B. Eldridge

eXact Learning Solutions (UNITED STATES)
Initiating around the year 2000, the field of e-Learning is sputtering to the end of its first generation and transitioning into its next. The defining attribute of the first generation of e-Learning has been the significant focus placed on formal learning in the form of online course content. The resulting products have been primarily comprised of linear content that is laden with book-metaphors such as screens (akin to pages) and a multitude of other book-related attributes such as chapters, paragraphs, table of contents, and screen numbers. The assessment techniques utilized in the first generation of e-Learning were almost exclusively adapted from paper-based assessments and typically included multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions as opposed to new assessment techniques that better leveraged the available technologies. As the second generation of e-Learning evolves, greater skills, expertise, and flexibility will be required from individuals and organizations to fully realize the promise of what e-Learning can provide today and into the future.

In addition to a co-dependent relationship with the book metaphor, the first generation of e-Learning has been almost exclusively focused on formal learning activities with very little focus on informal learning activities, which most research indicates accounts for 70% of all learning. This omission has likely been propagated by the high-importance placed on learning technology during the rise in popularity of e-Learning in general. Organizations, when asked about what they were doing with e-Learning, would most often respond by providing the names of their Learning Management System (LMS) and their authoring tool with very little awareness of or attention paid to core learning concepts such as effectiveness and other essential analytics.

These issues are compounded by the fact that the current generation of instructional designers possess a very shallow set of technical skills which will be required for success in the next generation of e-Learning development.

In order to prepare for e-Learning 2.0, organizations first need to become aware of the key advancements in the field of learning before strategizing on how to harness these new tools and techniques to move the quality and effectiveness of their learning forward:
• Capture and support of informal learning and the related standards
• Evidence-based assessment approaches over paper-based approaches
• Incorporation of post-pc technologies into learning activities
• Analytics and predictive analytics utilized to create true learning intelligence

Along with these rapidly emerging trends come the need for the requisite skills to fully leverage them:
• Advanced metadata, taxonomical, and ontological skills
• Assessment skills related to evaluating learner-provided evidence
• Visual overlay design skills for augmented reality and virtual reality learning experiences
• xAPI and cmi5 implementation skills for informal and learning capture
• Conceptual understanding of Big Data and the underlying data mining and predictive analytics skills

Conclusions and Extensions:
The first generation be e-Learning was plagued by low production values, low learner engagement, and little accountability in terms of measurable outcomes and effectiveness. The next generation holds much promise but the practitioners that need to see this promise fulfilled must be more skilled in more areas than ever before.