Friday, 18 March 2016

Mobile Learning For Modern Learners

Mobile devices are now extensively for learning, in addition to the traditional use of making voice-calls. With internet connectivity, mobile learning provides modern users with access to learning – anywhere and anytime. These devices can connect with each other and allow learners learn collaboratively in groups. There are various ways that mobile learning is being utilized – and one of the most common is by creating mobile-based learning game.

Here are a few ways that games can be an effective tool for mobile learning:

• The focus of mobile learning games has to be the knowledge or skill it imparts. Corporate learners prefer games which have a clear learning focus and provide multiple opportunities to learn new things within the environment. Learning games can teach new skills, enhance knowledge, provide opportunities for practice and provide feedback on performance as well. This checks all the boxes in the list of expectations that most corporate learners have from workplace learning opportunities.

• While games are very appropriate for the mobile platform and most learners are used to playing popular games on their devices, designing games for mobile devices should take into considerations the screen size and mobile specific capabilities like touch screens Many developers are not very enthusiastic about mobile learning games being touch-screen enabled, due to the simple reason that they want the games to be accessible to the learners on laptops and computers as well – most of which do not have touch screen feature. But this apprehension is beginning to fade as most learners are clearly showing their preferences for mobile learning games – especially the ones that are designed to perform best on mobile devices.

• The biggest benefit of mobile learning is that it provides learning opportunities anywhere and anytime. This benefit is enhanced further for learning games as most learners are willing to try out the game even in their free time, making use of non-productive times like travelling or waiting between jobs and so on. Mobile platform provides an unobtrusive way of learning through games – even when there is no or limited internet access.

• Furthermore gaming is a powerful medium of collaborative learning. Learners can connect with other learners through the game by posting scores or achievements on a ‘leaders’ board’ or sharing tips on a discussion board. Slow learners can ask for help and get it from achievers who have been performing exceptionally. Not only can this boost the morale of the learner’s group but also boost the spirit for a healthy competition. Collaborative tools built within the games like a comments section can be the collaborative ground for discussions and learning. It can also give helpful tips to developers who want to understand what works best for learners and align learning content as per the preferences of the learners.

Mobile devices and games make a great combination, not just for entertainment but for learning too. With the evolution of gaming technology and better mobile devices, the experience of game-based learning is becoming more impactful than ever.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

How Can Different e-Learning Companies Contribute To The Cause of Corporate Learning?

Over the last few decades, information and communication technologies are increasingly used for training and learning purposes. In addition, the widespread use of network technologies has also caused e-learning practices to evolve significantly. This enabled many IT companies to specialize in the field of technology-aided learning. There are various types of e-learning companies that provide one or myriads of e-learning services to cater to the training needs of organizations, whether big or small. Listed below are a few prominent types of e-learning companies that exist in the industry today.
  • Content specialists: These types of e-learning companies have access to the services of Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs) from different industries. They create stringent processes of SME interactions and extract the pertinent knowledge to create the required e-course. They also empower SMEs to provide information in a manner that hastens the delivery of the final output through popular e-learning templates. Once the SME information has been gathered, the team prepares to present it in an impactful manner with the help of relevant instructional strategies. The quality of the content is checked, and all the technical elements are put to the test through a stringent process. The final output is an e-course aligned to the e-learning standards and easily made available on any Learning Management System the organization chooses to implement. Content specialists create custom e-courses for specific or individual needs of learners within the organizations. Most of them also have a ready library of off-the-shelf courses for common learning needs of organizations.

  • LMS providers: In modern times, the LMS manages the entire training function of an organization, including assigning e-courses, managing classroom training or blended learning, populating useful and regular reports, and assessing learners to lay their future learning paths. Many e-learning companies building specialize in Learning Management Solutions and align them to the needs of the modern learners. LMLS providers create a learning platform that has the following properties:
    • Easy to navigate
    • Easily integrated with the existing systems
    • Searchable catalogue making content accessible
    • Mobile compatible to enable just-in-time learning through multiple devices

  • VCR vendors: Virtual classrooms have emerged as a bridge between classroom-based trainings and self-paced e-learning—bringing together the accessibility and effectiveness of classroom-based trainings, and the ease of use of e-learning. Many e-learning companies specialize in creating VCR-based learning solutions. 
For some time, the virtual classroom remained a luxury available only to large organizations, thanks to the high-tech infrastructure this technology required. Now, with the availability of broadband Internet and the new-age conferencing tools, conducting virtual training sessions is commercially feasible and, therefore, becoming more popular. Modern VCRs have the capability of file sharing, whiteboard, live chat for collaborative learning.

  • One-stop shop for all training needs: Moreover, there are many e-learning companies that develop content, provide the technology platform, implement the LMS, and market the training initiatives of the organization. They also provide mentors and administrators to manage the technology-aided learning within the organization, ensuring the IT team is not responsible for the maintenance of the learning management system and is free to carry on with their other duties. This also makes a sense to the companies that do not have a separate team to manage the LMS.

The benefits of e-learning are many. The growth of a number of organizations in the industry assures that any and every organization can now reap the benefits of technology-aided learning.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Effective e-Learning - Converting Existing Resources To Online Courses

Learning and Development managers and e-learning developers often utilize rapid authoring tools to online learning courses to suit the increasing need of the corporate learners and make it available through online learning management systems. This saves time, moneys and most importantly - effort.
It is important that we realize that knowledge resides within the organization – we need to extract it quickly and convert it to technology-enabled format. PowerPoint Presentations can be transformed into online learning courses – with very little effort with the help of rapid authoring tools. Microsoft PowerPoint as a learning tool is very popular and almost everyone is familiar with it. Knowledge managers or SubjectMatter Experts (SME) can provide the base content using PowerPoint and this can then be quickly transformed into e-content for corporate online learning management systems.

Steps for converting a PowerPoint presentation into an online learning course:

  • Segregate sections from the presentation to create ‘chapters’ for the e- learning course
  • Do not create a course with too many chapters. If the course is too lengthy, it is better to create multiple courses. Creating a lengthy course with a rapid authoring tool defeats the purpose of quickly creating e-content. It also fails to make appropriate impact on the learners.
  • Each chapter of the e-course should then be constructed appropriately – with text as well as graphics.
  • Keeping the e-format in mind, phrases or one-word descriptions should not be used. Since e-courses are mostly self-paced, complete sentences need to be used to describe concepts well.
  • External links, resources or additional study material can be given in the ‘notes’ section at the bottom of the PPT slide. The same can be made interactive with rapid authoring tools, using effects like ‘click to reveal’ or ‘drop-downs’. Not only do they make the courses interactive, they also help reduce on-screen text and learners get to choose and access as per their need.
  • Tools within PowerPoint can be utilized to create impactful Graphics. Graphs, Tables and Images can be used to make the content more powerful as well as reduce on-screen text. Rapid authoring tools can automatically pick up graphics and place them as per the design of the e-learning course.
  • In addition to building interactivities as well as graphics, Rapid authoring tools can also be utilized to create tests and evaluations quickly. SMEs can create questions in the form of multiple–choice or true-false exercises in the notes section of the PowerPoint presentation. From here, the e-learning developers can take up the questions and convert them into e-format by utilizing rapid authoring tools.
Thus the online learning courses created are graphically rich, interactive and also help the learning managers evaluate the learners. Out of the Rapid Authoring Tools thatare popular in the learning industry, many of them can help e-learning developers to convert PowerPoint Presentations into E-Learning Courses – including Adobe Presenter, Lectora Integrator and Presenter 09.

Friday, 4 December 2015

How Effective Is Your Online Training Software

Learning through online training software in an organization is a constant activity. However, it is important to implement training as well as assess it on a continuous basis. There are many ways to ascertain how effective online training software is across an organization. With the right kind of LMS and various interactivities incorporated within the content, there is a lot that can be measured.
  • A good and effective LMS has the online training software that should be able to track user data and give inputs on the courses started, finished or left mid-way. Modern LMSs are also equipped to ascertain the learners’ activity within a course and point out sections in the course where the learner spent more time or skipped altogether. This provides a guide to the learners’ preferred learning styles and can help chart a more personalized learning plan for him or her to increase the effectiveness of training. 
  • Informal assessments like quizzes and short tests are commonly used within an e-course to ascertain its effectiveness and also e-courses help learners monitor their own progress. Mostly, the results are given instantly and this helps re-enforce learning. Most online training software allow multiple attempts of a particular test or quiz. By assessing the results of a learner’s scores, his or her progress can surely be measured effectively. If the scores are low and the difference between initial scores and final scores is not much, it could be an indicator that the training is not making its due impact and a different learning path might be best for the learner. 
  • Most e-courses are designed to deliver pertinent knowledge to a learner-group. To make sure that the knowledge transfer has been successful, formal tests are conducted that constitute multiple-choice questions, true/false and cognitive assessments. Formal assessments are also an eye-opener to the effectiveness of leaning within a group of learners. Comparing scores of different learners with online training software can point to the need gaps of training for certain kind of learners within the group. 
  • Finally, we can also use the age-old mechanism of measuring the impact of learning – by asking the learners themselves. Going by Donald Kirpatrick’s popular training evaluation model, we can gather data on four levels – 
    • Reaction: How do learners respond to the course?
    • Learning: What did they learn?
    • Transfer: What changes will they make while back on the job?
    • ‘Result’: What are the business outcomes that are seen resulting from the learners’ performance? 
Questionnaires can be created to ascertain effectiveness of the online training software. Most modern online training software can successfully conduct surveys or polls and can quickly analyze them to provide a suitable measure of effectiveness of an online training.

Assessing effectiveness of the online training software not only helps to ascertain if the training objectives have been achieved but also helps create better learning resources for the organization. 

Monday, 16 November 2015

A Way To Engage The Learner : Game Based Learning

Game based learning is now heralded as the new way of engaged learning – even for adults. Here are a few myth busters about Game-based learning:

·  Games are only effective for a young audience: Games have traditionally been created keeping the younger audiences in mind – who are more aligned to newer technologies and are open to explore more. L&D managers who procure e-learning services are often not sure if Game based learning will fit into their audience profiles – that include mid-level or high level executives.  There is now proof that game-based learning can be designed for olderaudiences also. If a game has enough challenges and is able to provide through worth of learning – learners of any age can enjoy and learn from it.

·     Games cannot provide serious learning: Many games are built for serious learning as well. There are simulations that teach high-end medical procedures and skills like flying an airplane. Similarly, high end games can be built to impart serious learning as well. For instances, quizzes on a myriad of subjects can be built – where the learner can be challenged on different issues. In addition to sparking interest and creating a sense of competition, they hone the skills of assimilation and recall. Serious games can also be built with a small learning nugget that provides information or knowledge prior to the beginning of the game. This helps the learner get better prepared for the game as well as utilize the learning nugget to acquire knowledge – utilizing both mediums equally.

·  Game Based Learning is a costly proposition: Though building a game takes some amount of logical thought and time, games can be built within tight budgets as well. Simple interactivities built with development tools like Flash, to engages the learner. Many free tools are also available on the internet that can help create simple games of learning like word-building, cross words and so on. Utilizing these e-learning services, companies can create games for corporate learning. A series of simple games can be created over time to provide sustained learning.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

How To Develop Far-Reaching Mobile Content Faster

Mobile learning (m-learning) has found a strong footing over the years, especially in the corporate circles – where learning-on-the-go has become an essential need for the learners. The popularity of m-learning brings with itself a growing need for mobile-compatible content – that is readily available and easily accessible to the learner. In this scenario, the turnaround time for developing m-learning content is a growing concern in the industry. Developers often have to work with challenging timelines and large volume of content. In this scenario, creating courses with rapid authoring tools is the preferred way to go.

Rapid authoring tools have been used to develop e-learning content for many years now. Over the last few years, authoring tools like Articulate Storyline and Lectora have evolved to develop content which is ready to be rendered on the mobile learning platform as well. As a developer, the advantages of creating mobile-compatible courses with these tools are many and there is availability of a wide variety of such tools, in terms of all that you want to do.

  • The biggest advantage is the savings that you make – of time, effort and money. The same course can be developed and rendered across a variety of delivery platforms – PC, mobiles and tablets. For the end-user, it provides multiple opportunities to access the content, as per his or her schedule – anytime, anywhere.

  • No special or separate efforts are needed to make the course mobile-compatible. The course fits automatically, as per the screen size of the mobile device. Shell features of the course, such as Navigation Buttons, Seekbar, Menu, and Volume On/Off are also supported, with no additional changes.

  • The developed courses can be made available on the Web and can be accessed through any popular mobile browser. Since most mobile browsers now support HTML5, the content created can be accessed by all the learners – irrespective of the model and make of their mobiles. This increases the reach of the content exponentially.

  • Courses that are made available online can also be downloaded and read offline. Due to the lightweight structure of the courses, they take up very little space on the learner’s device. Thus, the learner can access the course content, even when internet connectivity is limited or unavailable.

  • The courses that are created with rapid authoring tools conform to the SCORM and AICC standards, ensuring that tracking is made possible through any new-age LMS. Irrespective of how a course is accessed – online (if the course is on a web server), offline, or while hosted on the LMS – the tracking mechanism remains the same and is synched accordingly, even when the learner is using multiple devices to access the content at different times.

  • A variety of interactivities can be built in the courses to increase its appeal for the learner, including slide transitions, illustrations, scrolling panels and so on. These features are the chosen interactivities in most e-courses, and render in the same manner on the mobile platform as well – ensuring a uniform learner experience, irrespective of varying delivery devices. Other interactivities like Drag and Drop, Text/Data entry fields and Surveys can also be built, opening up the opportunity to create a variety of tests and assessments for the learner, which can be taken on the go.

  • Rapid authoring tools also ensure that the audio element is synchronized and renders well on the mobile platform. This provides the opportunity to create mobile content, which has a strong audio element and creates a powerful connect with the mobile audience. For instance, when reading text on a small screen is a problem, the learner can choose to just ‘hear’ the course and gain instant knowledge. 
There are various types of mobile content to suit theneeds of the modern learners. By utilizing newer ways of mobile content creation, we will be able to create impactful content – within stipulated budgets and time constrains.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Custom e-Learning can bring in Business Success

Custom e-learning solutions have been increasingly popular over the last decade. With advances in communication and development technology in the e-learning industry, using technology for learning has become not only affordable, but also more available. A variety of custom e-learning solutions can be developed to suit the learning objectives well and align to the needs or learning preferences of the intended audience. 

But how do organizations choose the best out of the many varied facets of technology-aided learning? E-learning solutions have to fit the corporate culture and strategy to derive positive business results and achieve Return on Investments (ROI).

A few tips to ensure the success of e-learning solutions:
  • When working with available content, the first step is often to redesign the content to suit the strengths and benefits of the technology-enabled platform. It is wise to consider that lot of them may not have exposure to computer-led trainings.  Keeping the language simple and inserting strategies like generic themes and easily-recognizable figures can help the learners connect more with the course content.

  • It is tedious to read a lot of text online, so the textual content should be kept minimal. Instead, a lot of graphics can be utilized to impart knowledge. Audio voiceover can compensate for the minimalistic onscreen text, which makes the course easier to consume and retain for the learner. It is best to create courses that are no more than 15–30 minutes long, and which- mainly consist of graphics, animations and audio.

  • In addition to the e-content, it is also a popular strategy to include downloadable offline learning material that summarizes the main learning of the course. This allows the learners to study offline and refresh the main learning from the course, without going through the course all over again.

  • Most organizations are now widely spread. Taking the regional diversity into consideration, the learning solutions can also be localized into regional languages and all cultural references should be neutral in nature – to ensure that the learners from all regions can relate and understand the e-content well.

  • The structure of an e-course also contributes to its success. A simple structure ensures that the learners are able to maneuver their way easily through the course.  The course can be made easily-accessible and easily-consumable by making sure that the number of clicks is reduced. Efficient developers include only purposeful clicks – giving the learner more time to concentrate on the course content, rather than the details of navigation.

  • Marketing the learning initiative is as important as launching it. E-Mailers, banners or other promotional messages should be circulated among the learner group before the launch of the e-learning solution – to make sure that the learners’ interest is aroused and they are prepared for the learning opportunity.

    The ways to ensure business success of a custom e-learning solution should take into consideration the needs of the organization as well as those of the learners
    . While taking into account the available budgets, it is also important to make sure that the budgets are utilized into creating e-learning, which suits the end audience and empowers them to do their work better.