Let me begin by saying I am an Elliot Masie fan, I love going to Learning in Orlando in the Autumn, Masie’s Learning still the best produced event on the learning circuit, it’s just a shame I don’t get to go every year.

As part of the pre-publicity Elliot usually does a call to gently promote the event but also to share his and his colleagues take on the latest learning trends and the 1 hour recording is well worth watching.

Here are my reflections on his engaging and effective video exposition of the first six topics covered!


Remember Elliot focuses more on corporate learning than in the education world, and seems to be taken with the term Learning Tech, rather than the more European trend towards edtech, but e-learning got a lot of mentions and it is not a term that is going to die any time soon in my view.

Personalisation was big in education over a number of years and Elliot now sees this coming to the fore in the corporate learning market, but with a different nuance and stepping beyond the fixation with gadgets to allow us to learn in different places, (though we get more on gadgets later) that’s mobile I guess.

The key challenge to personalisation is it would appear being able to allow the learner the “space and freedom” to learn “their way” while the learning remains aligned to the workplace needs. Elliot argues that learners will increasingly become shapers or producers of their own learning, reflecting Sir Ken Robinson’s views (he is at Learning 2014). This means choice and fine tuning.  Learners are naturally interested in learning that they feel they need to know, not what they already know and if they can simply look it up….why bother to learn it at all!

This emerging style will challenge LMS vendors and others to support personalisation, and here Elliot sees the role of Adaptive Learning with self skill certifications and tests at commencement and learning adapting to the actual role requirements as key to personalisation.

Personalisation will lead to an extrusion of learning that will break down a series of rituals by (dare I say it offering or blending) e-learning, 70 20 10 learning, work place learning and of course classroom learning in new layers and settings.


One of the key themes for Learning 2014 is the notion that compliance is out of control.

It is estimated by Masie research that 60% to 70% of all e-learning in use is for compliance…. driven by highly risk averse  corporate lawyers and law makers.

This has a negative impact, as most organisations still adopt a “Sheep-dip” approach to compliance and this is damaging the e-learning brand!


The challenge is how this compliance and regulation requirement can be better met, and Elliot is arguing for greater use of assessment to focus the actual learning (e-learning) on the delta (the gap in knowledge) and check learning more effectively by the completion of a meanigful assessment.

Other ideas from Elliot to make this happen include moving on from simple check box assessment to the dashboard model of self assessments (with organisational oversight and sampling).

He argues it could be possible to use of 360 feedback to support compliance or more interestingly use project based learning labs to act out and simulate issues, using lots of video input.

So…..What have the lawyers ever done for us?

For those of us in the e-learning development industry, reflect on this:  to paraphrase Monty Python “What have the Romans ever done for us?” we must ask “What have the lawyers ever done for us?” Well it appears that the corporate lawyers are responsible for this fixation on compliance and therefore the commissioning of large amounts of e-learning.


Elliot has long been the prophet of the ever increasing use of video in learning and his views have not changed. He argues that now 60 to 70% of web searches now lead to a video offer!

Video meets a need in that it does not offer a structured skills development course, which learners may be reluctant to enter on, but will enjoy the opportunity to “look over some ones shoulder” through the medium of a video.

Elliot foresees videos as getting shorter and is excited about the TED-ed development of providing a new open tool kit for the creation of short courses using mediated TED content.

Video choices he argues will be used to offer options (personalisation) to learners as several will be aligned to the assessment not just one.

More interestingly Elliot highlighted that using the text of the video scripts more detailed tests and interactions can be developed with Video materials. This is a particularly interesting development indeed as it will lead to greater searchability of the content and will increase the utility of video in learning.

Learning tech and the Affordance test

As mentioned above the shorthand of choice aimed at devices is Learning Tech in the Masie view, and there is no doubt Elliot loves devices and the Masie center devotes a great deal of time and effort to looking at all manner of devices to explore their “affordance” .

This term Affordance is an interesting term used by Masie…. and is defined by Wikipedia as: An affordance is a property of an object, or an environment, which allows an individual to perform an action.”

The hierarchy of Affordance testing appears to begin with is it Cool? Does it work? What does it do?….that is better for the organisation, the learner or the learning designer and where  is it on the cycle…is it scary, hyped or just exciting!

Elliot really refused to be drawn to make firm predictions, instead he argues rightly for experimentation and makes the key point it is not the device but what we can do with them that matters.

If I had to second guess his views I detect a strong interest in i-beacons, possibly in wearables…glasses, watches and more but a real view that we have not seen the full potential of Smartphones in learning yet, where a lot of learning integration is still to take place.

3d printers and drones were noted, and the Maker Movement as a source of innovation was highlighted.

Collaboration and Social Learning      

While these two terms are often used collectively, Elliot was at pains to emphasise they are not the same and should not be used interchangeably. They are different. Collaboration is structured with activities and interdependencies. This is obviously not so in social learning.

Social learning is in danger of being overhyped in Elliot’s view and fixation on click count is not enough, nor is simply installing Yammer, Jive or SharePoint and hoping it will work.

For collaboration focused learning to work their needs to be a focus on design and learners do not want multiple locations to visit, all the activities must be easily accessible and need to be in one place.

Effective collaboration depends upon levels activity good profiling and effective search functions. The importance of learners being able to share knowledge collaboratively is key and the construct and culture of doing so is crucial as well as the tools to search …..I paraphrase!


Another point of clarification is made and rightly so, Serious Gaming is not Gamification.

Serious Gaming is big complex and costly and has been around for a while.

Gamification is a newer term that has spilt over from marketing and operates as a layer over e-learning, often adding competitions, recognition and badging into the mix.

Elliot highlighted the work of Jane McGonigal in highlighting the benefits that gaming can bring towards improving happiness and motivation: Urgent Optimism, Social fabric, Blissful productivity and Epic meaning.

Interestingly, Elliot reports many organisations are nervous about using the term gaming for fear of media shaming…..and use engagement as the learning genre, as ever Elliot highlights that if the genre is to succeed it is all about the design: it needs to be targeted, realistic, efficient, addresses time to competence and finally as mentioned defendable to the cynical.

Games and Gamification has a future in Masie’s view especially in high risk skills, if it is done well.

More to follow soon!