‘2018 was the year the dam broke in terms of technology’, said Toby Harris, Vice Chair, introducing the ELN Connect 2018 conference in London. SCORM is on the way out, ‘click-next’ elearning is history, learning professionals are turning their minds to producing quality live experiences instead, with use of new technologies such as VR growing. Developments in natural language processing, the area of Artificial Intelligence most directly relevant to the learning world, have progressed to a state where we now have AI-assisted off-the-shelf tools available, bringing down costs and barriers to entry in deploying AI. Learning skillsets are changing to embrace a new data-driven world; importing techniques as well from marketing and behaviour change.
To this optimistic vision so boldly and eloquently started the rest of the day’s talks, focusing on the nitty gritty of implementing innovative technologies – and delivered by an array of formidably expert and experienced speakers – could hardly be anything other than a series of qualifications and correctives to that view.
For Donald Clark it had not been such a wonderful year. Delivering a keynote on AI-powered design and delivery, he described 2018 as ‘odd’, and talked of a clash of cultures: ‘almost all the learning that I see is media production sprinkled with tests – and some really awful gamification … we’re in a rut and we’ve got to get out of it.’
Here are a few of the things that have to change, in his view, to get us out of the rut.