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      If we can dream it, we can build it: future of elearning technology

      by Eoin McDonnell

      Learning platforms

      What is the future of elearning and the opportunities it could bring to your business? Learning technology and learning content have a terrible history, but all that could be about to change. New, innovative learning platforms appearing now on the market offer a brighter future for the industry. 

      Getting beyond the traditional Learning Management System

      The traditional LMS always conjures up an image in my head of “learning Fort Knox”, where drab training courses are locked away and hard to find. The user experience is often poor, with grey 1990s' interfaces and content to match. 

      They are overloaded with too much content, and it takes too many clicks to get to the content you want. It is an experience that is so far removed from our positive web experiences outside the LMS. Learners are also told to consume courses they are not motivated to participate in.

      We often call this “the race to the end” (of the course), maybe we should be calling it the race to the bottom of learning technology provision!

      All this does paint a bad picture the LMS - but I suggest it is closer to the truth for many organisations. I also suggest that modern and future learners will not tolerate such experiences any longer. These expectations will ensure the future of elearning is much brighter.


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       How can we inspire our staff to become high performers if we offer such drab services?

      Surely, the services we provide (technology, content, discussions and communication) should enthuse, feel modern and instil a sense of support to train for success, improve competence and performance?    

      Many older LMSs have attempted to modernise, mostly by adding extra functions to go beyond simple SCORM. To me, these functional additions seem to be dipping into the wider HR and Performance Management sphere; an attempt to reverse engineer a HR system? This never made sense to me. 

      The new breed of learning technology vendors

      Very impressively, other vendors have recognised these issues and have built new and exciting LMS’s from the ground up. Modern design, interface and user experience principles have been adopted with a wider range of functionality to engender blended and social learning practices.

      Many of these systems look and feel good, replicating our real life web browsing experiences - like Percipio. Learners are centric to the systems and we are starting to see L&D moving from the “10” to the “20” and “70”.

      User generated content, mobile learning and social interactions are becoming more prevalent. This is commendable, but maybe we have only moved the bar slightly higher and not yet high enough? My concerns are that social learning strategies are not scalable for very large organisations and that these newer technologies are not robust enough for such.

       What is the alternative? How can we raise the bar higher? 

      How can we apply the latest thinking in software development to modern
      learning practices in the corporate environment?

      Surely we should be much further down this road at this moment in time? The good news is there has been movement towards this direction. Maybe we can now really say with conviction that the LMS is slowly fizzling away as a background service - and that the era of the learning ecosystem is beginning.

      The future of elearning technology demands its own ecosystem

      To explain; Xperience Api, (xApi / TinCan), open architecture, interoperability standards and rapid API development will enable us to think and practice differently. The principle of xAPI is that learning experiences can happen anywhere, so this challenges the four brick walls of the LMS. (Check out our full glossary of elearning terms here.)

      Our imaginations now become the constraints to the possibilities on offer. Interoperability standards such as LTI (Learning tools interoperability) will give us access to new content services, previously thought impossible. Imagine having your subscription to TedEd or codeacademy available as Apps in your learning ecosystem. Imagine building a simple gamified certification for your CRM system where good behaviour is measured on the CRM tool and sent to the Learning Record Store. Imagine building a new app for your learning ecosystem in less than two weeks using rapid API development. You should set your expectation like this; if we can dream it, we can build it. This is the future of elearning.

      Your modern TV is now less a TV and more an ‘infotainment’ centre. This evolution will spill into our learning ecosystems, and will become a series of Apps, that we as learners can choose to consume or not. This presents L&D professionals with the challenge to think about learning service provision in a new and much different way.

      Adding new Apps, should (nearly) be as easy as accessing the app store and purchasing a new function. Now we can imagine that the new learning ecosystem is not a single physical object - the old LMS. It is more a series of layers that can exist together or anywhere. In fact, parts of the old LMS may still be required (e.g. for compliance and regulation, which they were initially designed for) but now relegated to a background service.

      The 'here' and 'now' in learning technology

      An ecosystem built on the principles of xAPI, open architecture, interoperability and rapid API development provides us with a unique challenge. Remember though - if we can dream it, we can build it.

      This means we can build learning services for our organisations that our staff want to consume and participate in. What if we could gamify any process no matter where it sits? What if we could quickly develop an App to a favourite social content curator? What if we could develop an app for skills tracking… well, we can and we could start today.

      If you want to be more successful in your role and make a bigger impact in your organisation - read our corporate guide to digital learning.  We have a range of modern learning technologies that could transform learning in your business including our intelligent learning platform - Percipio.

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