Unfortunately in my world…

Posted on Jan 12, 2011

…. a significant number of the technologies mentioned in the recent blog post ‘Tools to look out for in 2011‘ are already dead in the water; allow me explain why.

For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I am more than keen to try out both current and emerging technologies to see how they can enhance and enrich the learning experience not only for myself, but also the learners within my organisation.

My struggle over the past 12 months (again, this is ‘old’ news for those who know me) to utilise these technologies within my workplace has left with me something of a pessimistic and admittedly perhaps a defeatist attitude.

It is with a slightly ‘brow beaten’ resignation that I thought I would add my own little perspective on the fantastic blog post that was brought to my attention via a tweet from @ColinSteed

Unusually for me I am going to ‘lift’ the original blog post in its entirety, however the original post can be found here and very worthy of a read in its own right. My comments are shown in red italics.

Learning Technology Trends To Watch In 2011

Artificial as the year’s end might be, I can’t help but look back in amazement at the technology trends and changes we’ve seen and speculate about how we will learn and enable learning experiences in 2011.

Some of this year’s technology trends are based on disruptive innovation while others are based on changes in outlook and awareness. Here are my observations. Please add yours in the Comments section below. (see source website)

Growth of Social Learning

There are more than 550 million people on Facebook and 65 million daily tweets on Twitter. Opportunities for learning through social media technologies abound and should grow ever stronger in the coming years. As a growing number of people look outside their training departments to meet their professional learning needs via social media, new services will most likely emerge to meet the greater demand.

For example, learning professionals currently use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other services to share links and posts throughout the day and night. Online learning-related chats and discussions engage people from around the world, shrinking the geographical and cultural distances between us.

We’re bound 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.

To LMS or Not

This year proved to be one of great 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.

Although most organizations aren’t throwing away their expensive systems any time soon—particularly those in highly regulated industries—the debate does seem to have placed a crack in the armor.

At the very least, there seems to be a growing awareness among learning professionals 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. – Unfortunately for most parties involved we ‘kind of’ have an LMS, I say unfortunately because it is a SAP based solution. For those of you who have experience of the SAP LMS, perhaps you would like to leave your own description of the system in the comments box at the bottom of this page for the uninitiated! Add into the equation that we have ‘chosen’ to switch self-service off and you kind of get the idea as to where we are with LMS.

Pocket Video Technology

The ubiquitous presence of video in our connected lives got a serious boost from super-portable pocket video technology this year. 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 run for under $200 US.

More than ever before, amateur videographers are teaching, demonstrating and sharing their knowledge and expertise. With 2 billion videos viewed daily on YouTube, this service has become the second largest search engine in the world.

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. According to Ravit Lichtenberg from Ustrategy.com, “In the coming year, gaps in our video experience will be filled with the integration of filtering, tagging, editing and locating tools into each and every video feed.” Sounds good to me. – Bit more of a success story here. During my recent internal move within my organisation I recorded some ‘talking head’ footage of myself describing some of the projects that my successor would be taking over, ‘loose ends’, along with a general overview of the L&D function. We have also linked some of our rapid elearning modules to a couple of YouTube videos. Unfortunately, I think the Innovation Prevention Department are onto my trail…. (so that’s probably the next site to be blocked then)


Due to improved infrastructure, slick mobile operating systems and smartphone market penetration, we seemed to hit a tipping point of readiness for mobile content this year. From mini-courses to collaboration to performance support, mobile learning could go mainstream in the near future.

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. When mobile learning hits critical mass, people of all ages and occupations will reap the benefits. – “there are incredibly strict controls over cameras in my organisation. – Whilst employees are allowed (at the moment) to carry their own personal phones with them, there is little chance of the forthcoming site-wide handset upgrade being to a handset that would lend itself to mobile learning. This is backed up by the Blackberries that are issued to certain people having their cameras disabled!

iPad or Alt-Tablets

Although you may resent the fact that Apple won’t support Flash (yet, that is), you have to admit that the iPad continues to push the world of interactive content. The combination of a gestural interface with fine aesthetics, convenience and portability appears to be a game changer. New interactive books and magazines as well as educational and social apps are breaking ground.

But even though the iPad has sold well in the consumer and academic markets, its ability to penetrate into the workforce remains to be seen. Other tablet makers plan to support Flash and considering that over 70 percent of today’s online video uses the Flash format, we may be more likely to see alternate tablet technologies invading the workplace in the future. Note: Adobe Flash CS5 can convert .swf files into HTML-5 for some level of compatibility with the iPad. – I quote – “we don’t support Apple products”, “if there is a camera in it (or going to be) then forget it”, ” we don’t (and will never) have Wi-Fi on site”

Virtual Worlds Rising Up

To find out about the latest learning trends in the virtual sphere, I contacted expert Karl Kapp, author of Learning in 3D and professor at  Bloomsberg University. Dr. Kapp sees 3D Virtual Worlds headed in three directions in 2011.

“One, I see an increase in 3D Virtual World software being used to replace 2D PowerPoint-based virtual meetings. People loose focus quickly in 2D meetings staring at slides on the screen with a disembodied voice. So more companies are adopting 3D virtual worlds—where the environments look like conference rooms or offices—to avoid the mind numbing presentations. This is basically a replacement strategy of virtual worlds.

The second, and I think more interesting, is the use of 3D virtual worlds as enterprise-wide portals. In this trend, I see a 3D virtual world as a place of entry, when a person goes to work (virtually or drives somewhere and logs on). The person can then access social media tools, documents and other applications all from within the integrated 3D platform. This trend is fascinating in that 3D virtual worlds are creating an entirely new interface between employees and the systems they use at work.

The third trend is using 3D virtual worlds as multi-learner simulations. So instead of one person participating in a simulation, multiple people can participate and work together while learning the facts, knowledge and procedures required to collaborate. This is being used primarily with first responders and medical applications.” – our network struggles as it is, never mind trying to engage in Virtual Worlds”

Augmented Reality

Gary Woodill, Ed.D., a Senior Research Analyst at Brandon Hall Research and author of The Mobile Learning Edge, was kind enough to contribute his perspective on the trends affecting Augmented Reality related to mobile learning.

According to Dr. Woodlill, “Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the most disruptive applications for mobile learners. It is an example of location-based services, where information is provided to you based on your location, and even the direction that your phone camera is facing. With that information, your smartphone can supply additional textual information about what you are looking at, or can blend computer generated objects with the video or still image on your screen.

AR can also supply clues and problems to you through your smartphone based on your location, allowing for both training applications and learning games while on the move. For example, there are AR applications that can add historical objects to the picture of your surroundings as you move through a town, giving you a richer sense of the historical significance of an area.  Another AR application tells you the tenants of a building as you point your camera in its direction.

Because mobile learning is showing raid growth, and because Augmented Reality is one of its most compelling uses, look for rapid growth in the next five years in learning applications that use augmented reality concepts.” – we don’t (and probably never will) allow Smartphones/portable devices to be fully enabled amongst the entire workforce”


According to Technorati, the blog count reached 70 million last year. Even though a quarter of them are most likely bot-created spam blogs, the quantity of content ‘in the cloud’ is still staggering. Blogs give everyone a voice to communicate, teach, spout opinions, learn and network. And with RSS technology, blog posts are quickly pushed to subscribers for easy access.

Although blogging has always had hints of social sharing, this is more evident than ever before. Jon Sobel, of Blog Critics notes that, “Bloggers’ use of and engagement with various social media tools is expanding, and the lines between blogs, micro-blogs, and social networks are disappearing. As the blogosphere converges with social media, sharing of blog posts is increasingly done through social networks.” With this much information available through so many forms, blogging should continue to prove a worthy medium for teaching, discussion and learning. – We don’t have any internal platform to host these Blogs, even our intranet is so functionality-free that it prevents us from doing so. Given the natural caution surrounding the nature of our Industry, any blogging platform would need to sit within our firewall, which would mean involving the Innovation Prevention Department……..


The digital book publishing revolution is thriving as a result of improved electronic readers, the introduction of the iPad, the open ePub format, and a growing popularity of downloadable books in .pdf format sold by authors. With the advent of ‘always on’ devices, eBooks present one more path for learning and content distribution.

In the future, forward thinking training organizations will provide their print materials in downloadable formats for employees to study or reference as needed. And as more digital readers become Internet-ready, books will hyperlink to other sources of information, providing a richer reading experience. – Hmmmm, this looks promising, although  Amazon’s ‘licensing’ surrounding their Kindle edition appears to make this a ‘non-starter’ for use as a shared resource i.e. amongst multiple users.

QR Codes

QR Code is a type of barcode that can be read by QR scanners and mobile phones with cameras, using a QR reader app. Capable of  holding text, data and URLs, QR codes have a greater capacity than the old fashioned 10-digit barcode because they’re two-dimensional. Okay, these weren’t a booming trend in 2010, but we’ll probably see more of them in the future.

Librarians and educators have found inventive uses for bar codes you might find inspiring. For example, QR codes containing a hyperlink have been placed on shelves in libraries. The code links to additional information about a related subject. In her blog, Instructional Design Fusions, Diane Rees writes about ways to use QR codes to explore stories in non-traditional locations to enhance educational activities. “Erm…. dont QR codes need a camera to read them? (see various references to cameras above)


  1. The ‘never will be’ bits are the bits I like best.

    I wonder how much money will be spent on negating technology in the next year? That’s a bigger trend to watch out for…

    • Hi Ben,

      Don’t get me wrong I love a good…….. ‘scuffle’ but at some point I just have to be realistic and say “you win” – that was about 3 months ago by the way 😉

  2. Craig, I really enjoyed this blogpost! What a great idea lifting the original and adding your comments to it. Normally when I read posts (such as the original) I’m impressed and then move on. Your insights, however, from the RW added balance and a perspective that i imagine is felt by many all over the globe. I LOVE your phrase ‘innovation prevention dept’ I’m looking forward to the next conversation I have with mine now 🙂
    I also liked the point made from the original post re LMS. Freedom to think and share is important.

    • Hi Tara,

      Many thanks for your comment on my post…. I’m intrigued to hear how you discovered my blog though???

      I’ve read so many articles that keep telling us to hang on to our hats because of the ‘next big thing’, but singularly fail to acknowledge that in the ‘Real World’ many organisations, sectors and industries haven’t/can’t/won’t get to grips with the last ‘little’ thing!

      Hence my desire to add a dash of (unfortunate) reality to the original post.


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