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January 12, 2007

Technology/Learning and The Year Ahead

What lies ahead for workplace learning professionals in terms of technology and learning? If the last year was any indication, 2007 promises to be a wild ride…an unprecedented convergence of learning, technology and business.

With interest in virtual 3D worlds like Second Life taking off…(IBM has even set up a Second Life business group) and the blogosphere continuing to grow, the learning profession finds itself at an interesting cross-roads in terms of technology.

Some of the technology is being used to speed up and rapidly develop learning events…from voice over PowerPoint presentations to easy to use course creation tools to the publish-yourself web tools. There are more cost-effective, easy-to-learn tools available than ever before. As instructional designers and trainers, our job in these areas will be to ensure that the information presented is instructionally sound. We need to use our skills and knowledge to ensure that subject matter experts are structuring information properly—so people learn. Facts need to be taught the correct way as do concepts, rules, procedures and problem-solving. Instructional strategies are key.

While a few day-to-day instructional needs can be handled with voice over PowerPoint, other times we will need to embrace newer technologies like podcasts. Imagine the reach and the impact of effectively developed audio lessons. A sales rep can hear the proper pronunciation of the new product, a machine operator can listen to the correct sound of a die hitting metal. There are great advantages if implemented properly.

As we look to internal knowledge workers, we might want to consider establishing a blog. We can have a project team virtually collaborate or have a research scientist post her findings and allow others to contribute. However, blogs are new and need to be handled properly, here are some guidelings for blogging to learn and learning to blog that you can follow to help lead you to success. Wikis provide yet another level of technology.

And let’s not forget mobile learning and the potential to have an entire library in the palm of the hand. Troubleshooting machines, preparing for important meetings, any type of information you require can be downloaded or accessed from a portable device at virtually any location.

I am Karl Kapp, assistant director of the Institute for Interactive Technologies, a professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University and a part-time consultant on many learning projects. The convergence of learning, technology and business is what I will be discussing this year in the TrainingDay blog and I hope to hear from you as together we undertake the great adventure of preparing our fellow employees for learning in the ever changing future.


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