Have you ever tried to open up a file on your computer, but couldn’t because it was formatted for different software than what you had installed? Problems like this become even more frustrating when they inhibit the completion of a work-related task. Many eLearning professionals realized that this issue was preventing their materials from achieving a more wide-spread audience. Companies don’t want to spend a ton of time and money on re-formatting educational materials so that they run on each individual system; so to solve this, they came up with the idea of a universal model that’s able to comply with a variety of learning management systems (LMS). It is called the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM).
In instructional design, more often than not the devil is in the details. What sets apart a mediocre program from an engaging experience boils down to the little things: A graphic here or an interactive feature there. Therefore, when designing your e-course, it might be the small things that make the biggest difference. Don’t make the mistake of creating a course or speaking with an instructional designer without first considering these need-to-know tips.
Getting to Know You Through Instructional Design
If you tailor your course toward the wrong type of learner, you’ve lost from the get-go. Part of the instructional designer’s purpose is to not only build the experience learners have, but first assess the learner and the subject matter to come up with the most effective delivery method. Sure, videos and multimedia typically offer solid levels of learner engagement, but if your subject matter lends itself better to a flipped classroom model and discussion questions, you could be missing out.
Make sure you understand your learners and their motivation before you begin laying out your course and its components.
When in Doubt, Simplify. Then Simplify Again.
There can be too much of a good thing. Just ask anyone who has taken an eLearning course stuffed with graphics, quizzes, multimedia and other goodies. When designing a course, it’s always better to strive for quality over quantity. As a designer, it’s tempting to pack all of your information and goodies into a course, but doing so can lead to total information overload.
Try this tip: See if each of your chapters or parts could standalone as a five-minute lesson. If it drags on or requires tons of extra instructor input, you might be trying to do too many things at once. Simplify.
Consider Joining Motivation and Instructional Design
All learners have their motivational factors: For some, it’s the ability to take in new information. Unfortunately, for others, it’s the chance to click the “next” button. Consider learner motivation as a way to move them along and promote better engagement. Adding informational value or a performance-based reward to your course helps give learners the extra push the need to keep going. A chapter quiz, a quick game or even a discussion question can help keep learners glued so you don’t lose them.
Test Instructional Design by Testing Your Tests.
Before you push your course out to potential learners, eLearning design isn’t complete until it’s tested… and tested again. While you might think everything is perfect, seeing your subject matter and components in action can alert you to potential issues. Ask colleagues to run thought the course and offer their honest opinions on functionality, engagement and of course, the subject. What seemed like a great feature to you could fall flat for actual learners. eLearning courses should be designed to educate and engage, and the only way to know if you’ll succeed is to test until it’s perfect.
Whether you’re the designer or you’re hiring an instructional designer, it’s up to you to keep your eLearning project on track. While you definitely want to keep the big picture in mind, don’t forget that the little details will make the biggest impact on your learners and their experience.
Every day, another hot “latest and greatest, can’t miss” eLearning development emerges and is hailed, “THE future of eLearning,” as if it, alone, will revolutionize eLearning. Educational, cultural, technological and economic trends all leave clues about the future. Follow along as we look into our crystal ball and explore three trends in eLearning likely to grow deeper roots during 2014 based on these clues.
The Mobilization of eLearning
Platform popularity and accessibility to mobile broadband drive development. In January 2014, CNN Money reported that mobile devices garnered 55 percent of Internet access. Only 8 percent of Internet traffic came from mobile browsers with 47 percent of Internet traffic coming from mobile apps. With Android today’s most popular mobile OS, look for Android apps to dominate the future of eLearning development in the short term. Long term, keep your eyes peeled on Microsoft. Their purchase of Nokia’s handset division indicates they’re only ‘playing dead’ in the mobile and digital learning spaces.
The Gamification of eLearning
“Gamification” is the application of games to non-game challenges. War, commercial flying, outer space exploration, and foreign-language learning are just a few heavily gamified areas. Schools at all levels help to drive trends in eLearning, and teachers and homeschooling parents have shifted to fun digital learning. From FunBrain for kids to AARP’s Brain Games, games capture attention, improve cognitive function, and enrich the cradle-to-grave learning experience.
The Trackification of eLearning
From birth through death, we’re tracked, and the secret is out thanks to Edward Snowden. Common Core tracks a child’s school years, and Google knows what you’ll have for dinner before you do. Tin Can (aka Experience API) provides a menu of custom options to collect and analyze metrics and gauge effectiveness of eLearning programs—likely to become a standard tool in the future of eLearning.
While you might still consider it the “new guy” on the training and education scene, eLearning offers results that are quick, effective and offer higher retention rates than traditional training methods alone. And while on the outside, eLearning and face-to-face training are the same in the sense that they both deliver information to the learner, eLearning is fundamentally different in its delivery and results. Dying to know what makes eLearning tick? It’s more a question of why it works – rather than how.
One of the main reasons that custom eLearning is effective is that it’s the perfect delivery method for multimedia. Where else can a learner check out a graphic, watch a video, or share a clip online while learning? Rather than pages of text or the spoken word, multimedia gets learners engaged and excited about the material.
It’s a well-documented truth that the more senses engaged while learning, the better the recall later. When eLearning engaged a learner’s eyes, ears and hands during a course, sensory learning enhances what could have been a lackluster experience.
Learning is not a one-size-fits-all experience – and eLearning understands that. By creating a unique and individual experience for each learner to discover, read, watch and interact at his own pace, eLearning creates an educational atmosphere more conducive to learning and retention.
Freedom… to Fail.
When in a traditional classroom setting, a student might be less likely to raise a hand and risk failure. eLearning gives learners permission to explore, test and yes, even fail as part of the learning process – no judgment here.
Who wants to sit through hours of class time to get a few minutes worth of new information? eLearning speeds up the process for those learners who go at a quicker pace, saving time and resources for the ultimate in efficiency.
If you really want students to retail what they learn, you’ll need to aim for high satisfaction rates. If your learner has a bad attitude, you could wind up with a disengaged class. eLearning increases learner satisfaction and promotes a better attitude, so new info actually sticks.
They say that variety of the spice of life, but it’s also the main ingredient for eLearning. In fact, a study published in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that a wide variety of material and delivery methods resulted in an 11 percent bump in efficiency over traditional classroom-based methods.
Getting a quiet class talking can be an instructor’s biggest nightmare, especially when you get more crickets than input. eLearning allows learners to connect outside of the classroom, thanks to forums, social media and a flipped classroom model. The result? Learners who are actually willing to talk.
New-school learners require more innovative methods and delivery system. With an ever-increasing millennial workforce, eLearning, embraces technology and new ideas for younger learners.
The efficiency of eLearning could be argued in a number of ways, but it can be simply boiled down to one component: Retention. Learners who are engaged, who are excited about the course material, who actually want to experience the concepts through games, quizzes, discussions and more actually retain information better. Check out our resources page for more information.
eLearning offers both instructors and learners a better way to convey and share information. Whether it’s a training course on a new concept or onboarding new employees, eLearning works by engaging learners and increasing knowledge retention rates – not bad for being the new guy, right?
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Familiarize yourself with the world of corporate elearning. From inheriting a defunct strategy to retooling training efforts, charting a course to success can be overwhelming. To help with your first 100 days on the job, ELM offers a comprehensive guide to nail learning strategy from day one for smoother sailing ahead.
mLearning – Downtime Suddenly Becomes Class Time.
Mobile learning blends seamlessly with microlearning to ensure your learners are constantly checking in and taking in new information—even when they’re not in the office. Quick snippets of information allow you to break down subject matter in digestible pieces, delivered any time day or night.
Even if your business has already begun to implement eLearning programs into corporate training procedures, it is important to stay up to speed with new approaches in order to reap the greatest benefits from these new technologies. Upgrades and innovations to both new and existing authoring systems are no exception to this.
In educational software, an authoring tool is defined as a software package which allows a non-programmer to easily create original courseware, web pages, or multimedia applications, as well as the necessary tools to navigate them. Developers use these programs (i.e. Articulate Storyline) in the interest of creating and packaging content that is easily digestible and deliverable to the end-user (the student participating in the eLearning course).
By using authoring tools to create eLearning components, businesses that range from small start-ups to Fortune 500’s will benefit by:
Realizing a Greater ROI on Educational Materials
One of those most obvious benefits of using an authoring tool to create eLearning courseware is the ease with which you are able to recycle learning objects – or the digitized elements that compose a lesson plan – from an existing course into a new one. For companies who have purchased components that were created by a third party, this will increase the return on investment (ROI) that they will see. Now, instead of using the material once, or spending a ton of time/manpower to transfer the information into a new format, corporate training professionals can quickly repurpose educational materials for additional uses.
Having the Most Optimized, State-of-the-Industry Content
Sometimes the best person for the job doesn’t necessarily get it. This statement can’t be more true when you apply it to the creation of eLearning curricula. In the past, the construction of a software system required the knowledge needed to write coding languages to that system; now, because of user-friendly authoring systems, this is no longer true. Because of authoring tools, Instructional activities and eLearning course development can be directly created by the person who is most qualified to design such a curriculum, instead of the person who knew how to program computer software. In this way, authoring tools are enabling companies to create eLearning materials in-house, as well as giving more control to the corporate trainers responsible for the success of the end-user. To learn more, check out Learning Solutions Magazine’s list of the best tools to use.