Friday, July 31, 2009

Searching on eLearning....

Recently I thought I'd do a bit of research on eLearning and see just how bit it really is. What I found amazed me and confirmed that overwhelming feeling I get sometimes when I try to comprehend what exactly eLearning is.

Searching through Google here is what I found:

108,000,000 pages for eLearning
25,857,158 blogs for eLearning
41,615 books for eLearning

Changing the search a bit I found:

110,000,000 pages for web-based training
9,480,737 blogs for web-based training
2,244 books for web-based training.

Of course, I did this search a few days ago, I'm sure that these numbers have grown since then. Imagine where they will be next month!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What makes a good eLearning Course?

What makes a "good" elearning course? I think that is a good question to ask and one that has been rattling around in my head for a while. Is it one that has all of the technical information that the subject matter expert has provided? Is it a fun game that the learner wants to play multiple times? Does it include video? Audio? Is it long or short? My answer to the first question would be a combination of all the other questions. While as an instructional designer I need to include the information provided by the subject matter expert, I also need to make sure that it is engaging for the learner (or what's the point). This may include the use of games, video, audio or other multimedia elements. These elements can provide a great deal on interest and interaction with the learners and can be done so without a lot of effort. There are many video sharing sites (youtube, google video, etc.) that provide good information as well as sites that provide game templates (, rapidintake, etc) that can add that extra umph to your presentation. For me, creating good courses has been the result of stepping outside of the process and brainstorming alternative ways of presenting the information that gets the learners to interact and learn, and hopefully have a little fun while they are doing it. I think that the real answer to the question of what makes a good elearning course is - one in which the learning occurs without the participant feeling like they are learning.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How do I know my eLearning audience?

Following up on my previous post that talked about the importance of knowing the audience for your eLearning programs. The natural question that was left was "How do I know my audience?" When I am designing my classes they are for a variety of people that range in their occupations, locations, generations, abilities, etc. There is no "one audience" that needs to have the class designed to meet their needs....or at least none that I've found yet. In the ThirdForce blog there is a post entitled Being aware of e-learning gaps... that discusses the accessibility needs for eLearning for the audience. Still the question is how do I know my eLearning audience so I can make the training as accessible as possible? We can survey potential participants, conduct needs analysis, interviews, etc. but does that help us know our audience? I think it has the potential to if the surveys and questions are correctly created and are based on relevant information that is needed by the designers. Follow-up is important with any training program, however, I believe it is even more important with eLearning since we cannot see the participants to judge their reactions. This follow-up give further insight to knowing our audience as well as improving the programs being designed. I think that the more varied the audience the more channels we need to utilize to get to know them both before and after their participation in the programs we've designed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Can I please take that eLearning class???

As my children ask me for the 50th time in the past 20 minutes if they can get on the computer and "play" their typing games it makes me think about the eLearning programs that I produce. Do I produce programs that people are excited and eager about taking? Probably not. Then I ask myself...Why not? Why can't I design my programs to be more entertaining and engaging so that people would be excited about taking them? To get ideas and inspiration I started to look at more eLearning programs geared towards teaching children. My kids favorite website is full of all kinds of games to teach math, science, typing, logic and other types of topics and as I look at them (and yes play some of them) I realize that the reason they are fun is because you don't realize you are are playing. The designers know their audience and design their courses to be the most effective for them. If you were to ask a child to take a page turning course on math they could care less and it would be similar to getting them to do their homework, however, ask them to play a game...and p.s. they are learning about math....and they don't want to stop. We as designers need to know our audiences well enough to figure out how to engage them with our programs...and p.s. they are learning too. Steve Pena contributed a guest post to eLearning Weekly that illustrates the difficulty we have with knowing our audience. This may be one of the bigger hurdles we have to jump when designing courses. Once we figure that out we can move on to the design and programming. So the question is, how do we know our audience?

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's a big eLearning world out there.

As I was reading through my list of "followed blogs" the other day I came across this one E-Learning Curve Blog: The Problem with Web 2.0… in it Michael Hanley quickly and clearly illustrates the feeling I often have when trying to navigate through the world of eLearning, Web-Based training, social networking, etc. As I was looking at the diagram I was hoping that when I scrolled to the bottom there would be a wonderful explanation of everything and I would have an "aha" moment and everything would become crystal clear...that didn't happen. Don't get me wrong, I do have moments of clarity about what I'm doing with eLearning but when I step back and thin about all the possibilities out there and all the available technologies and other tools it is amazing - and overwhelming. In wanting to do a good job on every project I work on I often find myself second guessing what I'm doing and if I'm doing it in the right way and this is compounded when I see posts about mLearning such as this post by Jeanne Meister titled "Mobile Learning Re-Visited" . There is so much to learn and things are constantly changing. To me it's exciting and who knows what learning will look like next summer?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Learning Visions: Designing for Articulate: A Newbie’s View

Cammy Bean makes some great poins in her post Learning Visions: Designing for Articulate: A Newbie’s View . Articulate is one of the main products that I use in developing my eLearning courses. I chose it because of the ease of use. I've created many presenations with the program and each time I use it I learn more and am able to "think outside the box" about ways to create learner centric courses and scenario based courses. I am amazed how easy it is to use, and yet the versatility it gives me in my course design. Another benefit is most trainers are pretty familiar with Powerpoint and this program works in conjunction with that. You don't need to re-invent your training content which is something I like a lot - we are all very busy so why duplicate your workload? You don't need to be a technical person to use this program - another plus in my book - and you get a very polished looking program that impresses.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not alone out there

As I've been reading various posts and discussion boards this morning I've come to realize that I'm not alone out there when it comes to being confused about eLearning. Many people are wondering how to get started with eLearning, what are the best tools to use, and where to go to learn more.

When we started looking at eLearning I new the basics of on-line classes through personal experience while attending higher education programs and obtaining my Bachelor's and Master's Degrees, however, I had no idea what platforms were being used or how they created and managed the courses. Now that I understand some of this I better understand the education I received.

I think that one of the best things that someone new to eLearning can do is to figure out what you are trying to do before you figure out how you want to do it. Clearly understanding the end result helps you work backwards and determine the steps to get there.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How did I get here?

Have you ever had one of those moments in the middle of a project were you wonder “How did I get here?” I’ve been having one of those moments for the past year. When I came to work for my department a year ago it was as a Human Resource Specialist – which is in line with my background and experience. Little did I know that by volunteering to lead a team to determine alternative training delivery methods that my career path would change.

Now, as the eLearning Designer for the department I am responsible for creating content as well as guiding the way for web-based training and my days are filled with all types of technical issues and solutions.

In this blog it is my intention to chronicle the journey we as a department have taken to be one of the leaders in our state government for eLearning as well as chronicle the journey that I am taking to continuously learn and apply all that I can in this field.