Staying on the cutting edge

It’s possible that you know what you’re doing. You have a firm grasp of the tools you use to build e-learning and you know how to design just the right solutions for today's learners.

But right now is but a brief moment of time in an ever-changing technological landscape. We’ve seen some big shifts in the e-learning world in the past ten years. I mean, c’mon – it wasn’t even called e-learning until, when? 1997-ish, right? What’s coming and how should you – a learning professional – prepare yourself for the road ahead? This top tip will help you stay ahead of the curve.

In the mid-90s, some of us were creating CBTs. LaserDiscs had morphed into CD-ROMs. The model was: Instruct, Demo, Practice, Assess. Talking head video screen left. Animated text bullet screen right.

That was then. But what tools are you going to be using tomorrow? How will learners in five years – let alone twenty – expect to learn? What kind of e-learning will you be designing? Will it even be called e-learning?

It’s hard to say exactly. We don’t have a crystal ball. But we do keep our eye on the hype curves and what’s coming. Our top tip for this week is to stay ahead of the curve. Keep an eye on the future – because the tools you'll use to do your job will be different.

A few years ago, mobile learning seemed like it was a false vision that would never happen. But now we’re on the crest of a tipping point. Our clients are starting to ask for mobile learning applications. Are you working in mobile yet? If not, you might be soon.

Take a look at the Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies for 2009 published by Gartner.

  • What’s on the rise? Human augmentation? Maybe we don’t have to worry about that one for awhile yet. But check out internet TV,3-D printing and augmented reality – not that far off.
  • What’s at the peak? Cloud computing and e-book readers, like the Kindle that guy next to you on the plane had last week.
  • What’s on the descent, about to plunge into the Trough of Disillusionment before it goes back up for mainstream adoption? Microblogging sites (aka Twitter and Yammer) – seems like last Tuesday they were on the rise.

You don’t have to go out and become an innovator or even an early adopter, but we do think it’s important to know what’s coming. Whether you can believe it or not, some of these new technologies will become mainstream. And they will change how we do our work and deliver learning solutions.

Our top tip is to take on board at least one new idea every week, even if you don't know how you're going to apply it yet. Let it sit with you and find its way into your design ideas. None of these ideas may look like they relate to e-learning yet, but neither did mobile phones five years ago. So stay sharp and keep sharing your ideas with us too – and we'll do the same.

Source: Gartner's 2009 Hype Cycle Special Report Evaluates Maturity of 1,650 Technologies