6 Trends in Rapid eLearning Tools to watch in 2012

I absolutely love software, apps, applications, extensions, plug-ins, add-ons, whatever you want to call it.

I started in computers when DOS (Disk Operating System) was at its peak, I still remember knowing all the commands and I thought it was the coolest thing ever invented. I remember thinking, thank you God for not taking me down the path of becoming a Priest, which I was studying for, otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for computers. I still go to Church of course. I remember when Windows came out and the mouse was introduced, I was completely against it, I thought I could get so much more done by typing commands.

Probably why I still love keyboard shortcuts.

I remember taking one of those vocational courses on computers and then in the middle of the course, I ended being hired as a Teacher’s aid and then somehow they ended up hiring me to replace the Teacher all together. Fun times.

So why do I share this? Because one of my passions is to review software and as I’m doing it, I’m always coming up with ways I think the software could be better, it’s just part of my DNA I suppose.

Since it’s still January and people are blogging about trends or predictions for the new year, I thought I’d share some areas I believe Rapid eLearning Vendors should focus on in 2012 in order to stay ahead of the curve or worse, have a small startup eat their lunch.

1. HTML5 — This is a no-brainer for me and I strongly believe every Rapid eLearning tool should absolutely have a simple way to get a course published to HTML5 in 2012. If there is one thing I heard from customers while working at Adobe was this, I want my learners to be able to take a course on their iPads or iPhone, but these mobile devices don’t support Flash. I personally happen to think that Adobe’s recent news that they would be stopping further development of Flash on mobile is just the beginning of the end for Flash on Desktop, too.

If I were starting a company today building a Rapid eLearning tool, I would only focus on publishing to HTML5.

2. Desktop App Stores — Mac users have downloaded over 100 million apps from Apple’s Mac App Store and Microsoft recently showcased their upcoming Windows 8 Store, which will enable PC users to easily download, install and stay up-to-date with software. I happen to think this is the future of how we will learn about new software and acquire it from here on out. Every software application needs to be on these App store as quickly as possible in order to not miss out. Since I cover eLearning tools, I give the edge here to TechSmith, who smartly put their Camtasia product on the Mac App Store. I have it and like it a lot.

When I was at Adobe and the Mac App Store came out, I immediately thought that Captivate for Mac should be there. Suffice it to say, it is still not there. Big mistake I think.

3. Mobile Apps — If there’s one thing the mobile Apps revolution has shown us is the unbelievable creativity developers have shown with virtually every app that comes out. I feel that software companies need to step it up and have a presence on mobile app stores before a smaller, more agile developer eats their lunch. I used to work with a developer who used to say “it’s just code” every time I asked if something was possible. Apparently this is true as anything seems to be possible now with mobile apps. When I worked at Adobe on the Captivate product, I always thought that both the Captivate Reviewer software and the Quiz Analyzer software would make for great mobile Apps, especially on the iPad and the Xoom, which have huge displays. Another big mistake by Adobe I think in not executing quick enough.

Bottom line is this, eLearning vendors should ask themselves, what is it that we have that could be made into an App and then go to work and give it to us in 2012.

4. Mobile First — I happen to think that we are getting very close to authoring for mobile first and desktop second and this is the right time for all software vendors, including eLearning vendors to start focusing on mobile authoring and publishing more. With apps like Garage Band for iPad, we have seen that Tablets are no longer just content-consumption devices but rather full-blown content-creation tools. So how about a Captivate for iPad app, or a Articulate Engage iPad app or Camtasia or SnagIt for iPad? Someone is out there cooking up something, maybe in a Garage or a College dorm or a home office as I write this.

5. Social Integration — This is something else I’d like to see Rapid eLearning tools have moving forward, more Twitter, Facebook integration somehow. More collaboration between team members and Learners too. Perhaps a built-in screen sharing feature or an easy way to share a Tip on the tool easily on Twitter. Something that gets the users more engaged with other software users or learners for whom they are building eLearning courses.

6. Informal Learning and Social learning. At the pace we are going, who knows we might end up developing just informal learning byte-size courses instead of what we do today via Rapid eLearning tools. Companies like Articulate with Screenr.com and TechSmith with Jing are visionaries who saw the potential of giving out free technology to users so they can share their knowledge with the audience. Adobe is way behind here. I wrote a post on 10 Things I love about Screenr.com here.

What do you think? Where do you see Rapid eLearning Vendor focus their development efforts in 2012? Please leave a comment an ReTweet the post so other can chime in, too.

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  • Tricia Ransom

    I would love to be able to use my ipad to develop my courses – are you listening Adobe, Camtasia, Articulate?!?!  Since my company uses gmail, I wouldn’t really need to lug this huge laptop around. 

    • Anonymous

      I’m with you, Tricia. Tablets today are amazing and if we can create music with Garage Band, why not eLearning with Articulate, Camtasia and Adobe apps, right? Thanks for the comment.

    • Sarahdanzl

      Hi Tricia- 
      Have you looked at or tried “Pastiche” for ipad by Xyleme?
      ~Sarah

    • Sarahdanzl

      Hi Tricia- 
      Have you looked at or tried “Pastiche” for ipad by Xyleme?
      ~Sarah

  • HTML 5 is not ready for prime time, or perhaps it is the way Captivate outputs HTML 5 that is the problem — But to go from three files in one directory to publish as Flash to hundreds of files in hundreds of directories to publish as HTML 5 seems wildly inefficient.

    Putting stock in the desktop app stores is woefully ignorant of the reality of secure government environments — Desktop app stores and all the other schemes that require unfettered access to the Internet just cannot work within such locked down environments. Not to mention the hassle purchasing something off one of those stores! Why the question itself is enough to send any government purchasing officer into an apoplectic fit.

  • Sharon Boller

    Loved all your thoughts, particularly thinking about how to turn something that is useful to us as eLearning vendors into mobile apps. Yes! How do we take things that are part of our workflow and convert them into an app that helps others, too?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on web vs. native app – and on tracking what learners do on their mobile devices (e.g. the crazy desire of so many big companies to have SCORM-conformant courses so they can track completion. As learning becomes (hopefully) more informal, do we seriously want to track everything people do on their mobile devices/

    • Anonymous

      Hi Sharon, many thanks for your comments. Your question on web vs. native apps for eLearning is a really great one and there are people in both camps here. I happen to believe that native web-based course for mLearning is better and it’s clear now that this will be done via HTML5. I’m not a fan of building native apps out of (traditional) eLearning courses, because they take time and require a good understand of how to build, test and deploy the app in the first place. Then there’s the whole approval system the app has to go through and on top of that updating the app after it has been deployed requires you to go through a process.  HTML5 to me is much simpler because it’s essentially something we have been doing on Desktop learning for a while now. It’s easier to deploy and learners can consume it in similar ways they have consumed eLearning through their desktop computers. Now we just need Rapid eLearning Tools Vendors to step it up and give us a Publish > HTML5 feature.

  • I agree with your comments.  These days we cannot create learning without there being a “NOW” component to it.  That means the socialization of the learning and content coming from the participants.  Richer, deeper, but making the information available NOW is what’s important.  I used bloomfire for one of my courses as a social integration tool.  It was the way to integrate users to participate in a course and for me as the designer/developer to make changes a lot more rapidly.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Elizabeth, many thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree with you that all of us these days, including eLearning Developers, need to more a bit faster (more rapid) than ever before and figure out ways to engage Learners even more than before. Lately I have been thinking that the term Rapid eLearning may need to be revisited since it may not be ‘rapid’ enough. Thanks.

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