Last week I was fortunate to go to the Learning Technologies exhibition 2010 in London. I spent some hours looking around to see what the latest approaches to learning are. I was actually quite surprised that there seemed to be relatively little innovation. One exhibitor put this down to eLearning being a cost driven purchase at the moment, with companies not wanting to seem too expensive. An interesting observation.
Trends I did pick up were:
Web based delivery - many vendors offering packages to allow a training course to be delivered by a trainer remotely.
Mobile learning - there were a slew of companies offering learning using the iPhone/iPod Touch (what about other platforms!)
3D training environments - a number of companies were offering these. The typical format was someone wandering around a location having conversations with other 'people'. Usually the programme gave a choice of questions/answers for the learner to choose from. These were argued to be better for softer types of training as the game can be programmed to show body language and gestures. For some types of learner, they were also considered to be more engaging.
- these are games that are designed with a learning message in mind, for example http://www.moonshield.com
which is targeting engineers for recruitment purposes. Some are like specialist versions of SimCity, others simpler.
Social networking - using Facebook style sites for post-learning reflection and building communities of learners.
I'm a fan of eLearning for explicit knowledge, however I've always been a bit sceptical of its use in softer skills and tacit knowledge. I can see mobile learning being useful for people on the road - there are always short amounts of time that can be filled.
I think in the longer term (maybe 3-5 years time) that the capabilities of 3D environments will make compelling scenarios for softer skills. Until then I'm not convinced that their value exceeds that of 2D eLearning.
Serious games have a lot of potential to deliver. The ideas behind them are based on a long line of similar applications - I have used iThink simulation games to teach very successfully.
Finally in my opinion Web based delivery will really take-off - it saves time and money and will work for many (but not all) training scenarios.
It'll be interesting to see where the world goes!