Dr. Gary Woodill, Senior Researcher at Brandon-Hall Research has recently released the second in his three-part series on emerging e-learning technologies. These reports briefly cover the emerging technologies and methods, and then—for each topic—provide an exhaustive set of references and web links.

I have to admit to being amazed at the breadth and scope of these reports. These reports won’t be for everyone—they’re much too packed with reference-like information—but for someone like me who likes to see what I’ve failed to learn as of yet, they’re wonderful.

I’d recommend these reports for folks who are responsible for their company’s Learning R&D efforts, for those interested in brainstorming new e-learning design options, and for academics and researchers who want to see what the new areas are.

These reports aren’t perfect, of course. I wouldn’t expect such an exhaustive research effort to be flawless.

The reports don’t provide an organizing framework for understanding how these technologies might interface with the flesh-and-blood machinery of human learners. The danger is that readers who willy-nilly act to employ these technologies may not get the learning benefits they might expect—or, they may create negative outcomes.

Some technologies were not described at all, although they may be in the third report. One e-learning technology I’m passionate about wasn’t mentioned—learning-follow-through software, which facilitates training transfer by encouraging learners to implement their after-training goals, by getting managers involved in the process, by recording actual work follow-through, and by keeping the learning conversations going after the formal learning events are finished.

I’ve written about this technology before, both in a software review and a book review.

This software is a paradigm buster—one of e-learning’s killer aps—but these reports don’t mention the technology at all. See Friday5s from the Fort Hill Company and ActionPlan Mapper from ZengerFolkman as the two exemplars of this technology.

To reiterate, the weaknesses of these reports are minor in comparison with their strengths. For those who really want to delve into what’s out there, Gary Woodill has provided a great service in these reports.

  1. Emerging E-Learning: New Approaches to Delivering Engaging Online Learning Content
  2. Emerging E-LearningTechnologies: Tools for Developing Innovative Online Training

One of the reasons information like this is so critical is that too many of us associated with e-learning have not really pushed ourselves to develop models beyond the page-turner, the multiple-stupid interaction page clicker, the game show, the webinar, and the branching simulation.

We need to be more creative—testing our ideas of course in the crucible of the real world—but really working on alternative models. Compilations of ideas (like these reports provide) are very helpful in this regard, again with the caveat that these technologies absolutely have to be designed with the human learner in mind and tested for learning effectiveness.