2011 eLearning Trends

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2010 offered us a surprising array of eLearning innovations, many of which could be seen at the iLearning Forum exhibition and Conference on 1st and 2nd February in Paris. In this article I have tried to summarize the key global trends that emerged in 2010 and will be prevalent and relevant here in France in 2011; they include:

(si vous souhaitez lire l’article en français c’est ici)

  1. Growth of social learning
  2. Learning management systems
  3. Mobile learning
  4. Content management techniques
  5. Serious games and Virtual reality
  6. Language Learning
1. Social Learning
There are more than 550 million people on Facebook and 65 million daily tweets on Twitter. Learning through social media technologies grew in France in 2010, despite resistance in training departments. In 2011 a growing number of workers will look outside their training departments to meet their professional learning needs via social media. We are sure to see new services that integrate across all of our devices to improve online collaboration, sharing and discussion, and ones that help people form smaller, more intimate digital and location-based communities. For training professionals it is important to adapt offerings to the idea that people can learn on their own, and that the training department is not the central repository for all learning content.
2. Learning Management Systems
At ILF 2011 we had a whole conference track dedicated to LMS and a debate surrounding the future and necessity of the Learning Management System. Much of it boils down to whether employee learning should be controlled and tracked, particularly when much of workplace learning occurs through informal channels.
There is growing awareness among learning professionals in France that non-structured learning can be valuable, that alternative approaches to learning don’t require tracking and that social media technologies just might have a purpose in the workplace. As a result, some LMS platforms are transforming into a broader model, where structured learning is just one part of a larger learning community that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing, and social networking. Examples at ILF included Cornerstone, IMC, Editions ENI and Symetrix.
3. Mobile Learning
Thanks to improved mobile network infrastructure, new mobile phone operating systems and Smartphone market penetration, we seem finally ready for mobile content this year. (For example Certpoint K-Tango solution shown at the show) From mini-courses to collaboration to performance support, mobile learning could take off in France in 2011.
In terms of converting legacy courses, it will mean streamlining everything—paring down over-sized multimedia elements as well as implementing a ‘less is more’ philosophy. In terms of new development, designers will have to manage the limitations of a smaller screen and decreased memory capacity. Examples of mobile content were shown by DEMOS, Epistema/CrossKnowledge and eDoceo at ILF 2011.
Also note for 2011, super-portable Pocket Video. Started by the Flip and now with many impressive competitors, these small, convenient recorders produce HD video, enable easy uploading to YouTube and other sharing sites, and cost less than €200 euros.
In the USA and Northern Europe contributors are teaching, demonstrating and sharing their knowledge and expertise using video. With 2 billion videos viewed daily on YouTube, this service has become the second largest search engine in the world.
4. Content Management
The demand for video is sure to bring about new online services that enhance how videos are integrated into our world for just-in-time, informal learning. This in turn highlights the need for media-rich deep tagging and content indexation, such as provided by Momindum and Lynx – presented at ILF 2011.
Equally, content development continues to emphasize rapidity, ease and industrialization of SCORM compliant courseware. The effects of Web 2.0 technologies were shown to great advantage at ILF 2011 by Scenari, Netopen, XperTeam, Ingenium and Trivantis.
One important piece of research came in January from the USA, that I would like to highlight in content management. According to University of California, taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research on a group of 200 students. Taking tests  actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques, because it stimulates the retrieval brain function; In 2011 we should be sure to open courseware tracks with tests – before learning takes place.
5.     Serious Games and Virtual Reality
At ILF we had a very packed workshop on Serious Games on the 2nd February with examples from Qoveo, Symetrix and ISEA PSY. What is notable is the wide array of training applications now available including shop-floor professions, field engineers, sales, customer service, people management.
For 2011 I expect to see the use of 3D virtual worlds as multi-learner simulations. So instead of one person participating in a simulation, several people can participate and work together while learning the facts, knowledge and procedures required to do vital team work. At the moment this is being used mainly in EU and USA with emergency workers and medical situations.
6.     Language Learning
The language track on 1st February featured several innovations for Language Learning – aimed at both individuals and organisations. We still see main trend to blended learning combining on- line language courses, mobile learning, face to face on-line coaching, telephone coaching, news services and exams. In 2010 Digital publishing set an important trend with a USB key solution called “Plug and Learn” – highly portable allows learner to carry on acquiring language skills, where ever they are, even off line. Digital Publishing won several new learning technology awards in France for this innovation which only costs 80 euros per USB stick.
Sally Ann Moore, Managing Director, iLearning Forum Paris
For more information about eLearning in France, the event iLearning Forum 2011 or future eLearning event dates in 2011 and 2012 please see the website www.ilearningforum.org  or contact the author of this article and Event Director, Sally-Ann Moore at sally.moore@ilearningforum.org

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