Monday, February 04, 2008

Learning Technologies draft

This is a draft of a story for Ohmynews, probably to be finalised next weekend.

Adobe proposes Flash for learning
e-Skills Maturity Model continues to feature on business radar

Adobe emphasised a view of learning around Flash for video and an animated web at their stand during Learning Technologies, a show at Olympia in London last week. Although the word "Acrobat" is still used to describe a software product there was almost no mention for the Portable Document Format (PDF) widely assumed to be associated with a large proportion of current income. The implication is that Adobe anticipates a web based less on text and learning environments based less on paper. Acceptance for online learning was evidenced by e-Skills UK, featuring case studies linked to a maturity model launched at Learning Technologies last year.

The combination of Captivate and Connect allows for rapid creation of presentations starting from Powerpoint which is assumed to be familiar for most people working on training in organisations. Content is displayed through Flash whether it is video or a form of paper. Collaboration is possible through video conferencing or text chat. Connect Professional has administration features that are not available in the Acrobat Connect offer that is now part of Acrobat. Previously Acrobat was known as software relating to PDF, a format that put on screen a recognisable representation of design for a paper page. In 2005, Adobe appeared to buy Macromedia though the discussions at the time may have suggested some form of merger. Managers from Macromedia continue to be influential in several Adobe business units. When Acrobat 8 was released in 2006 it included a menu choice to launch Connect, formerly known as Breeze when part of Macromedia. Although Adobe claim there is integration between the Flash and PDF formats it is my impression that the Connect approach in Acrobat 8 has almost no relation to the rest of the PDF based part of the software that most people are familiar with. There is no way to save a record of text chat as a PDF though it can be saved as text from which a PDF could be created. There is no way to save a PDF version of slides unless the presenter chooses to offer this.If this sounds confused it is because I am confused. I am stuck on PDF as a normal route so suddenly having Flash all over the place needs some getting used to. -Will 2/3/08 1:15 PM

There were many other signs of support for video as a direction. datmedia showed how videos can be integrated with web pages through any browser. They support many channels from organisations, including the Learning Technologies event. A presentation from last year is on the datmedia website. Techsmith offer Snagit as a way to capture screen sequences as a Flash file and Camtasia Studio for related processes. Flash is assumed to be widely available or at least within the scope of software supported by a training department.

There was some evidence in progress on establishing learning as a business priority. Last year e-Skills UK launched a report - "Towards Maturity" - showing how technology is adapted in organisations. Recently Laura Overton has reported on the e-Skills website about Online Educa Berlin where Sue Todd – President and CEO of corporate University exchange - who presented details of her recent benchmarking activity with her membership organisations around the globe.

Her research shows that businesses are waking up to the value of learning to the bottom line of their business. Sue believes this as potentially a great thing as learning success in the future will require training to be perceived as a core business process supporting business goals in the same way as marketing or manufacturing does.

Case studies from Towards Maturity site

So far I don't see much evidence of "leadership" or senior management as a driver for e-learning. Last year my impression was that technology was introduced by people in training or IT or because people found it useful at home. Senior managers got involved when given detailed training. conversation this year suggests things may be changing. Board approval is getting easier. I am still looking at the case studies.


Above is news, comment and quotes can follow. It strikes me that "social networking" is much discussed but academic theory around this is not connected.


The question for information professionals working across all types of sectors and organisations is what will the impact be on them and their work is learning 2.0 in all its proliferations does turn out to be something more than marketing hype. One cast-iron reason why it may stay the course is the simple reason that people (and especially younger learners) appear to enjoy the freedom, interconnection, and interactivity that is on offer. A few years ago one of the ways that the internet was fostering learning (especially informal learning and knowledge sharing) was through communities of practice (CoPs). These CoPs are individuals which technology could connect and bring together so that they could share knowledge and improve both individual and organisational performance through sharing of experience in an unstructured way. Just by belonging to the community your experience, knowledge and expertise was assumed and accepted. Learning 2.0 can be seen as the young cousin of CoPs. Learning 2.0 is social network transformed for a learning purpose.

From Information World Review blog, based on Stephen Downes at Learntech Conference

I think the CoP discussion started as an academic way to describe something. It became a practical aim later. Now seen as from the past because I think the academic discussion is not connected with the blogs. I may be wrong but the people who are published in journals seem to be in a parallel world. "Networked Learning" has a critique of the idea of community but I can't find anything recent online for free. There may be something in journals but it is expensive to find out.

Ideas of Community and Implications for Theorising Networked Learning

My impression so far is that "leadership" is not a way to explain how organisations take on e-learning, and "distributed leadership" drifts back to organisation.

Back to News

From the Houston Chronicle

"While Adobe will have new product releases this year (including Photoshop Express, Acrobat 9 and Creative Suite 4 in our view), we are concerned that these won't be strong enough to buck the picture of deteriorating demand," MacMillan said.analyst Ross MacMillan said in a client note. He also cut his price target to $30 from $50.

So what will Acrobat 9 be like? There is almost no publicity for MARS, an XML rewrite of the PDF format. I still think the hard copy aspects of communication have some sort of base. But the Adobe push on Flash and AIR (integrated runtime) mark a significant break away from page based design.

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