Technology

7 things to check before implementing a micro-learning system in your organisation

elearning-checklist

Implementing a learning system for any organisation is not an easy task. It requires deep analysis of the organisation’s requirements, resources and estimation of the future needs as well.

The key to a proper implementation of any learning system is identifying the constraints and defining the specifications for the system. This study, known as the ‘Detailed Constraint Analysis’, helps in identifying the constraints which might create a roadblock during the actual implementation. (Download this INCITE Micro-learning Framework to find out more about Detailed Constraint Analysis)

Here are the 7 recommended parameters one must check to ensure that the implementation specifications are comprehensive:

1. Device Constraints – These constraints pertain to whether the micro-learning is being built for the mobile or the desktop or both. Based on the answer to this question, constraints with respect to operating systems, screen orientation and sizing, app vs. web, etc. need to be further analyzed.

2. Security Constraints – These constraints pertain to the data and access security concerns of the organization. These can range from basic questions like whether the learning is to be accessible only inside the office to more complex issues like remote wiping of learning data on exits, etc.

3. Bandwidth Constraints – These constraints pertain to the network bandwidth available for the learning system. These constraints are typically derived from surrogate analysis of geographical dispersion and network capabilities of the devices on which the learning is to be deployed.

4. Org Structure Constraints – These pertain to the team structures within the company and non-hierarchical structures (like Leadership Group, Committees, etc.) that might be present. The main aspect to analyze is the likelihood and extent of overlap between multiple micro-learning systems for a learner who might belong to multiple cohorts.

5. Engagement Level Constraints – A lot of organizations seek to tread cautiously on the extent of engagement they would like to implement. The interaction level of the micro-learning has to be kept on the fine line which creates motivation without creating obsession which hampers work.

6. Learner Psychology Constraints – Depending on the organizational DNA and employee profiles, it is critical to understand the needs and attitudes of the learner groups and design the system accordingly. In this section, it is also critical to assess how learners might try to “game the system”.

7. Learning Objective Constraints – Ultimately, it all comes down to the learning objectives that you want to drive through the system. Depending on the objectives you want to achieve, you will need to make trade-offs on engagement, length, seriousness, etc.

Document the above constraints and your Learning System Specifications are ready! Now you can move on to the next stage – Designing the micro-learning system. (How to design a micro-learning system for your organisation in 6 easy steps)

incite microlearning framework

Decoding Cloud Based Authoring Tools For E-learning

Here’s a simple infographic explaining Cloud Based Authoring Tools and its benefits.

Cloud based authoring tools infographics

I haven’t mentioned all the tools out there. So, in case you know a particularly useful one, do mention in the comments below.

Note: Please feel free to use this infographic for any personal or commercial purpose.

How To Make Your Training Unique And Memorable

How To Make Your Training Unique And Memorable

Source: Kungfu Panda (The Movie)

Training is an integral part of employee development, but it is often frowned upon. Employees generally tend to find these sessions repetitive and boring. This negativity associated with training can be frustrating for both – the Trainer and the Trainee. So, what can be done to change this and make your employees look forward to your training sessions? Let’s find out!

1. Market Your Training

We live in an age where you need to market everything. Sadly, most trainers do not realize this. Therefore, it is necessary to build excitement around your training campaign so that people wait impatiently for the training day. Send out teaser emails using tools like Mailchimp to create hype around your session. These emails can also act as reminders for registration and RSVPs. You can go a step ahead and make this more interesting by launching a few video trailers before the training. Try Powtoon for this. It’s a wonderful tool which allows you to create marketing videos in a couple of minutes.

2. The First Impression

Start your training with a bang. Do not let your marketing efforts go waste by having a mediocre start to the session. Exploit the beginning of the session by doing something interesting to captivate your audience. It could be an inspirational video, an ice-breaker or a game. Keep trying out different things to sustain the excitement.

3. A Different Approach

Rather than going for the usual and mundane way of conducting training, use personal experiences or a storytelling approach to engage your audience. Building a story around the training topic will generate curiosity in the learner’s mind and personalize the overall experience. Know more: 4 tips to make elearning content better using a story telling approach

4. Gamify The Session

Gamification is a unique and sure-short way of making training sessions productive. It should be designed in such a way that the learning objectives are aligned with the game. Use simple techniques like Leaderboard or Rewards or Bonus points to encourage the learners. This will motivate your employees to perform better. Companies like Deloitte and Cognizant have been successfully implementing gamification for their training and development needs. Know more: 8 reasons to use serious games for training 

5. Make Your Courses Interactive

Since you will be using technology for your session, take care to use the correct interactive elements. Your learners should have fun during the session but ultimately the learning objective should be fulfilled. Integrate elements like push-buttons in assessments and voice-overs during the training. Try out tools like QuoDeck, Articulate Storyline, Powtoon, etc to make your courses interactive. Know more: Key elements of an interactive elearning course

6. Feedback and After-movie

Do not forget to take feedback post the session. Try to find out in what manner the training session helped out and if there are any recommendations for the future. You could even make an after-movie of the training session. After-movie is a trending concept used to market events, seminars, conferences, etc. It is basically a short video capturing moments from the start to the end of the training. You may add a couple of interviews from the audience in the end. It is a great way of showcasing the impact of the training and making people look forward to such sessions.

I guess that’s it! You have any more tips? Do share in the comments below!

Serious Games, Now and Then …

ptotem

It’s time to go back to the future of Serious Games! Here are a few predictions, or rather guesses of mine on how serious games might redefine the e-learning scenario.

Going Mobile

Serious games are now being integrated with mobile learning platforms and this is really going to change the game! Workforces will perform better with learning on the go. And as gadgets evolve, so will learning. Another important development would be Augmented Reality (AR), which would find more avenues than ever.

Going Social

Serious games and Gamification have been the buzz words for quite some time now. They will go a step further. Apps and Software would be integrated with LMS, and game based learning will be seen across social media, mobile app stores, etc. Imagine, learning using Facebook or may be, on Facebook itself!

HTML5

HTML5 (few term it as the language of the future), much speculated over the past couple of years, has done quite well. We will now see it being embraced extensively, across the sectors. Content authoring tools (especially the cloud ones) would adopt HTML5 for better interactivity and media integration.

Increased Collaboration

Learning on the job, through social media and other informal environments is already an established practice now. But in the coming years, social media will become a tutoring space. Content which was earlier restricted within an LMS will now become easier to access. The number of platforms for elearning and serious games would increase, giving way to more and more collaborative efforts.

New and Enhanced Tools

Tools to create e-Learning platforms have been evolving fast. The advancement in technologies would encourage the development of better and efficient tools for critical tasks like designing graphics for serious games, making mobile learning effective, developing serious games, authoring on the go (cloud authoring), etc. Get ready. Lots of goodies are coming your way!

Developments in Design

Responsive design for e-learning platforms and tools was a recent breakthrough and more will be following up. Learning would become on the go bringing in ‘Just-in-time’ mode of learning as opposed to ‘Just-in-case’ mode. Also, better designing tools would pave the way for more advances in design.

Videos in Serious Games

Video lectures have been around for a while, but going ahead, interactive courses using video would be the order of the day. You will see small bits of content in video formats created and shared for easy content dissemination.

Analytics and Serious Games

E-learning would no longer be only about online learning or on the go learning. Analytics/ Reporting would emerge as a dominant aspect of any training activity. Reporting systems would be personalised based on the organisation’s requirement. Integrating the LMS with another systems like LDAP or Performance Management System will help the organization track an employee’s growth at a more structured and cohesive level.

Tin Can API

One of the major issues faced by today’s e-learning industry is how to merge offline and online learning experiences. Tin Can API (also known as Experience APIs), released last year as an e-learning software specification, allows learning content and learning systems to communicate with each other. This means that informal learning will be tracked extensively; once more and more tools, systems, platforms, vendors and institutions start supporting Tin Can. Apps will be able to make learning even more personal with Tin Can. A set of ideal practices will evolve in serious gaming so that different systems can work in together.

That’s all from my end! If you could think of any more, feel free to share with me!

Why Cloud Authoring Tools are the Best Tools for eLearning

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Let’s start by understanding, what exactly is ‘Cloud Authoring’!

Cloud authoring is ‘internet based authoring’. In other words, one can access these tools using their web browser. (For example, Google Docs) Everything is online and you just need to log in to get started with your work.

So, what makes Cloud Authoring better than others?

They are free! (Most of them)

Yes! Many cloud authoring tools like Google Docs, Amplayfier, etc. are free. Others like Powtoon, Dropbox, etc. are also free, but in case you need more features than you have to pay.

No installation required

You don’t have to download these tools in order to use them. You can access them using your web browser. All you need to do is sign up. So, you don’t need to have any particular configuration to use these tools. It also saves your effort of coordinating with IT department to install software on your computer.

Accessible from anywhere

These tools can be accessed from anywhere. You can access the content created on these tools from anywhere. You don’t have to go through the hassles of carrying the data everywhere.

Creating on the go

Using these tools, you can create/ edit content on the go. And here’s the best thing, once you load the tool on your website, you can use it even offline. You don’t need internet connection at all, except when you have to save or publish the content.

Easy to collaborate

Collaborating with your colleagues is a lot easier using these tools. You can share the files or the published content for reviewing. Or by sharing the credentials, you can even ask your colleague to make the necessary changes.

Want to try one of these cloud authoring tools? Drop an email at info@ptotem.com and get a trial access to the beta version of Amplayfier, a serious game building app.

Getting Started with Online Training (Part 2)

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In the last post, we tried to understand the difference between Instructor-led training (ILT) & online training, and the essentials that are required in order to implement online training in any organisation.

Now, let’s learn about the processes one needs to go through while moving from classroom to elearning.

1. Learner Need analysis

Try to understand the demographics of the learners – age, gender, education, language, etc. Find out whether the learners have any prior knowledge of the subject matter or they are completely new to it. This is important since very few people would have the patience to sit through the whole session.

Now that the learners would be dispersed, you need to figure out how to boost interaction between them. Based on these observations, try to decide on the technology or format which you would like to use. Use the one which would be easy to deliver, easy to understand, boost interaction and also, motivate the learners.

2. Content Design & Development

The question you need to ask here is what is the best way to present the content.

Should there be a narrator? or a Sutradhar? or a character which would act as a facilitator? Another option is to use the department head or Subject Matter Expert to act as a facilitator.

Your tools would be one of the deciding factors here. Using tools like Articulate or Ptotemy (www.ptotemy.com) would give you an edge over MS Powerpoint, as these tools help you make your content more interactive and engaging. Other than these, you can even use webinars or videos or serious games to explain concepts. Or a combination of these tools could prove much more effective.

3. Deployment & Marketing

The best way to deploy elearning courses is using a Learning Management System (LMS). You can find many options out there in the market ranging from Open source platforms like Moodle to licensed ones like SkillSoft, Ptotemy, Blackboard, Saba, etc. Using these platforms, you can manage and update the content as well as the learners. You can also record their activities for future reference.

Once your LMS is in place, the next challenge is bringing the learners to this platform. Remember, this methodology is new to the learners. Hence, you need to create curiosity around this to attract the learners. Teaser campaign is one of the effective ways to do this. Create a buzz, put out explainer videos, launch marketing campaigns to make this big.

4. Evaluation & Monitoring

Once the learners start using the system, monitor their activity. Conduct polls or surveys to gauge user feedback. Every learning management system has this facility of creating online polls.

Find out what could be done to improve the effectiveness of the content. LMSes also have provisions for detailed reports. Use them, analyse them and gain insights on what works and what not.

“Remember, what matters is whether the learners understand the content or not. Technology is just an aid and how one uses it to make the content effective is the crux here.”

Getting Started with Online Training (Part 1)

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For some, online learning is a buzz word and for some, it is an impasse. Let’s try to find out why people are trying to adopt this phenomenon and how one can do that without any hitches.

Why online training?

Imagine, you are in a classroom with 20-25 students and there’s a teacher explaining you certain concepts. Here, the learning is centered on the instructor (teacher) and she sets the structure, sequence and methodology of the learning. She chooses the content and how it will be delivered.

In this setting, students often don’t ask any questions. There is less interaction with the focus being on the completion of the activity, rather than on the transfer of knowledge. The students don’t even have the option of going through the content again.

Online training or elearning, works the other way. It focuses on the learner, and not on the instructor. It facilitates interaction between the learner and the content, plus, is easily accessible anytime and anywhere.

Below are a few tools and techniques that are used in elearning.

  • Devices for accessing the content (Desktop, Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones)
  • Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Content Creation Tools like MS PowerPoint, Articulate, Ptotemy (ptotemy.com), etc
  • Instructional Design Study
  • Interactive boards
  • Webcam/ Webinars
  • Communication tools like email, chat, forums, discussion boards, etc

These tools help in bringing the content to the learner and allow him to learn as per his convenience.

Converting existing training material into online content

Even converting existing training material into online content has become easy and cost-effective due to these tools.

There are 3 types of delivery for elearning through which content can be disseminated.

  1. Synchronous learning

This type of learning is live. It happens in real time, like a webinar or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

  1. Asynchronous learning

This can be done as per the learner’s convenience. Online modules or web forums are a few examples of this type of learning.

  1. Hybrid learning

Here, you mix the strengths of the first and second to achieve your objective.

Irrespective of the mode, the focus of any learning activity should be to enhance the learning experience through engagement, discussion and application.

The next part of the article will explain the process of transition of ILT to online in detail.

 

 

Selecting a Learning Management System (A Step by Step process)

Mass-Confusion

With countless options out there for elearning, selecting a learning management system is not an easy task. Here’s a step by step process on how to select a learning management system to boost your elearning initiatives.

Click here to download the complete pdf – Learning Solution Planning

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for eLearning

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1. Old powerpoints stink

Making a training presentation and putting it up online, doesn’t really constitute e-learning. PowerPoint presentations aren’t the most effective tool when it comes to learning as it doesn’t have a multi-sensory approach which can challenge, engage, inform and test the learner.

2. Hiring the Right talent

There are 3 major roles when it comes to designing training: Subject Matter Expert (SME), the Instructional Designer (ID) and the Designer. Each person has its own expertise and input when it comes to designing the final product. It is your discretion to choose which role you want to give the most importance to.

3. Keep the content small and concise

Large chunks of information aren’t palatable when it comes to explaining a large amount of information to people, especially new people. The best way to work around that is to use smaller chunks of information. You can use bullet points or you can use a step-by-step process to explain the same information.

4. Brand your Training

With all the material that you put out, keep your brand logo/name on every page as it will show that the training that you are providing is company specific and not generic.

5. Create hands on Demo

Create demos and interactive manuals for hands-on experience as it aids the learning process. Develop a simulation. It is interactive and engaging. Simulations make the trainee feel safe as it is a controlled environment.

6. Use meaningful Graphics

Use graphics only if they contribute something to learning. The graphic needs to pass a simple test: Can a learner look at the image and understand the concept of the training page without reading the text? If not, then don’t use it!!!

7. Have Standards and be Consistent

While designing the training, develop a certain format, i.e. colours, fonts, sizes, layout, template and stick to it. Standardisation helps the learner become familiar with the learning material.

8. Use Scenarios and Case Studies

Use real life scenarios to hold the interest of the trainee. Here’s why it works – if it relates to their life, then they care about it; and if they care about it, then they are interested in it.

9. Use Learning Games

Make the demos into games or serious games, as it engages of the user and makes him involved in the outcome of the exercise. It provides a break in the monotony from the usual reading and graphs hence, engages the learners in a much better way. (You can check out a few learning games here – www.ptotem.com)

10. Certify the participant’s knowledge

Score the tests and evaluations. Quantify their performance. It gives the trainee something to aim for. It is also the best way to see results when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of the learning. Make people aware of their results by either making them take the test again if they don’t score well or by issuing a certificate for scoring a high score.