Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

5 January 2010

Predictions for 2010

Clark @ 7:04 AM

eLearning Mag publishes short predictions for the year from a variety of elearning folks, and I thought I’d share and elaborate on what I put in:

I’m hoping this will be the ‘year of the breakthrough’.  Several technologies are poised to cross the chasm: social tools, mobile technologies, and virtual worlds.  Each has reached critical mass in being realistically deployable, and offers real benefits.  And each complements a desired organizational breakthrough, recognizing the broader role of learning not just in execution, but in problem-solving, innovation, and more.  I expect to see more inspired uses of technology to break out of the ‘course’ mentality and start facilitating performance more broadly, as organizational structures move learning from ‘nice to have’ to core infrastructure.

While I don’t know that these technologies will actually cross over (I’m notoriously optimistic), they’re pretty much ready to be:

  • Social I’ve mentioned plenty before, and everyone and their brother is either adding social learning capabilities to their suites, or creating a social learning tool company. And there are lots of open source solutions.
  • Mobile has similarly really hit the mainstream, with both reasonable and cheap (read: free) ways to develop mobile apps (cf Richard Clark & my presentation at the last DevLearn), and a wide variety of opportunities. The devices are out there!
  • Virtual worlds are a little bit more still in flux (while Linden Labs’ Second Life is going corporate as well, some of the other corporate-focused players are in some upheaval), but the value proposition is clear, and there are still plenty of opportunities.  The barriers are coming down rapidly.

Each has available technologies, best principles established and emerging, and real successes.  Given that there will be books on each coming this year (including mine ;), I really do think the time is nigh.  And, each is a component of a broader approach to learning, one that I’ve been advocating for organizations.

I’m hoping that organizations will start taking a more serious approach to a broad picture of learning.  The need in organizations is for learning to not be an add-on, isolated,  but instead to be part of the infrastructure.  We are at at a stage now where learning has to go faster than taking away, defining, designing, developing, and then delivering can accommodate.  The need is for learning to break out of the ‘event’ model, and start becoming more timely, more context-sensitive, and more collaborative.  Organizations will need their people to produce new answers on a continual basis.

I’m hoping that organizations will ‘get’ the necessary transition, and take the necessary steps.  As Alan Kay said, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”.  I’m hoping we can invent the future, together.  We need the breakthrough, so let’s get going!


  1. Hi Clark,

    I, for one, appreciate your thought leadership and vocal support for each of these three emerging learning technologies. Given we’re actively involved in two of them (mlearning and social – and focused on continuing efforts to find way of seamlessly combining the two together!), your shared insights into the coming future help complete the cycle of moving past the chasm crossing with those first visionary customers and moving up the model to support the early adopters and mainstream users. And while I agree with your statement that there are many “reasonable and cheap (read: free)ways to develop mobile apps”, our experience points to the fact that enterprise accounts may exhibit early interest in these basic tools as they begin to dabble with what mlearning is all about, but once they get serious and need to deploy a solid solution for learning reinforcement, just-in-time access, performance support, sales enablement, whatever, their need to make their mobile learning efforts more scalable, secure, flexible, integration-ready and “enterprise-grade” often dictates the use/adoption of better tools and platforms which likely come at a price.

    In our experience, mobile learning and social-enabled platforms from companies like our own (as well as Intuition, Outstart/Hot Lava Software, RIM/Chalk, Giunti Labs and a few others) are probably not the “first mobile tools a company tries” but we’re often the second or third one they end up coming with once they realize they need a vendor to stand behind what they are using, to teach them what works and what doesn’t, and ensure their efforts meet their requirements in whatever format, on whatever device, in whatever method they desire — all while being tracked and secure and easily supported.

    Agreed, the timing for mobile, social and virtual are all nigh, and the growing adoption trends will carry things forward for everyone’s mutual benefit. And just like many (most?) Global 5000 enterprise organizations don’t rely on open source LMS/LCMS platforms to manage their entire L/D responsibilities, enterprise-grade mobile learning solutions and platforms are a sound business decision for those companies who are serious about mobile learning content creation, development, deployment and tracking. And these platforms are generally not cheap or free but certainly can prove their ROI and value in both the short and long term too.

    Keep up the great efforts and looking forward to following your progress on your upcoming book as well!

    Comment by Robert Gadd — 5 January 2010 @ 9:27 AM

  2. Robert, thanks for the kind words. Agreed; I think it can often be important for someone to get their hands dirty with an easy solution to ‘get’ the opportunity, but as they move into serious development they’ll likely want industrial-strength tools. Thanks for the feedback!

    Comment by Clark — 5 January 2010 @ 10:34 AM

  3. Clark, I share your hope that “…organizations will start taking a more serious approach to a broad picture of learning. The need in organizations is for learning to not be an add-on, isolated, but instead to be part of the infrastructure.” But my fear is that “elearning” (including social-network-learning, mobile-learning, and virtual-world-learning) will continue to be seen as the solution rather than a means to an end (i.e.,learning). Companies continue to hop to the next, great technology fad without first being clear about what they want employees to learn and why. We need fast learning, but not at the expense of goal clarity and business results.

    Comment by Stephen J. Gill — 6 January 2010 @ 6:07 AM

  4. Virtual worlds is a little bit suspect to me. I think that virtual technology will really take off, like VMware and cloud based computing, but I’m not as confident that virtual worlds are in that same category. I think SecondLife is dying or already dead. Just my opinion.

    Comment by Communications Forum — 27 January 2011 @ 11:16 AM

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