Predictions for 2010

eLearning Mag publishes short predictions for the year from a variety of elearning folks, and I thought I’d share and elaborate on what I put in:

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.

While I don’t know that these technologies will actually cross over (I’m notoriously optimistic), they’re pretty much ready to be:

  • Social I’ve mentioned plenty before, and everyone and their brother is either adding social learning capabilities to their suites, or creating a social learning tool company. And there are lots of open source solutions.
  • Mobile has similarly really hit the mainstream, with both reasonable and cheap (read: free) ways to develop mobile apps (cf Richard Clark & my presentation at the last DevLearn), and a wide variety of opportunities. The devices are out there!
  • Virtual worlds are a little bit more still in flux (while Linden Labs’ Second Life is going corporate as well, some of the other corporate-focused players are in some upheaval), but the value proposition is clear, and there are still plenty of opportunities.  The barriers are coming down rapidly.

Each has available technologies, best principles established and emerging, and real successes.  Given that there will be books on each coming this year (including mine ;), I really do think the time is nigh.  And, each is a component of a broader approach to learning, one that I’ve been advocating for organizations.

I’m hoping that organizations will start taking a more serious approach to a broad picture of learning.  The need in organizations is for learning to not be an add-on, isolated,  but instead to be part of the infrastructure.  We are at at a stage now where learning has to go faster than taking away, defining, designing, developing, and then delivering can accommodate.  The need is for learning to break out of the ‘event’ model, and start becoming more timely, more context-sensitive, and more collaborative.  Organizations will need their people to produce new answers on a continual basis.

I’m hoping that organizations will ‘get’ the necessary transition, and take the necessary steps.  As Alan Kay said, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”.  I’m hoping we can invent the future, together.  We need the breakthrough, so let’s get going!

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