I’m at the IITSEC conference all this week in Orlando, exploring innovation in simulation and training. It’s a busy event, so my posts are likely to be reflective on what i’m seeing and making sense of.
Yesterday, three of the key sessions i saw were on ‘transmedia learning‘ (which i’d usually call ‘blended’), natural language processing, and responsive eLearning design through html5.
The work presented about ‘transmedia‘ learning was effectively about stories that are constructed through multiple spaces and technologies: using videos, podcasts, blogs, formal resources and more socially constructed ones. I liked the story based approach, but it was lacking integration of the social layers: for me, in any blended approach, especially a constructivist one, we need to include sense making spaces, and have an understanding of how they work and how we can support them.
The natural language processing session was a fascinating demonstration of the theory behind virtual tutors: systems that can respond with a degree of realism and contextual input to natural language questions. Effectively, they can tutor you. It was partly an exploration of how they are built, which was truly impressive, and partly a demonstration of application. For me, this technology will change the game: truly able to capture subject expertise and tribal knowledge in exploratory environments where learners can build experience through practice. Definitely ‘watch this space‘.
The session on html5 included work around responsive designs: whilst it was primarily a technical session, for me it showed an industry in danger of repeating old mistakes: measuring things just because we can. We don’t need new technologies that further distance great instructional design: we need technologies that facilitate great learning. In itself, html5 will allow more agile design, but it won’t create great learning all by itself.
So the two challenges i take away from yesterday: first, focus on great instructional design, secondly, create experiences where people can rehearse and ‘make sense‘ of what we give them.