Making Learning Broadly Available

A post by Ellen Wagner got me thinking about what I’m really looking for in an interactivity solution.  She was bringing some clarity to the Adobe Flash – HTML 5 debate, pointing out that HTML 5 is not yet a standard, and emphasizing some moves by Adobe to make Flash more open.  Whether I agree or not, I realized my desire is not to choose one or the other, but instead it’s to find a solution!

The opportunity I’ve talked about before is a channel for publishers to move to a new era.  The title of my blog is learnlets, based upon a claim I made almost two decades ago: in the future there will be lots of small interactive learning experiences (learnlets) that will teach you anything you want to know, including how to make small interactive learning experiences.  That’s still a dream I have, but we’re now capable of realizing it, and there are some nuances that come from thinking about it in the current context.

Publishers produce books, but with the technology augments that they produce (ancillary or companion sites), they have most of the components needed to put meaningful problems (read: scenarios) in the mix and resource around those to create real learning experiences.  With a market channel for those learning experiences (something like an app store), where it could go out to anyone’s device (tablets would be ideal), individuals could develop their own learning path, and for formal education we’d remove the burden of books (it pains me to watch my kids lug their own weight in books off to school!) and lift the learning.

What’s necessary, besides the devices and the market (and we’re getting those) is a meaningful interactivity standard.  Flash has had performance issues, and HTML 5 may not be quite ready for prime time (and I have not yet been convinced of it’s ability to handle simulation-driven interactions).  I don’t really care which one ends up ‘winning’, I just want a standard that allows me to deliver static (e.g. text, graphics), dynamic (video/audio/animations), and interactive content in a package that I can download and interact with!  It doesn’t have to report back, we’d likely have other ways to assess outcomes (though reporting wouldn’t be a bad thing).

I think that if we can lift our learning design to match the quality of our devices, and have the market to deliver those learning experiences where and when desired, we’ll have the opportunity to lift ourselves to another level.

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