Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Replacement for Classroom Learning

So often when I talk to people about eLearning I am asked if it is going to replace classroom learning.  My reply is always the same...no, and here is why I believe that to be true.  People learn through different ways, some are visual learners, some are auditory, some are kinesthetic and for this reason I think that there will always be a place for different ways of presenting material. 

As a classroom trainer and eLearning designer I also think that there are ways these two methods can compliment each other.  For example, a person attends a classroom session and learns material and isn't able to put it into practice for several months after the class.  When it is time for them to apply what they learned the material may have been forgotten.  An eLearning module that complements the classroom session can provide that just in time refresher that they need to apply all the material and achieve the desired training results.

Here are a couple of blogs I read this morning that provide further illustration of my belief:

E-Learning vs. Classroom Learning
E-Learning modules are not the complete replacement

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Scatterbrained or Creative?

I was in a meeting last week during which we were discussing ideas for storyboarding courses.  I commented that there are some great tools out there for those of us who are scatterbrained.  While I didn't think much of the definition of what I truly believe my thought pattern to be many times, there were others in the meeting very willing to defend me (against myself).  It got me to thinking further about the actual process I use when approaching a project and how it gets from my head to the finished product on the screen.

I mentioned that we were discussing different tools for storyboarding and there are some that I've found that help contain the process (whether scatterbrained or creative). The first I like to use is Prezi and if you haven't used this yet I highly encourage you to do so. One of the big selling points for me is that I'm able to just throw the ideas that come into my head onto the screen without worrying about where they fit into the puzzle until I'm ready. I recently used this for a presentation I gave and it was great, every time I remembered something I wanted to cover I put it out there and then when I was ready to formulate the speech I had all my ideas/pictures/etc. captured and I could easily put things in order. Another tool that is out there is Bubbl.us and it is great for brainstorming and goes along with the mind mapping method. It is also good for collaborating with various subject matter experts and all the information stays in one place.

Often when I receive a project it lands on my desk in any number of raw states.  I've gotten things as simple as a business card with a diagram on the back to fully developed PowerPoint's.  With this wide range there are of course variations on my process to get that finished product.  I will often times take a "once over" of the material and try to digest the information before I even start to think about the design of the course.  I've often found that after I've reviewed the material I need to set it aside for a couple of days until the ideas start to come forward in my head.  This is what leads me to feel a bit scatterbrained, especially when I've got several projects at various stages (for example I currently have 3 projects just about completed, 2 I'm at the digesting stage, 1 just came across on my email, 1 that needs updates - you get the picture).  I love it when I get that out of the blue "aha" moment for a project and then everything just starts to flow.  It is when these creative ideas start to flow that I also wonder if there is a method to the madness and I'm not scatterbrained but rather using a creative process that just seems that way.  Whatever it is, it works for me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Learning Technology for 2015

So the big question this month is "What will workplace learning technology look like in 2015?"  That is a great question to ask and got me thinking about the longer range plans for the elearning that I am producing today.  Not only will the content be outdated by 2015 but quite possibly the delivery method as well. 

I've been doing some work recently with some elementary children and the imagination that they have is wonderful.  They are very creative and resourceful which leads me to believe that they will demand that their workplace in the future will also need to be creative and resourceful.  So for predictions on learning technology in 2015 here are my thoughts....

I think we'll see more mobile learning and less learning tied to the PC.  People want to be able to access their learning at anytime from anywhere.  Look at the popularity of the iPhone, etc.

I think that there will be more informal learning incorporated into the training/learning programs.  This is something that is already done by learners, I see the trainers getting on board with it and utilizing it to maximize results.

I think that there will also be more of a focus on alternative learning - such as elearning.  With tight budgets we are feeling this demand now, however, I think that in the future this demand won't be as a result of budgetary demands, rather it will be a result of employee demand.  They'll want to be in control of their learning experience rather than have it dictated to them based on class availability, schedule, etc.

We're going to have to get creative to meet the demands of the future employees.  I personally look forward to learning new ways to use technology to meet these demands, unfortunately, I find I tend to get roadblocked by my own lack of creativity when it comes to ways to utilize the tools available.  With the ever changing field of learning technology I think we'll see more people involved in different ways to keep things interesting and engaging.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Project Changes = New skills and learning opportunities!

Have you ever been here?
You're moving along on a project and are just about finished and something happens and your entire project changes.  Just like that weeks of work are gone, you'll never get them back and you still have a project to complete, only now it is different and you've got to move forward.

What do you do?
Although the tempting thing might be to get upset and rant and rave - that isn't the professional thing to do.  So you have to do the right thing (rant and rave in your head) and move forward on the project.

The good news...
Changing direction on projects can also give you a great opportunity to learn new skills.  When we get into the "zone" on a project we are moving forward and making progress and not necessarily thinking about different ways we could deliver this project.  We get a bit tunnel visioned and don't think outside of that box.

I've recently been in this situation and as a result I now have additional skills that I can add to my resume that I never would have obtained if I didn't have to sit back and re-think the way I was going to deliver this project.  Although - admittedly - there was some frustration, I am glad that I have had the opportunity to look at the project from a completely different vantage point and determine what was really important for the project and how I could go about meeting the deliverables with the newly revised parameters.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What would have been helpful for you??

I'm working on a presentation that I am giving in April regarding implementation of eLearning programs.  I've got facts, figures, my experiences, case studies, etc. etc. etc.  What I don't have is your input. 

As professionals who are at various stages of eLearning what questions did you have when you were first starting down this road?  What would have been helpful for you to know? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Audio awareness

Have you ever noticed how music can tell a story without ever saying a word?  The scary music starts in the movie and you are instantly on edge and ready for the bad guy to jump out.  You can almost predict the path of the story based on the music that is being played.  As I was researching various music files for several video projects I'm working on I starting thinking about this aspect of music and sound.  Listing to short demo files for audio I was able to envision a project that it would be applicable for.  The right music can bring your project together...or be such a distraction it completely tears your project apart.  Since music can convey a message or feeling we as designers need to make sure that the music we choose for our projects conveys the same message and feeling that the actual project intends to, otherwise the disconnect creates disaster.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I want to be an Instructional Designer

Cammy Bean posted a question in her post "When I grow up I want to be an Instructional Designer" that I thought was great and really hit home.  I am definitely one of those that accidentally became an Instructional Designer.  This was definitely not something I thought of or geared my career towards.  In all truth technology and I don't really get along on a regular basis - just ask my IT folks!

So how did this happen?  Part of it was being at the right place at the right time.  I was tasked with coming up with a solution to help reduce costs while still maintaining training opportunities.  I was a natural choice for leading this team due to my experience with distance learning in my own education.  The other part of my "success" in becoming an Instructional Designer is the fact that for some unknown reason I can figure out and use the appropriate technological solutions to make effective e-learning presentations (a phenomena I still don't understand).

Why do I keep doing this?  I like the creative side of being an Instructional Designer especially with e-Learning.  It is fun to figure out ways to present information in interesting and enaging formats so the learner not only learns but also can have some fun in the process. 

So what started as a chance assignment ended up as something I really enjoy doing and have become engaged in and truely enjoy. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Video use in eLearning

I've been seeing a lot of blog posts recently about using video in your projects. One I particularly liked was from Jennifer Wrigley entitled "Top ten tips for using video effectively in e-learning" she makes some excellent points. I've been using video in the e-learning presentations that I've created when it seems appropriate and that it would add value. Different ways that I've used it is to add some humor to a dry presentation or to give a real life example of what is being discussed in the e-learning presentation. For example showing a video of a terrible meeting during an "Effective Meetings" training. Sometimes showing is better than saying and can provide a great deal more impact for your learner.

I also think that as the designer you have to use good judgement in deciding whether to use video at all and also what video is appropriate to use. You also have to make the decision if you want to use pre-made video which has become readily available through YouTube, Hulu, etc. or if you want to create the video yourself. The eLearning Brothers discussed this issue recently in their article "Instructional Design for Videos" and again provided some great information for those thinking about using videos in their presentations.

When creating your e-Learning presentations you have many different options and resources available to you. As with anything too much of a good thing can be bad so you have to maintain that balance. That balance provides for better courses, it also allows you as the designer to have more credibility as you are being smart and strategic in your use of the various resources to create the greatest impact. If you just throw everything available into a course it becomes a jumbled mess. Through the strategic and at times frugal use of your resources, especially video, you can leave your learners looking forward to taking more courses you create because they know that they will be interesting and informative and not a waste of their time.