Mar 25, 2009

What will the post-crisis area be like? Back to old or go for new?

While visiting the NATO here in Brussels, secretary of state Clinton said to 'never waste a good crisis.' She might be on to something.

I wonder what the post-crisis learning will look like. If the crisis would be done tomorrow, we'd just go back a few months in time and pick up where we left. But as time passes, some innovation might get a chance to prove it's value and some historically established burdens might have gone bankrupt. The blended balance might shift a few percentage towards virtual or e-learning. We'll see it when it happens.

Anyway here are a few innovative sites I keep an eye on:

- There is a new set of e-learning authoring tools emerging. There are all online, usually based on flash templates. One of the productivity benefits is that they offer true collaborative authoring in the form of integrated media libraries or LCMS, online review cycles during development and less need for programmation or technically advanced actions. Right now they are owned by smaller firms, but they might become big fast. Here is a list to watch: unison, coursebuilder, composica, atlantic link, rapidel-i, udutu, smartbuilder. I've played around with most of them, and they allow you all to create the type of e-learning that is 'established' now, in fast templates: courses with next buttons, images and text and flash and video, glossary, menu and FAQ.

- Screentoaster: I've tried this screencast program when it was just out of beta a few months ago and liked it. Now Jane tells they just added features. It is a simple, completely web-based way to make application 'how to' screencasts. Tools like screentoaster and jing give end-users and non-technical coaches the tools to make short tutorials, and gives peers the tools to instruct eachother. As I said before, let's hope our expensive corporate learning factories won't have to deal themselves with making this absurd 'click on the save button to save' training beyond what you need to get started.

- Thinking Worlds : This is a software by UK based Caspian Learning to create educational games. I've browsed for many game engines the past week. They all seem horribly expensive and focus on the graphics rendering rather than learning. Caspian Learning is the only one I found that has thought about how learning might work in games, and proposes some types for that. Furthermore, you can (could?) freely go to thinkingworlds.com and make new games based on existing assets for non-commercial use. I made one last week. Cool tool. Today that site seems to be closed and they announce the commercial version of it in a few days. If they sell the commercial one for affordable price, they deserve to take the market by storm.

- And open source is busy with good things too. Moodle's rise is unstoppable. And Toby from work pointed me to eTok, an extension to OpenOffice to make e-learning. I haven't had time to test it myself yet.

All these and more make me hopeful that when the crisis is over in months or years, the learning field will have raised its bar. We're the first to get budget cuts when times are bad, but we should also be the first to act and rise again! (trumpets!)

1 comment:

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