Back in the day, a punk rock group called Madness released a wonderful tune called, “One Step Beyond, sadly if you were to look at the state of the e-learning industry as a whole today, perhaps the song should have been called, “One Step Behind”.

What is surprising is that this is nothing new. The industry as a whole, always has been one step behind, as if there is general fear to harness the technology now, rather than later.

It is understandable..sort of.

In 2002, a company created video courses that were AICC compliant and could be bookmarked. It was revoluntary.  The added bonus was it looked solid on a modem. So, what killed it? The learners – in this case consumers. They weren’t using the technology, so it tanked.

Flashback

A LMS that came with a e-commerce, a chat room, discussion boards, front end look that did not appear to a be a LMS, library, bookstore (capability), art gallery (I used it for sponsorship purposes). The vendor? GeoLearning. The year? 2002.

What happened?

They soon ditched it and went to the more traditional ways of systems that everyone else was doing, which at that time was none of that.

To see examples of what I had in appearance, when I worked at a trade association and implemented the GeoLearning solution.

Streaming to your Television

If there was ever a technology that is emerging and continues to do is – its streaming.  I’m not talking about viewing online streaming video, I am talking about actually viewing video or whatever on your television.

The term often associated with such a capability is “Media Center”, in that your television becomes not just a box to view programming, but basically an extension of your computer.

I am a huge fan of this possibility, because it opens the door to so many possibilities it is unreal.

As we know, the majority of people who access e-learning content (inc. mobile and social) is out of the workplace. 

We also know that Kinect (another one of my top five tech powerhouses) can be used not only via your television, but also tethered to your tablet.

Take a look at the tabletop boxes that exist today in the space of streaming from the net to your television, and you shouldn’t be surprised on the players (no pun attended) that see this as the next big thing.

  • Google
  • Apple
  • Roku
  • Boxee (more on then in a sec)
  • Xbox

Boxee just recently launched an app for iTunes that does not require you to own their set to box. Rather, after clicking the app, you can view video and other items via your Safari browser.  It is just the beginning.

Ever heard of the BBC iPlayer? 

It was launched in several countries, the U.S. will see it later this year, and it is an app, which you download through iTunes, so you can view BBC programming including Dr. Who, right on your mobile device (preferably a tablet).  I am talking about programming in real time, not snippets nor just the news.  BBC plans to offer this solution with a subscription fee.

Time Warner already has  an app where you can view real time programming on your tablet, but its huge drawback is you have to be in your home to do it, which really what is the point? With the BBC iPlayer you don’t.

Another cool capability available today, is internet television, whereas you can view in real time programming from around the world, free – via your browser.

If you use such apps as “Splashtop” which is inexpensive or the dozens or so other apps available in the iTunes store, you can now view this programming on your television (with addl software such as Media Center) or on your tablet – and here is the kicker – you do not have to be in your house to do it.

Yes, Blu-Ray boxes offer the net stream, HBO on the Go too, and NetFlix, but what I am referring to, is that you can see real time, and while you can argue that NetFlix is real time – it is per-existing movies and shows, taped for download, not in the true sense of “real time”.

How can this work with e-learning?

We know that mobile learning platforms, whole purpose is to output learning, including learning gaming sims onto a mobile device.

We also are aware that mobile learning is the new “buzz” in the e-learning world. I believe that the reason mobile learning has and continues to be the next big thing, is directly tied to tablets (sorry smartphones).

Take one part mobile learning, add in social learning (with some significant changes) and then toss in these gaming sims (that are interactive and engaging) and see the power.

Lets go back to the media center concept. There is a reason why devices such as the Xbox and soon to be released new version of the PlayStation, it is because consumers want it.

Let me repeat this – consumers want it.

Who is your learner audience? Consumers.

Therefore it is logical to realize that if your audience wants it, doesn’t it make sense that you offer it to them?

I’m not talking about creating gaming courses that people can download to their Xbox or new PS or Wii, although it would be intriguing, rather I am talking about adding features to your learning platform that pushes the technological envelope.

If I was able to enter a LMS with a form of this technology via my television, I would use it and so would other learners, but the key would have to be the content, not just the look.

No more, static looks, nor systems that well, look like systems.  I mean really, this is a learning platform, so why does it look like some archaic solution that doesn’t even resemble, something that screams “Wow” to an end user?

I refer back to the old days of Geo, who offered a front end that had an elevator then you could click with your mouse and then choose a floor (it had five). The lounge looked like a lounge.

Classrooms looked like a classroom or a conference room. People, yes images of people who actually looked like people. Yet it was a LMS, and had all the capabilities of a LMS.

It was all about what the end user saw. Nowadays, you can create such a front end, but add audio or people moving around, when a click of their mouse, engaging the learner – yes, looking right at them and engaging them, and you engage back.

The conference room, opens a whole new door – and you can see examples of this with some of avatar presentation platforms out there, where the web conferencing solution is the driver behind the scenes.

Use this powerhouse and stream it to a television or mobile device. What do you think will happen?

People – i.e. consumers, will use it.

What about the academic or education possibilities? Trust me, students would find it significantly better than the synchronous based experience that is still being used.

Basically the synchronous approach is in essence, shoving ILT online with some discussion threads, whereas the end user enters in some text, others respond, and they hope the instructor is active in the experience (many are not).

Where is the excitement in that?

Lets make no mistake that companies such as Google, Microsoft (already a player in the education sector) and especially Apple could make this happen – immediately. Apple already has the iTunes university (which is lame), is in the education/academia market and today is known to see big revenue opportunities and pounce on them. They would be foolish not to see the revenue potential of e-learning as a whole, especially the corporate landscape.

Trust me, they implement such technology and the masses – i.e. consumers, i.e. your customers will follow.

The infrastructure for television is already in place throughout the world. Think about that.

Gaming Time

Gaming sims, that people actually want to play – and can interact with fellow players (i.e. think learners) offers this technology, an additional amazing experience.

Wouldn’t it be great for a learning solution to create such a capability and then students from not just your school, but from other schools or universities could interact with one another, on a specific topic? What about corporate? I know about the secrets of such a thing, and not sharing, but lets be real, what do you think they are doing on social media sites such as Facebook? Engaging with friends they personally know?

When you think of streaming from the net to your television or mobile device such as a tablet and utilizing this technology with a gaming angle, you might be quite surprised at the results.

Especially when you add social learning to it.

Social Experience

Why should we just shove our learners into this little space and think they will enjoy it?  They won’t and they don’t. That is why, you always see certain folks use your LMS or platform repeatedly, and others who use it once or never. It is boring.

Even if you are fearful of placing your learners in with others who are not with your company, what about with those employees who are part of your conglomerate?  Why have them stuck in a self-contained area, and let them chat amongst themselves?

I surmise they would rather engage their follow employees via a gaming sim, especially if it can be streamed into their television or mobile device.

Bottom Line

There is no reason that streaming programming and in our case, learning from a platform is not being done. Absolutely no reason.

But, as our track record shows, we as an industry are always one step behind the pack.

Why?

Because the consumers and your learners are off to the next big thing, and we are just one step back.

Let’s not be the followers. Let’s become the leaders.

The industry will go from one step behind, to one step beyond, and who can argue with that?

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