Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vision 2014 – An Interview with Robert Gadd

Our fourth interview in the series is with an another eLearning industry expert, Robert Gadd. Below is an excerpt of the interview:


What are some of the key eLearning trends you are looking forward to in 2014?

The first trend I see is “Mobile, Mobile, Mobile”! Mobile learning has gone from a ‘nice to have’ modality to a ‘must have’ modality and, in some cases and select environments, it is the mission imperative choice for learning delivery. The genie is out of the bottle as they say and all organizations must be serious about how they plan to approach and support their mobile learning communities. Next, we see our customers continuing their adoption of a variety of enhanced engagement strategies in 2014 that can make the whole learning experience more interesting and drive participation. Engagement technologies making up this trend include the introduction of game mechanics and game dynamics – elements like points, levels, badges, leaderboards and more – and they can be applied to any mix of formal learning assignments or informal learning interactions as part of a more engaging learning program. Finally, I think 2014 will drive more emphasis to a more personalized, end-to-end learning experience for an organization’s workers that neatly and consistently melds the use of online, mobile, ILT, distance learning and personal enrichment into one unified eperience where all the parts interoperate to drive a whole that’s far greater than the sum of all its individual learning parts; the unification of all these services into one cohesive fabic will drive value for the total experience for the learner while accelerating the impact the T&D team can have on their organization.

What are some of the changes you would like to see in the eLearning industry in the times to come?

We need to have less emphasis on “the course” and more emphasis on the learner’s need for fast and easy access to the information they require, when they require it, and on/through the access point – online, mobile or live – they elect to use. Sure, the LMS platform of yesterday will still be there serving as the system of record for tracking and analysis, but the days of designing, developing and deploying 30 minute or hour long monolythic courses through online learning portals is over and teams need to initiate efforts to transform those legacy training assets into more flexible and concise learning objects their workers need and demand.

Can you share more thoughts about any one of the key elearning trends you have mentioned a little while back?

A corralary trend to the “M3” trend above is the adoption of tools and practices needed to develop more device friendly content. Responsive web design methods allow content authors to design learning experiences that adapt on-the-fly to different screen sizes and browser features of the computers or mobile devices that learners have opted to launch the courseware, exercises, assessments and digital resources they have been assigned or provided. Tools like Raptivity, offering from Harbinger, make it easier for teams to plan, create and deploy a consistent learning experience within a flexible delivery construct to enable learning wherever and whenever it is needed.

Social elearning has been talked couple of years now. How important is the social element going to be for eLearning in 2014?

The mixing of formal learning with informal learning is at the heart of this trend. While the initial forays into social learning circa 2008 or 2009 were simply the introduction of tools like wikis, blogs and threaded discussions/message boards into a learning portal or communities of practice, next generation social learning is proving to be much grander in its scope now by also incorporating functions like real time chat, social video, user generated content, game mechanics/dynamics and more. And all of these social functions are well adapted to be accessed from our mobile devices meaning they are something workers can tap into in more situations when they feel the need to connect or leverage their broader learning community.

BYOD – Do you see this culture catching up in 2014?

I’d actually argue that it has already taken hold in most organizations in one fashion or another. Small and mid-size companies have always benefited from workers incorporating their own technologies into their personal work environments – from the slide rules and calculators of past generations to the feature phones, tablets and eBook readers of today. The continued growth of the consumerization of IT is driving larger organizations the majoriy of larget organizations to take the necessary steps to allow their workers to leverage their personal mobile devices to support their everyday work tasks starting first with crafting flexible policies to set the stage and then selecting and implementing the proper tools and platforms like Mobile Device Management (“MD”) systems that can bring a level of control and security to non-company owned equipment that can help lower their IT operating and support costs as well.

What are some challenges eLearning industry would face in 2014?

The biggest obstacles holding most organizations back from tapping into all the new trends like mobile, social, gamification, xAPI, and responsive web design are the vendors themselves – the LMS/TM platform vendors, the authoring tool vendors, the business process outsourcers and consultants – who control the pace at which new technologies are considered, tested, adopted and implemented. The bigger the vendor, the more change they must endure to fully understand and be able to support these new trends. Organizations who rely on their key vendors to show them the path forward into unknown territory must realize that waiting for their vendors to catch up (e.g., modify their offerings, change their tools and approaches) might not always be as prudent as changing course and testing out some new platforms, tools, practices or partners who are more focused on the delivering the future rather than simply supporting the past.

About Robert Gadd

Robert Gadd is the Co-founder and President of OnPoint Digital, Inc., a leading provider of online and mobile learning solutions for the corporate market. Robert oversees the company’s technological innovations and strategy with OnPoint’s CellCast Solution and mLearning Pro platforms, and is a recognized leader in the identification, cultivation, and commercialization of tools and processes that can help drive mobile content and communications delivery to knowledge workers everywhere.

More interviews will follow soon. Stay tuned to our future blogs to hear from the leaders themselves!