The Race for X.0

Well, the rush is on to futurecast the next generation of everything! The pundits are exhaling everything related to community, content, social learning, commerce, technology, change, collaboration, virtualization, personalization, ubiquity, context, search, faceted classification et al into new versions and avatars of the web and learning. The race is on getting the next version X.0 right!

Maybe it is time to take  step back and evaluate the fundamentals of what we are trying to grapple with in the familiar context of the trilogy – learner, content and technology. It is important to not only look at the who, what and how, but also the when, where and why of how we expect learning and the web to go. One thing is for sure, the thing that has really changed is that online users now have a voice and everyone is making themselves heard!

So in the midst of everything, the father of the Web has something to say. It is something very simple, yet very profound. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the W3C, envisions the Web to be a semantic web.

I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.

—Tim Berners-Lee, 1999

For him, everything can and should be described in a common format (Resource Description Format – RDF), so that information can be manipulated just as files on a computer.

Then there is Fabrizio Cardinali, CEO of Giunti Labs and Chairman, European Learning Industry Group, who runs the Learn eXact LCMS product. He strongly believes that elearning 1.0 failed to be effective and most large initiatives closed down or reduced in scope, but none actually reached their potential. He talks of elearning 3.0 now as Personal Ambient Learning Services – a system based on open services where he talks of broadband. mobile and the ubiquitous Internet that boasts of personal ambient knowledge based on both location and context and learning that encompasses mobile learning, wearable learning and performance support.

There is Sramana Mitra, an entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon valley since 1994, who thinks Web 3.0 is or will be 4C + P + VS (content, commerce, community, context, personalization and vertical search), with rolled-up content plus services that shall be contextual and targeted.

There is Christian Renuaud from CISCO, who thinks that collaboration will flourish in a mixed (real and virtual), rich, content augmented reality. Tim O’Reilly, of O’Reilly Media, says

“Creativity is no longer about which companies have the most visionary executives, but who has the most compelling architecture of participation”.

I don’t know what the future holds, but elearning is not going to be the same again, nor is the web. And I am so excited about the possibilities!

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