Trend 1: More for Less
It was in 1965 that a young engineer named Gordon Moore made the simple prediction that the number of transistors that would fit on a chip would double every 12 to 18 months. Known today as Moore’s Law, and combined with even more impressive advances in storage technology, this is the force that enables computers to reach ever larger numbers. In a recent interview, Moore indicated that this trend is likely to continue until at least 2017. This means that in just 10 years a low-end PC will likely cost $150 and come with 8 GB of RAM and 1.8 Terabytes of storage space.
Think of that. An indisputable “super computer” that costs roughly the same as today’s VCR or DVD player. How many of them might you own? One for every family member? What about at work? Delta Airlines and Ford made headlines in 2000 when they gave every employee a PC for home use. What company won’t be doing this when they are so affordable?
Trend 2: Broadband
The second major trend is high-speed connections to the Internet. According to research conducted by Strategy Analytics, there are approximately 25 million homes in the United States that already have broadband access. This is expected to climb to 64 million households—or one out of every two homes—by 2008.
The bandwidth problem is at the root of much of e-learning’s failure to date. It is why business-to-consumer models have never taken hold, and it has crippled projects geared toward at-home workers. When bandwidth is truly ubiquitous, we will be able to deliver the rich multimedia experiences that are only available to remote workers on CD-ROM today.
Trend 3: Wireless Access
There are two technologies here to watch. The first is WiFi, which is the name for wireless LAN technology. It effectively creates a wireless network or hub with a range of about 300 feet at a very low cost. Not only are individuals setting up WiFi in their homes, but thousands of public hot spots are being created. The other emerging technology, known as 3G, is rolling out from the phone companies. Using the cell-tower network and with a range of approximately 20 miles, 3G effectively enables people to access the Internet at high speeds using their laptops, PDAs and cell phones.
I’ve written before that e-learning has only delivered support to the time and desk of need, since most learners have to be wired to get access. We haven’t been able to get to the time and place of need for the majority of our workforce, who are out on sales calls or treating patients or living on airplanes. Which groups will you be able to reach with wireless connectivity?
Trend 4: Convergence
One look at my friend John and you know he’s an executive-Batman. Hanging from his (utility) belt is a cell phone, a Blackberry and a pocket PC. Each of these devices is still best of breed for its particular functionality.
But soon all of these devices will merge into one device (called what?). Put all these trends together, and in less than 10 years we will have in the palm of our hand a super-computer that also makes phone calls, surfs the Web at high speeds and provides wireless connectivity at all times.
E-learning is merely at the crack of dawn of this new age. In a very short time (10 years or less!) your learners will be able to run simulations, stream video, communicate and constantly be connected to your learning portal. Will they be disappointed with what’s available? Will you be ready?
Kevin Kruse is the president of AXIOM Professional Health Learning and facilitator of www.e-LearningGuru.com. For more information, e-mail Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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