I'm sure a lot of us will feel like Vaughn's "pessimist" on December 31st, when the end of the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close. But while most of us would like to see 2009 and the economic recession leave and never return, there is no denying that this year was a monumental year in workplace learning for technology, informal learning, and employee performance.

Web 2.0 technologies - blogs, wikis, and social networking sites - exploded onto the scene, but not without some questions and hesitation from workplace learning professionals. These collaborative tools don't fit into the traditional delivery models, but they are the future and must be welcomed if learning executives expect to succeed.

Many experts think social media will change even more in 2010. David Armano, on the Social Media in Learning blog, says that "social media will get more popular, more mobile, and more

exclusive - with groups, lists, and niche networks becoming more popular, networks could begin

to feel more 'exclusive.'"

Although the year has been difficult - with budget cuts and reductions in force - it has forced all learning departments to explore new and less expensive methods of delivering learning, including e-learning, simulations, and other online options. The learning process evolved this year, from one-time training events to continuous informal learning that happens anytime, anywhere, in a variety of formats.

The need to find more effective and efficient ways to train employees became critical during this down economy, and those new ways of designing and delivering training will be the wave of the future in learning.

Survival of the learning function in the down economy was all about leveraging existing best practices, eliminating redundancies, and creating programs or situations where employees can learn from each other. This 2009 economy taught us three things: learning must be linked to the strategic goals of your company, your organization must become a champion of human capital management, and you must be able to communicate the value of learning to your executives.

Although this year has been one for the ages, the trends that emerged and the lessons learned will lead workplace learning down an exciting and successful path for the future.

Paula Ketter

Editor, T+D

pketter@astd.org