What is the future of eLearning? This is a question I have heard many times before but one which is actually quite difficult to answer. None of us are able to glimpse into the future and see what the landscape of eLearning will look like in 5-10 years; however, we are able look at what technologies we currently have and gauge just how they might influence the direction of eLearning.
You have probably seen gamification mentioned quite often lately. That’s because it is hot right now! Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and design techniques to engage and motivate users to reach their goals. The concept is well proven and is just beginning to take off in eLearning. Although not a quick concept to master and adapt, I believe it will be much more commonplace in the near future.
Personalised learning is a concept of delivering tailored learning to suit the individual. Most typical eLearning is based around the ‘one size fits all’ approach, which is safe, but is not the most effective way of learning. Tailoring the learning to suit only what the user needs or wants to learn has proven to be much more efficient.
As it currently stands the majority of eLearning is delivered on desktops. This trend is set to change as mobile use is more widely adopted. mLearning has many advantages. Being mobile means learners have the potential to learn anywhere and anytime. It also enables the user to take advantage of QR codes, GPS and other mobile based technologies. Bandwidth is no longer an issue with 4G commonplace and 5G waiting in the wings. Having smaller screens will naturally lead to more bite-sized content, making it easily accessible via a mobile phone.
Automation is one of the more exciting concepts that could possibly happen in the future. Imagine being able to automate the process of content creation, such as quizzes automatically generated from a programme. The course content itself could be intelligently created via the use of clever algorithms and could be automatically tailored to a user by matching the content or difficulty to the user’s skills.
If sci-fi is your thing, augmented learning will excite you the most. Imagine being able to walk into a room with your phone, point it at an object and miraculously information appears about that object. You may be able to learn about its history, how it’s made, or even undertake a training programme related to it! This may all sound like a fantasy but it’s not. The technology is already out there from the Nintendo 3DS augmented reality games, QR code hunting, and the Apple Watch and Google Glass devices. Expect giant strides to be made within the next five years for eLearning when it comes to augmented learning.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
MOOCs have been around since 2008 but only really started to hit the ground in 2012, coinciding with worldwide increased internet bandwidths. MOOCs are online courses with unlimited users and completely open access for all. The advantage of being web based and centrally stored is that MOOCs can easily be updated without costly deployment to numerous LMS systems. MOOCs are big now, but I expect a massive upsurge in the near future.
Everyday there seems to be a new product or technology that has moved into the cloud but what does this mean? Cloud based products are software, hosted on the internet rather than being stored locally. Typically, LMS are located on dedicated servers which can be costly to implement and difficult to setup. Cloud based LMS have the advantage of having lower start-up costs, enhanced data security, improved accessibility, faster deployment, easier maintenance, more storage space and are fully customisable and scalable. I suspect all future LMS’s will be cloud based soon.
So the future of eLearning looks good, I am ready to fully embrace this new wave of technology… are you?
Phil Eagles, Senior eLearning Developer, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk about the components of eLearning design and development.
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