Thursday, August 27, 2009

The future of web-based learning.

It's fall and school is back in session. This is a time of year that parents love and children dread. As I was walking through the classrooms talking to the teachers at my children's school I was impressed by the level of technology that they were using in the class. The classrooms have SMART boards and ceiling mounted projectors. The students are more familiar with computers and PowerPoint than some professionals I know. Gone are the days of blackboards and chalk, and overhead projectors (most kids don't even know what these are).
These observations then got me to thinking about the future of training and specifically web-based training. These kids who will one day be the employees that I'll be designing web-based training for. What will they be expecting? What will be the standards? How will training be delivered? There are many questions rattling around in my head but they all have a common theme of amazement at the technological savvy of these kids (our future employees) who seem to have an ingrained understanding of technology without it even being explained to them. If you doubt this just give a 9 year old a cell phone and see how long it takes them to figure out how to change the ringer, alarms, and any other feature of the phone.
This is the future (not necessarily distant) audience that we'll have to engage with our programs. I'm curious and excited to see what skills I'll need to learn to do that. We know about mLearning, eLearning, Web 2.0, etc. what will we know about and use everyday 5 years from now? That's one of the reasons I love what I do, it's never a dull moment and I'm constantly learning something new.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Value of online education

I've seen a lot of posts lately about the value of online education. As a former student of online educational programs I have to say that they provide value different than classroom learning, which is one of the reasons that I enjoyed it. Stephanie Coleman discusses "Why Do Students Like online learning?" and I have to agree with the points that are made. One of my favorite benefits through this method of learning was the variety of students that were in my class. The students came from a variety of geographic locations as well as bringing knowledge from a variety of professional fields. Both of these factors would probably not have been available to me through a traditional classroom environment. As a working professional who was attending classes online I enjoyed the fact that I could attend class based on my schedule, but also it was great to be able to utilize my classmates when I had questions in my "daily" life that I would like varied opinions on. This provided me a well rounded educational opportunity.

An April 2, 2009 report in U.S. News discusses the increase in popularity for online educational programs because of improvements in the programs. Having participated in online programs for my Bachelor's and Master's programs I would advise a word of caution of course, for anyone interested in online programs and that is to do your research and make sure that you are attending an accredited program that will provide you with a solid education. Don't just go for the least expensive program you can find. You'll want to find out how their courses are structured, what the expectations are for attendance, testing, etc. There are many different structures, find one that suits you and your needs.

Online education is a wonderful opportunity to further your education while you meet the demands on your time as well as other restraints (such as geographical location). Good luck with your educational pursuits.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Development Time for eLearning

This is a question I often ask myself. In the effort to manage my time effectively I need to know how much time I need to allot to projects that is realistic and not just a random number that I picked out of the air. Reading the blogs that I follow I found Kapp Notes: How Long Does It Take to Develop One Hour of E-Learning-Updated for 2009 this morning. I've seen a variety of statistics that give me an idea of if I'm on track with how long it is taking me to create my courses. Additionally on this blog there are comments that I agree with, especially the one regarding the expectations that I have for my trainings that have increased since I first started creating these presentations. I have to fight the temptation to go back and redo those presentations that were my first ones. If I gave into this temptation then I would be stuck in a vicious circle that would never end. You learn more and get better each time you publish a presentation. You see other presentations that give you more ideas and ways to do things differently. That's what I consider one of the greatest parts of my job and what makes it fun each and every day. I get to learn and experiment and tap into my creative side. Knowing some figures for how long this process can/should take gives me some time of reassurance and permission to take the time necessary to do this and to do it well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Video projects....useful.....Yes!

As I shift my full attention to several video editing projects that will take me the rest of the month to complete I've wondered if the end result will be as useful as I hope. Then I came across this posting from ERE on "Why Recruiting Has to Go Video" and I am reassured that the hard work will not be wasted. I've looked at many company websites and seen more and more of them move towards utilizing video in their recruiting efforts. There is something extremely valuable about being able to see what the job or company would be like before you apply and go through the recruitment and interview process. As I work on the video, I find that one of the big challenges I face is capturing the culture of the organization in a manner that accurately reflects why the organization is a great place...that is my focus for the next several weeks....wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What about interaction for the designers?

Big projects for me this week are mainly focused around webinar's and video productions. Which translates to many hours in front of the computer screen in editing. As I get into my "zone" with my new best friend - the computer screen - I wonder about the personal side of the trainings that I am working on. I've done a couple of webinar's at this point and have found it oddly isolating (especially when you use VOIP). Of course editing video is also pretty isolating. While designing any of the web-based training courses we of course, make sure that they are interactive for the learner, however, for the designer I usually work by myself with little interaction. What about the interaction for the designers? How do we make those important connections with other people, especially our learners? There are the social media channels that we all turn to so we can make the connections with others "like us" that we can learn from and share our knowledge with. If you are in a company that focuses on eLearning you have co-workers who understand the lingo and stresses that you face with your work, if not you do a lot of educating so you can brainstorm solutions to the problems you are facing. So, I ask else can we as designers make those connections and gain the interactivity that we work so hard to ensure for our learners?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Information Overload??

After returning to the office this morning from three days of vacation I found 63 blog posts on my reader, 50+ emails, voice mails to answer and three new books to read. Just one hour away from my computer resulted in 19 new emails to read. It makes me stop and think about all the information that is being shared out there through emails, blogs, newspapers and other channels of communication. How do we keep up with it all? Are we going to reach a point where our brains are going to be "full"? It then led me to think about how different people handle multiple channels of information and the volumes of information that can come flying at you all at once. Some of us handle it better....why? Is it due to the generational differences as some articles might suggest? Is it due to the fast pace we all lead and how we adapt to that pace? Then I began to wonder about the eLearning programs I produce. How can I prevent information overload in those courses? I was working with a colleague last week on a presentation and what I viewed as a "given" regarding course navigation was not a "given" to them. In this case I need to provide additional information to ensure understanding amongst different levels of users but balance that with the desire not to overload or over explain concepts that others may consider "givens". So how to strike that balance.....that's a good question. It's also a moving target as more of the presentations are published and become part of our training culture more of the navigational and other format issues will become "givens" for the participants. For now to strike that important balance and avoid the overload I have to develop a method for explaining to those that need additional assistance but ensure that the method is able to be skipped for those that don't need the additional assistance. I'll let you know what I figure out for that balance. If you've got any thoughts I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Feedback on the Big Question?

Feedback on the Big Question? The Big Question for the month of August was of particular interest to me. There was a request for feedback on the big question which I have found to be very helpful especially being a newbie in the eLearning field. But there was also the re-birth of a former question about learning professionals blogging and I have to say that yes, I think learning professionals should blog. I have learned so much from the blogs that I read that I have been able to apply to my job I can't imagine where I would have been able to gather the information without the blogs. Learning professionals by nature want to share the information that they have gathered with others and blogs are a great way to do this. With the variety of the blogs that are available out there I have been able to learn different viewpoints and expand my knowledge of this enormous body of knowledge we call elearning. So from on newbie I say....keep those blogs coming.