classes. Market forces based on quality more than price will then facilitate expansion of best-practice lesson plans throughout many dispersed high schools, first in the U.S., and eventually worldwide. This will be an essential step in lifting secondary school teaching from a 19th Century craft industry to a 21st Century knowledge-shared industry.
—Richard C. Larson, Mitsui Professor of engineering systems, Massauchessets Institute of Technology

Moving Pictures
Higher education and corporate training will continue to develop interesting and effective ways to incorporate video (meaning real, NTSC video rather than screencast "videos") into LMS-based e-learning. Teachers and trainers will become more aware of when and how to use "cool" social media video aesthetics and when and how to use "credible" traditional video aesthetics.
—Peter J. Fadde, associate professor of ?nstructional technology and ?nstructional design, Southern Illinois University

Users Trump Designers
I've been a broken record on the subject of user-centricity for the past 10 years, but in 2010 the tectonic plates are finally beginning to move. The intelligence of the users—individually and collectively—trumps the intelligence of the designer. Online learning will become much more adaptive and collaborative, more dynamic and less static in design, leveraging and activating the collective intellectual capital of the organization. Semantic technologies, taxonomies and ontologies will become critically important as filters for user-directed learning that bends time and space, allowing the learner to assemble needed knowledge, data, tools and ideas in real time. "Expertise" will extend beyond the individual to the group, from something one has, to something one uses. This shift impacts the design of online solutions more than any time in the past.
—Jonathon Levy, president and chief strategy officer at LeveragePoint Innovations

New Mode for 'Learning'
The increasing awareness that learning is the result of experiences, practice, conversations, and reflection rather than a demonstration of acquisition of information will mean focus and effort moves away from the development of structured learning content and towards the implementation of new approaches for facilitating interaction and experiences through learning in the workplace. This will challenge training and L&D departments to the limit, who will realize they need to change their modus operandi, get closer to their stakeholders and become more responsive or cease to be relevant. Speed-to-competence will become the key driver.
—Charles Jennings, director of the Internet Time Alliance and Duntroon Associates

More Open Source
International economy downsizing will foster the adoption and use of open source platforms and open content from public bodies. With respect to the installed basis of proprietary systems, these will be enhanced with talent management and informal learning capabilities. Increased availability of cultural digital content will facilitate the creation and sharing of school-level education material, accompanied with user-generated content. This will be based on raw content, which will serve as the basis for commenting, discussing and evaluating the original resources, or as the launching pad for the creation of learning communities accompanied with appropriate educational activities. Additionally, the proliferation of open-source vertical and horizontal social applications will facilitate the formation of informal learning networks, and foster the creation of resource-based (learning) initiatives. Last, the wide adoption of game consoles will allow and motivate the creation of learning-oriented games for the family.
—Spiros Borotis and Angeliki Poulymenakou, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece

Organizations implemented e-learning methodologies will look into both tangible and intangible return on investment.
—Badrul Khan, president and founder of McWeadon Education


  • Mon, 08 Mar 2010
    Post by Claudia Escribano

    Based on what Ive seen in various blogs and publications, I predict that we will see greater integration of social media into blended learning and e-learning products. Also, this adoption of technology will continue the move away from event-based learning toward more just-in-time learning. Learning professionals need to broaden their skill set to include an understanding of all the new technologies and how they can be used to help people perform more effectively.

  • Wed, 10 Feb 2010
    Post by Mari Cruz Garcia

    I haven't read in any of the predictions that IT infrastructures will improve, in particular in rural areas. This is one of the great problems we encounter those who want to promote elearning and learning technologies in non-urban areas. I am not talking about South America, by the way, but in Europe, in particular Scotland and England, where I live.

    Before the so called "liberalization" process, telecommunications infrastructures were considered public utilities, like water or electricity in Europe. There was the "Universal Service Obligation", a legal provision through which the historical telecom operator in the country was committed to bring the telecom services- that is, "wiring- to the whole country. After the liberalization of telecommunications in the UK in the 80s, and in Europe, in the 90s, it is left to the market forces to fulfill that universal service obligation. No commercial operator wants to upgrade the IT infrastructures of rural areas -upgrading to ADSL-II-, as this is not profitable.

    We need a social legislation in Europe that guarantee the provision of broadband internet in rural areas. Otherwise, we will have fractured societies, divided in "have's" and "have's not", those who will have effective access to elearning and technology and those who don't. This is against the principles of Europe, cradle of Democracy: Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

  • Thu, 21 Jan 2010
    Post by Sue Landay

    I see the lines dividing classroom trainers from e-trainers continuing to fade. E-learning tools, which have been so accessible in large companies with substantial IT departments, will be more available to face-to-face trainers who use online experiences to enhance and reinforce live classroom time.

  • Wed, 20 Jan 2010

    Dr. Schank - I have followed you and your career for years and I have immensely benefited from your body of knowledge. I am curious, however, about your bye, bye phone prediction for 2010. While I agree in someways (yet not in others) that a full blown training program may not best be delivered via mobile features or applications, I strongly feel that mobile devices hold incredible promise for learning and will only increase in the future. The traditional training paradigm of larger/longer scale design for learning has been engaged in a renaissance for sometime - in saying this I am thinking of re-useable learning objects, simulations, storytelling, game theory, virtual worlds, etc - major premises that can enable a strong mobile learning platform, paradigm, and adaptation.

    One of the greatest benefits I see of mobile devices (and I hope there will be many) is the push of learning information as needed or the pull of information as wanted - not to mention the simultaneous usage of features on today's equipment (think AT&T and Apple's ability to talk and use apps at the same time). The connectedness to corporate systems/innovative design approaches and the creative implications of the larger learning outcome(s) to a mobile event is what will make this either a smooth learning experience or a disastrous one. I'm a bit more optimistic.

    I can't help but also think about how opinion was similar about CBT/WBT to what now is "eLearning"- once upon a time.


  • Mon, 18 Jan 2010
    Post by Ran Hinrichs

    Avatars live in borderless communities and sovereignty is being challenged today because of virtual worlds. What are the rights and responsibilities of the avatar? Who decides the roles and privileges? How will avatars continue to maintain their freedoms across virtual entities? In 2010, we will see the emergence of a political body in virtual space that will work virtually, govern virtually, collaborate virtually and do so in spaces that are designed by the people and for the people. Virtual worlds will create countries without borders, in which the culture and laws find governance in a third place.

  • Tue, 12 Jan 2010
    Post by Thomsa hoyle

    I'm a big believer in "Users Trump Designers" and "New Mode for Learning". social networks + mobile access + generation shift create the perfect opportunity for customized learning, driven by the user. It seems the differentiator won't be expertise anymore, but will be delivery method and the ability for content to fit the method.

  • Mon, 11 Jan 2010
    Post by Chis van der Craats

    "a banner year for synchronous media and desktop conferencing generally." Stephen you said that last year and I am sure it will come about - even if you have to say it again next year. The technology is swift and people are often enough connected now.But is it an ideal?

  • Sun, 10 Jan 2010
    Post by Mark Smithers

    We will see the rise of open, cloud based LMS/VLEs that will allow students and teachers to crowd-source, crowd-curate, crowd-contextualise and filter appropriate open education resources. I hope this will mean big improvements in the level of reuse of oer content and a reduction in wheel reinventing.

  • Sat, 09 Jan 2010
    Post by Peter Shea

    The crisis in student retention will force more schools to experiment with electronic learning tools in order to connect with the millennial generation's interactive learning styles.

  • Fri, 08 Jan 2010
    Post by Lee G.

    How can you say its going to go away from the phone, especially with the iPhone and Android-based phones that allow for simulations and interactivity that couldn't be done before?

    Maybe it is just my age group (under 30), but I find that I'm constant using my iPhone for on-demand learning, whether it be to Google something, access a video tutorial (like, get my RSS feeds, etc...

    I think mLearning is just in its infancy and we will continue to see it grow.

    Just my $0.02. Cheers!

  • Tue, 30 Dec 2008
    Post by Kim

    Ed I agree with you. I watched many professional people inflict fear and violence during that error in the Civil Rights Movement WHO HAS NEVER been held accountable for their actions and had held public positions. The 60s was a very radical and emotional time. He has proven himself since then to be an outstanding educator Let him speak, you don''t want to hear what he has to say move on.

  • Wed, 29 Oct 2008
    Post by Ed Duffy

    Unfortunately, I think fear will stop people from doing anything in this "free" country of ours today whether it''s put money in the stock market, give a speaking engagement, or vote for a black man for president. It''s too bad we can''t actually have a "free" debate of ideas without people being labeled a terrorist, unAmerican, and so on. Bill Ayers was a 60s radical right or wrong, but he never killed anybody or was ever convicted of being a terrorist. It''s time for a change. Are we going to start burning books next?

  • Tue, 28 Oct 2008
    Post by Bruce

    The face of terrorism is multi-faceted. To dissent is one thing. To advocate murder is quite another. NO NO NO! Would Ms. Gualtieri also advocate a discussion of comic therapy given by John Wayne Gacy? Or political volunteer work by Ted Bundy? The "curiosity" benefit is akin to demented carnival sideshow.