What’s on the horizon for instructional design

The 2010 Horizon report, a collaboration between The New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative,  provides some interesting insights on changes that are likely to become part of the learning landscape in the next five years.

Digital literacy skills are critical

As learners are inundated with online information, tools that help them make sense of things are increasingly important. Instructors/learning facilitators play an important role in this process by helping learners to:

  • Develop skills to evaluate the credibility of online information
  • Hone critical thinking skills as they wade through the internet shallows
  • Integrate value-adding technology into their lives to research, experiment, and foster creativity

Learning is mobile and continuous

Learners continue to demand  just-in-time learning when and where they happen to be at the moment and that means an increasing reliance on mobile devices. However, as the Horizon Report notes, “Faster approaches are perceived to be better approaches.” This attitude may reflect workplace pressures, but it can also lead to learning “solutions” that promote shallow learning over critical thinking. There’s the learning corollary to the saying, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.  Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” Teaching problem-solving may take longer and be more frustrating to a learner but it  provides more long-term benefits.

The call for rapid elearning will continue to create tension between the need to produce deliverables to meet client demands and the professional obligation to create learning solutions that meet organizational goals and provide meaningful outcomes. Delivering multiple choice questions by smart phones may be quick but it isn’t necessarily the best way to craft mlearning.

Learning’s in the cloud

This is a very good thing since it means we can access information in a location-independent and also generally device- independent fashion.

Collaboration is the new old model

Collaboration as a means to enhance learning is not a new idea, but new technologies that permit online collaborations, often in real-time, mean that learning groups can be globally distributed and can share virtual workspaces. Since this mirrors and enhances natural work environments, informal learning using such tools makes a great deal of sense.

The proliferation of social networks means that learners have access to a wider network of experts as well as colleagues and fellow learners. As facilitators, instructors should help learners understand how to use such networks efficiently, reflectively, and in a way that can effect workplace solutions. The ability to draw upon the knowledge of multidisciplinary perspectives through these networks also mirrors the demands of work environments and so can naturally fit into training approaches.

Six technologies to watch

The Horizon report identifies six technologies/platforms to watch.

  1. Mobile computing
  2. Open-content
  3. Electronic books
  4. Simple augmented realities
  5. Gesture-based computing (devices that are controlled by natural movements of the finger, hand, arm, and body)
  6. Visual data analysis

In future blogs, I’ll look at these six technologies/platforms in more detail and give you my take on their integration into elearning and instructional design.


Johnson, Laurence F., Levine, Alan, Smith, Rachel S. and Stone, Sonja. 2010 Horizon Report. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium, 2010.


One response to “What’s on the horizon for instructional design

  1. Pingback: Augmented reality platforms and mlearning « Instructional Design Fusions

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