Thursday, April 17, 2014

Being Concise - #IMPS

I like to think I have a knack at being concise, at least when it comes to creating courses. Being concise, while retaining instructional integrity, is important in keeping your audience, knowledge transfer and retention. With that said, I thought about what I do to make courses concise and came up with the following strategy. 

I call it IMPS. Notes are added, but of course I'm keeping it short.

Identify appropriate learning objectives and exclude the extraneous objectives trying to sneak into the course.
Note: Identify the learners' needs through a solid needs analysis  - do not rely on what the stakeholders "think" they need. Remember, ask the tough questions and observe the audience. This stage usually overlaps with the next and provides a focus throughout all the stages.  

Manage stakeholder, subject matter expert and design team’s expectations - get them “on-board” with designing concise, but effective courses.
Note: They not only need to know the advantages, but need to be vested in the approach. Be prepared to explain and sell the benefits of a concise course (e.g., reducing cognitive overload, increase retention, time efficiency among staff, etc.).

Prioritize content into levels of “must know,” “good to know” and “nice to know.”
Note:  These will be crucial in the following stage when you determine what to include, how to include it or perhaps if it will be delegated to additional resources. 

Streamline the content, language and course interface.
Note: Use the prioritized levels to trim your content, present it logically and to efficiently utilize learning assets (e.g., interactions, games, visuals, analogies, infographics, etc.). Also, edit the language for succinctness and design the interface for quick and easy navigation. 

I will be writing more on this subject in future posts. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section - Thank you. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Serious eLearning Manifesto

Serious eLearning Manifesto Logo
I have got on-board and signed the Serious eLearning Manifesto. I believe it is a good blueprint for ensuring quality eLearning. For successful implementation, I believe it not only requires the commitment of eLearning designers, but also the support of course stakeholders and learning & development management. I am continually negotiating with the aforementioned for the time and resources needed to develop effective learning programs. So, I think it is very important to note that we must also get them on board so we can deliver eLearning that meets the manifesto's standards. Without their support it is easy to fall into the trap of cutting corners and not meeting the level of quality our learners deserve. 

Thank you Manifesto Instigators for putting it all together - you did a good job.

I encourage everyone involved in eLearning to read and consider endorsing the Serious eLearning Manifesto.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Here's a Recent Course I Made

It is a rare exception when I can publicly share one of my online courses. That is because most are on a corporate learning management system (LMS) which is only accessible to my fellow employees or they are on our Intranet, which is also inaccessible to non-staff. This course is one I created for our public site and is accessible to the world. It is a pretty straightforward course that includes scenario based learning. So far, the design appears to be working well in assisting our health care members to learn more about using their benefits, especially important due to recent benefit changes. Please use the link below to take a look at the course. 

Feel free to also visit my eLearning Screenshots Pinterest page to see some screenshots of a few other courses I've made. And of course there is the Free eLearning page which chock full of examples from others.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

There is No "PowerPoint"

So often I get a call from subject matter experts (SME) and other stakeholders regarding elearning courses asking, "Can't you just send me the PowerPoint?" My answer of "There is no PowerPoint" is usually not received well and followed by a tone of disbelief. I don't deny them a PowerPoint because they will probably compromise the instructional integrity of the courses, which is possible, or because I am selfish. It is usually because the course simply wasn't made in PowerPoint or only portions of the development process was made using PowerPoint and what they would get would be fragments of a course at best. However, when people outside of eLearning see the final product they associate it with the closest thing they are familar with in their world, which is PowerPoint. 

So, here is the deal:

Most courses are developed with tools that are not PowerPoint. For example, Captivate, Flash, ToolBook, Storyline, etc. All of which I have used and been asked to "send the PowerPoint."

Some development tools use PowerPoint as an initial interface, but it is in combination with eLearning development applications. An example I have is Articulate Studio. This can be difficulty to explain to the SME that is eager to get hold of your elusive "slides." This is especially true when they have seen you working in PowerPoint when story boarding or other early stages of development. 

So, the moral of the story is let your SMEs know up front about the development tools you will use and what deliverables can and will be provided. 

Feel free to add your comments and opinions. I'd love to hear if you have had similar experiences and how you've addressed it. Thanks. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Giving Pinterest Another Try

I started a Pinterest account quite a while ago, but my interest in it waned quickly. It really did not fill any need for me. In the last few weeks I decided to give in another try. 

So what have I been pinning? Here are the categories I have so far:
  • eLearning - I pin interesting eLearning infographics, pages, resources, etc. 
  • eLearning Screenshots - Various screens from courses I have made. Since most of what I have developed sits within a learning management system (LMS), inaccessible to non-coworkers, I thought it nice to share at some screens from a few of my favorite courses. Only a couple of courses are represented now, but more to come. 
  • Maryland History - I love local history and especially historical pics. 
  • Rhode Island - That's where I'm originally from and it's always nice to pin some pics that remind me of home. 
As you can see, I have been getting some use out of it and starting to appreciate its value. 

Happy pinning!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Do You Know What We Do? #eLearning Infographic

I was having a discussion with some fellow eLearning designers and we got deep into the complexities of working with subject matter experts (SME). Many great ideas came out of the discussion (e.g., guidelines, agreements, best methods of identifying SMEs and a lead SME, etc.). One thing I brought up was that so few SMEs realize what is involved in the process of creating elearning courses or any instruction for that matter. I mentioned that I have been wanting to create an infographic demonstrating the process of developing elearning, from inception to loading it to the LMS. It would be helpful to SMEs and the elearning designer trying to bring them into the fold... and down to reality. 

Well, one of my fellow elearning designers said, "Have you looked? There's probably already one out there." So, I looked and found the following infographic.

It is a good overview of the process of creating effective eLearning... and I'm glad they (Leanforward) added the word "effective." After all, much less is involved in developing "ineffective" learning. The times listed do have to be taken with a grain of salt. Although I think they are not too far off in many scenarios, there are many variables that affect the time involved (e.g., complexity of content, multimedia used, level of interactivity, developers skill level with development tools, etc.). The competencies and time needed for implementation, (e.g., loading to the LMS or web, testing, enrolling staff, etc.) is not addressed. Something to also consider mentioning when sharing this with your SMEs.

I think it will be a good thing to also share with anyone interested in entering the elearning field - So, they know what they are getting themselves into and the competencies they will need.

In addition to this infographic, has quite a few more eLearning infographics of interest.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Getting Started in eLearning

I think like most people in our field, I am often asked how to get started in eLearning. Well, the eLearning Industry site has released "How to Become an eLearning Professional," an ebook of tips for people interested in getting started. It has practical advice from 23 leaders in the field. It will definitely be a resource I share with people interested in entering our field.

While we're on the subject, I will add that anyone getting started in elearning need to be prepared to invest the time to acquire the competencies needed. There are many misconceptions about our field that mislead people in believing they can start by simply acquiring the "right" development tools and jumping right into making courses. As anyone working in the field will probably agree, it is not as simple as mastering the development tools. It also involves becoming competent in elearning design. Without a focus on design, and I have seen this many times, one will just spin their wheels (e.g., develop courses that do not provide effective instruction, do not address the audience's learning needs, etc.).

If you are interested in elearning, do not look first to the development tools, but rather how to DESIGN learning. Here is a list of ISD graduate programs, which I believe are worth the investment. I know not everyone is interested in the graduate school route and in that case you may look to certificate programs or workshops whether at an academic institution or through groups like ASTD or the eLearning Guild.

Reading elearning blogs is also a good way to learning more about elearning and finding additional useful resources for getting started. Plus, blogs often provide opportunities to pick the brains of many knowledgeable practitioners. eLearningLearning is a good place to find such blogs. Following elearning designers on Twitter is another good way to expand your personal learning network (PLN). 

Good luck and don't forget to check out the "How to Become an eLearning Professionalebook.