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New eBook from the eLearning Guild – "58 Tips for Breakthrough Instructional Design"

eLearning Guild

I have always enjoyed the eLearning Guild’s eBooks and they just released a new one – 58 Tips for Breakthrough Instructional Design. It has some great tips on research, design, development and project management, all coming from 14 experts in the field. Oh yeah, it’s free too. Access it here.

Past eLearning Guild ebooks are also available for download.

As a side note, you may have noticed it has been quite a while since my last post. Work, and life, have been extremely busy for me. However, I am making it a point to get back on track with writing new posts.

Thanks for your patience and for visiting my blog.

Jeff

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Deconstructing My #DemoFest Course – Part 2 #DevLearn

In my last post I gave an overview of my DemoFest course, Intro to Office 2010. I would like to delve into the analysis and design of the course.

When this project was brought to me it involved training for both a Windows 7 and Office 2010 upgrade, which is why some of the documents included here references Windows 7 in addition to the Office upgrade. My first step for any training project is the needs analysis, albeit it is often very informal when on short time-lines like this project. Because I had been teaching a face-to-face computer basics class, including some Office training, I had already a big jump on both knowing the audience and how they use the systems that were being upgraded.  I also was provided a second work PC with Windows 7 and Office 2010 loaded on it. This allowed me to use and learn the Windows 7 operating system and Office 2010 applications while simultaneously identifying the changes staff will encounter. Keep in mind, I still had my current PC so I had the luxury of being able to make comparisons of the old and new. Once I identified the learning needs, which by the way were more numerous in Outlook due to bigger changes to Outlook from 2007 to 2010 than in the other Office apps, I was ready to draft a course design plan. 

The course design plan is crucial in creating an effective course and includes everything from the rationale for the course to its evaluation plan. I am providing a link so you may see a copy of the course design plan (CDP).  I always circle back to my stakeholders and share the CDP with them. It shows the approach I am taking and exactly what will be taught. Keep in mind it did not reference much regarding social media. It focused mostly on the asynchronous online course itself. The social media and Intranet page were components that evolved during the development stage. FYI: If you would like to know more about my approach to writing course design plans, please visit my post on CDPs.

Once the CDP was completed and reviewed by my stakeholders and subject matter experts, I like them to sign off on it, I began storyboarding the course. It is important to note, I am a “one person e-learning shop,” so when I storyboard they are not handed off to developers or anyone else. These are tools for my own design and development process. So, as you can see in the examples below, they include enough detail for my own review and get quite messy. If I worked with others I would create much cleaner versions. Either way, below are several examples that show a bit of the process. Once storyboards were developed, and rewritten a few times, I then had the content, navigation, development tools needed, etc. I am was now ready  move on to developing the course.

Storyboard - Office 2010 IntroStoryboard - Office 2010 Menu

Regarding the Windows 7 content that was scrapped just prior to implementation, because the course was non-linear, but had a separate section for Windows 7 sims, it was easy to isolate that section of the course and remove it. Actually, because the interface was built in Flash all I had to do was remove the button to the section and introductory reference to it. I will speak more to that in the next post in which I address course development.

View the course – Introduction to Office 2010

Read more about course design plans

Read more about storyboards

Deconstructing My #DemoFest Course – Part 1

During this year’s DevLearn 2011 conference I won the DemoFest award for the Software Systems Training category. Being selected for this award really put me on Cloud 9. It is so flattering to have my course selected by the DevLearn attendees. Thank you everyone who attended DemoFest. And a big congratulations to all the other winners of this year’s DemoFest. It is a true honor to be in their company.

Over the coming weeks I am going to blog about the processes of designing, developing and implementing my DemoFest course. My intention is to share how I go about putting a course together and to provide the support materials used to design the course. For example, the course design plan, storyboards, communication plans, etc.

A good place start is to first provide an overview of the course and lessons learned as described in my DemoFest submission below.

Why was this project needed? Describe why you built it.
Johns Hopkins HealthCare began transitioning staff to Microsoft Office 2010 applications in February 2010. Staff required training on using the new application interfaces and learning how to complete Office tasks that have changed in the new and updated Office software.

What authoring tools, systems, or technologies did you use to create this project?
Adobe Flash, Adobe Captivate, Articulate Presenter, Articulate Quizmaker, Microsoft Office 2010. Social Media included Twitter, Screenr videos, and Diigo social bookmarks.

How many “learners” will benefit from this program or project?
760 Johns Hopkins HealthCare staff, but the course is being extended out to additional entities within the Johns Hopkins Health System.

How long did it take you to complete this project?
Approximately 120 hours during a two month period. This time does not include ongoing learner support using social media and Intranet pages.

What problems or challenges did you have to overcome while creating this project?
Time constraints, which resulted in not including audio in the course. Limited staff participation in the social media elements, specifically Twitter. The need to use multiple development tools in order to accomplish the project’s design.

What valuable insights, lessons learned, or results did you discover when working with these challenges?
Due to the less-than-expected use of Twitter among staff, there was less participation in the social media elements. In the future, I would put more effort in marketing the benefits and use of Twitter among staff. Also, I would find a way to incentivize its adoption by staff. I learned that the ongoing support implemented on our Intranet pages, Screenr videos, Diigo social bookmarks, and job aids were highly valued by staff and seen as very practical and accessible resources that are continually being used. Also, the non-linear design and easy to navigate course encourages it to be also used as a refresher course. One of my most valuable insights was that the use of whimsical characters was an effective way to market the course, and increased recognition and participation in the project. Using the characters to market the course included placing full-size cut-outs of the course’s main character, Captain Upgrade, throughout our buildings, and appearing on LCD screen advertisements, flyers, and on our Intranet.

Below is the link to the Office 2010 course. I have also provided direct links to the learning program’s social learning elements.

Introduction to Office 2010

And direct links to some of the social learning elements in the learning program:

In the next post I will describe the design process and share a copy of the course design plan and example storyboards.

Thank you again to all who attended DemoFest and a really big thank you to the eLearningGuild for holding an incredible DevLearn conference.

A Few Things of Interest: #Storyboarding & #LearningStyles

Several things of interest I recently wandered upon that I would like to share.

Kevin Thorn, a.k.a. Nugget Head, recently published an article in eLearn Magazine, The Art of Storyboarding, that is a very worthwhile read. Storyboarding is a crucial skill to have in our elearning world and Kevin offers great insight on its uses and value in elearning design along with a bit about the history of storyboarding.

Also, NPR had a story regarding the myth of learning styles that is worth a listen. Although this is probably not news to many in the world of ISD, it did get many instructional designers on twitter (my PLN) discussing, and paying more attention to, the subject. Give it a listen below. It also sheds light on some teaching methods that do work.

http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=139973743&m=140029338&t=audio

This Month's #LCBQ – Fun

This month’s Big Question at the Learning Circuits blog is “How do you make e-learning fun?”

Before listing my ideas regarding e-learning fun, I do want to note that just because it’s fun does not necessarily mean learning objectives are being met, that it is relevant to participants’ learning needs, that it will motivate learners, etc. However, incorporating elements that are fun will keep the learner’s attention, make it an enjoyable experience and hopefully get people talking the course up to others. For me, one of the greatest compliments is when people say, “the course was fun and I learned a lot too.” FYI: If you are looking for a good way to engage and motive learners, in addition to making them fun, take a look at the ARCS Model and Gagne’s Nine Events of Learning.

Back to the Big Question, here is how I make e-learning fun:

  • Add humor. When appropriate of course and never, ever offensive.
  • Add fun characters. I like to use numerous characters to break up any monotony, add conversations and even increase attention by creating tension between characters.
  • Incorporate games into courses or make the entire course a game itself.
  • Silliness is a great way to get the audience’s attention and focus on specific content you want to be memorable.
  • Incorporate interaction between audience members. Perhaps pose fun questions or topics they can discuss and make sure they know it is OK to have a fun, lighthearted discussion. Incorporating social media can help make this happen.

In regards to when to make e-learning fun, I try my best to make it fun whenever I can pull it off. Some topics do not easily lend themselves to being fun and if it is something emotionally sensitive then I keep it serious as not to offend. The same goes for topics that the audience and/or stakeholders take very, very seriously and do not want misinterpreted as something to be taken lightly.

Don’t forget to add your two bits to the Big Question or tweet your comments using the #LCBQ hashtag.

Cool Tools to Liven Up The Classroom

I just read an article in T&D Magazine titled “Beef Up Your Training Toolbox with Web Tool.” The author, Mary E. Green, offered suggestions for how you can use web tools to increase engagement in the traditional classroom. The article inspired me to look at what is on my Cloud Apps page that may also be helpful to the classroom trainer. Here is what I pulled from the page that I think would be great to use in the traditional classroom. Plus, they are all free.

Cartoons (also suggested by Green) – A funny cartoon can liven up the class. The following allow you to make your own that you can use in the classroom.
DoInk
ToonDoo

Charts, Diagrams, and Data – Explain it in a chart using the apps below. Plus, you will be surprised how much supporting information you may find in the Google Public Data Explorer.
Cacoo (create diagrams)
ChartGo (create charts)
Google Public Data Explorer (Create charts and visualizations form public data)

QR Code Generators – Put QR codes in your manuals and on the classroom screen. They can contain text or URLs and is a great way to get additional information and resources to attendees with smart phones.
Kaywa
Snap.vu
YouScan.me

Screencasts – Software trainers, show them how it is done in a screencast that can be shared in the classroom and also accessed later at their convenience. Heck, give them the screencast’s link via a QR code while you are at it. Participants can create their own and use them to share their new skills with others.
Screen-o-Matic
Screenr

Social Bookmarking – Make sure they have all your online resources by giving them one link to all your bookmarks. Plus, when you add additional resources at a later time, they will see them too.
Delicious
Digg
Diigo
Linkpad.me

Social Media – Get a back channel going in the classroom and keep it posted on the screen. Plus, what a great way to continue supporting learners by interacting via social media after the class ends.
Twitter
Yammer
Storify (create stories using social media)

Video – Create your own video and post it, find relevant videos already out there, and/or get your learners to make and share their own video.
TeacherTube
YouTube

These are just the apps I pulled from the Cloud App page. Do you have suggestions of where classroom trainers can find useful online tools for the classroom? If so, feel free to add them to the comment section.

One More Thing to Add – Big Question #LCBQ

Before the month of May ends I want to add one more thing to my response to the May Big Question -#LCBQ.

If you read my last post you may remember I am currently in a situation where training must be provided on very short notice and I listed how I am attempting to get this done. Something I touched upon was communication, but because communication and marketing training is very important in this type of situation I wanted to expand a bit more on the topic. I have written about marketing courses before, but the last minute nature of on-demand situations makes marketing even more crucial for the audience to know it’s available in addition to generating interest and motivation.

So, in an “on-demand” scenario also be prepared to:

  • Get the e-mail blasts ready with direct links to the learning resources you are offering – make it easy for them to access immediately.
  • Announce the course, job aids, blog etc. on the LMS and/or intranet – again providing direct links.
  • Give the heads up to supervisors to gain their support and get a buzz going. In fact, getting announcements in their meetings is big plus. Getting face time in their meetings yourself is good too. Encourage SMEs and stakeholders to talk it up also.

Remember, always include a good description of what is being offered and the benefits of participating – if it is relevant, they will attend.