An Effective E-Learning Course – Design Elements for An Instructional Strategy

E-Learning
Learning Managers are needed to understand their specific learning problems and corresponding requirement so that they select right vendor company to develop and deliver the most effective e-learning solution.

Learning or Instructional Strategy is not something which can be demanded or instructed to learning developer to adopt; it is devised based on certain elements or parameters. In this discussion we will be analyzing only design related parameters. The other parameters are commercials, development tool, delivery platform technology etc.

The design based parameters to decide learning or instructional strategy are:

  • Learner – All about learner profile; academic, cultural, personal etc. all which can affect his/her learning abilities
  • Objectives – Enabling objectives; specific abilities to be developed after course completion
  • Content – Type of content; process, procedures, principles, facts or concepts

The above elements are the three pillars for an Instructional Designer to decide about course instructional strategy.

Among these three, Learner and Objectives are defined by learning problem; you won’t get much room to change or modify them. Content is a depended variable, you can chunk or modify it in-accordance with the Learner profile and the Objectives.

Let’s Understand Objectives and Learner in brief:

  • Objectives –Objectives can be considered as 100% independent variable; once objectives are decided, then everything in instructional strategy has to fall in accordance to it. Objectives are derived values from your learning need or problem. Your learning need is your problem and objectives are the desired change or required solution to solve those problems. In most of the cases you won’t get alternative learning solutions; for example, if learner is to acquire ‘Apply’ skill, then he/she has to have corresponding cognitive ability; if learner is to acquire ‘Drive’ (a physical activity), then he/she has to have corresponding psychomotor ability.

    For several issues, always the learning environment won’t be conducive enough to achieve set specific abilities; in that case you can target to achieve a skill higher than to it. For example, if it is difficult for you to achieve ‘list’, then try to acquire ‘describe’ which is a higher skill to ‘list’. This target or objective shift will cost you more.

  • Learner – In general, learners are also considered as 100% independent variable. While developing a course you may face few challenges or constraints that makes difficult to develop or convert the content which suits learner’s learning style. For example, it is very difficult to convert theoretical subjects into pictorial forms; in this case, you can prepare or train learner to learn in other than his/her style. It is difficult to bring significant change in learning style but you can succeed to an extent.

Conclusion:

We understood that, Content is a dependent variable and Learner and Objectives are independent variables. It is an excellence of a learning developer or an e-learning company which can bring little change or modify Learner and Objectives and deliver an effective e-learning course. So the final suggestion for learning manager is to identify right learning need and required learning solution, then select the most dependable learning developer to deliver you the most suitable learning solution.

To make things simple, below table helps you to map learning objectives, learner style and corresponding content type.
Elearning

Note: If required, you can add more number of problems.

E-Templates – A new approach in Rapid E-Learning Course Development

elearning templates

Advanced eLearning Authoring Tools have made eLearning Development Easy

The rapid and extensive advances in technology have brought on incredible innovation in all fields of human interest. The impact of the same can be seen in the e-learning space, and these days, this specialized segment is breaking new ground continuously.

With this increasing demand, a lot of small-sized companies, as well as corporates are venturing into the elearning development arena. Even individuals who have sufficient technical backup can successfully create quality elearning resources. The process becomes trouble-free when appropriate elearning authoring tools such as effective elearning software and professionally created eTemplates become available. Novel elearning authoring tools like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora softwares have created new dimensions in custom content development.

The Assistance of Professional e-Learning Solution Providers is Imperative.

Whether your aim is to build courses that are highly interactive and engaging and/or build courses that have clear objectives and help the learners reach them, there are many considerations, including

  • Instructional design capability.
  • Are you starting with quality content.
  • Accessibility.
  • Whether to use videos, animation.
  • Use of Graphics and narration.
  • Tests and assessment.

Sometimes simple is all you need, but the challenges can be complex. Only when each of these are tackled in a pragmatic way, will you be able to generate quality e-learning programs. It is here the assistance of professional e-Learning solutions providers becomes imperative. They will help you with the needed eLearning authoring tools, so that the process becomes clear and is simplified. Resourcefully Created eTemplates are Crucial for E-Learning Creation.

Many of those engaged in the development of e-Learning programs, including skilled trainers and instructional designers often find the process a bit daunting. The basic reason for this is that they will not be proficient in programming or graphic designing and see technology as the obstacle. Accessing professionally created eLearning authoring tools such as elearning software and eTemplates is the best bet for tackling such situations. This will not only reduce the complexity of development, it also provides a more cost effective solution.

There are specialized e-template websites from where one can pick a perfect template that will drive down the intricacy of the process of e-learning course creation. These eTemplates are created using quality elearning software; templates Lectora and Captivate elearning templates are examples.

Advantages of Using e-Templates:

  • Quick turnaround.
  • Cost effective.
  • Modifiable – achieve a customised look and adapt and update according to requirements.
  • Such eTemplates are modifiable, and you can create contents in line with your imaginations.
  • Achieve a consistent approach to your learning programs.

Download free Elearning Templates: http://etemplate.elearningserv.com/

E-Learning and Blended Learning

Blended Learning It is difficult to find one simple solutions for a complex issues. The expectations with regards to performance at work place or at home are complex; we need a blend of various learning solutions to resolve these complex issues. In such a scenario, Blended learning offers a greater chance of success.

Blended learning is not new concepts. In fact, it is an age-old concept that existed for several centuries. In ancient India, the pupil leave with their teacher or guru for years in Ashrams. The pupil was imparted theoretical knowledge, in the presence of the guru, sitting under the tree. The requisite physical training took place in open places. The pupil would also help the guru in the preparation of food. And, many such areas of learning were available under a single roof under the aegis of a single teacher. Blended Learning is akin to the form of pedagogical practice such as the Gurukul where there exists a blend of various training or learning strategies.

Today, the needs and challenges of learning have changed. Enlisted below are a few such challenges:

  • Time constraint
  • Total number of students that can be reached
  • Learners being distributed at far different places
  • Complexity of tasks to perform
  • Complexity of content
  • Forms of content (Audio, Video, Text etc.)
  • Infrastructure
  • Cost

All these factors necessitate a unique learning strategy; a strategy that constructs a learning environment that has the following features.

  • Ease of access of content to remote learners
  • Platforms to deliver various types of content anywhere and anytime.
  • A learner-centric Learning Module/Design.
  • Easy tracking
  • Multiple delivery of learning content
  • Regulatory or supervisory control over content, trainer performance and learner’s understanding.

The above learning environment is a blend of technology and traditional learning strategies.

E-Learning and Blended Learning:

Technology helps create most effective blend of learning solutions. E-learning, itself, is a technology-enabled blended learning concept. It can be mixed with traditional learning solutions like instructor-led training programs, books, field trips, etc.

Blended learning is the latest product in the arsenal of e-learning. Companies that develop Learning solutions help organizations build a blend of learning solutions suitable to their requirement and resources. Technology enabled Blended Learning includes all the advantages of e-learning and more; It offers more time and variety of platforms to deliver content.

Blended Learning solution does increase the cost of learning but the benefits, in terms of the significant impact on business goals, mitigate its costs. Blended Learning helps bring a very real and desired change in employee performance which in turn boosts the organization’s performance.

Learning managers or Officers face the challenge of application of Blended Learning. It is indeed a challenge because they are the premiere points of contact with an overview of various processes and have the requisite expertise to identify the areas of improvement. And so, they must lead the process of incorporating a suitable Blended Learning technique in the learning environments of their company by understanding the specific needs of the organization and employees, and developing a suitable strategy to combat the same.

Why E-Learning? – A simple analysis

Elearning

E-Learning industry is witnessing tremendous growth in terms of revenue and application. It has become a synonym for many of the learning requirements in corporates, academics and government institutions. To provide most suitable learning solutions, industry experts exploring and inventing creative methods and approaches such as Custom Learning Solutions, Rapid Learning Solutions, Gamifications, Instructor Led Training programs and blend of these methods and approaches.

There are people who still want to get convinced with e-learning as an effective learning delivery platform or methodology. Let’s have an elaborative explanation of relevant factors and self-analysis of different learning platforms.

Before we start, one thing we must know that, e-learning is not the only method and as like as any other thing it is not 100% perfect. There are many other methodologies with different level of effectiveness but e-learning can be taken as better alternative considering current challenges and available means.

Let’s understand why e-learning is a current trend under following two headings:

I – Current Learning Demands

At macro level, we receive demand for learning solutions from following three areas:

  1. Academics – Inquiry is a driving factor in this sector, it drives academicians, teachers and students to understand the known world of knowledge and explore the unknown. To make this simple and move at advance stages of learning experiences, people look for different effective methodologies and platforms.
  2. Small and Large Businesses – Competition is a driving factor of this sector; to yield higher profits,companies look for effective training and learning avenues which help to serve better and produce at an optimum level.
  3. Households – Leading better life is a driving factor for households – People want to learn to take right decisions in areas like finance, health, relationships etc.

Note: Members of Academics, Businesses and Households are same but they demand learning solutions as per the expectations of the role they play in above described areas. There is an enormous increase of volume and complexities in learning content and its applications; people need help to make it simple in less time and cost.

II – Available Technology

When the wheel invented, it was an advance technology of that time and it enabled people to move things and people with easy. Today’s advance technology has affected human life in following three major areas:

  1. Time – The common benefit of using advance technology is ‘time’. Technology has reduced time significantly compare to do the same thing before.
  2. Cost – Most often technology is proved as a tool or technique to reduce cost of an activity comparing the same in past.
  3. Accessibility – Technology has increased human reach/access to more places, more people, more things and more knowledge.

Comparative Analysis of Different Learning Methodologies

We gained some idea about current demand of learning and available technology. This understanding helps us to assess different delivery platforms of learning.

There are following three major delivery platforms for learning:

  1. Informal – In this platform you won’t find any structured method to educate people/resources to achieve any desired change or outcome.
  2. Classroom – This platform is one of the oldest methods of education. It is about bringing learners and trainer under one roof and adopting all possible tools and techniques such as chalk boards, projectors, computers, books, field trips, lab sessions etc.Classrooms provide opportunity to blend several tools, techniques and methods to create an effective learning experience. Under this platform you schedule specific instructors and learners to come at one place on specified time. The two greatest advantages of this platform is human emotions/touch and learner engagement; teacher/trainer can use his facial expressions, hands and other bodily movements to make his teaching effective and learners can engage more.
  3. E-Learning – This is about delivering learning through various electronic platforms. With the advent of internet and mobile devices, these platform scan be used to deliver content any-where and any time. The technology allows learner to interact with learning content and receive feedback accordingly. The platform gives opportunity to blend different types of learning strategies effectively. Even the greatest advantages of classroom teaching i.e. human emotions (through classroom recordings sessions, webinars etc.,) and learner engagement (through assessments and other interactions with learning content) can be achieved effectively.

Analysis- Below chart allows you to assess each platform against key items of considerations or factors:

Elearning

Instructions: Rate each platform as Below Average, Average and Above Average using 1, 2, 3. Sum-up all the ratings to find the most effective platform. You can add more factors (key items) specific to your need.

Apple’s ‘Bendgate’ – E-Learning is a better strategy to avoid product failures

E-learning

Oooooh it is bending, it is Iphone, it is Apple, Steve Jobs.

It happens with any designer, manufacturer, developer even it has happened with Steve Jobs too in 2010 with Iphone 4 the ‘Antenagate’. To the world at large Steve Jobs is known as a meticulous product manager but still Iphone 4 Antenagate is a reality. In general, people bother about product looks from outside; Steve Jobs was a person who also cares about inside looks. So it is not just about how meticulous you are, how skilled full developers and designers you have and what quality of material you use; it is also about how much you and your entire team is aware of possible product failures.

Case: Let’s discuss a case of an e-learning course to educate chemical and physical characteristics of raw materials used in the development of various products.

Course Requirements - Client asked to develop a course describing chemical and physical features of materials to be used in product development like plastic, silicon, metals etc. This helps new executive engineers to enhance and recall their knowledge on materials that company may use in present and future product developments. It is like training Java to new software developers who already learned it in their academics.

Course Purpose - To enable learners develop products with least possibility of hardware failures.

Learning Solution - Following are the key aspects of the course requirement:

    • Implementation of training every time new designers and engineers are recruited
    • Hiring expert trainers to provide quality training
    • Establishment of Infrastructure to conduct training programs
    • Allocating required Budget
    • Managing training programs at various locations around the globe

Considering above list of requirement, an e-learning course is proposed; following are the list of benefits:

    • The course was developed with the help of experienced instructional designer, visualizers, in-house contract based SMEs and client side engineers.
    • It is posted on company LMS from where it is implemented to learners distributed at various locations around the globe.
    • LMS helps to track and grade leaners as per their performances
    • Greater control on content and quality
    • Cost effective

Scope of the course: It was purely a technical course dealing two aspects of each raw material i.e. basic chemical and physical features and their performances as per the specified product design.

Example: Basic chemical and physical features of silicon are described with the help of appropriate images and simple plain content using interactive presentation strategies. In next stage, course explains best possible dimensions and strength configurations of the material to be maintained in products to be developed and achieve business objectives like cost, durability and performance.

Learning and Business Results - The e-learning course has helped learners to increase their understanding on materials and develop cheaper and better products. In result, hardware defects has been reduced significantly and helped to build brand as one of the best product makers.

Conclusion - It is very important to understand basic details of raw materials for all decision makers who are directly related with product development. E-learning is considered as the best strategic tool to educate or train resources and achieve better business results.

What about surplus learning budgets?

Elearning

Companies allocate budgets for their learning requirements. Learning managers are responsible and have authority to spend these funds to satisfy learning needs in their respective organization. In general it is observed that, at the end of each financial year, all learning needs are satisfied but some part of allocated fund remain unspent.

It is an opportunity for learning managers to invest in learning needs other than required for core operations like employee benefits, slow performers, skill enhancement for reducing time and improving quality, emotional development of employees etc. In an ideal case, these funds should go in areas which are not related to core operations and more towards employee benefits.

Following is the list of courses which you can buy or make an order for:

• Courses to improve or enhance Emotional Intelligence – Emotions are weakness of a person, but the same time this could prove strength too. Emotions enable persons to bring best out from them.

• Courses on Sports – Getting trained in sports and playing with colleagues will help to establish relationships and increase relatedness. Sports develops team spirit which is very important element in delivering projects successfully.

• Courses related to Home Affair Management – Other than office, the person spends time and energies managing home affairs. The person or resource may be good enough in his skills, but if he fails in managing home affairs, then this will effect on his work.

• Courses related to Physical Health – Physical fitness has direct impact on work output in office. Courses on simple and effective exercises to be done in office and home will benefit resource and office as well.

• Course on Divinity – Religion is the main source from where person seek energy and no religion develops negative energy. Religious teaching helps person to find right direction to put his/her energy and time whole heartedly. This helps organization to benefit in work and maintaining healthy and happy in his surroundings including office.

• Courses on Positive Engagements – Courses related to simple magic, poetry, music, dance etc. will help person to engage in activities which resist him to move towards negative activities and helps to build confidence and feel of special.

Providing course in these areas will give caring message to employees. They feel company cares about them as it cares about its business. This helps to develop attachment towards company and feel like another home. This is very difficult for all company to develop these feelings in resources; get use of surplus funds and benefit your organization.

E-Learning Through Smart Watches – Finding Possibilities

Smart Watches

E-Learning is the name of the service which delivers learning solutions through any possible electronic platform in the most convenient and effective way for learners. The ever evolving technology offers delivery platforms for learning designers to opt and provide most suitable learning solution products.

If technology meets the imagination, smart watches are going to be new trend in the market. As content developers, we must be aware and prepare for new delivering platforms. Thinking of delivering content on smart watches should not be taken as jumping on every new technology to deliver learning. Still learners can learn sitting under the tree; the most ancient way we know of group learning. The point is to address learners in best possible way. In few days the learners will become users of new technologies and change their living style in accordance to it. We can’t developcontent for older ways/platforms of which learners are not users. The new paradigm is of learner centered, we need to mold our strategies or approaches as per the learner.

Launch of Apple watch is not the first smart watch, already similar products are in the market from other technology giants. This trend will move further with new features and specifications to offer more and more applications of daily life, so the learning. The learning companies should prepare themselves and develop ways to deliver effective learning solutions for these wearable technology platforms.

Transition from Desktop to mobile is still in process, there is a large portion of the industry which still struggling to develop content for mobile devices. Now a new challenge emerged to develop content for micro screens. The companies which are already in developing content for mobile devices may not face it as difficult as those who don’t. Still it is a great challenge to deliver content developed in different styles of content presentation such as animations, diagrams, images etc.

Above all challenges, it has great potential to reach more learners anywhere for more time of the day with wide range of subjects. We can expect applications to come-up in the smart watches market to deliver learning content. Considering its small screen size, developing content again in traditional style of slides couldn’t be a good idea. Content designer should invent new creative ideas suitable for wearable technologies. The one option could be like Branching Scenarios (or Skip Survey) where learner makes decisions based on the situations posed on him/her. The challenge in smart watches is to develop content for small interaction area or small screen to present content like slides (for big screens like desktops, laptops, tabs or large screen smartphones). It is now clear that we can’t go with slide wise presentation of content with wearable technologies; there must be some other way to make learners learn.

An another wearable devices which is much different compare to smart watch is ‘Google Glass’. On similar line, more devices come in future with different challenges and opportunities; as content/learning designers we must be creative enough to deliver content effectively.

Articulate Storyline Tutorials: Part 2 (Enable next button after visiting all interaction)

In Articulate Storyline using States, ENABLE Next button after visiting all interaction buttons

1) Take New Slide and rename corresponding layer in Slide Layers section. For example we will rename it as “Interactivity”.

2) Adding elements to start interactivity in the slide;

a) Click on Insert tab in the ribbon.

b) Select Button from Interactive Objects section.(for demonstration purpose we will take 4 buttons)

c) Select Shape from Illustration section and select a triangle to create content display area.

Button Interactive

3) Add layers for each button in Slide layers section

a) Click on New layer iconto add a layer for each button (bottom-left button).

b) Double-click on each layer and rename them as Button 1, Button 2, Button 3 and Button 4.

(This can be done by selecting a layer, clicking Right Mouse button and selecting Rename option.)

Add Layer in Articulate

4) Creating triggers for each button.

a) Select a button and click on Create new trigger (bottom-left button) from Triggers section.

b) Change to Showlayer in Action Field.

c) Select the desired layer in Layer Field.

d) Add User clicks in When Field.

Repeat the same Process for the remaining 3 buttons.

Button Trigger

5) Make sure every button should have Visited State, As how many buttons have been taken in the presentation.

Visited State

6) Double click on the next slide button trigger under Player–trigger in Triggers section and Click on the Show conditions hyperlink in the Trigger Wizard to perform necessary actions.

Trigger Wizard

7) Enabling Next button after clicking all four buttons listed above.

a) Click on Add a new “AND” or “OR” condition.

b) Click on Shapes in Add Trigger condition.

c) Select Button 1 in If: field

d) Operator should be ==Equal to.

e) Select Visited in State field.

Shapes

8) Repeat the Above step for the remaining 3 buttons to get the desired result.

Please download the source file from below link:
http://www.elearningserv.com/blog/downloads/Enabling-the-next-button.zip

Articulate Storyline Tutorials: Part 1 (Adding Page Numbers)

Adding Page number in a Articulate Storyline will have various routes that users can take?

1) Manually entering page number in each slide:
a) This approach is not feasible one.
b) If we require to add or delete one slide from middle, then we need to change slide numbers of all the slides manually.
c) Even if client request to change the position of page number, it requires manual efforts on all the slides.

2) Adding page number using variables: (This approach is considered as feasible)
a) Click on View tab on the menu.
b) Select Slide Master in the ribbon.

Slide Master

c) Click on the Manage Project Variable icon.
d) Click on Create a New Variable icon.
e) Type <crpage> in the name field.
f) Change Type filed to Number instead of Text. And the value of the number should be 0.

Articulate Storyline Variable

g) Repeat the steps d, e and f but this time variable name can be <totalpages> and the value should equal to how many pages you are going to insert in the presentation. For example: I am using 5 pages presentation to demonstrate.

Total Pages Stroyline

h) Click on OK button in the Variables window.
i) Insert a text field in the layout and the add Variable name by keeping % symbols (%Variablename%) in the start and end. (Where you want to add page number).

Example:
%crpage%

j) Now add ‘of’ text to it.

Example:
%crpage% of

k) Now add <totalpages> variable with % symbol around to it.

Example:
%crpage% of %totalpages%

Total Page Numbers

l) Exit from Slide Master by clicking on Close Master View button in the ribbon.

image005

m) Now click on Create a New Trigger icon in Trigger Panel.
n) Trigger Wizard pop-up window will appear.
o) Select Adjust variable from the Action dropdown.
p) Select <crpage> from the Variable.
q) Make sure the Operator field should have =Assignment
r) Value should be Value and add current page number.
s) Finally make sure When field should have Timeline starts.

Storyline Timelines

t) Repeat the steps from “n” to “t” in every slide to get the continues page numbers.

Thanks for your time, hope this blog helpful to you and let us know your views & comments.

Making Mobile Learning Implementation More Effective

Mobile Learning

The amalgamation of mobile communication and handheld devices has brought about tremendous revolution in the field of learning and education. The world is changing and it’s changing with a faster speed and it’s considered to be the need of an hour to have the flexibility in the context of learning and enhancing the skills on a regular basis throughout the career with more flexibility and convenience.

When we talk about mobile learning, the challenges and concerns which come across our minds are the areas related to implementation. As we all know the technology is growing and ever changing with a lightning speed and all the major players into mobile technology are in to defeat each other in the race to grab better pie in the market. The challenging situation arises for the mobile learning devices as to have the universally acceptable technology to go with all the devices and to keep the clients happy and satisfied for a longer time and giving the clients the value for their money which they have invested for the development of the content. The crucial or the decisive aspects we need to take care while planning implementation of mobile learning will need detailed planning and understanding of the whole context. When we think in context of content designing, mobile learning and its content designing is not very different from other forms of content development. When we comprehend the different aspect of learning they are not really different from mobile learning as such except in terms of context. The different aspects which have to be taken into consideration for the proper and effective implementation of mobile learning will have following dimensions:

  1. Crisp, simple and short content

    It goes the same way as all the other form E-Learning content development designing formats, as we are supposed to have very crisp and simple content to designed for mobile devices, as concentration span for the audience or rather learners using mobile devices is very short so content shouldn’t me more than five minutes as the possibilities for deviation and lack of concentration would play a major role if the content is very lengthy and that will dishearten the learners to have interest in the whole process of learning.

  2. Less congregated information

    If the information or the inputs provided is really complex and tiresome the learners will lose interest and it would dampen the whole process of learning altogether so keeping the learning content simple and interesting will keep the mobile learners interested to hooked to learning. The other context which relates to density of the content is related to adaptability of the content to particular devices. Which might be a concern as there might be certain limitation to devices about the density of the content to be played on them.

  3. Apt use of multimedia

    The utilization of multimedia plays a very important role in the process of E-Learning as to add visual effects compensates the absence of teacher or the trainer. But if we think in context of costing then it’s really crucial that we use the multimedia i8n a more sensible and concrete way as to provide productivity then just add aesthetic value to the content. Splash animations and graphics can be avoided as they are purely aesthetical and they add any extensive value to the content except the cost of the content. We can mention some high end devices as iPads which can be used in offline mode as well, where the download cost can be avoided to an extent. And there might be a possibility in future to have many high end or compatible devices to have cost cutting edge.

  4. Elements of collaboration

    Mobile devices have tremendous scope for blended program. It’s an exceptional technology to facilitate communication between peers, experts, and mentors. It adds tremendous value to human learning as interaction had tremendous scope for facilitating learning.

  5. Providing content integrated with tools

    Apart from content, tools should also be integrated. the latest ability to comprehend applications for specific hardware also provide lots of Geo-location based tools, social networking tools, access to search and information database, customized calculators, newsreaders, games, simulation etc. while designing mobile learning, there are certain dimensions which have to be born in mind for the reference mobile devices. This can be done as to target the platform those mobile devices are going to be used.