For this month’s column, I asked 120 senior learning executives to build a “radar screen” of the things they see on the horizon for learning, and to add a few of their predictions. Here is a summary of their idea-filled flip charts:
- Content to the device: As the use of handheld devices grows, organizations will start to push content and context to employees via their cell phones, PDAs and even iPods.
- Really rapid content development: The CLOs used a newspaper as a model for content that was current, quick and template-based. They asked how the Washington Post could produce a newspaper every 24 hours when it takes months to get most courses from our instructional designers. Really rapid development is strongly predicted.
- Generational shifts: The youngest generation is totally ready for self-service and collaborative knowledge tools. Older generations may not retire as soon as planned. Much learning is single-generation-focused.
- Retirement bubble: While on the topic of retirement, executives from several industries and government sectors vented their fears. Several talked about a 40 percent to 60 percent retirement rate in the next four to five years.
- Social networking and content: Learners can expect to leverage the knowledge and context of wider networks of colleagues, both internal and external to their enterprises. How do we organize and nurture (or stay out of the way of) these networks?
- International information, laws and regulations: Intellectual property issues will haunt the learning field as the ability to access and copy content grows. As each country implements information-related laws, enterprises will struggle with corporate policies.
- Compliance, compliance and compliance: More than 40 percent of all new learning expenditures are compliance-related in many organizations, and in some organizations, compliance training has pushed out core development and performance-focused learning budget allocations.
- Deconstruction of courses: More learning will be done in chunks and on a just-in-time basis. Yet, some content requires good sequencing and layering of skills. The group felt that many learning systems, instructional designers and assessment systems are not ready for a more granular approach.
- Augmented reality and embedded simulations: Learners will have an increased ability to “try” before doing critical tasks. A doctor will do a trial run on a surgery prior to picking up the real scalpel. A manager will simulate a disciplinary interview prior to a difficult discussion. These simulations will increasingly be embedded into systems and even delivered through virtual or augmented reality systems.
- So many systems for learning: Learning management, knowledge management and document management need to find common ground, common systems and collective wisdom. Learning executives predict the convergence of these separate approaches.
- Learning governance: Better models are needed for multi-unit and multi-country governance of the technology and processes for learning.
- Search engines disrupt: The growth in the popularity of search engines is creating an expectation among learners and managers for similar functionality for learning and performance. Learning activities models and content portal formats must evolve to leverage the power of natural language search.
- Industry consolidation: CLOs are worried about the continued consolidation of the learning supplier population. While they see some consolidation as natural and positive, they also are worried about the viability of some providers and the lack of provocative innovation in learning content and systems.
- Beyond the RFP for procurement: The learning leaders predicted that the standard RFP will be replaced with a more scenario-based approach.
The learning imperative that emerged from these discussions: Innovations in technologies for learning must now be matched by innovations in process.
Elliott Masie is the director of the Learning Consortium and the host of Learning 2005. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.Filed under: Technology