Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Directions and a New Decade for E-Learning: 12 Predictions

The new decade will be a time of great change in e-learning, and we're already getting a glimpse of it. Many of the changes are driven by new technologies, but even more are emerging in the aftermath of economic crisis, and the changes in the way people work, interact, and obtain information.

E-learning will be affected in many areas,

1. Continuing growth in online courses.
Colleges and universities will continue to expand offerings of online courses. This may surprise some, but a study by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities-Sloan National Commission on Online Learning reports that more than one-third of public university faculty have taught an online course. The full report is available at

2. Focus on cross-disciplinary programs.
Programs that span disciplines to go into new high-growth areas such as primary-care health care, home health care, sustainable business, green technology, green building, and "smart" energy technology will continue to attract students.

3. Career-related courses will grow.
Career colleges that offer "green" trades, health care certificates and degrees, and training in emerging technologies and sustainable business will boom, particularly if they incorporate an apprenticeship or internship that leads to employment.

4. Budget challenges mean trimming add-ons in online courses.
Despite the growth in online courses and course offerings, there has been a decline in overall university budgets. Cost-cutting means furloughs for staff and administration, and trimming overhead costs. Many of the applications and "add-ons" that colleges used to purchase will be replaced by opensource solutions, integrated Web 2.0 applications, and simple (yet effective) substitutes.

5. Stimulus spending in technology impact to be felt.
The move to expand access to high-speed Internet and to improve information / energy infrastructure is already resulting in an uptick in usage of higher technology solutions. The "trickle-down" of smartboards and wireless connections will result in a higher percentage of web-enhanced courses as well as a conversion to digital resources, libraries, and learning object repositories.

6. More use of opensource software such as Moodle (http://www.moodle.orgg), DotNetNuke (, and Joomla (
Moodle is already proving itself to be a hardy, flexible survivor in the LMS wars. DotNetNuke is an excellent social networking solution for organizations that can't afford the randomness of relying on LinkedIn or Facebook, but are not up to the high cost of Sharepoint. Joomla's content management flexibility allows people to wean themselves slowly from legacy systems, and to avoid high-cost custom solutions (Oracle, etc.). What's nice about Joomla is that it can power portals and websites as well. Python ( will continue to be a useful programming language for integrative solutions.

7. Mobile learning integrated into online courses for anytime, any place data access
Ubiquitous learning is gaining speed as the watchword of the new decade. Any place, any time, and -- this is most important -- any device -- will be key. Obtain information, interact, and share from multiple sources of information. Increased access is a given. What is less certain is how open the information will be.

8. Social networking starts to be used in e-learning to focus and filter information.
Controlled social networking that can be accessed via mobile device will continue to be very useful in the quest for ubiquitous learning solutions.

9. Twitter: enhanced student support in online courses and programs.
Finding how to harness Twitter to help develop learning communities is one of the most exciting challenges of the upcoming year.

10. High growth elearning programs in high-growth careers.
Health: Home health care, health care reform, primary care expansion, structural changes in medical care delivery and coverage
Business: Sustainable business, "green" business, new finance and private equity changes
Technology: "smart" technology that assists in the quest for energy efficiency, automation, robotics, control / monitoring
Energy/SmartGrid: control and monitor energy generation, use, distribution, infrastructure maintenance,

11. Expansion of online Advanced Placement (AP) programs, seamless integration of high school and college.

12. Webinar restructurings: Rise in synchronous (which are archived and available as asynchronous) modules used for training and in online courses.

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