Saturday, August 19, 2006

The future of elearning

So after a hiatus of about 12 months I am reawakening my blog. This time I have a purpose. Inspired by what I have read about the next wave of elearning here and here I have decided that I need to enter the world of Web 2.0.

What has become apparent to me is that when classroom-based training in the corporate world opted to fire the "sage-on-the-stage" and replace him with the "guide-on-the-side", the former found refuge in the elearning world.

The top-down style of the old sage thrived and continues to thrive in the elearning world where the learners cannot talk back because there is no one to talk back to, except the computer terminal. This is a double-edged sword because while the sage unencumbered by learners interrupting his dissertation, he does not have the feedback loop that lets him know when he might have failed to offer salient information.

This may have been acceptable for the past 20 years because the workforce he was addressing was unaccustomed to two-way communication on the computer screen. But a generation that has been raised with computers linked by the Internet, cellular telephones equipped with instant messaging, and sophisticated gaming consoles are entering the workforce and I don't believe they will stand for this. They will want and create electronic networks and the corporate world will need to grasp and get out in front of this. Stephen Downes in his article, eLearning 2.0, for eLearn Magazine, writes:

One trend that has captured the attention of numerous pundits is the changing nature of Internet users themselves. Sometimes called "digital natives" and sometimes called "n-gen," these new users approach work, learning and play in new ways [2].

They absorb information quickly, in images and video as well as text, from multiple sources simultaneously. They operate at "twitch speed," expecting instant responses and feedback. They prefer random "on-demand" access to media, expect to be in constant communication with their friends (who may be next door or around the world), and they are as likely to create their own media (or download someone else's) as to purchase a book or a CD [3].
This is the world my industry and corporations everywhere need to join. We don't necessarily need to retire the sage-on-the-stage, but we do need to give him new responsibilities, duties that require him to appear at a moment's notice in a variety of venues. This new world is what I wish to explore.

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