A look at the learning systems of the future


During his webinar on next generation learning platforms, UK Director Mike Byrne highlighted some of the key drivers that will shape these systems. Notably he started by spotlighting changing learner needs and consumerisation of learning, issues which are in many ways connected.

That connection is rooted in our ever present, always online mobile devices. Mike rightly points out that the ubiquity, familiarity and capabilities of these devices has helped to ‘consumerise’ learning. By that we mean that learning is no longer being designed to be accessed at the employee’s desktop. The next generation of platforms must deliver learning at the point of need, wherever that is. The focused learning sessions of the past, online or otherwise, have been replaced by more fragmented interactions occurring instantaneously at the point of need. There are hundreds of these moments every day, during work, social activity or whenever.

To enable our systems of tomorrow to effectively leverage this, we need a better understanding of our users ‘micro-moments’- those intent-driven moments of decision-making and knowledge demands that occur throughout the daytime journey. The future battle for learners’ minds will be won and lost in these micro-moments. This means that the systems that succeed will be the ones most able to predict and deliver the critical learning information at that point-of need.


Mike’s other big mover and shaker is interoperability. Though less ‘sexy’ perhaps than the other change drivers, interoperability may be the most critical. Previously, a really powerful online learning solution called for some really big powerful software. But the largely unheralded rise of standards like IMS LTI has changed this. LTI established a standard way of integrating learning platforms, portals, learning object repositories and other educational environments and tools. In doing so, we open up the learning environment exponentially. It’s not just about being able to build a ‘best of breed’ platform. It’s also about creating a ‘best for me’ environment.

The systems that succeed will be the ones most able to predict and deliver the critical learning information at that point-of need.

The best for me

The ‘best for me’ issue is an important one. No two companies’ learning needs are exactly the same. They are as unique as fingerprints. It is inevitable therefore that good system interoperability will enable elearning professionals to engineer systems much more suited to their personal requirements. Online learning today has so many individual tools and solutions. Interoperability means that we can now create our own system with precisely the functions and power we need.

Mike summed up by giving us some brilliant examples of interoperability in action via Netex learningCloud. Via IMS LTI, learningCloud now links directly to the new Anders Pink content curation tool and, for that matter many other IMS LTI solutions. This simple link alone opens up an amazing variety of learning solutions and opportunities to build a system that is specific and individual. Couple this with other packages, such as Learning Stories, and we start to get a clearer picture of how systems of the future might look!



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Martin Belton

Martin is a director of Ascot Communications, one of the UK’s leading consultancies working with learning technology organisations. He has presented on stages as far afield as Tokyo and Los Angeles and authored more papers on elearning and IT than he, or anyone else, cares to remember.