January’s Learning Circuits Big Question is about predicting what might happen this year in learning. Several of my predictions are pretty general and safe, but I did put a few specific ones in for good measure.
Blogging as Professional Development
I think (and hope) we’ll continue to see more individuals taking control of their own learning by creating and using blogs. We’ll see a number of new e-learning professionals starting blogs and joining the conversations. I expect to hear of at least one or two learning professionals who get new jobs through their blogs too, as Wendy Wickham and others have.
Online Conferences, Webinars, and Backchannel Discussions
Much of my personal professional development in 2007 was through online conferences and webinars. This included the Online Connectivism Conference and the Future of Education conference, both free and organized by George Siemens. I also attended a paid (but very reasonable) online conference called Technology, Colleges, and Community. The online conferences were great. Innovate, Elluminate, and Adobe put on a number of webinars; I expect more organizations will follow their lead in 2008.
I also think that more of these synchronous learning events will include backchannel chat discussions, with more people figuring out how to use them successfully as both participants and presenters. I hope that this will be part of how Clive Shepherd’s 8th prediction happens; backchannel chats could be part of what helps synchronous chat move to a more collaborative pedagogical model.
As it has been in the past, a lot of the innovation in organizations and schools with technology will happen because people are sneaky about it. Lots of people will try out web applications, social network tools, open source software, and other tools on their own, regardless of whether it’s officially sanctioned or not. This isn’t something new; we’ve had conversations about this before. Janet Clarey’s post Do it now, apologize later generated great conversations; I think her ideas really resonated, and this trend will continue.
One technology that I feel is lacking with reading blogs is a really effective way to track blog conversations across multiple blogs. Several options work for tracking comments on a specific post, but what happens when someone continues the conversation on their own blog, and it isn’t one you regularly read? Keyword-based search options are a possibility, but it would be nice to have a way to visually track the history of a conversation or meme. It might be just wishful thinking, but I’m predicting that this year we’ll see at least one new tool that lets you effectively track any conversation thread across multiple blogs.
I agree with Tony Karrer that e-learning 2.0 will continue to grow, but that we won’t see anything drastically change. Lots of small changes will happen, and we’ll continue to make the organizational culture changes needed to integrate Web 2.0 tools more fully.
Like with e-learning 2.0, I don’t see a great revolution in store for 2008 about the role of instructional designers. However, I do think we’ll continue to have questions and discussions about what our role really is, especially as we move away from developing structured course content to helping create Personal Learning Environments and less formal learning.
This isn’t strictly e-learning related, but generally related to technology and social networking. I think we’ll see several companies make privacy goofs in 2008, like 2007’s Facebook Beacon and Google Reader sharing items with chat contacts. Most of these companies will realize their mistake and backtrack fast enough to minimize the damage (as both Facebook and Google did in December). However, I think at least one company will push the privacy limits too far and won’t correct the problem fast enough to avoid losing huge numbers of users.
My final prediction is that when I revisit these at the end of the year that I’ll discover that I was wrong on a bunch of things that that I missed several big trends and events in the field.