Friday, 21 December 2007

Google Trends

It's that time of year again, a time to reflect on trends past and future. Sparked by Tom King's comparison of authoring tools I thought I'd take a fresh look at what Google Trends can tell us about e-learning and the wider training industry.

There is a seemingly endless debate over how to spell the name of what we do. Are we "e-learning" or "elearning" or "eLearning"? Google Trends suggests that the hyphen is gradually losing ground over the past four years. So just as "e-mail" has become "email", this is perhaps a sign of our industry's growing acceptance.

Having said that, when you compare "training" to any spelling of elearning, our industry still hardly registers on the chart in terms of volume. Curiously, there is an annual peak in interest in training at the start of each year which then steadily declines through to Christmas. There is also a clear overall decline which is countered by a steady rise in news citings, maybe due to talent management and skills issues became more mainstream political issues. In terms of market activity and interest in e-learning in general, there are clear signs that more and more training is becoming blended or delivered fully online. In the US, the ASTD found in its latest State of the Industry report that 30.28% of learning hours were technology-based delivery in 2006. This can only have grown this year.

In the past 12 months, we've seen the emergence of genuine interest in Performance Support, Mobile Learning and Serious Games while for all the chatter in the industry this year, Informal Learning doesn't even register in its own right – yet. Perhaps this is because the shifting focus on supporting learning anywhere, anytime and using engaging, game/simulation design models is more naturally aligned with informal methods.

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