I have been honored to be a involved in the revitalization of the Learning Circuits’ Big Question. For several years now I have been responding to the Big Question and have over and over been inspired by the questions posed, not to mention by the many fantastic responses and comments. It has also been a great opportunity to interact with other e-learning bloggers. I am looking forward to being involved and also very excited to be working with Tony Karrer, Glenn Hansen, Thomas Edgarton, and Holly MacDonald on this venture. I hope in the coming months to see the Big Question grow even more in contributors and perspectives.
I hope that you will be visiting and participating in the discussions. We will also be tweeting posts, responses and all things Big Question using the #LCBQ hash tag. So, keep your eyes out for the next BIG QUESTION!
Well it’s that time again. Here are my e-learning predictions for the coming year.
- You know I have to include a Flash prediction. So, here you are… I predict a Flash player will finally be included on the iPad and iPhone this year. This will be mostly due to the fact that so many more phones, and tablets, will be released with Flash, pressuring Apple to do the same.
- Say goodbye to the “e-” and the “m-” and say hello to just “learning” in 2011. I think we will be less concerned about the medium and will call it “learning” regardless of whether it is in the classroom, computer, phone or wherever else you are finding it.
- The coming flood of tablets in 2011 will move m-learning much further along. However, I think people will be distinguishing less and less between the terms e-learning, m-learning, and just learning. After all, where does m-learning stop and e-learning begin? See prior prediction.
- With the economy improving, we will see reinvestment in classroom training and classroom trainers. I believe too many organizations have hastily delved into online training, resulting in developing courses that are better off in in the classroom than online. Plus with so many rushing into e-learning without investing the time in understanding the design end has resulted in ineffective “rapid e-learning.” I think we will see these people who had good intentions are going to move away from e-learning. For those that may be in that boat, don’t give up on e-learning, but please read “Hey You Rapid e-Learning Peeps, Slooow Down and Take a Little Drive on the ISD Side of Town.”
- QR Codes will become more prevalent in the U.S. In fact, I just started using them myself by including them in a new e-learning course. I also plan to start adding them to job aids, manuals, presentations and anywhere else when appropriate.
Over at the eLearning Guild they posted the recorded DemoFest 2010 Highlights Webinar. I was lucky enough to attend the webinar last week and it was great to see the winners show off their work and learn about the design and development of these great courses.
Head over to the eLearning Guild and check out the DemoFest 2010 Highlights Webinar.
I like to use characters in courses because they can personalize a course and lend themselves to creating a more informal tone and an easy means of adding humor.
Here are some ways I like to use characters in e-learning.
- Guide or facilitator – Typically this person is the expert that walks you through the content and facilitates discussions, interaction, etc. At times I like to have two guides to break up any possible monotony. When working with two “experts” I will even include disagreement or some “ribbing” between the two. This makes it more entertaining and keeps participants’ attention. FYI: Disagreements are usually humorous in nature and should not compromise the integrity of any specific learning content in the course.
- Coworkers/project team – A course I once developed for an updated teller system consisted of the participant being assigned to a project team. As a member of the team you are assigned to numerous tasks and also assist and interact with other team members. It not only keeps participants on their toes, but they learned about the system and hopefully felt more vested in it too.
- Naive, struggling learner and/or jovial coworker – This character can occur along side a “straight man” and provides not just opportunities for humor, but chances to clarify and reinforce concepts as we correct their misconceptions.
- Monsters, ghosts, robots, anthropomorphic animals, etc. – I absolutely love to surprise course participants with the unusual. I do recommend that it not be random, but that the type of monster, animal, etc. relate to the learning in some way even if a humorous tie-in. For example, I once used the ghost of Alexander Graham Bell to provide instruction on the new phone system. Just never use a cyclops in a course, that just doesn’t make sense.
Here are some good resources on using characters. Cathy Moore’s Dump the Drone, which includes great information on using characters among other useful things, The Writers Gateway’s Have You Thought of Character Driven Stories for Your e-Learning?, and Speak Out’s Characters in eLearning.
If you have ideas or examples on how to use characters in e-learning, please feel free to share in the comments section.
My next big venture is training for an upgrade to Windows 7 and Office 2010. I have good grasp of my audience, how they use their software, and access to the new OS and Office 2010. This provides me with a solid start to identifying the training needs. I have also casually talked to a few people who use Windows 7 and Office 2010 and they shared valuable information about their transition and what they found easy and what was challenging.
I realized my readers probably also have great insight about the learning curve of upgrading to the new OS and Office. So, if you can provide any insight on the following, it will be greatly appreciated.
- What challenges have you, or your staff, encountered transitioning from Windows XP to Windows 7?
- What specific features in Windows 7 required assistance and/or people found frustrating?
- What do you love about using Windows 7? FYI: I would like to motivate learners about its benefits.
- What challenges have you, or your staff, encountered transitioning from Office 2007 to Office 2010 (more specifically Outlook and Word)?
- What specific features in Office 2010 did you require help with and/or found frustrating?
- What do you love about using Office 2010?
- Have you provided training on Windows 7 or Office 2010?
- Is there anything you absolutely recommend that I address in the training?
- What questions did you repeatedly hear during or post training?
- Did your help desk see any trends in the calls they received regarding the upgrade?
Any feedback on the above, or feedback in general, will be of great help. If you can also add a bit about your audience, for example their willingness to adopt tech changes and how tech savvy they may be, will be helpful in gauging the learning curve.
Yes, I know this may not be a typical approach to needs analysis, but I trust that there will be great benefit in learning from those that already experienced a similar transition.
Here is a list I compiled of things I think should NOT be done when designing e-learning courses. I believe the following are counter to adult learning theory, sound e-learning design and they just down-right irk me. They are not in any particular order.
- Turn off navigation until a screen’s audio is done. Not only do most people read quicker than narration and may choose to move on, it is just plain wrong to deny learners user control.
- Have audio without close caption or at least equivalent content on screen. This is not just a 508 compliance (accessibility) issue, it is also possible that some computers won’t have audio capabilities. For example, this was the case at a bank I worked for where tellers did not have sound on their PCs.
- Force navigation. You know those courses that you can only go in a linear direction using the dreaded next button and they don’t even give you access to a menu, ugh! Didn’t I mention user control earlier?
- Neglect to include orientation. Let me know if I am on page 1 of 10 or 1 of 100. However, if you have page 1 of 100 written anywhere in your course you have even bigger issues to resolve.
- Call a course interactive when all it has is a bunch of pop-ups. There is more to creating an interactive course than adding pop-ups and rollovers. Here is a good resource if you are looking for ideas on how to make your course more interactive – Schone’s “Engaging Interactions for eLearning.”
- Make courses that look like it’s PowerPoint. I know PowerPoint is sometimes used as an authorig tool, but at least use it to create engaging, interactive courses that do not resemble PowerPoint slide decks that you just uploaded to Captivate or Articulate. Need tips on bringing PowerPoint to life? Try the Rapid eLearning blog.
- Leave out feedback for review and assessment questions. Providing feedback is a chance to correct misconceptions, reinforce learning, etc.
- List objectives like they are written in your course design plan. Of course it is good to include objectives, but write them in a way that is more conversational and spark interest.
- Use graphics that have absolutely nothing to do with the learning at hand. See the eLearning Coach for some tips on using graphics.
- Make a course mandatory if it absolutely does not have to be mandatory. Let the learners learn for learning sake.
If you have additional e-learning don’ts, please share them in the comments section.
When I peruse my blog stats it always amazes me that my storyboarding posts are some of the most visited and my storyboard template has been downloaded far more than expected. I guess the practical things are the most valuable. Since there is such interest in storyboarding I thought I would follow-up and offer a few more practical tips on creating and using storyboards.
- Determine who you are making storyboards for. Are they for:
– your client and/or Subject Matter Expert (SME),
– developers you are handing the project off to,
– your own use, or
– a combination of the aforementioned.
This will determine how detailed they should be, the technical information you need to include, and how “rough” they can be. For example, storyboards that are for my sole use are sketched out in pencil and the notes are to a level of detail that suits my own needs. If for a developer, obviously I would add far more technical detail and content, for a SME it would focus more on the content and I may leave out technical specifications, etc.
- Put storyboards up on a wall. This is the best way to get the feel for the course’s flow and how well it is, or is not, designed. Keeping them on the wall is also a constant reminder of the project, keeping you looking at it, and will call out to your coworkers to take a look and provide feedback.
- Play with the storyboards. I write mine in pencil just for that reason. Once you read them over there will be many improvements that jump out at you. Make the changes and see how they work on the storyboards.
- Don’t feel you have to stick to the storyboards. Sometimes what works on paper just does not translate well on the Internet. Also, at times the technology, resources, or time just does not allow exactly what is written on the storyboards to happen. We often discover this during the development phase. Note: Whatever sacrifices you make do not make them at the cost of learning.
- Include good notes on navigation and orientation. Even properly arranged on the wall, a non-linear course’s storyboards can become confusing without good notes on which link/button goes to which screen or event.
- Storyboards never do the final product justice. They are only representations and cannot fully capture the rich interactivity of the course. Be patient with them and remind anyone involved with the storyboards that they are an initial design and they will get an even better feel for the final product when it comes to life in the coming online drafts.
If you have additional storyboarding tips, please share them in the comments section. Thanks!
Here are past storyboard posts: