eLearning Tech and Trends for 2015

There are a few articles out there each year predicting what the hot topics will be (for a variety of things) in the New Year…so we’ll jump on that bandwagon.

SCORM, xAPI, LTI, CMI-5

SCORM will continue to be popular, it’s still far too entrenched. xAPI (TinCan) will grow as more vendors integrate the technology into their products and the general understanding grows. LTI *should* continue to grow, especially since academics tend to move slowly, but I’m not sure how much momentum it has. CMI-5 will be an interesting to watch with the move to ADL. I don’t see that moving forward much in the next year (but I’ve not explored their roadmap). One potential issue I’m surprised not to see more concern about is privacy in relation to xAPI. Anything can be tracked? Anytime? Do the users KNOW that? Remember the furor over cookies, which are not even centralized…

Authoring

Captivate and Storyline will continue to dominate. Watch for Lectora to push harder to re-assert their product. Lesser-known tools like iSpring, Brainshark, Claro, SmartBuilder, and even ZebraZapps will grow as more folks look for tools to enable self-production.  With Microsoft Mix, PowerPoint may enjoy even more growth as an eLearning dev tool. Camtasia should retain a solid position as well. Those tools that can really improve upon Responsive Design delivery and significant cross-platform compatibility will have a strong advantage.
Reference sites like eLearning Brothers and online tools like PowToon will also grow and see more demand.

Video

Use of video to deliver eLearning will surge due to improved tools, increased bandwidth at less cost, more self-production capabilities, and a strong implementation of video streaming services. Video is a proven and engaging medium for training and education, as the rise of MOOCs illustrates. The ideal methods of implementing and delivering video for such purposes should be further refined in the coming year. I see a big move to backend streaming implementations, whether implemented by institution/company or larger use of third-party sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Watch Facebook’s move into this space…though perhaps not so much eLearning-focused…yet. The more ‘analytics’ a platform offers, the stronger the candidate (even if reports are never actually run).

Big Data

Data is great to help assess a variety of factors in eLearning. However, I don’t see it as big a force in eLearning as it is in, say, marketing. SCORM has provided pretty decent reporting options for years…but now many folks actually delve into that data? Most customers seem to feel long as the course is ‘passed’ within a certain timeframe and interaction responses can be recorded (are they ever examined?), that’s Good Enough. But maybe there’s more potential to Big Data than I’m seeing.

Platforms

First, the LMS is not dead…and if it’s dying, it’ll be a very slooow demise. How LMS products function, their features, and the specs they support will certainly change! But for a vast majority of organizations, some sort of System has to Manage the Learning. Sure, wide-open social networks can be great for learning stuff…but they’re also wide-open. ‘Management’ will never be pulled from ‘Learning completely. xAPI’s ability to keep tracking out of a restrictive LMS environment and into a more open ‘LRS’ environment is great…but there still needs to be some sort of ‘LMS’ in front for those simple-but-critical reports and user management, if nothing else.

Social Learning Platforms, taking Facebook as a prime example, may do very well in the eLearning space, but I don’t see much niche focus from those companies. Google could crush with a true LMS…but best they’ve done is OpenClass, which seems very much a half-hearted approach. However, services like YuJa may make a strong appearance over the next year if they can keep QoS up and prices reasonable.

In 2010, Bill Gates said “Five years from now, on the Web for free, you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.” Well, he’s got one more year to be proven correct! I don’t believe Mr. Gates was talking specifically about MOOCs, but they’re certainly part of that prediction. Are they ‘all that’? Well…there’s a place for them but I think predictions (not just by Bill) that they’ll make classrooms irrelevant is a bit (a lot) short-sighted. Maybe in a decade, if MOOCs can master interaction, user-engagement, and outcomes, they’ll be a more viable replacement for more traditional and/or online learning approaches. CodeCademy is probably at the forefront of that movement.

Other Strategies

Game-based learning (“Serious Games”) is a neat idea, and surely helps learning overall (if well designed, but that’s true for any approach)…but is expensive. There are a few companies specializing in such development (i.e. BreakAway, Designing Digitally, Virtual Heros) but I’d bet none work on projects with budgets under $100k. It’s a worthy movement but one that will take more than another year to become feasible for the masses. Gamification, on the other hand, is affordable now…it just takes insightful instructional design to develop well. Gamification will continue to trend up, but hopefully beyond simple leaderboards and meaningless badges (one trick is for the LMS to integrate such features, so OpenBadges can be obtained in-course and in the LMS/OpenBadges repository).

Virtual Worlds are on every year’s list, though not as much as they were a couple years ago. I never saw much advantage to Virtual Worlds for most eLearning situations…and I don’t think there will be much revolution in that space in 2015 either. What’s the Real and Measurable benefit (esp. in relation to cost). Now, technologies from Oculus Rift to Google Cardboard may help break ‘virtual worlds’ into a more wider audience for learning…but I still think that’s easily more than a year away.

This is pretty long, so let’s wrap it up…

Problem-Based Learning? Great strategy. Let’s get to it.

QR Codes? Neat! Past their prime? I don’t know… I’d still like my newspaper to use them so I could checkout the website of a local weekend event and put it on my phone’s calendar…but I probably wouldn’t do that all that often…or maybe I would, if there were QR codes in my newspaper.
I guess that’s not really eLearning related though…

Kinect (and other motion-based sensors): Cool stuff. Open up the platform even more, make a smaller ‘x-box’ that can be licensed cheaply, mesh it with Google Cardboard, and let’s get some cool, affordable 3D simulators available to the online student. For example, would you feel more comfortable with a Nurse who earned their degree in traditional classrooms or online? Would it make more of a difference if the online learner had access to a 3D environment? May.be.

Oh, and yes, Mobile Learning will continue to grow and be a general pain-in-the-butt to develop for, but it’s a worthwhile expansion of eLearning – of course. In fact, if anything really should come about to realize its promise this year, it ought to be mobile learning. Let’s see if the tool makers and project designers can make it happen.

Happy Holidays to all and the best of the New Year!

 

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2 thoughts on “eLearning Tech and Trends for 2015

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