3 Ways eLearning Simulations Can Be Used As An Effective Marketing Tool

How eLearning Simulations Can Be Used As An Effective Marketing Tool 

Simulation is a powerful tool for creating memorable learning experiences. However, many big brands can now use simulation-based eLearning to add further value to their products; making it useful from a marketing perspective. These are just some of the different ways eLearning simulations can be used:

  1. Simulated product training.
    Case scenarios and online tutorials help a customer make full sense of a product, and see if it’s something that they might use or need. It helps potential customers to imagine themselves using the product in a particular situation, and can create positive association if the training is effective. From a personal point of view, when I had to learn to use some design software as part of a course, I was impressed with the online tutorials available for a well known program. This led me to use that one rather than any rival product. Well presented and easy-to-follow online support can help build brand loyalty, with a tutorial video being far more accessible than a simple list of instructions.
  2. Capturing data for target marketing.
    Using eLearning simulations with a focus group can help a company find qualitative data that shows what potential customers are looking for in a product. eLearning moderators can generate a full report of a learner’s behavior within a simulation using analytics, and break it down for use in marketing. For example; if a focus group were invited to test a simulation of a car manufacturer’s new model and a certain age demographic were observed enjoying testing the car’s stereo and speakers, then any future marketing and advertising could specifically target that age group by showing off the car’s music capabilities.
  3. Gathering feedback to improve design.
    Learning is all about feedback and providing an opportunity for learners to become better at tasks. In this instance we can flip this on its head. If most of the members of a focus group are struggling to use a simulation of a product during concept testing –despite appropriate instructions–, then maybe the product itself is too difficult to use or flawed in some way. Eliminating design flaws or features that hinder user-friendliness could save a company millions from potential product failures.

The Future 

At CH Digital Solutions we believe that the rise of 360-degree video and new virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift have the potential to take eLearning simulations to the next level. While a standard 2D video can simply show you a course or event, a 360-degree video has the ability to fully immerse a learner in an environment and allow them to engage in a simulation like never before.

Marketers and advertisers can also take advantage of this new technology in a similar way.  Destination BC is aiming to promote tourism in British Columbia, Canada by releasing a 360-degree teaser video showing the sights and sounds that would greet a would-be visitor. Such videos showing viewers what they could experience themselves in the flesh have already been used for festivals, sports events and cars.

With the format now widely available on Facebook with most smart phones, it appears that many adverts could soon become a learning simulation of some kind – placing potential customers in new and unusual situations to build interest in a brand or product.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

4 Tips To Create High Quality Content In eLearning 

The Importance Of High Quality Content In eLearning

When undertaking a course, it can seem that it’s better to have too much information than too little. Some may say that it’s best to give the learner more information than they really need.

However, when it comes to eLearning, it’s far better to be concise and keep content relevant to measurable learning objectives that ultimately benefit the learner. Here are 4 tips to help you create high quality content in eLearning:

  1. Keep content relevant to the learning objectives.
    To achieve this, we must first identify what the learning objectives of a course will be. When working with a client, we will ask what knowledge their learners need to be able to demonstrate at the end of their course. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide, we can then work out the best strategy to reach their educational goals. Once identified, any content must be relevant to these learning objectives otherwise the learner could simply end up learning the wrong thing.
  2. Keep content succinct and concise.
    The learner only needs to be taught what they need to pass the course. Identify the key topics or subject areas, and concentrate on what the learner needs to know in order to apply knowledge at the course’s end. As Shakespeare once said, “Brevity is the soul of wit”. Conciseness provides the biggest impact when saying something funny or humorous, but another translation of it is simply “don’t waste my time”! When writing content, try to keep blocks of text to a minimum. Present information in short groups of four, and if possible simplified into bullet points for easy reading. Jargon and overly technical language should also be avoided.
  3. Engage the audience.
    In order to keep learners interested in your content, try to make it sound “human”. If your content comes across as too technical, or as if it was being recited by a machine, then you risk immediately disengaging the audience. eLearning is meant to be an electronically enhanced version of what the teacher would deliver in person. Aim to be creative. Possibly tell a story, use game-based learning, or inject some humor into the course. However, don’t become sidetracked by trying to force too many gags into your content and forgetting the learning objectives! Also, use examples that are relevant to the industry or environment the learner is involved with so that learners can identify with the course. On a course about safety in the workplace, the case studies should naturally differ greatly between a construction company and a bank.
  4. Proofread.
    Poorly written or fact checked content can create several problems on an eLearning course. Content riddled with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or incorrect facts can reflect badly on an organization, and lead to learners not being able to take the course seriously. Even worse, the learners could assume the incorrect content is true, and learn it anyway. The whole course would be rendered pointless and leave the learners in a poorer position than when they started.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Game-Based Learning: What Do Gamers Expect Of eLearning?

What Gamers Expect Of Game-Based Learning  

You may have already seen the statistics both here at eLearning Industry and across the web, but what we hear a lot these days is that the number of people who play video games as a hobby is on the rise.

As a matter of fact, the Entertainment Software Associate (ESA) reported that in April 2015 approximately 155 million people play video games in the United States alone, and that the average age of a person that plays video games is now 35*. Video games do appeal to both the young and old and can provide a source of inspiration and imagination.

The education sector has had a fascination with the mechanics of gaming and its relationship to learning and teaching for some time. Every educator will utilize some form of game-based learning in the classroom at some point, for example merit systems, quizzes, and class leader boards.

However, there are now some who take game-based learning much further by including mainstream video games within their curriculum, such as Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program. These video games can be used to teach a variety of topics that instantly appeal to an audience that love and connect with video games as a past time.

Evaluating this approach as a form of multimedia enhanced learning puts great demand on the quality of other online experiences being delivered by eLearning developers.

Video games have developed rapidly in a short period of time to include rich, vibrant graphics, immersive action, and compelling storytelling. The eLearning industry must continue to evolve in order to approach learning not just as a linear slide-based, tick box exercise, but rather as something that captivates an audience with interaction and storytelling if it is to provide a lasting and memorable experience.

Here are some of the traits that gamers expect from eLearning, or else some of the expectations to be mindful of when approaching eLearning as a game based learning activity:

  1. Instant feedback to actions.
    Games require split second reasoning and decision making which tests the player. Most actions translate to reactions. eLearning should do a good job of turning learner reactions and responses into feedback to complete the learning experience.
  2. A journey that feels personal.
    With mainstream video games that offer choice, everyone plays the same game but many will choose a unique path that feels right for them. Some players who are experts in a certain genre may set a higher difficulty rating right from the start in order to challenge themselves because they feel they can achieve that benchmark. eLearning needs to provide pathways that a learner can follow that feels personal, speaks at their level, and encourages them to progress and better themselves towards the end result – completion.
  3. Digital storytelling (a learning pathway with a purpose).
    Digital storytelling is a growing style in learning, and you can read many more articles on the subject on this website. Digital storytelling works well in video games, as a player will often feel affinity with a characters plight or story. They may feel compelled to complete a task or challenge to feel like justice has been done, or to reach a resolution. This is a powerful medium to employ in learning too, as a learner will want to challenge themselves if they understand the purpose and overall end reason for doing so.
  4. The ability to lose (and be given the chance to improve).
    You see the term “Game Over” used so much in gaming, but rarely when those words are displayed is the game truly over. Most players will feel motivation to start again to better themselves and improve their performance. A popular saying in education is that a learner should be allowed to make mistakes in order to learn from them, so too should this be adapted into eLearning. A bad result in a quiz shouldn’t result in reaching the final screen/slide without consequence. Instead you should build in scenarios where the learner needs to improve, and show them why this is important - motivating them to revisit their understanding and not simply give up and hurry to the end.

To see some real world examples of modern game-based learning produced for vocational training organizations, visit my website at CH Digital Solutions.

*  Essential Facts About The Computer And Video game Industry

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

The Power Of Utilizing Discovery Within eLearning

How To Utilize Discovery Within eLearning  

Getting learners to explore and perform meaningful interactions within learning content is a very important mechanism that can ultimately encourage deeper learning and understanding.

This is because as a species we are by our nature inquisitive and, for lack of a better word, nosy! When put in new environments, for example when traveling abroad, we want to explore the surroundings and get a flavor of what we haven’t seen before.

Ultimately though, what we want is to discover things for ourselves, such as trying to find that spot in the sun on the beach that no other tourist has ever capitalized upon.

The sense of reward by taking the venture, or indeed the risk into the unknown, can be very high. If we put 100 people into a completely white room for one minute with no windows or doors, and no other features except for one great big red button on a pedestal, how many people do you think could not resist the urge to press it to see what happened? I think that the number would be quite high!

Therefore, I believe discovery needs to take place in eLearning. Considering the Push vs. Pull model in educational theory, the learner must be encouraged to pull learning content out for themselves if we are to avoid the “sit back and doze off” trap which pushing content onto learners with no act of participation, discovery, or reward would bring.

Let’s Put This Into Practice!  

Here is a piece of eLearning that I have produced specifically for this article on an incredible reptile – the chameleon.

Utilizing Discovery Within eLearning

There are a number of engaging eLearning conventions that I have already deployed in order to maximize engagement and overall enjoyment of the content.

These include vibrant color, typography, animation, sound and music, and a non-linear exploration style to the content, which requires that the learner seeks out the facts that form the learning activity by rolling over each box.

What I am trying to do is evoke certain thoughts of inquisitiveness within the learner. To start, as the learner, I have been given very little instruction on what to do, but no learning information is being pushed onto me.

Instead, I must pull the information that I feel is hidden away. “So what will happen if I roll over… this?”

Utilizing Discovery Within eLearning 2

The learner is rewarded with an animation that I have built for each section of the animal, as well as learning the facts one-by-one in a bite sized manner, which by themselves are really cool.

However, what I want to do is really play with the learner’s sense of discovery and get them to consider other things that they perhaps didn’t know about the chameleon.

To do this I have created a hidden pop-up button which appears once the learner has performed the first action. The text on the button fades in and out, presenting a question to the learner, thus attracting their attention.

Utilizing Discovery Within eLearning 3

What is achieved in the mind of the learner by doing this is: “Where did that message come from? Was it there before? Why did it appear just now, and what is it telling me?”.

Peripheral vision is a very fun thing to play with in eLearning, so by catching the learner’s attention away from the middle of the slide, it can help to create that act of surprise and intrigue that we are looking for.

I pose the learner a new question, starting with a fact that the chameleon has no outer ear, and no inner ear drum. “But surely that makes the animal deaf, right?” The learner is encouraged to answer this question themselves, before clicking the button in order to discover the correct answer.

By asking learners questions as much as possible within eLearning, we help connect them to the content. The more we make the learner feel personally involved in the content, the more we encourage participation and a stake in the overall outcome of the activity.

This type of interaction is very easy to build in modern eLearning authoring tools which you are more than likely already familiar with.

In Conclusion

In this article I have demonstrated a practical way of implementing “discovery” as a learning mechanism within eLearning, because ultimately the motivation will always be high for any person to perform these actions by themselves in order to satisfy their inquisitive nature.

As an anecdote, I remember once watching my partner’s infant nephew pressing icons on an iPad to open up apps on the screen, and how extremely rewarding this was to him. This had nothing to do with the actual app itself, but rather pressing the button and seeing a colorful character appear on the loading screen filled him with happiness, and encouraged him to press even more buttons to see what happened.

I think this natural sense of inquiry will never leave him, and learning experiences in adulthood need to fulfill that sense of wonder if they are to engage on a deep, emotional level. No-one can resist the appeal of the Big Red Button!

eLearning can act as the tool that is handed to the learner to spark inquiry and encourage further guided exploration in order for that learner to adapt their knowledge to tasks and problems in the future.

Visit the following page on my website to see this piece of interactive eLearning in action: http://www.chdigitalsolutions.co.uk/projects/chameleon-elearning/

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.