Beyond the Campus: eLearning Supports Personalized Learning

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Taking learning beyond the finish line makes for personalized eLearning. Find out how!

Learning is for life if you want to stay relevant — and pay your bills. Whether it’s on-the-job learning or self-initiated learning, chances are you’ll spend the rest of your life in some kind of semi-structured learning. Job market and cultural changes demand that we keep current, and that requires a constant flow of actionable information. For self-starters, lifetime learning is the path to career freedom and the engine for innovation. Self-starting learners can switch careers, launch businesses or sprout wings as solopreneurs or consultants. Let’s see how eLearning makes this easier.

Building Blocks to Personalized Learning

Personalized learning builds on basic eLearning components and resources but blows past traditional limits. It uses a framework such as an LMS as the bones of while allowing students to go off into different directions based on their experience, their goals and their personal interest. The LMS points the student in the direction of additional resources such as blogs, RSS feeds, social media and other tools of discovery while encouraging and/or requiring participation. How and to what extent to participate is up to the student. Personalized training facilitates the transition from asynchronous learning to active learning, the preferred method of learning among motivated students of life.

Push Learning

Think of the old way of learning as push learning—learning the hard way. Students receive information, which they regurgitate on a test. Many public schools are stuck in this “teach the test” model because of the mandate to raise test scores. This type of ‘learning’ kills curiosity, sows mediocrity and discourages independent thinking and personalized learning.

Pull Learning

Think of personalized learning as pull learning—students pulling much of the course information from varied Web 2.0 sources. Students can connect dots from varied resources and draw their own conclusion rather than regurgitating spoon-fed conclusions. Think of the wildly different possibilities for two students with different specialized interests participating in an eLearning that promotes personalized learning. Just as micromanaging on the job kills innovation, micromanaging in learning kills curiosity. eLearning provides the structure to address varied needs and the framework to allow students the latitude to learn more than they would with one teacher pushing one narrative in a classroom.

Personalized learning relies on the student meeting the instructional designer halfway. It assumes a responsibility on the part of the student, but it offers opportunities far beyond those available in the traditional classroom.

A la Mode: Designing Individual eLearning Based on Learning Styles

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Any good instructional designer knows that learning is a personal experience. But the process of learning isn’t just about what someone sees or hears – it can encompass everything from energy level to posture and even eye movement. With these factors in mind, the idea of creating a truly personalized module based on learner behavior and individual learning methods sounds practically impossible. And, since you don’t have time to create a from-scratch personal module for every learner, you’ll need to offer a personal experience by finding out how individuals learn and creating a module with customization in mind.

Types of Learners

Technically, researchers have identified some 30-odd different types of learning styles. But to keep your sanity, focus on the four main methods for learning: Visual, auditory, verbal, and kinesthetic (hands on). It should also be noted that most learners may have one method that they gravitate toward, but nearly all use a combination of several styles at once.

We really have no idea why certain individuals prefer to learn in a specific way. In fact, a group of psychologists at UCLA concluded that the evidence for learning styles was so weak that the idea of concrete learning styles is probably just a theory and nothing more.

Still, there’s something to be said for respecting your learners’ preferences to make your module more enjoyable and impactful. With the main learning types in mind, your course can then be designed around offering the most inclusive experience for learners, incorporating components such as videos, simulation, podcasts and of course, text.

Using Multimedia

Consider multimedia your best friend when it comes to creating modules that satisfy every type of learner. Which presentation would you rather experience: One that offers a wall of text, or one that offers a video and a post-experience quiz? The second one engages more learners, while the first only takes one type in mind. Multimedia is the simplest way to take all types of learning into account with one module.

Individualizing eLearning Modules

Customization options can make learners experience a more individualized approach to learning – even if they’re all experiencing the same module. When designing a program, keep choices in mind: While all learners are undergoing the same process, their experience doesn’t have to be the same.

An option to skip or repeat certain chapters, for example, can help create a customized module for students who learn differently than their colleagues. Or, offer options for practice: Some learners might appreciate reading a case study, while others prefer a simulation. Making sure you have at least two ways to practice or absorb the material means you can cater to more than just one type of learner at a time.

Of course, solid feedback in the way of in-course actions and post-course questions might be the best way to see if you’ve covered all of your bases. By creating modules with options, media and the potential for customization, you respect the learner – and let him lead.

How Four Companies are Blending Platforms for eLearning Success

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Choosing your eLearning platforms and delivery systems can be a lot like choosing dinner from a gourmet menu: It’s hard to make a decision because everything looks so good. But some organizations are proving that you can have your cake and eat it too by using several methods of eLearning concurrently to create a true feast for the senses. By understanding how organizations are utilizing technology, social media and even online forums, you can cook up an eLearning solution that seriously hits the spot.

Incorporating Remote Learning with the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require dead-on affiliate reporting to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information at all times. Unfortunately, when dealing with different agencies and affiliates, the reporting could get lost in translation. Enter their remote training solution: A globally-accessible training module that teaches affiliates the correct way to report to the CDC, anytime and anywhere. It reduces the need for individualized training and can be accessed by anyone to ensure that the CDC information pipeline continues to flow smoothly.

InSync Practices What They Preach with Synchronous Learning

InSync is a leader in synchronous learning, and its employees have to be experts in the eLearning industry. Recently, the organization had to put its money where its mouth is: The educate employees, company-wide certification-based training program was the answer, but the training was time-sensitive. Enter the synchronous learning platform: An Internet-based, easily accessible e-course with a specific timeline and regular check-ins with the instructor. Over the course timeline, learners could become certified experts in synchronous learning – all while practicing what they preach.

Rio Tinto Utilizes Face-to-Face Training for Confidentiality

Online courses don’t always make sense, particularly when the information being shared is sensitive and confidential. That’s why sustainable development leader Rio Tinto utilizes old-fashioned face-to-face training tactics for their anti-corruption training. Face-to-face learning with an instructor illustrates how important anti-corruption training is to the company, while offering an individualized experience for learners.

T-Mobile Updates Reps with Asynchronous Learning

When information needs to be updated on a right here, right now basis, waiting around for a course to start isn’t an option. That’s where T-Mobile found themselves when customer service reps complained that product updates took too long to update on a synchronous platform. Instead, T-Mobile swapped out for an asynchronous module where reps could access information anytime they wanted. The cell giant even extended the train of through to online customer service, creating forums and communities where users could learn from an online knowledge base and ask questions in real time – on their own time.

It’s exciting to see what established companies and start-up organizations are cooking up when it comes to eLearning and development for their employees and customers. Whether you’re craving something timely or you’re in the mood for a more traditional approach, the advances in eLearning technology means you’re able to order a la carte to create the perfect training blend to meet your needs.

 

The Road From Asynchronous to Active Learning

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Learning asynchronously doesn't have to be a solitary pursuit. Learn how to turn it into active learning!

Think back to your favorite class in school and your favorite teacher. Did your favorite teacher teach your favorite class? That’s no accident. When you were interested in a subject and your teacher engaged you, it created a perfect storm for you to learn and excel. Did you pursue more knowledge on that subject, perhaps major in it in college or make a career out of it? Learning doesn’t get more active than that. Much of today’s learning is asynchronous eLearning; it happens outside the traditional classroom on a flexible timetable. It’s still possible to engage eLearners in the virtual classroom, and it’s a beautiful thing when an asynchronous learner evolves into an active learner.

Asynchronous Learning – On Your Own

Think of asynchronous learning as “push learning.” The instructional designer pushes out the information, and the student determines when and how to access it. It’s next to impossible to engage students with zero interest in the subject matter. For example, you will never engage me in math—Not. Gonna. Happen! I made up my mind decades ago, and my closed mind is impenetrable. But I’m the outlier, and you can engage eLearners who have even a passing interest. Focus most of your attention on “activating” the 80 percent rather than browbeating the 20 percent.

Active Learning – The Road Less Traveled

Think of active learning as “pull learning.” Active learning occurs when the learner takes initiative and pulls information of interest without prodding. Self-starters are lifelong active learners. They’ll immerse themselves in learning as long as the opportunity costs don’t overwhelm them.

As an instructional designer, you don’t get to physically see the “ah-hah” moment when an asynchronous eLearner turns into a rabid, active learner, but course and performance evaluations measure your success in getting through to eLearners.

Nudging the Leap From Asynchronous Learning to Active Learning

The road to asynchronous learning need not be long and winding. Three no-cost techniques can nudge asynchronous learners into active learning.

  1. Use “Where to go from here” segments at the end of each module.
  2. Set up social learning as a component of the eLearning.
  3. Include a voluntary mentoring program even if it uses virtual mentors, because “being mentored” is active learning, and it leads to leadership.

Not all active learners are leaders, but all leaders are active learners. What’s the point of learning if it’s not to mold leaders and encourage leadership?

10 Things You Should Know About eLearning for 2015

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eLearning is trending like never before. Find out what's in store for eLearning going into 2015.

When compared to other methods of learning, eLearning could probably still be considered the new kid in class. But, thanks to innovators in the learning and development sphere, it’s already come a long way as a viable method for education and training. If you haven’t been paying attention to eLearning, now is a great time to start: It’s only going to become more prevalent in an increasingly digital and efficiency-driven world. In fact, begin with this primer on what’s happening in eLearning right now.

  1. Animation is trending for 2014. One of the biggest sleeper hits for eLearning in 2014 has actually been animation. Peppering eLearning modules with custom animation and even personal avatars makes the subject material a little bit lighter and a lot more engaging.
  2. Your eLearning is only as good as your LMS. Sure, you can create standalone modules, but without a comprehensive Learning Management System (LMS), you could be missing out on some of the massive benefits of eLearning, including analytics and distance learning. Your LMS works as your control panel for eLearning, so it had better be good.
  3. eLearning can and should be sustainable. Dismissing eLearning as a training fad means you’re left in the dust to competitors who are already utilizing the technology for more effective training.  One of the clear benefits for eLearning is the fact that when properly executed, it can be both sustainable and perpetual.
  4. mLearning grows with tablet usage. Tablet ownership has grown by 257 percent in the past two years and will only continue its upward trend. Tablets create a natural platform for users who can turn their leisure machines into learning portals.
  5. Learners value authenticity. After years of cheesy Powerpoints and training, learners are looking for modules that are relatable, relevant and timely. Less filler and fluff means more room for the stuff that really matters to learners.
  6. Social media is the next great delivery method. Looking for a way to engage learners without adding unnecessary bulk to your module? Consider social media your saving grace. Utilizing social networking, online videos and quick micro-lessons creates opportunity for passive learning to capitalize on your learners’ time away from the office.
  7. Learners want to level up. Gamification has always been a large portion of eLearning, but it’s the rewards – not the game play – that really motivates learners. The ability to level up and earn badges is reminiscent of scoring kudos and promotions at work, so it’s a major factor in eLearning engagement.
  8. Big data could change education. With eLearning modules also comes comprehensive analytics, such as testing scores and time spent on certain topics. That analysis could be utilized as big data within the education community, helping researchers learn more about how and when learning is most effective.
  9. ROI is becoming easier to measure. ROI is always hard to measure in training: Without specific tasks and objectives, trainers and trainees don’t always know where they stand. But with gamification and post-course analysis, it’s becoming easier to measure the efficiency of the module and act accordingly.
  10. Consumers are getting in on the action. Training isn’t just for employees anymore. The ability to serve consumers with product information and how-to’s means organizations are better able to answer customer service concerns and educate consumers on how to use products.

No longer the new kid on the block, eLearning has found its legs in the learning and development sphere. From here, it’s finding new ways to make eLearning more relevant for modern applications: Who knows what’s next for 2015?

Designing the eLearning Matrix: Organization vs. Delivery

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The secret to solid instructional design? A well-designed matrix.

Perhaps one of the most important skills an instructional designer possesses isn’t related to technology, but rather problem-solving skills. When presented with a challenge – usually something along the lines of  “Can you take this information and make it into a training course?” – a good instructional designer knows not only how to organize information, but also the best way to deliver that information to learners. The secret weapon? A course design matrix. The course design matrix can help paint a clear picture of what needs to be done and the best way to do it. Here’s how.

Course Matrix Match-up

The course design matrix acts as a roadmap for instructional designers and their clients. It’s the easiest and most effective way to compare objectives with the right delivery pathways. Think of it as a triptych: You clearly see your destination, but also the necessary stops along the way that will get you there. It’s an essential first step to get the results that instructors want – and learners need to succeed.

Defining Goals in eLearning Matrix Design

The first step to utilizing a design matrix as part of the process is to have a client or instructor define their goals: What is the end result of this module or course? Is it altered behavior, increased knowledge or another measurement of success? The objective acts as an anchor for the rest of the matrix. When planning modules and delivery methods, they can constantly be compared to the objective to ensure that they’re in line with the overall vision for the module.

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Current Efforts

The design matrix is also an excellent way to look at current eLearning and development efforts to see if they’re fulfilling the objectives as well. Chances are that if an organization is looking for a new eLearning program, older efforts are falling short. Use the lessons learned from other attempts as stepping stones for a new program by plugging them into the matrix. If live instructors were used for all training, for example, but performance reviews remain low, it’s clear that live instructors may not be effective for that specific purpose.

Filling the Gaps

Once you have detailed what tasks need to be fulfilled and what is currently working, your design matrix will quickly reveal clear gaps that require filling through different eLearning methods. With a detailed road map in hand, you’ll be able to see which efforts aren’t currently matched with a viable training method. A gap near compliance training might be filled with micro lessons, for instance. Customer service training could be better matched with gamification.

Once the gaps have been filled, you have a clear guide as to how to proceed – whether you’re an instructional designer, instructor or client. Use the course design matrix to guide the design process, detail wins and losses and stay organized as you work to achieve your overall vision and objectives.