In preparing a presentation for an organization on the learning value of Web 2.0, I realized that the development I’m looking forward to is web 3.0 and the learning possibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very enthusiastic over the 2.0 learning opportunities, as I’ve gotten to know them. It’s just that the work I was doing years ago now has the technology infrastructure to be brought to life in a viable and ubiquitous way. What it means is personalized learning wrapped around your life, instead of leaving your day-to-day life to attend an ‘event’ or self-directed searching.
The key here starts with the next generation of the web, the semantic Web. What this is about, to me, is the use of tags and meta-data to start adding meaning to the information out there. To date, we’ve separated form from content, but the machine can’t operate on the data independently. If we had semantics, meaning, through tags and meta-data, the system can start trolling for content. And, of course, we can start auto-tagging based upon content and generation as well as making it part of our habits (e.g. as I try to remember to categorize my blog posts). The point is, with this information, we can start connecting things. This isn’t just about search, but about pro-active and opportunistic information delivery, and moving to the distributed learning model I’ve talked about before.
A second opportunity is Web 3.0′s service-oriented architectures (SOA), or rather web-oriented architectures (WOA). This is where capabilities are separated out into separate network-delivered services with API’s that anyone can tap if they have the proper codes (and authority). What this does is let you build applications in a light-weight way, cobbling together the capabilities you need into the services you want.
What does this mean for learning? It means that you can tag learning content and make it available. Then you can have a system that looks at your learning goals, and your current activity (through a variety of context-sensitive mechanisms), and pull in a small tidbit opportunistically, or connect you with just the right person afterward. The point is to move from macro courses to micro-learns, where you might be prepped right before an important task, supported in the middle of it, and provided reflection afterwards. So your performance situations become learning situations.
To do this effectively means linking the meaning of your current activity with the status of your learning goals, and putting together an effective delivery mechanism depending on your technology infrastructure, preferences, etc. The goal is to make a system that’s like having a personal mentor, but much more affordably.
Now, don’t get me wrong. While this is doable, it’s quite far off, and won’t be easy. It depends on several developments, such some reasonable work on standardizing on terminology (or a successful implementation of folksonomies) for both content and tasks (and/or a very good mapping process). It’ll also require some business model that makes it viable for participation on all parties. Finally, it’ll require some tuning to make a user experience that’s effective without being intrusive. Still, I think it’s a great future, and would love to have a well-implemented version coaching me! How about you?