Recently I was doing a presentation on eLearning trends. During that presentation I realized that there are just a handful of people driving fundamental change in eLearning. These are the people who really change our landscape and have a big influence on my working eLearning life. So I decided to share these 5 eLearning heroes with you, so you can plug-in to these sources of inspiration as well.
ELearning Hero #1: Jay Cross
Jay is the guy that coined the term eLearning for the first time in 1998. So he is around already for a while. Not only has he been a driver and an advocate for online learning, but he moved beyond. He is also the person that initiated the informal learning movement. His book Informal learning was at least for me the start of that. He writes about informal learning at the informl blog. He is the founder of the internet time alliance, a group (Jay Cross, Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Clarck Quinn and Charles Jennings) that focuses on workplace learning. together they created the great book ‘The working smarter fieldbook’, that is all about workplace learning. You can buy it as a book but they are constantly changing it, you can follow the changes here. So for me if I’m thinking about someone who inspires me in eLearning, it is Jay in the first place. But there is more. He is also a great person. I met Jay for the first time at the Online Educa Conference. He gave a workshop that I attended and we spoke briefly afterwards and exchanged business cards. In 2010 I became CEO of easygenerator, one of the first things I did was writing a mission and vision statement to give clarity to our direction. I was having a lot of doubts on it and decided to mail it to Jay. To my big surprise he did respond and in great detail, it was more than helpful. I was so impressed. He is not only a great inspiration but also a great person. To get inspired, check out this video where Jay is talking about Informal learning.
Michael Allen is also someone who is around for a long time, but as with Jay he doesn’t stick to his old ideas, he is an innovator and a driver for change from the very first start of his carreer (he was the man behind the very first authoring tool ‘Authorware’.) Michael is also one of the leading instructional designers in the world. He fights against boring and bad eLearning and does that in a very constructive way. He wrote a ton of books, all of them are classics and must reads. He is the CEO of Allen interactions, in my mind one of the leading instructional design firms. His book ‘Michael Allen’s guide to e-Learning’ will cover all the basics on eLearning for you but I can recommend reading all his other books on instructional design as well. But there is more to Michael. His fight against boring and bad e-Learning. He is one of the instigators of the Serious eLearning manifesto but he is also the founder of ZebraZaps. ZebraZaps is a tool that will enable you to create all kind of interactive elements for your eLearning, and it is one of the truly innovative tools out there. There is nothing like it. But that is not all. He is also the one that made agile e-Learning development main stream with his book Leaving ADDIE for SAM. ADDIE is the ‘old’ approach of building eLearning through the so called waterfall model, Sam use agile principles that come out of the world of software development. And as with all his books it is very practical, it is not just theory, but he shares a lot of practical stuff based on his vast experience. I wrote a book review on this one. Read this interview with Michael Allen, it is a great way to get to know him and his ideas better and to get inspired by him.
Cathy Moore is the only one of my heroes that I haven’t met in person, but that does not mean that she inspires me less. As Michael she is an instructional designer that fights boring eLearning. But with a very different approach. Cathy came up with the action mapping approach back in 2008. The approach is very simple but has a huge impact on learning and my thinking about learning. There are four principles:
- Identify the business goal
- Identify what people need to do (instead of need to know), translate them into actions
- Design a (real world) activity for each action that help people practice each behavior
- Identify what people really (really?) need to know, add that information
The first big thing is that she connects learning to the business goals, and with that she helps to integrate learning into the business. The second thing is that she points out that learning is about changing behavior, it is about what people do, not what they know. Also a game changer. I wrote several blogs on her ideas because her ideas may have the most direct impact on my work. To get inspired check the action mapping blog and read this interview with Cathy.
I could not decide between them, so I marked them as hero #4 together. They do work at the same company together as well. Our eLearning world is changing rapidly, Workplace learning, retention, performance support and more are all developments that have a big impact on eLearning now and in the near future. It is a real struggle to juggle all these balls. Bob and Conrad came up with a very comprehensive approach that combines all these things and gives you clear guidance in how to make that work. I attended last year a session by them at the Learning Solutions conference that was really an eye opener for me. The have a solution for the ‘Forgetting curve, and they found a way to give you guidance in workplace support as well with their 5 moments of learning needs. I wrote about their ideas several times in this blog so check that out for more detail. To make it even more practical they run the performance support community. The best way to get inspired by them is to join that community. It is by invitation only. If you want in, drop me an email @ email@example.com and I will invite you to this community.
Aaron is probably the least famous person of this list, but he is very likely the guy that will have the biggest impact on learning for the next decade. Aaron is the driving force behind TinCan, now
called the XAPI. For more than a decade eLearning was confined in the bounderies of your LMS. We needed (outdated) standards to run our course in a LMS and track results from our learners. To make things worse we also had competitive standards (Scorm and AICC). Aaron is the guy that changed all that. XAPI is a real revolution for learning. First of all it is about tracking and tracing experiences not just formal learning outcomes, that is a big one. The second thing is that it allows tracking and tracing from anywhere (also mobile devices). Freeing us from the tight boundaries of the LMS and opening up a whole new range of possibilities. Third is that it is personal, you can track and trace your experiences and you can decide what or when to capture. It opens up the possibility to build a personal learning and development portfolio, and a lot more. In fact it is so new, that we all still struggle to wrap our headS around it and come up with applications that use XAPI to its full potential. On top of that he also managed that both SCORM and IACC will merge into a new standard CMI5, based on XAPI. It will enable the tracking and tracing of formal learning in a unified way as well, with all the benefits of this new open standard. Get inspired by Aaron and read this interview with him.