Archive for the ‘Future of eLearning’ Category

Well worth the read for the K-12 perspective.

Abstract: “Directors of the federal Office of Educational Technology both past and present—as well as a range of ed tech leaders nationwide—predict what the digital revolution has in store for the next decade, while taking account of its impact to date. Plus: a timeline of learning technologies.”

2020 Vision: Experts Forecast What the Digital Revolution Will Bring Next


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I’m sitting at work late, prepping for several upcoming meetings and presentations so thought I’d post a set of slides on my predictions for what the future IMS, CMS, eLMS will look like for higher ed.  Those are all fairly interchangeable acronyms and stand for (in order): instructional management system, course management system, and elearning management system.

The Future IMS for Higher Education by Lesley Blicker (Nov 2008)

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If you’re super connected to social networking, use different instant messaging products, have several email accounts, or want to toggle between texting to/from your cell and your computer, the first tool may be for you. It gives you instant access to, and a running stream of your Facebook updates/feeds, blends all of your IM buddies regardless of source, and provides access to your different email accounts, in one neat cockpit.

If you subscribe to several RSS/news feeds, want to read the top sports stories, see the weather, or if you use Mapquest, Wikipedia or visit YouTube frequently, consider personalizing your own Web portal by using the second tool.

Thanks to my colleague and revered tech guru (not his real job), Todd Digby (only coincidental name connection), I configured the following tools just yesterday to streamline many of my Web surfing activities.

  • Digsby: is a proprietary multiprotocol instant messaging application (from Wikipedia). So what does that mean? In about five minutes, you can set up a downloadable piece of software to connect all your instant messaging tools (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, etc) along with your email accounts, and social networks (Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter only). My complaint is that I’d like to see other social networks such as Plaxo and LinkedIn offered as well. Here’s what the cockpit looks like:
























When you scroll over the “F” icon -at the left – for Facebook, it brings up your feed, from which you can access your profile, messages, friends, photos. And it all sits down in your icon tray.





  • iGoogle: It’s a personalized Google page, where you can add web feeds and Google gadgets. Much like NetVibes, PageFlakes, MyYahoo. use it as a portal to most of your most valued sites and feeds, saving gobs of time. For us educators, I think it has critical importance for the future of eLearning systems, in that it teaches us how to set up a carousel-like page, with multiple offerings to the myriad tools students can use to construct knowledge. That is how experimenting faculty (such as M. Wesch) are beginning to set up their classes — where the LMS becomes just one tool, not necessarily the centerpiece, functioning more quietly as an operating system (to collect dropbox items, as an electronic gradebook and to issue quizzes).


These feed-driven portals go far beyond the present LMS capabilities, so if faculty want to use them, they’re on their own presently, to set them up and help their students use them. I predict that iGoogle, NetVibes, and the like will become the templates for the next design iteration of LMSs everywhere. That may not be a bad thing, as LMS companies start redesigning for extensibility. I surely hope the next LMS (if there is to be a single entry point), goes  beyond adding only internal/proprietary tools but instead is redesigned to more closely resemble a customized learning space where each faculty member can add external widgets deemed the best for engaging learners and improving outcomes. 

This is just a prediction – but all instincts say I’m on target. Anyway, here’s what my iGoogle page looks like (click on pic to get a larger view):



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I’m an avid follower of Michael Wesch. You may know of him, most notably from his You Tube videos. I’ve been watching quiety for over a year now, and am ready to go full throttle modeling much of my net gen fall course experiment after his “stuff.”

Now we all have access to what he is doing, via his presentation at the University of Manitoba this past June. The university’s Information Services and Technology unit has been kind enough to post it publicly. Do as I will – watch, listen, and learn….at the feet of an incredibly humble master. 🙂

Michael Wesch and the Future of Education
Presentation June 17, 2008
University of Manitoba
66 minutes

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Last October I reported hearing Chris Melissinos from Sun Microsystems predict that in the future we’d all have Avatars which could move from platform to platform. That future may be starting to materialize. If you haven’t heard the latest news, Linden Labs (Second Life creator) and IBM have successfully collaborated on the transportation of avatars between two platforms – the Second Life Preview Grid and an OpenSim virtual world server. This is an industry-first in virtual world interoperability. But how sweeping is this innovation?

Start with the facts: check out the full story, and the video. However, be warned, the narration on the video is amateurishly dramatic.  IBM’s press release.       Video.

Here’s a good article from Business Technology explaining the significance of the avatar swap, “Avatars Teleport Away from Second Life.

Now, for a deeper analysis of, if not critical look at this news, read Craig Roth’s post, “Second Life Avatars Teleport, But the Virtual Moving Truck Stays Behind.” Here’s a quick excerpt: 

It’s worth noting that this (experiment) was from one test grid to another and only involved the avatar, not any items, script, or currency. (Clothes didn’t tag along.) To me, this is a nice stunt.  It gets attention for its sci-fi undertones, but doesn’t address the real barriers to mobility in virtual worlds, nor does it do much to address disgruntled Second Life residents. 
Roth raises the quintessential question about intellecutal property in a virtual world. He asks: “How can intellectual property be protected when it can be infinitely copied and transferred?”

Ok, so the sheer excitement of this recent announcement may have a limited shelf-life, as the pundits get down to nitty-gritty critques of just exactly what was – or wasn’t – accomplished here. Clearly, inter-application transportation of avatars has a ways to go, not just in terms of technical developments (transferring of digital assets) but also in terms of hammering out the myriad intellectual property (IP) and avatar identity security issues. We have been attempting to iron out IP issues with varying degrees of success, in the 2D educational world. I can’t imagine we’ll stop on that front, when we get to a 3D interface.

I don’t doubt for one minute that Chris Melissinos’s predicted future will arrive within a decade. Here’s an excerpt from my October post, commenting on Chris’ predictions:

Sooner or later, we will have access to virtual world (VW) identities where we only have to create one avatar which will be universally recognized after logging in. Applications will have layers of security, just as commercial sites have now via https (or the padlock) so we can choose when to render personal information or more importantly, when and how to share information and products such as course curriculum, that we build inside the VW.

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Upward trend line

Here’s another good Campus Technology article (Linda Briggs, 6/4/08 ) this time on higher ed trends in the field of learning management systems (LMS), utilizing data from the recent Gartner survey. I noted three primary trends from the article, which shouldn’t be particularly new or surprising, to any of you keeping a watchful eye on where LMSs are headed. Still, they’re interesting and telling:

Trend #1: 

Increased usage of Open Source products; mainly Sakai and Moodle. The surprising leader in growth of the two: Moodle. Gartner predicts that Open Source platforms will secure 35% of market share by the end of 2008.

Trend #2:

Increased development of home-grown products. Unlike the completely “coded-from-scratch” versions we saw in the late 1990s and early millenium, home-grown iterations today may call from “a variety of other content management portal applications with relatively good, usable toolsets.” Campuses now can create their own e-learning systems with these tools. Or they can customize their own LMS using Lotus or SharePoint. 

 Trend #3:

Additions of social technology-type tools in all LMSs (we saw that coming!)

So let me offer one rant on Trend #3. If one of the main complaints of the LMSs over the past half-dozen years is that they turned into monolithic learning environments which don’t play well with others, why silo-ize even more? Ok, sure there are security issues, but let’s get busy figuring out this collaboration bit. Wouldn’t the resources be better spent coding for integration and interoperability so we don’t see the emergence of each platform coming up with its own [duplicative] e-portfolio, blog, and version of MySpace?

Is it me? Am I just being cranky today?

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Minnesota State Colleges and Universities logo 

I went to our annual RSP/ITeach Conference this past Friday. The conference sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning (of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system), was held last week at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. The conference brought together more than 1100 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities faculty to:

  • Discuss teaching in their disciplines
  • Demonstrate best practices in teaching
  • Present the results of innovative experiments in instructional development and instructional technologies

True to form, the conference was inspiring and provided a great opportunity to network with colleagues.  

I conducted one of the 100+ sessions and am uploading my presentation slides below.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable – the Landscape of eLearning is Changing

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