Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Catching Up to Our Imagination


"I think that [in the next 3-5 years] the changes will be more in the area of content authoring and development. ...remember how long we had to struggle with Authorware and clunky, inflexible, horrible-to-use proprietary authoring tools, before applications like Captivate and Articulate et al were eventually released?"

In my view, in the last decade, technological and network infrastructure deficiencies, not to mention a serious lack of investment, went a long way in impeding our ability to develop engaging and immersive learning; in short, our imagination exceeded our technical ability to create great educational solutions.

In one sense, the emergence of a generation that grew up with the expectation that 'digital environments provide high degrees of sensorial satisfaction and intellectual stimulation' has smoothed the path: at last the demand, and consequently the market, is there for learning practitioners to create great content.

If we look to examples like the popular Nintendo Wii Big Brain Academy I think we can see the first glimmerings how we can create learning content in the short-to medium term.

I still think we're a bit short on effective authoring tools to facilitate this. At the absolute top of my wish-list is the development of a Learning Engine - the educational equivalent of a game engine), but at least the infrastructure is almost in place now to get on with the job of using technology to enable learners to acquire skills knowledge, and expertise.

Finally(!), it's my belief that "a rising tide lifts all ships" and future developments will help everyone learn more effectively, regardless of age or background.

- Michael Hanley


Ah yes - the tools!

I know from the eLearning Guild Annual Gathering that companies are just starting to figure out ways to build tools that help us bring our instructional ideas into reality without having to be Flash professionals or world-class programmers.

The other part of it is that what we have been building does not require as much time from either the instructional designer/developer (because we've been using the same tools and the same models) or the subject matter expert (who generally hands us "the manual", a disorganized powerpoint, or a combination of the two) as building a truly immersive game.

It's that TIME where I see the greatest pushback. No one has it. To get the logic right, the story right, the correct options and variables requires a tremendous amount of thought and planning. Just dumping stuff into a tool, no matter how easy to use, still won't get us to immersive learning simulations that result in real behavior change.

(Michael - this last sentence is more me clarifying my thoughts. I've read your blog and know you understand this. I just need to remind myself sometimes....)

The demand from students is going to help with the marketing. Further research evidence that the new way is better than the old way will help loosen the purse strings of the old schoolers who hold the purse. The big kicker, however, will be return on investment in tangible, measurable forms (esp. money). Then, it will be much easier for us to get the resources (both human and financial) to really make this work.

1 comment:

Janet Clarey said...

Hi Wendy -

"Further research evidence that the new way is better than the old way will help loosen the purse strings of the old schoolers who hold the purse."

Research is slow coming...especially in the corporate area.

The cost of the tool might be a better measure I think than trying to figure ROI on the learning activity. Crazy talk no?