Tag Archive | Distance Learning

March Big Question – Open Content in Workplace Learning

This month’s Big Question is “how do we leverage open content in workplace learning?” To learn more about about some of opportunities available in open content, I visited the sites listed on the Big Question post. These were OER Commons and Open Courseware Consortium. For the first time, I perused these sites. A bit embarrassed that I have not visited these sites before, but it is never too late to find new learning opportunities. My first impression was that these are very heavy on the academic end. They certainly have many opportunities for learning and development. In fact, I found a course on e-learning accessibility, an interest of mine.

So, back to the Big Question. I am confident there are corporate trainers creating the same training content as their brethren. Wouldn’t it be great to upload those software sims, leadership or sales courses, etc. somewhere that other companies’ staff can access them. And in return, I don’t need to create those ______ software sims because XYZ, Inc. made their sims available to my staff. Oh, how great would that be?

Sorry to piss on the parade, but here are the challenges that pop into my mind that make sharing corporate training difficult:

  • Most corporate training is designed specifically to the company’s audience. For example, the training probably includes policies and procedures as they pertain to internal staff.
  • Much of the content is proprietary information not to be shared externally.
  • Often quality training is seen as one of the things that “gives us the  edge” over the competitor, why just hand it over?
  • “Do we have to talk to legal about whether we can do this?” Will they find a potential liability?

Would I like to leverage open content in the workplace? Yes. Something I will do is to keep an eye out not only for open content that will benefit my company, but also what am I producing that can be used as open content. Of course, anything shared as open content has to overcome the fore-mentioned hurdles.


Green Screen Video Studio at CDPE

I have written about building my low budget video studio in the past, but today I was really amazed at what the Center for Professional and Distance Education at the University of Central Oklahoma (CPDE) has built for less than $2,000. Today they presented for the e-Learning Guild’s DemoFest. They are doing a fantastic job using video to personalize their online courses, but in addition to that they shared the details of their amazing feat of building a green screen video studio.

green screen studio

Here is the final budget of the studio, which as you can see they really got bang for their buck.

Sanyo High Definition Camcorder – $349.95
Botero Chroma Key Green Background – $129.95
Smith-Victor: 4 Photo Flood Lighting Kit – $459.00
Shure Lavalier Microphone System – $299.00
Premiere Pro CS4 – Educational Price $190.00
Boris FX Chroma Key Software – $299.00
SanDisk 16GB Video HD SDHC Memory Card – $67.50
Slik 700DX Pro Tripod Legs –$99.95
Room Rental – $70.00
Cables – $50.00 – $80.00
Laptop Computer – $800.00
TOTAL: $2844.35
TOTAL (without laptop or CS4): $1854.35

Finer details of the studio set-up can be found in the PDF they were nice enough to provide, which you can download here.

In addition to CPDE’s presentation, DemoFest included 4 other great demos. In case you missed it, a recording is available at the eLearning Guild.

Where Organizations Go Wrong With e-Learning

A post on e-Learning Guild’s group on LinkedIn asked, “In What Ways Do Organizations Get eLearning Wrong?” This question really got me thinking. There are many organizations that get it right, but many get it wrong too. Here are my thoughts on pitfalls organizations must avoid.

  • Not knowing the difference between an e-learning designer and an e-learning developer. Companies that only employ staff with development skills will end up with courses that look nice, but are not instructionally sound. Note: If the budget does not afford both a designer and developer, then find someone with both sets of skills.
  • Letting subject matter experts write courses. Again, an e-learning/instructional designer is needed to create engaging, instructionally sound courses.
  • Not conducting a needs assessment prior to creating a course. A needs assessment, even if done informally, is the only way to identify the audience’s learning needs, if any. Too many training departments act as order takers and end up creating courses that are not addressing the solutions needed.
  • Not identifying if e-learning is an appropriate medium for specific training needs. Some things ARE best delivered in the classroom.
  • Creating page turners, ugh! Courses can be non-linear. And they should also be interactive and engaging.
  • Not evaluating courses.
  • Thinking e-learning is only __________. e-Learning is a breadth of training approaches. It is not just asynchronous online courses. e-Learning is also synchronous courses, blended learning, informal or social learning, etc. And within these there are many, many types of delivery mediums and approaches. And more on the horizon.

Feel free to add to the list.

Economic Times – Impact on Distance Learning

Has the economic struggle had a positive or negative impact on online learning?

This question has been posed a lot on the e-learning blogs, for example.

The Boston Globe just published an article titled Where the Jobs are in Anxious Times. Distance learning and a few related fields are noted as being areas where there are jobs

Here are quotes from the article that pertain to distance learning, social media, cloud computing, and mobile technology.

Government stimulus funding has been creating new opportunities in education and energy, says Clark Waterfall, a partner at Boston Search Group. “We’re seeing activity in for-profit education companies, and companies geared to distance learning and corporate learning,”

A new role at many companies is a social media expert, who can help the company communicate with customers and prospects using new channels like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. “Sometimes that job is called ‘community manager’ or ‘community rep,’ ” says Tom Summit of Rowley-based Catalyst Recruiting Corp. “But the people who can get hired are the ones who can relate online activities to quantifiable metrics. What are you doing for the company, aside from just starting a blog?”

Cloud computing – technology services that can be accessed over the Internet – is another area of increasing activity. “I also see a lot of interest in search engine marketing” – making websites more prominent in search results – “and engineers who know how to design websites with that in mind,” Summit says.

Keith Cline of Dissero LLC says one position that can be hard to fill at the moment is a mobile application developer. “If a company is trying to build an app for the iPhone, there aren’t a lot of people who have that experience,” he says.

Where the jobs are in anxious times
By Scott Kirsner
Globe Columnist / June 14, 2009

It is good to hear that there are opportunities out there in the fore-mentioned fields and probably more to come. From my own glances at job boards it appears companies are still hiring people in the distance learning field.

Gaining Audience Attention >

Whether face-to-face or online, gaining attention is a crucial element to course design. This element is prevalent in both Gagne’s 9 Elements and Keller’s ARCS Model. The important thing to consider in implementing this element is that it does not need to be a single occurrence at the start of course, but can be integrated throughout the course. And it must have a learning objective and/or reinforce the content at hand. Caution, don’t overdo it. Adding attention grabbers can also become annoying distractions. So, be careful and get your beta testers’ opinion too.

Here are a few things to consider when gaining attention.

Here are a few things to consider when gaining attention.

  • It’s ok to use humor, just be careful not to offend. Also, make sure it is not culturally specific…everyone should get the joke.
  • Quality graphics or animation are great. Remember only use them to reinforce and support the learning objective(s).
  • Sims,  scenarios or videos of how the content is applied will not only get their attention, but also reinforce the relevance of the course.
  • Do not be hesitant because something may be perceived as silly. I propose that increases in silliness have a positive correlation with learner retention. Yes, that is my hypothesis. At this time I have plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this. I would share this evidence with you, but my dog ate it.
  • Add educational games, puzzles, group exercises, etc.

Most importantly, if you have fun and add your personality in designing and/or facilitating the course your audience will have your attention and attention will be given to the content you are delivering. And of course retention and learner motivation will follow right along with it.

How do you gain attention?

Perceived Advantages and Disadvantages

Yesterday, I presented an overview of e-learning for an audience of classroom trainers and training managers. Among the many things I covered, I included an exercise where they identified advantages and disadvantages of e-learning. I thought I would share the results. Keep in mind, these are classroom trainers that are open to e-learning and the use of technology in training, but they are not the choir. I found this exercise enlightening on how trainers outside of the online training realm perceive e-learning and where our strengths and weaknesses lay. Below are the lists just how they were recorded on the poster-boards. FYI: Some of the disadvantages or “challenges” can be minimized in e-learning and I did address this. Either way they are on the disadvantages list like it or not.

Advantages of e-Learning

  • Lower costs – travel and expenses, expense of training rooms
  • Environmentally friendly, green
  • Fewer designers/facilitators
  • Anytime/anywhere
  • Can take repeatedly
  • Consistent
  • Reaches larger audience
  • Relatively easy to update
  • “Trackable”
  • Can customize vendor’s online courses
  • A trend with younger generation – “They like to learn that way”
  • Self-paced, self directed
  • “Just in Time” training
  • May be an easier medium for ESL (English as a second language)

Disadvantages of e-Learning

  • Not for all learners
  • Not for all types of content
  • Development time/cost
  • Need an LMS to implement
  • Out-of-date content (if not reviewed regularly)
  • Not for computer illiterate
  • Self-directed – not always good (e.g. skip content)
  • Fraud (e.g. other people taking a test for another employee)
  • Technology differences of end-users’ computers
  • Not cost effective for small audiences
  • Less interactive/social than classroom training
  • No face-to-face social interaction

Those are the perceptions, good or bad, of e-learning in my part of the world, much of which I am in agreement. But if I was to conduct this exercise again I would title the poster boards “Advantages” and “Challenges.” Or would that reveal my bias?

What is m-Learning?

As with distance learning and e-learning, m-learning encapsulates many modes of learning. A definition general enough to capture it all could be:

A distance learning event delivered, synchronously or asynchronously, via an electronic mobile device.

Granted, this definition is similar to others out there, but generic enough to include current applications that are commonly accepted as m-learning. Plus, it leaves room for those applications yet to be innovated.

If one was to accept this definition, here are the current mobile learning applications that can fall within the m-learning category:

  • SMS messaging (in the context of a class, training, etc.)
  • Online course/web based training (syncronous or asyncronous)
  • Simulations
  • Educational games
  • Just-in-time learning/job aids
  • Assessments and surveys
  • Podcasts (video or audio)