Exclusive Interview with Mr.Troy Gorostiza, President of Knowledge Stream
Following is an interview with Mr.Troy Gorostiza, President of Knowledge Stream by Dr. Saba
How did you become interested in training and educational technologies?
My first interest in this area was back in 1995 when I attended an audio class and worked on editing an infomercial for a local electronics store. My major at that time was Radio/TV Communications and I loved working in the technology field but wanted to use it differently than I had previously envisioned. By chance, I struck up a conversation with a fellow classmate and found out that there was a new degree being offered that leveraged using technology for instruction. I was instantly hooked. I gravitated towards the Instructional Technology degree because it allowed instructional theories to be converged with technological delivery mechanisms.
Upon receipt of my degree in 1998, I started working as an Instructional Designer in the Silicon Valley specializing in technical based training (TBT) projects for Cisco, Sun, Oracle, Microsoft, NETg, Novell and other software/hardware companies. At the time, the delivery mechanism for courseware was primarily CD-ROM, but newer advances with the Internet began allowing for instructional content to be delivered and tracked natively within the web browser. This shift enabled additional forms of instructional strategies and media to be used, thus enabling more modes for knowledge transfer. Today, the options are endless.
From the Silicon Valley to working in the healthcare and financial industries, my passion for educating learners has been furthered by advances in technology. Today, my focus is on identifying an organization’s true learning deficiencies and creating solutions based on technology, whether it is learning management, curriculum design & development or social & mobile learning solutions.
Tell us more about mobile learning. How do you see the field today; what are some of the clear trends and possibilities?
You bring up a very interesting topic. Mobile Learning, or what we now call mLearning is still in the incubation period. Many learning professionals that have been in the industry for 10+ years have developed or seen some sort of instructional content but it was probably on a Compaq iPaq or Palm device in the early 2000’s. Today’s mLearning takes advantage of much more sophisticated devices and technologies but still has similar challenges that need to be addressed.
Currently, the mLearning field is comprised of custom application developers, authoring tools with mobile friendly exporters, LMS suppliers building mobile wrappers for viewing existing content, and sophisticated mobile distribution systems that handle content aggregation, delivery, security and reporting. A positive sign is that many LMS, LCMS and authoring tool vendors have either implemented some technology to address mobile or are in the process of partnering with some of the industry leaders.
Moving forward, some of the clear trends are mobile solutions that can deliver and track content and performance support items, in addition to being able to be integrated within existing corporate/academic infrastructures. I think compelling content mixed with user engagement via social collaboration and gamification are trends that are gaining traction within the mobile learning community. Whether you are implementing a simple mobile document repository or a sophisticated enterprise-wide mobile performance support initiative, understanding how your users will access the content in the context of their daily activities should be factored in to your analysis.
Mobile devices are omnipresent, we do not need motivation to use the device, instead, we need user engagement to keep learners interested.
What is your take on some of the current technologies and applications; do you have a favorite?
mLearning today is much like how the LMS space was in the early 2000’s… the wild, wild west. There is a lack of standards and understanding of the complexities & cost, yet many vendors are already touting solutions and its benefits.
In the LMS and eLearning world you basically have only the PC and Mac to factor in when designing your solution, but in mobile you have device manufacturers, operating systems, memory allocation and browsers to account for in your mLearning strategies. There is a big push for HTML 5 in both web and mobile browsers which will help standardize and ease content development & deployment, but device manufacturers/carriers still have a big say on how their device works. As a learning professional, you need to look at the various tool and distribution system technologies available today as part of your deployment strategy.
I haven’t broached the subject of the mobile browser vs. mobile app topic but it is something that needs to be addressed. There are many in the industry who are currently debating why developing content for the browser using HTML 5 is a much better approach than to develop an app for each device you are targeting. As part of any mLearning strategy the content, end user’s device and current infrastructure needs to be addressed. If you can provide content that can be viewed in the device’s browser and provide an app for the user, you greatly enhance your adoption and success rate. Over time as support & standardization for HTML 5 becomes more mainstream your approach may change, but right now the mobile app will provide more native functionality and security than just using the device’s browser.
Having developed custom apps for Apple and Android based devices, used authoring and conversion tools, I personally see a need for tools/systems that can accommodate all devices for content deployment, reporting and security. There are so many nuances to account for with each OS and device that many companies actually procure specific devices to streamline development and deployment. If distribution systems could address these issues then we could use the same development tools available today to create compelling content that is targeted for mobile and provides knowledge transfer and performance support.
How these solutions can benefit training managers in the corporate world and educators the public arena?
Wanting to access your distributed workforce or the mobile student is not something new, but advances with mobile devices and the networks they run on is now enabling the possibility to truly impact these learners. Think of mobile as simply the new way to access your learners. Training managers and educators now have access to learners 24/7 if needed. A recent quote from Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, said “Smartphones surpassed PC sales last week. Smartphones are the future of games, productivity, apps…The phone is the new PC, if you will.” Another stat shows that tablets will outpace PC shipments by 2013. All of this means that mobile devices – phones and tablets – provide us with a new platform to reach our learners.
We must not immediately make the mistakes we did in the early 2000’s when we thought changing all instruction to eLearning and tracking it was the best instructional model for our learners. With mobile we do indeed have a new platform that is very technologically advanced but is also very disruptive and used for other reasons. Having a learner take a 30 minute converted compliance eLearning course on their device with a 320x 240 sized screen is not the best use for mobile content.
Those in charge of training and educating students need to look at mobile as a great way to: provide small tidbits of information, communications, notifications, learning reinforcement, iterative learning strategies, field data collection/surveys, access information sources, mobilize social networking, provide sales/marketing product updates, leadership support & coaching, and for professional development.
How do you see the future of mLearning? There are many devices, operating systems, and platforms; do you see the field further diverging or converging to some standards?
With 67 of every 100 inhabitants worldwide having a cellular subscription and 60% of the time now being spent on new activity (not phone or email), mLearning has a very bright future as a natural extension for training managers and educators.
That being said, the technology side of mLearning is still being molded and will be for the foreseeable future as devices, carriers, developers and the learning community continue to mature. The lack of standards (no formal SCORM support until end of 2011), unfamiliarity with how users will adopt new mLearning offerings, confusion of vendor offerings and cost are all issues that many of us are dealing with today.
Device manufacturers, carriers and mobile OS providers will continue to release new offerings at an amazingly fast pace while we in the learning community try to figure out where mLearning fits.
Today, several of the top LMS providers offer some support for mobile learning and a couple of the top LCMS providers now have pretty sophisticated solutions for creating, importing and organizing assets for mobile content. Many authoring tool vendors (Adobe, Articulate, BrainShark, Impatica, QuestionMark, Rapid Intake, Raptivity, Toolbook, Trivantis, etc…) provide new support for creating mLearning content. A select few tech companies have end-to-end mobile distribution systems that can manage the complete lifecycle of user/device management, content integration & deployment, reporting & analytics and integration with LCMS/LMS systems.
The field will continue to mature in three distinct areas:
- mLearning Tool Providers
- Custom App Developers
- LMS/LCMS/Mobile Distribution System Providers
Most of the convergence/acquisition will take place in the platform area since this is where the majority of the larger companies in the space reside. Many large LMS providers will either try to build out their own mobile distribution system technologies or acquire the ones currently available. LCMS vendors will continue to align with authoring tool providers as well as the distribution providers to make their offering more compelling to the LMS players. There will be a need for custom app developers as their business models are similar to today’s custom eLearning developers. Unlike before, mLearning has the capability of completely re-shifting the learning landscape as it is influenced by so many technologies, tools, providers, educators, device manufacturers, and carriers.
Thank you for sharing this valuable information with us. I am sure our readers will find this interview informative and interesting.
Troy is a consulting and learning solutions expert with over twelve years of hands-on and management experience across multiple industries specializing in business development, solution consulting, LMS product management, and custom development for ILT, eLearning, performance support and mobile. He has significant experience leading web application and mobile development teams, developing for-profit customer facing eLearning programs, contract and proposal writing for custom mobile, learning and web applications. In addition, he is adept at recognizing industry trends and counseling clients on the strategic direction for their learning and marketing initiatives. Troy holds a BS in Instructional Technology – Multimedia from California State University (Chico).
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