by Sarah Sweeney, Marketing Assistant at Aurion Learning.
Many HR and L&D professionals face the problem of ensuring that their training and learning programmes maintain learner engagement and motivation. Gamification has been regularly recognised as an opportunity to help solve this problem.
In this post, we consider whether gamification can enhance the learning experience. Before we consider if it is game on for gamification in learning, it is necessary to look at what gamification essentially is.
What is Gamification?
Games and game like components have been invading the learning realm for quite some time now. Although its definition differs, for the most part, gamification in learning is the use of game mechanics to ‘gamify’ content to engage and entice users by encouraging and rewarding use.
Although Nick Pelling first coined the term “gamification” in 2002, it has actually been around for some time – 40 years in fact, with many organisations already using features in their work from video games.
Indeed, it can be said that loyalty programs, target-based bonuses and employee-of-the-month schemes are all examples of how gamification as an incentive to growth has been around for a long time too.
Examples of gamification in learning include:
- Training: technology giants, Microsoft use gamification to train users of Microsoft Office on how to use the new ribbon interface effectively.
- Education: New York based school – Quest to Learn, advocates game-based learning to make education more engaging and relevant to children.
- Employee productivity: Management tool Arcaris uses gamification to improve productivity in call centres.
Now that we know what gamification is and where it is being used in learning, it is necessary to see whether it actually works.
Does Gamification in learning work?
The gamification of e-learning unquestionably presents unique possibilities for learning technologists as they explore additional ways to educate and importantly engage learners.
It is widely recognised that adding interactive activities in e-learning are no longer optional extras, but essential to effective learning. However, it is important that the addition of game like elements into the e-learning programme are only applied in the context of the programme that allow the learner the opportunity to apply their retained knowledge to live situations, rather than distract and dazzle learners with wizardry from the overall learning goal.
Frequently, my social media feeds are inundated with social games, although irritating at times, there is no escaping the surge in popularity of online gaming and social media. The site, DevHub, reported an eightfold increase in the number of users completing their sites after adding gamification elements to the process. If there was any indication that the gamification was a fad, according to research from M2 it’s here not only stay, but increase in its use.
“The global market for gamification apps and services will grow to $2.8 billion by 2016.”
The enthusiasm for gamification has however met with some criticism. Game designers Radoff and Robertson have criticised gamification for excluding aspects like storytelling, an important element of learning. Whilst university researcher Deterding, has argued that current approaches to gamification create an artificial sense of achievement.
What does the successful application of gamification in e-learning look like?
- Gamification isn’t about games, but the learners.
- It isn’t about knowledge but behaviour.
- It extracts the motivational techniques out of games and uses them for life-applicable learning.
- It allows quick feedback of progress and communications of goals that need to be accomplished.
Gamification is made appealing for e-learning because of our human tendencies. On the whole, we generally enjoy actively participating engaging and competing with others. Gamification allows learners to connect and learn together with playful applications and incentives, particularly when there are engaging game design elements used.
Today’s learners are however no longer placated with trivial reward systems but rather sophisticated experiences that hold real value. Organisations embracing the gamification in learning can stand to see learners more engaged and retain more information, but only if it is applied aptly to the e-learning programme, achieving the overall core learning objectives.
Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.
Six out of ten learning and development managers say their training budget is one of the first to be cut when times are hard, according to a report published in Personnel Today. Now more than ever it’s vital that training is closely aligned with key business goals, that the effectiveness of training is properly evaluated and that return on investment is accurately measured.
But no one can deny that workplace training has changed. Where once the role of the training manager focused on developing classroom based programmes, scheduling events, measuring effectiveness, and reporting on attendance and performance after events, it’s now much more about harnessing the best learning technologies to provide access to information and learning content.
Training managers need to be solutions architects – capable of designing innovative ways for employees to access relevant knowledge, on-demand, no matter where they are. And they need to keep up-to-date with the latest learning developments, to guarantee success.
Here we examine some of the top trends in learning and technology that influence modern workplace training, and that we utilise to support our clients.
1. 70/20/10 Model of learning
The most effective way to facilitate workplace learning is by giving workers opportunities to develop, apply and practice new skills and behaviours on the job and in real-life situations. Many organisations have adopted the 70/20/10 learning philosophy, whereby:
- 70% of learning & development takes place on the job, through tasks, experiences and problem-solving;
- 20% of learning & development comes through feedback, learning and sharing with others (formal and informal); and
- 10% of learning takes place via formal training, study and reading.
Recognition of the 70/20/10 approach means that the entire learning environment is changing from:
- knowledge delivery to knowledge sharing and problem-solving;
- formal and structured training to free flow of knowledge;
- individuals to learning communities; and
- training courses to learning environments (offline and online).
* 70/20/10 concept developed by McCall, Eichinger and Lombardo
2. Convergence of learning, performance and talent management
Businesses are beginning to seek enterprise wide solutions where they can unite the functionality of a learning management system (LMS) (e-learning, classroom training, reporting & tracking, certification & assessment) with a performance management system (performance appraisals, performance management, career & success planning, competency management) and talent management system (on-boarding, talent acquisition, compensation management, workforce planning).
3. Learning technologies are becoming social, collaborative, and virtual
Google, LinkedIn, twitter, YouTube, wikis, blogs all contribute to modern workplace learning. Live training is often virtual and facilitated via tools such as Skype, GotoTraining and WebEx.
4. The rise of mobile learning
It’s been mentioned before, but has been slow to be adapted in many organisations. Mobile or mlearning is about delivering learning content and experiences to learners when and where they need it. Typically mlearning is accessed via a mobile device such a smart phone or tablet – it’s particularly useful for performance support – checklists, quick guides, short ‘how-to’ videos.
5. The rise of DIY rapid elearning
More and more organisations want to be able to create their own e-learning to build in-house capabilities, save money and time. Demand for Aurion’s rapid eLearning training course has tripled over the last two years. Training staff want to know how to use the best rapid authoring tools to create their own e-learning and gain an understanding of e-learning theories and strategies.
Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.
Successful e-learning is a combination of technology that works, great learning design and meaningful content. Content is often however the most difficult resource to obtain when developing e-learning.
In this short post, we take a look at how to source content, make the most out of existing content and ensure that the content is suitable for your e-learning programme or module.
What many organisations don’t realise is they are already sitting on a mass of existing content that can easily be replicated in to usable and effective content for their e-learning courses. Any company or organisation that is already delivering some form of training is actually ready with content.
Existing content can come in various forms:
- employee handbook,
- policy documents,
- facilitator guides,
- classroom training hand-outs,
- presentations given on various subjects by senior managers at various forums.
- company information
So what do you do with the content now that you have identified the sources?
As tempting as it may be to simply regurgitate those existing text based resources and assume that it can be deployed onto a web based progamme, you will be disappointed to hear that unfortunately it is not quite as straight forward as this. It is essential that you take a careful look at the content and determine whether it still has the same meaning in an online context. If not, you need to (re)organise it, paraphrase it and reproduce it as content plays a pivotal role in providing the structure of an e-learning programme.
The content for your eLearning programme needs to not only meet the learning needs of your organisation but also actively engage the learner, including interaction with fellow learners as without the right content, quite often learning points are missed and participants become disengaged.
When developing content for your e-learning programme, it is important to start with the basics – identify the content that is aligned with your organisational goals and developed within the context of your broader training strategy.
Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.
Compliance requirements for employees and organisations place new demands on learning systems that more traditional, developmental requirements do not. Our industry nowadays seems flooded with learning and talent management systems. But for such systems to succeed in a compliance-related role, they must be able to readily adapt to changing needs, operate at enterprise software level, and offer the requisite functionality around auditing, reporting, and security.
It is important that L&D and HR departments are up-to-date with the compliance requirements specific to their business. Here are a few suggestions to make this easier:
- Talk to your legal team and to your compliance officer to better understand who in the organisation is responsible for what.
- Define clear requirements and objectives for training and the technology implementation.
- Question your vendor and demand a software validation for the learning or talent management system. For the technical parts, don’t be afraid to ask your IT team to participate.
- Make compliance an on-going part of your business via well-defined workflows, checks and balances, and actionable reporting.
- When it comes to training, reinforce formal compliance learning with recurring programs. These initiatives may include informal collaborations (such as forums to discuss on-going compliance issues), on-the-job assessments (to better evaluate the effectiveness of the compliance training), and performance support (to provide easy access to compliance-related materials at the point of need).
If your organisation struggling to meet government regulations, standards set by professional bodies, or obtaining and maintaining qualifications such as ISO 9000 or Sarbanes-Oxley?
You can download “Compliance and your LMS – A Practical Guide to Make Compliance Easy” by NetDimensions.
Aurion Learning is Ireland’s only accredited reseller of NetDimensions’ Talent Management Suite. For further information on its learning management system solutions, visit our website
To read more about the 20 Most Popular LMS study and how the results were obtained, visit the Capterra website.
In this blog article, Maresa takes a look at how spaced practice can be applied to learning and discusses the benefits of this approach.
The idea of ‘spaced practice’ is not a new phenomenon in learning. Hermann Ebbinghaus, the German psychologist who first described terms such as the ‘learning curve’ and the ‘forgetting curve’, studied the effectiveness of spaced practice as far back as 1885. It has, to some extent, been applied to teaching and training curricula ever since then. So why then write a blog about it?
Spaced practice is often forgotten about or simply left out of training curricula, despite its effectiveness. Many people don’t understand in what way it is beneficial to learning or how they might apply it to their teaching. In this blog, I will explore how Learning Designers can embed reminders and staged practice activities post programme completion to help embed learning.
What is Spaced Practice?
According to Dr. Will Thalheimer’s, “spaced practice occurs when we present learners with a concept to learn, wait some amount of time, and then present the same concept again”.
(Spacing Learning Events Over Time: What the Research Says: 2006)
There are two ways to integrate spaced practice into learning materials:
(1) Put a delay between two or more repetitions, or
(2) Present other learning material between two or more repetitions.
1. Putting a delay between two or more repetitions
The table below shows how you can put a delay between two or more repetitions of a learning concept:
Insert a delay between repetitions
|Scenario on Topic A|
|Scenario on Topic A|
|Scenario on Topic A|
In this example, a delay is placed between three repetitions of scenarios on Topic A (the learning concept). The scenarios do not have to be the same, but they must teach the same concept (Topic A).
2. Present other learning material between two or more repetitions
The table below shows how you can present other learning material between two or more repetitions of a learning concept:
Insert other topics between repetitions
|Scenario on Topic A|
|(Scenario on Topic B)|
|Scenario on Topic A|
|organize (Scenario on Topic C)|
|Scenario on Topic A|
In this example, scenarios on other topics are placed between two or more repetitions of Topic A (the learning concept).
Just like the growing trend in eating habits, little and often learning works as it gives the brain time to translate and organise memories, as well as reinforcing those retentions over time.
What are the benefits of Spaced Practice?
Repeating learning concepts supports and reinforces learning. Repeating learning concepts
over time produces more learning and better long-term retention than repetitions that are not spaced. The spacing out of practice seems to avoid fatigue effects and consolidates memory.
Dr. Will Thalheimer’s research suggests that longer spacings tend to produce more long-term retention than shorter spacings (up to a point where even longer spacings are sometimes counterproductive).
How can you apply Spaced Practice post programme completion?
There are various methods whereby you can embed reminders and staged practice activities post programme completion to help embed learning. I’ve listed some of them below:
Break your programme up into chunks
Instead of creating one 1 hour course, break it up into four 15-minute chunks. Prioritise the chunks and schedule them so that the most important and most easily forgotten points are provided more often throughout the chunks. Schedule your learners to take each chunk one or two weeks apart.
Provide short refresher courses
Provide short refresher eLearning programmes with the key learning points from the initial eLearning programme. Prompt your learners to make decisions based on learning points you want to reinforce. Deliver these at intervals throughout the year or when performance is low.
Provide practice exercises
Provide practice exercises which give learners an opportunity to apply what they have learned to their jobs. Reinforce key learning points via role-plays, discussions and scenario-based questions.
Send emails with key points
Send emails with key points at various intervals after the learner has taken the programme to reinforce learning.
Use other tools
Use other tools to keep the topic alive. For example, create a discussion forum, add a Twitter feed, write various articles in your newsletter, put up posters, give learners access to related articles, and provide live support.
Support learners on the job
Provide learners with Job Aids and resources which help them to retrieve information when they need it.
Encourage managers to follow-up afterwards
Get managers to talk with learners about key learning points. This not only encourages learners, but it helps you to discover what they may need to reinforce their learning.
These are just some of the methods you can use. Has anyone any other suggestions that have worked for them? Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this
Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.
By Glynn Jung
Whichever product or service you seek, an organised, comprehensive selection process is required – perusing websites of e-learning companies just doesn’t work. The selection process for a suitable e-learning vendor should be guided by whether they are supplying:
- off the shelf e-learning titles or
- design and development services.
It helps if you develop a checklist, (indeed most purchasing departments demand this) so that you are consistent in comparisons. We recommend listing all the attributes of a perfect-fit vendor and deciding which features are must-haves, whether these are immediate needs or future growth and finally how important each feature is (“points”).
We also recommend that organisations adopt the “MoSCoW” method for determining their needs. This is based on agreeing:
- ‘should have’
- ‘could have’ and
- ‘would be nice to have’ – most organisations concentrate exclusively on “must have”.
Below is a sample checklist that you might consider as a starting point for your own selection of a technology vendor.
In any e-learning vendor selection process there are generally a number of important criteria, such as pricing, technology, quality, service and so on. With regard to technology, ensure your vendors know what they will be dealing with in your organisation.
|Attribute||Must Have||Now or Future||Points|
|Does the vendor serve organisations similar to yours?|
|What do current customers similar to yourselves say|
|Is the vendor’s customer base sizeable enough to ensure continued operation?|
|Are customer references available?|
|Does the vendor support customer implementations with training and support?|
|Can the vendor assure you of a successful implementation?|
|Does the vendor have a proven plan for implementation of its system?|
|How long has the vendor been operating in the e-learning market?|
|Is pricing in line with similar offerings?|
|Does the vendor rely primarily on revenue from its commercial system or is customization a large part of its income?|
|Does the vendor offer a base price that scales with volume?|
|Does the price include everything you will require to get started?|
|Can you see a relationship between cost and quality?|
|Does the vendor guarantee successful operation?|
|Is there a stated quality policy?|
|Are “bugs” resolved quickly or do they wait for a future release?|
|How easy is the system to use: How much training is required?|
|Does the system require minimal resources for administration?|
|How reliable is the system: How often and for how long does it go down?|
|Do the technical qualifications reflect our technology|
|Is the system’s technology up to date? State-of-the-art?|
|Does the vendor rely on outside support for its basic services?
Is the system capable of delivering current types of media?
|Does the vendor provide multiple solutions for your needs?|
|Can the system support with various authoring tools?|
|Does the system support the browsers we need supporting?|
|Does the system support mobile devices?|
|Does the system support our compliance requirements?|
|Are maintenance fees readily available?|
|Does the vendor require the purchase of periodic updates?|
|Does the vendor provide 24/7customer support?|
|Does the system support multiple languages?|
|Does the system support the accessibility we require?|
|Can the software be placed in Escrow?|
Bespoke e-learning development
If the need is for bespoke course development or off-the-shelf titles many of the same technical considerations still apply. You need to ensure that any course content can be accessed and viewed using devices which your staff will be using. You further need samples of their work to compare but before you do this we recommend you identify:
- who will be using the courses,
- where they’ll be using them and
- what you consider to be fit-for-purpose regarding design of content.
For example if your IT people operate a “no download, no plugins” policy that the course material requires no extra software, will operate properly on your LMS (if you use one) or as a web-playable course and on any special devices your learners may use.
Location of learning is significant – if it’s in a retail store, warehouse or factory audio is rendered virtually useless.
Your list may be modified as you start talking to potential vendors: the critical thing is to keep your absolute priorities and needs in front of you at all times and not be swayed by sophisticated marketing or sales.
Project planning and management.
Ensure the vendor provides a clear project approach which is logical and understandable – they’re the experts so they should be able to keep to plan, warn of any pitfalls and deliver on time, within budget and to agreed benchmarks.
The final thing I want to talk about is working relationships. Working with willing, supportive, responsive and flexible vendors can quickly develop into a true partnership: if you really solely on numerical weighting systems you run the risk of attempting to work with people who don’t fit your organisation’s or people’s style and culture.
Demand three personal referees similar to yourselves in their client base. Talk to these referees; don’t use a pro forma reference form: find out what they’re like to work with and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Also find out who will actually be working on your project: assess them as people when you come to interview your shortlisted companies – have a get-out clause ready in case the sales time disappears after they’ve closed the business and there’s no-one to talk to in the vendor organisation who understand your needs.
What checklist do you use when selecting a vendor? Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this checklist.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Glynn Jung
Glynn Jung is Non-Executive Director at Aurion Leanring. He has over 25 years’ experience delivering innovative and cost-effective learning and process improvement strategies for a wide range of public, private and third sector organisations.
By Maresa Molloy, Instructional Designer at Aurion Learning.
At Aurion Learning, our experience tells us that one of the best ways to guarantee learner interest and retention is through the appropriate and frequent use of interactivity.
This short article identifies the top five benefits of adding interactive activities to your online learning resources.
- Changes learner behaviour – Interactive activities such as, scenario-based exercises, behaviour modelling and guided practice prompt learners to review the lesson against their own work-place practices which is an ideal approach to affect positive behaviour change amongst staff.
- Ensures the message is understood – formative assessments, questioning and assessed role-plays provide learners with instant feedback, offering appropriate affirmation or explanation depending on whether the learner has answered correctly or incorrectly.
- Connects with the workplace – printable job aid exercises, such as checklists and action plans, prompt learners to focus on the application of the course material to their particular role.
- Engages all learning styles – variety of presentation, practice and assessments support high levels of user interactivity and engagement. Rich task-based multi-media and audio immerse learners by providing realistic practice in the subject areas being taught.
- Promotes a positive learning experience – the use of appropriate interactivity encourages learners to return to refresh their learning as well recommend the resource to their colleagues as material for group or individual learning.
As a quick rule of thumb, we feel that the definition provided by American Instructional Technology guru, Brandon-Hall encapsulates the spirit of good interactivity:
“An interaction is an engagement of the mind……. not the finger!”
by Maresa Molloy, Instructional Designer at Aurion Learning
If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then it is important to ensure that you add the right pictures and images to improve your e-learning rather than distract from it. Simple – right? Well, actually yes.
This article contains tips and advice to ensure that you get the picture to maximise your e-learning environment.
Knowing your photos from your icons
There are three main types of images:
- Icons –They are multi-use clip-art type images such as, Important, Test Question, Review Point, or Key Fact. iconfinder has a good free range of icons to use.
- Graphics – a graphic is a designed image and are very specific. Graphics can be charts or graphs; they can be illustrations or word art.
- Photographs – Finding the right photo that portrays everything that you want and are trying to represent can be a powerful tool, however, these images can be hard to find, particularly if you are not a professional photographer! We have listed below an assortment of both paid for and free images that you can use:
Finding your images:
If you would like to find free images, you can use the Creative Commons area on Flickr or stock.xchng. You can also use Compfight to help you search for photos that you can use. Remember to read the guidelines on proper attribution!
Now that you have you images, it is important to remember the following:
Don’t over egg the pudding.
After you have spent hours pulling together the content for your e-learning environment, the last thing you want to do is to clutter the page with images. Equally, images should not be there to take up space. Take a moment before adding an image and ask ‘What is the purpose of this image? Ensure that it has relevance and reinforces what it is you are trying to get across.
It is important that your images work with the content of your e-learning programme making it easier for participants to focus and don’t serve as a distraction. It is also worth noting that the images also need to work with each other.
by Glynn Jung
In this second instalment of learning analytics, Glynn discusses the classic approach to return on investment (ROI) for learning.
If you take the accountants’ approach to ROI for learning analysis there are five important points to note;
- The assumptions made before conducting the analysis are important and you must document them.
- It takes more than one ROI model to establish value, and not all ROI models will be valid for a given case.
- Collaboration with customers and senior management in identifying Learning benefits is critical; ROI determination is not a one-sided exercise.
- It is too easy to fall prey to the temptation to just “play with the numbers” until an acceptable result appears.
- Calculators can only “do numbers” – they can’t compute the value of the intangibles.
There are a number of classic approaches to show the financial impact that a given investment (your e-learning project) will have on a business.
The issue here is “How long will it take to get all the investment back?” Payback analysis results are expressed in months or years. This is calculated as the net investment amount divided by the average annual cash flow from the investment. The payback analysis is easy to use and easy to understand. However, it does not take into account the time value of money (which is addressed by another model, Net Present Value, or NPV). Payback also does not consider the financial performance of the investment after break-even Payback is best used to establish relative priority between potential projects.
Accounting Rate of Return (ARR)
This is another “simple” method for calculating the return on a major project. It gives a quick estimate of a project’s payback, supports comparisons between projects and it also considers returns for the entire life of the project.
Net Present Value (NPV)
Net Present Value is best used for long-term projects. It considers the time value of money- it expresses future cash flows in terms of their value today. While this is the strength of NPV, it also means that this method is not appropriate for projects that do not have clearly defined cash flows, or when the benefits of the project are not financial. NPV can be tricky!
Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
IRR is not as easy for non-accountants to understand or to calculate as NPV. I don’t even understand the terminology let alone the techniques.
Full business impact: the Balanced Scorecard
Many human performance interventions have complex effects on business results. In recent years, the best known method of impact assessment has probably been the balanced scorecard.
The balanced scorecard looks at the effect of a project in four areas:
- learning and
- internal processes.
It is holistic and long-term, and it is forward-looking. Financial results are still an important area considered, but they are not the only element.
If your organisation uses balanced scorecards it may be useful to relate the benefits of your Learning project to each of the four areas of the scorecard. Show how the program objectives relate to the objectives and important questions in each area. The emphasis is on process, not on metrics.
Many e-learning programmes today are built for compliance training, which more often than not means that learners are faced with boring and tedious ‘page-turner’ programmes.
E-learning guru and author Michael Allen has spent years fighting this trend for monotonous
e-learning. In his book, Designing Successful e-Learning: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting, Allen proposes alternative ways of designing e-learning to ensure it’s interesting and engaging for learners. Although published 5 years ago Allen’s book, which is aimed at experienced instructional designers, is still included on many university reading lists and is worthy of review.
So what is Allen’s main proposal in the book?
Designing Successful e-Learning: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting is divided into three parts:
Part 1 – ‘Scenarios’ presents a selection of e-learning scenarios and asks the reader what they would do in these situations. This questions the readers’ current approach to designing e-learning programmes and opens their mind to the possibility of designing programmes differently.
Part 2 – ‘The Art and Science of Instructional Design’ provides a critique of how instructional design is practiced today. It introduces readers to the ‘Success Based Design’ practiced by the author, which he believes encompasses the best elements of current instructional design theories.
Part 3 – ‘Designing Successful e-Learning’ explains how readers can apply a Success Based Design to their own e-learning programmes. Allen suggests that instructional designers provide learners with meaningful, memorable and motivational experiences, which he says you can do by:
- setting the programme in the context of the learner’s real-life environment;
- by providing the learner with a challenge they are likely to encounter in this environment;
- by providing the learner with activities that help them to solve the challenge; and
- by providing them with intrinsic feedback – based on their performance of the activity.
The e-learning programme is meant to provide learners with a safe environment in which they can try out different options and solutions, and make informed decisions based on their mistakes and successful attempts. The success of the programme is then measured by how well they do in the real environment.
Allen’s approach contrasts with traditional e-learning which provides learners with pages of content, followed by an assessment to see if learners can remember the content. Instead of just focusing on the content, Allen places emphasis on whether or not learners can apply their knowledge in a real-life task.
Is the Success Based Design a better approach than the traditional approach?
In my opinion, the Success Based Design is clearly a better approach to take. It facilitates production of
a more interesting and engaging programme and encourages learners to gain a deeper understanding of the learning content, and how to apply that learning in real-life contexts.
For example, a Success Based e-learning programme that helps nurses diagnose specific sinus problems with their patients would present the learner (the nurse) with typical scenarios. In each scenario, the learner asks the patient (or programme) questions about their symptoms and they observe the patient for physical symptoms. From this information, they can then submit their diagnosis and the programme will give them feedback. The scenario is reflective of a real-life task and challenge the nurse is likely to face at work.
The main limitation with Allen’s approach is that learners do not have to read all of the content. They can choose which scenarios they want to do and they can skip those scenarios that they think they know well. Traditional e-learning programmes, on the other hand, tend to be compliance-based which means that learners are forced to read all of the pages of content.
Nevertheless, the Success Based Approach focuses more on improving the understanding of learners and focuses less on compliance. Focusing on learners’ needs should always be a priority.
How well does the author deliver the content?
Allen describes the Success Based Approach very thoroughly in his book and provides useful diagrams and tables to explain his methods. He can be somewhat repetitive at times, for example, he repeats much of the same information about context, challenge, activity and feedback across several different chapters on designing instruction.
He also falls short of providing a step-by-step guide on designing e-learning programmes using this approach, and in providing practical examples of how it would look in an e-learning programme. For example, he does not show how the layout of the navigation and menus would look like. This would help give a clearer understanding of how he proposes to move away from the traditional layout and design.
Are there any limitations with his approach?
The Success Based Design is an excellent approach. However, I feel that because e-learning is a component of the overall training strategy of an organisation, many organisations would need to
re-evaluate their current training strategies before implementing a Success Based e-Learning programme. For example, many organisations today are still providing learners with endless amounts of PowerPoint slides in a training room, instead of providing them with interactive, scenario-based activities which are much more meaningful. If organisations update their overall training strategy, then a Success Based e-Learning programme would suit the organisation’s training culture and norms.
How well does the book rate in relation to other books on Instructional Design?
Designing Successful e-Learning is still a popular book on the market. Allen uses a friendly and informal tone to deliver some very useful advice on how to design successful e-learning. He breaks away from some of the traditional books which are heavily laden in theory and jargon, and speaks to the reader on a level they can understand. I would therefore recommend this book to any Instructional Designer who wants to improve their current approach to designing e-learning.
Are there further resources available from the author?
Michael Allen has a useful website where you can access information about his other books and other e-learning resources:
Designing Successful e-Learning: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting – Michael Allen’s Online Learning Library
Publication Date: 12 Jun 2007 | ISBN-10: 0787982997 | ISBN-13: 978-0787982997
Back at the start of 2012 I attempted to make sense of the jumble of mergers and acquisitions across the digital learning market.
At that time I commented on the convergence of education and corporate sectors using Bluedrop and Serebra as illustrations. This trend continues including, for example, the high volume of Moodle implementations in the public and private sectors – away from their education sector heartland. This is helped no doubt by the emergence of commercial wrap-around solutions but there is also the factor that Open Source is now trusted by major organisations (and ISVs including Microsoft) as well as interfaces and plug-ins for .NET technologies. We are also seeing IWB specialists SMART and Promethean increasingly penetrating the corporate market.
The social media sector similarly continues to show an appetite for growth, demonstrated by the recent acquisition of Yammer by Microsoft.
I also commented previously on the inexorable growth of big organisations in the Talent Management market by acquisition of niche players. In January the wedding of Kenexa and Outstart (respectively Talent Management and LCMS giants) was announced. Since then the resulting combined organisation has been bought by IBM. The earlier acquisition of Plateau Systems LMS by SuccessFactors, to contribute SuccessFactors Learning to the whole Talent Management Suite, was followed at the end of 2011 by SuccessFactors themselves being swallowed up by SAP … with the whole integration process still under way it seems.
On the plus side it seems as though every major acquisition (there are few genuine “partnerships between equals”) leaves doors wide open and rooms empty for niche players to step into. The LMS market, for example, continues to witness mergers and acquisitions across all sectors but to stay steady at the 250 – 280 suppliers level. Why so many? Well possibly it’s to do with increasing digitisation of learning, training and assessment, with increased volumes and complexity of different regulatory and compliance systems and, particularly, the variety and sophistication of Open Source communities and their work.
Across the road in classroom world, the traditional classroom model has been successfully disrupted as commented upon by Clayton Christensen in “Disrupting Class”, which in 2008 was seen as somewhat heretical or hysterical. Nowadays the digital campus and classroom are a reality, as are Open Content and services such as the phenomenal Khan Academy. I am currently working on networked digital classrooms for manufacturing and assembly workers … an unimagined concept until very recently.
Consulting and classroom training companies continue to acquire what they see as eLearning companies but they are frequently disappointed and frustrated by the difficulties presented by moving into product markets, by the sales cycles and most tellingly by the price pressure driving down margins.
And so it goes … and will probably continue…
by Maresa Molloy, Instructional Designer
I recently came across an article by Tom Kuhlmann of the Rapid E-learning blog entitled “Are Your E-Learning Courses Pushed or Pulled?” Although a few years old it got me thinking, because the issue is still completely relevant today. Is it better to push content onto learners or is it better to let learners decide what learning content they want or need to learn? And isn’t there an inherent risk in letting the learner make such an important decision?
The push approach to e-learning
The push approach to e-learning is very traditional. Like a school curriculum which is laid out module by module, traditional push e-learning programmes follow a similar cycle:
Learners work through each module in sequence and take the assessment at the end to test their knowledge. Each module is compulsory and while learners might encounter knowledge checks as they work through the content, the final assessment tests their learning on the entire programme.
A push type e-learning programme has its advantages and disadvantages:
|It’s a traditional style of learning which most learners are familiar with.||Learners must complete all modules, despite the fact that they may already be familiar with some of the learning content.|
|You can ensure that your learners have at least seen the entire programme.||It assumes your learners approach the programme with the same amount of prerequisite knowledge and need to acquire the same amount of new knowledge.|
|It can enlighten learners to new information they would not have otherwise read.||Learners may not be motivated to learn all of the content, especially if they feel they already know it.|
The pull approach to e-learning
The pull approach to e-learning is based on what the learner wants to learn. It recognises that some learners don’t need to take the entire programme and that different learners enter the e-learning programme with different levels of knowledge.
As with the push approach to e-learning, you provide learners with all the learning content, but you arrange it in a way that the learner gets to choose which modules they want to take in order to fill in their knowledge gaps.
You also create a reason to use the content (objectives). For example you could present learners with a real-life task or question they would typically encounter in their work or role, and allow them to choose which modules they want to take to be able to complete that task or answer that question.
For example, a pull type e-learning programme on improving the Customer Service skills of Waiting Staff would typically begin with the following question:
“It’s a busy Friday night at the restaurant, how would you serve your customers to ensure that they have a pleasant and satisfactory experience?”
You then provide the learner with modules on Customer Service such as Communication Skills; Preparing and Serving Food; and Etiquette and Complaints Handling.
The learner accesses the modules that they believe will help them to answer the question satisfactorily and skips the learning content that they already know. At the end of the programme, they take an assessment which allows them to answer the original question on how they would serve customers satisfactorily.
This type of e-learning programme is illustrated below:
A pull type e-learning programme has its advantages and disadvantages:
|Learning is interactive and engaging.||Learners skip modules which may enhance their knowledge.|
|Learning is set in context, i.e. it replicates real-world scenarios.||The non-traditional format may not appeal to all learners.|
|Learners have autonomy over their learning and are more motivated to learn.||Some learners may need more guidance in their learning.|
Push or pull?
So which approach should you use in your e-learning – Push or Pull?
Push type e-learning programmes are more suited to delivering compliance-based programmes and when you want to ensure that your learners have at least viewed all of the learning content.
On the other hand, pull type e-learning programmes offer instructional designers more of a challenge but at the same time more flexibility. They’re more suitable for when you want to give learners real-life scenario-based challenges to complete, opportunities to improve their performance, and autonomy over their own learning. They are ideal for non-compliance training and just-in-time learning.
Knowing which approach to use requires an understanding of your learners and what will best serve their needs.
by Noleen Turner, Marketing Manager
Choosing the right tools
There are lots of webinar tools out there – each with their own benefits and drawbacks – but bear in mind – none is 100% reliable. Most offer a free trial before you buy, so find one that’s easy to use; works with a variety of operating systems and your in-house technology; and is scalable.
Some of my favourite webinar tools are gotomeeting, gotowebinar, webex, Adobe Connect –and anymeeting(which is FREE!). Online Meeting Tools Review have a list of webinar tools with peer reviews.
Preparing for the webinar
- Get familiar with the technology. Make sure you know how to use the webinar tools inside out before the live event. This will eliminate nerves and the chance of any problems occurring.
- Choose the right topic and deliver what you promise: Make sure your webinar topic is interesting and of genuine value to your potential clients – and stick to it. If you promise your audience A (genuine value webinar) – and deliver B (sales pitch) – they have a right to be angry and disappointed.
- Have a co-presenter – invite an industry expert, customer or partner to co-present. This will generate more interest and could even double your attendance. It also takes the pressure off you when you’re trying to answer questions, conduct polls or fix technology hiccups.
- Write a script/outline and use this to structure the learning content. Don’t cram too much into the webinar – it’s better to have a small amount of really high quality content than a large amount of poor quality content.
- Practice: do a couple of dry runs, record it and play it back to hear how you sound. If possible, practice with co-presenters. Time yourself so you know if you are going to be able to cover all the content within the time slot. Don’t rush through – take your time and cover points fully.
- Start promoting the webinar at least five weeks in advance.
- Choose the time and date of your webinar carefully. Avoid Mondays and Fridays as these are peak conferencing days, meeting days and annual leave days and attendance can be lower. Consider where your audience is based – and what time it is most suitable for their region. Start at 15 minutes past the hour rather than on the hour. Give attendees time to move between meetings and join the webinar.
- Send two reminders only — 1 week and 1 day before the webinar.
- Leave at least 15 minutes at the end of the webinar for a Question & Answer session.
During the event
- Begin the session at least 15 minutes early to test the video and audio connections of all the presenters and panellists.
- Join your meeting early and check that all links and presentations are working. Share a ‘welcome’ slide to let attendees know that the webinar will be starting soon. Provide attendees with an overview of how to use key webinar features – such as chat, raise hand, questions and answers etc. Provide an overview of what the webinar will cover and how it will be structured. Introduce all speakers. Remember to mute all lines until the question and answer session begins.
- Use more than just PowerPoint to keep your audience engaged. Include multimedia such as animation, flash, photos, web-demos and video.
- Don’t just talk at your audience – invite them to join in the conversation. Conduct polls at regular intervals and host a question and answer session at the end.
- If things go wrong – stay calm. Take a minute and try to fix it, but if you can’t, apologise and move on.
- Leave lots of time for questions and answers.
- Record your webinar and make it available on your website or blog afterwards.
- Conduct a survey at the end of the webinar to get feedback from the attendees.
- Follow up with all registrants one week after the event – both attendees and non-attendees. Include relevant links such as a recording of the webinar, case studies, white papers, survey results, feedback etc. Invite people to your next event.
- Pass details of all registrants to your sales team for detailed follow up.
- Review all feedback and work on lessons learned to make sure your next webinar is even better.
And finally, don’t be afraid of the technology and good luck!
By Glynn Jung, Non-Executive Director
The big-scale version of training outsourcing – LBPO (Learning Business Process Outsourcing) – continues to grow as a financially attractive option for employers with large and distributed workforces. Chats with some employers suggest there may be a gap for new mid-range LBPO suppliers who not only manage the contracts and services from a number of suppliers to an organisation, but also offer platforms, systems and rapid content development services.Well, acquisition and consolidation in the e-Learning market have been hotting up through 2011, (as in fact has happened during previous recessions), as investors look to exploit opportunities in new tools, technologies and sectors for workforce skilling, as major suppliers look to extend market reach and as niche suppliers find development funds being switched off.
In terms of mergers, strategic investments & consolidations in 2011 we witnessed upheaval in all sectors and territories.
These included Lumesse acquiring Edvantage, SkillSoft acquiring Element K from former owners NIIT and BB acquiring both Elluminate & Wimba.
Taleo acquired learn.com and SuccessFactors acquired Plateau Systems, subsequently themselves being taken over in December by SAP.
Kaplan never seem far from their next purchase and LBPOs such as GP (formerly GenPhysics), KnowledgePool and Demos are no slouches in the consolidations markets; GP in fact acquired R.W.D. Technology’s consulting business earlier in 2011.
EPM and BPM giant OpenText picked up Operitel for its e-Learning management expertise that will be bolted into OpenText products in the future. Operitel’s LearnFlex includes social and mobile learning management fully integrated into SharePoint.
Trivantis also announced the official acquisition of its partner, Flypaper Studio. The deal couples Lectora authoring software with Flypaper, a full-featured Flash interactions builder and digital signage platform.
Investment Group acquisitions included UfI Ltd. and learndirect by LDC, GlobalKnowledge by MidOcean and with BB itself being acquired by Providence Equity.
Earlier hopes of SkillSoft’s intentions in terms of protecting and integrating the best of E-K’s products into their own portfolio now seem to have been a tad optimistic … anecdotally what I’m hearing is that all E-K products, including the third-party products, will be taken off the market as soon as practical and that SkillSoft are energetically pursuing a campaign of converting E-K clients to the SkillSoft services.
As the number of large generic catalogue suppliers continues to diminish I’ve increasingly received questions from my clients about their future supplier strategies and seeking my thoughts on how I see the market shaping up.
My first observation is that new portal suppliers will enter the mid-size catalogue sector, offering a limited number of value-for-money suppliers’ products.
I further suggest that clients will either return to contracting directly with preferred niche suppliers such as Happy, CrossKnowledge, ILX, Flow or Cegos, (those are just top-of-my-head examples), or will sign up with a new breed of smaller scale LBO partners. Certainly the issue of same look and feel for all materials seems to be largely irrelevant these days and increasingly people are weighing the pain of managing multiple suppliers against the value of getting exactly what they want. I’d like to hope that this will ultimately deliver smaller content libraries targeting real needs in an organisation rather than “just-in-case”.
Finally I suggest that there’s always room for new suppliers, both in existing generic sectors and to exploit the convergence of Higher Education,CommercialColleges,BusinessSchools, Business and Industry. Some of the most exciting innovations in blended learning are taking place in the public and education sectors where we see new commercial spin-offs or partnerships delivering much needed revenues.
In this I anticipate the emergence of generic content reflecting particular industry sectors or jobs, with scenarios, vocabularies and graphics relevant to these sectors and roles. Many of us had anticipated that this could be a spin-off from National Skills Academies but that didn’t really happen.
By Glynn Jung, Non-Executive Director
At a recent CEdMA Europe I was asked “what use is SCORM going to be in the future?”
Now, as this was in a discussion group composed entirely of the commercial Training Services divisions of the top IT hardware & software companies in Europe with a historically important revenue stream from Certification products, the question was pretty loaded.
I’d been reporting on trends amongst my clients who have recently been questioning the automatic assumption that all e-learning content must be (a) SCORM compliant, ensuring tracking and reporting and (b) delivered on an learning management system (LMS) of one sort or another.
We’ve been seeing a new philosophy developing, one which suggests that not all learning needs to be tracked: certainly personal development programmes falling out of performance reviews should be recorded and reported, as should continuing professional development (CPD) and certification or accreditation status. But with the certified/accredited status… effectively “license to operate” stuff, there’s a growing consensus that it’s the official assessment that matters and that SCORM hinders the design of engaging, effective learning programmes.
We know that those brilliant people at Rustici (www.scorm.com) are forging ahead with “Project Tin Can”, (essentially research of the ADL Consortium into next generation SCORM, including “Is there a need for a new SCORM?”) and that they regularly post new information on research and development, but they’ve recently launched their cloud version of IMS BLTI. BLTI provides a simple way for LMS users to incorporate remote tools into their system.
SCORM is underutilised in the education market. This is partly because the tracking that SCORM provides hasn’t always been valued in academic circles the way it is in corporate circles.
While it’s unlikely that Rustici will drop out of the world of SCORM, it’s clear also that IMS – including the MTI guidelines – and AICC are coming back into the picture as organisations choose to separate eLearning from mastery assessment and concentrate on assessment and learning as separate design activities.
In my own clients I am further seeing the use of pre-test or test-prep versions of the assessment, which includes feedback to the learner, whilst the master assessment simply posts either a Pass or Fail (or final marking) to SCORM.
Finally some of my clients involved in commercial certification and accreditation services are now discussing whether or not to make the e-learning content free-to-download or use online, whilst concentrating on enhancing the design and value of the assessments, which will then become as the principle revenue earning products.
In summer 2011, Aurion Learning hosted an e-learning masterclass in Dublin. Delegates came from the Irish Health Services Executive (national health service), health agencies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies from across Ireland, and included human resources, IT and training professionals. They all had one thing in common – responsibility for delivering learning and development across their organisations. Several delegates were already experienced in delivering e-learning and blended learning projects, while others hadn’t yet started the journey of online learning.
During the event, we wanted to get a better understanding of the challenges learning and development professionals in the health sector are facing today and so we carried out some market research with our delegates.
Here are our findings:
What is the biggest learning & development challenge facing your organisation today?
- Lack of funding /resources/manpower
- Lack of time to develop training
- Securing management commitment
- Learners not being given enough time to actually participate in training
- Lack of structured training / continuing professional development
- Identify what we want to do and can do – moving from strategy to implementation
- Responding to learning needs with small training budgets
- Achieving relevance
- Adopting a coherent coordinated approach across a large organisation – multiple departments & contacting trainees.
- Speed of delivery
- Lack of confidence/competence in use of e-learning
Getting others on-board / Culture change
- Changing the organisational culture into a learning culture
- Securing buy-in from management & staff to blended and e-learning programmes
- Low staff motivation
- Resistance to change (moving from traditional face-to-face model to e-learning)
- Knowing which technology to choose to support learning (learning management systems, e-learning authoring tools, learning portals etc.)
- IT support
- Staff access to IT systems and technologies (restriction to many educational websites/firewalls)
- Administration support & maintenance of any systems developed.
It doesn’t matter how great your e-learning programme is, if you don’t market it to the right people, get buy-in and get people to actually complete it, it will be a complete waste of time and money (two commodities that are in short enough supply today!)
So assuming you’ve got educationally sound content and your online delivery is engaging, how do you market your e-learning programmes, particularly when it isn’t mandatory or compliance based?
In my mind there are five key points to remember: start early; get support from the top; secure buy-in from your managers; get buy-in from your learners; and don’t stop.
1. Start early
Don’t wait until you have a shiny new e-learning package ready to roll-out across the organisation. The marketing communications plan should start at the same time as project implementation. Inform people that the project is under way, highlight project milestones and tell them when it’s due to be delivered. Most importantly – explain why you are investing in e-learning in the first place and sell the benefits of this mode of learning. Use internal communications campaigns such as staff magazine, intranet, staff briefings, posters etc. to inform staff. Use external communications campaigns such as website, posters, leaflets etc. to inform external stakeholders, if necessary.
2. Get support from the top
Get support from whoever is in charge of your organisation, for example your Chief Executive or Managing Director. Make sure they know why you are doing the training in the first place – for example what changes or improvements to behaviour you are going to achieve as a result of the e-learning. Get them to lead by example by being the first to complete the e-learning programme, and show everyone that this is something the company is seriously committed to.
3. Secure buy-in from your managers
Inform and involve your managers and team leaders about the e-learning programme from the very beginning. Sell the benefits of the training and of e-learning as this will help you get early buy-in and support from the people who work closest to front line staff.
4. Get buy-in from your learners
No-one likes being the last to know what’s going on. If you start raising awareness from the very start of the project, you’re more likely to get support from your learners. Tell them what’s going on and why. Use internal communications such as staff briefings, posters, staff magazine etc. to inform staff that the project is underway, and let them know when it will be rolled out across the company. Give regular progress updates.
5. Don’t stop
Remember – the marketing communications campaign doesn’t come to a stop when you roll-out the e-learning. It’s important to have sustained communications to remind everyone of why and when they should complete the training – and to chase up late completers. Some organisations publish completion statistics on a departmental basis – to encourage late completers to finish the training. Provide real feedback on how the training has been received by individuals in the organisation. This will convince others of the benefits of the learning. Most importantly of all – make sure you inform everyone of success stories – improved competence, cost savings, change in behaviour, return in investment etc.
Hello and welcome the Aurion Learning Blog.
Aurion Learning is an award winning online learning solutions company, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We design, develop and deliver custom e-learning programmes, off-the-shelf e-learning catalogues, learning management systems, learning portals and continuing professional development (CPD) tools.
We’ve been around since 2000 but our staff have been designing and developing online learning solutions and software for many years.
In this blog we’ll be sharing some of our experiences (both good and bad) of designing, developing, project managing and marketing e-learning projects to help organisations bring about culture change, behaviour change, deliver compliance-based training, standardise training and improve performance.
We’ll bring you regular updates from our instructional designers, web designers, developers and project managers. We’ll also feature guest bloggers time to time.