learning management system

How to design a micro-learning system for your organisation in 6 easy steps

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Designing a learning system for any organisation is a critical task. It’s not easy, given the fact that one has to consider the various departments in an organisation and understand their training requirements. Not to forget, coordinating and collaborating with different entities like Learning Consultant, Human Resources, IT and so on. One often gets confused on where to begin.

The good news is, once you finish reading this article, you will know exactly how to start and where to start.

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting … The INCITE Micro-learning Framework – a step-by-step framework to help you design a Micro-Learning system for any organisation’s training need.

I am going to write down a brief synopsis of this framework which should be enough to help you get started. (Download the full whitepaper here)

Step 1 – Implementation

Understanding the objective of the micro-learning system

The first pillar of this framework is to discover the ask from the micro-learning management system and establish the constraints around organizational processes, technology and learner psychology. This will ensure that you stay focused throughout the process and will help you in your decision-making process.

Step 2 – Navigation

Establishing the flow of the learning content

Depending on the objective, the flow of the learning has to be established next. An established concept in Formal Learning design, creating a learning flow is akin to establishing curriculum and lesson plans for a course. In simple words, how do you want your learner to access your content. Should all the topics be accessible at the same time as a library? Or one needs to go through all topics in a particular sequence?

Step 3 – Content

Creation of micro-learning content

Micro-learning content is very distinct from regular e-learning content. It is driven by criticality of information, which in turn drives size and form of the content. Ensure that the content is developed keeping in mind that it is for a micro-learning system. (Read more: How to design micro-learning content in 4 easy steps)

Step 4 – Interactivity

Deciding on the interactive elements in the course

A learning system targeted towards the modern learner has to engage first and explain quickly. This makes it essential to embrace a participative pedagogy delivered through interactivity. Decide on the level of interactivity and the elements which would go well with your learners. It could be a quiz, or a video, or a game.

Step 5 – Testing

Deciding on the assessment criteria for the learner

The modern learner has typically grown up in a very connected social context, with high doses of competition and a healthy dose of skepticism towards authority. Modern testing methodologies have to account for these attitudes. The usual ones like online quizzes might not work here. Try exploring options like games or simulations. These are more engaging and effective.

Step 6 – Effectiveness

Measuring the learning outcome

Of all organizational processes, learning is perhaps the least measurable, reducing the focus and importance of this function in spite of its criticality for the organization. Measurement of learning effectiveness is critical to the success of any learning system.

That’s it! You are ready.

In case you want to know more about The INCITE Micro-learning Framework, you can download the complete whitepaper here – http://goo.gl/47iWZn

Also, if you need help in setting up a micro-learning system for your organisation, feel free to get in touch with me at deepak@quodeck.com.

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Using Case Studies To Make Your Elearning Course More Engaging

There is a big difference between a course that is engaging, and a course that is well-documented.

You may create a comprehensive course with interactive branch scenarios and detailed explanation, but, if it is not relevant to the learner, than it will just confuse or worst case, frustrate her. Such a pattern may be good and easy to build, but it is only good enough to share information. It lacks in creating engagement and results in poor retention in the mind of the learner. Such courses are ‘well-documented’, but not engaging.

Engagement requires an emotional connection between the content and the learner. It goes beyond presenting interactive content; it is about designing truly motivating learning experiences.

The biggest challenge in creating an elearning course is engaging the learner, and there is a very simple solution for this – Case Studies

So here’s how you can use case studies to make your course engaging and interesting.

  • It is after all, a Story: Humans have used the art of story-telling as a mode of communicating ideas and knowledge since the Stone Age, and there is a reason behind it. We tend to remember a story better than just facts, and it provides a very practical, firsthand account of events that happened, and the appropriate solutions to them.
  • It is Simple: The simpler your story, the clearer is the message and the easier it is for the learner to remember and use it when required. If you stuff your course with extra details, your course will end up being a clutter of abstract information, making it tougher for both – you and the learner.
  • A Relevant Perspective: If you tell your story from the perspective of the customer, or anyone other than the learner, she will receive insights on the situation from a different perspective too. Also, this will raise the interest of the person enrolled in your course. Instead of telling the learner what they need to know, show them how not knowing affects others.

Even as a trainer, this makes things simpler for you as well.

Case studies need lesser time to build, and they rarely result in an information dump. Thus, you waste lesser time and energy, thinking and pondering over your course, and tweaking it time and again by introducing gimmicks to make it more engaging.

A case study is still mostly linear, but I see it as a first step in an iterative process of moving away from the boring click and read style. What is your take on this?

Serious Games, Now and Then …

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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!

7 Tips to Integrate Games into Your eLearning Course

Everyone loves to play! What if I tell you, that you can use games to teach complicated subjects like Compliance Training or processes like Account opening? Yes, these games for training or serious games, do create an engaging learning experience.

Let’s find out how you can integrate these serious games into your elearning courses.

1. Set learning objectives

Yes! Games are for fun! But everyone plays to win! Set your learning objectives beforehand to make sure your game stays in tune with the content.

2. Communicate desired outcomes

Inform the learners what they will gain from playing this game. This will motivate them to participate actively in it.

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3. Tell little, engage more

Do not give out all the details. Communicate what is required. Don’t reveal all the suspense. This will keep the learners engaged as well as won’t take out all the fun!

4. Create opportunity for application

eLearning allows one to learn in a safe environment. Create situations such that learned concepts can be applied. This will help in retention and create a favourable learning experience.

5. Keep it real and relevant

Keep all the descriptions and details like measurements, tools, techniques, spaces, etc., accurate. Virtual practice reduces room for real life mistakes.

6. Value content over gaming

Games make eLearning very interesting, no doubt there! And yet, if they distract your learner from the learning content, then it will fail your learning initiatives.

7. Get regular feedback

Feedback is the best way to know how well the game or module is. A quick quiz works best!

Why Companies Should Train their Employees

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There are 3 aspects of an individual that needs to be worked on to make them suitable employees – Attitude, Skills and Knowledge.

Attitude training determines the behavioral characteristics that the employee needs to show. This differs more from role to role rather than industry to industry. Salespersons have to be hungry and persuasive. Operations teams need to be resourceful and detail-focused and senior management needs to perform as able leaders. Attitude training is best done through exposure activities, coaching and workshops, in that descending order of effectiveness.

Skills training allows the employee to perform his activities better. This typically is a combination of industry and role. While workshops and on-the-job training are the dominant modes for skills training, they are expensive both in terms of logistics and the error costs. In recent times, simulations and serious games have started finding favor on account of the spaced repetition and exploration aspects that they offer for skills training.

Knowledge training is company and function-specific for the employee. Products, policies and functional knowledge are the typical types of training that come under this bucket. This is best done over an e-learning platform due to the sheer size of content that often forms the base of the training. E-learning allows for self-paced self-selected learning which reduces the time overhead that typically is involved in such volume training. Assessments become an important part of ensuring that knowledge training has been adequately absorbed.

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.”