Top 3 Myths About BYOD In The Classroom

BYOD has gained some momentum in today's education system. More and more educational staff seriously consider the adoption of BYOD in their instruction. So let's place the next 3 myths about BYOD in the classroom right next to dragons, flying horses, and the treasure at the end of the rainbow.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

5 BYOD Mistakes To Avoid For Successful Online Training

BYOD can help your organization cut online training costs while reaping all of the corporate eLearning benefits but only if you can create a secure, well-organized online training strategy that keeps your employees in the loop. In this article, I will highlight 5 BYOD online training mistakes that your organization should avoid.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

4 eLearning Challenges In Creating Courses For Multiple Devices Including Smartphones

How To Overcome 4 eLearning Challenges Of Creating Courses For Multiple Devices  

Let us see a few challenges that we as eLearning specialists usually face while developing courses for multiple devices:

  1. Usability and global navigation.
    Grouping, Layering, Shifting; do we really need them all? When we design courses for smartphones and iPads, navigation and touch friendliness are two important aspects that need to be kept in mind. The interactive elements like tabs or buttons need to be fairly large and comfortably spaced so that the learners are able to click or select them as required. In the course of discussing usability, we need to lay special emphasis on global navigation. As the size of the devices got smaller, we realized that we need not have all navigation controls. What we did was implement a responsive menu, which means certain controls were grouped and positioned keeping in mind the size of the device. For instance, we often use the audio controls in our phones so this particular option need not be necessarily included in the menu. The readability is another important factor. The size of the text varies according to the resolution of the device, which means the higher the resolution, the smaller the text. It has been generally observed that 16-pixel font size works well across all devices. While focusing on this factor, we should consider three things while creating interactivity instructions:

    • They should be neutral to all devices.
    • They should be appropriate to the design and layout of the devices.
    • They should point to a specific task and not just be some generic information.
  2. Combination of operating systems.
    Multiple devices come with the challenge of having multiple browsers that need to be handled in a way so as to ensure a smooth learning experience. The foremost challenge here is to know which operating system or browser we are trying to target, especially when there are so many platforms to choose from. Coming to talk of popular browsers, the lower versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer comes with multiple challenges. Ever since IE6 has been declared to be phased out subsequently, IE7 and 8 has gained more prominence. But again the challenged with IE8 is that it does not support HTML5. The best option here is to run a system check to see if the browser of the target audience meets the standard requirements. Creating courses for multiple devices has usually been observed as a very tedious process for the reason that all targeted devices need to be tested for compatibility issues, which makes it not-so cost-effective. In fact this is one of the most crucial phases during which even the minute discrepancy should be observed and recorded, failing which would result in a sub-par learning experience.
  3. Content treatment.
    While designing a multi-device learning, the way the content is treated is actually dependent on the size of the device that is being used by the learner. Hence an eLearning specialist needs to ensure that the meaning of the content does not change while treating and placing it across several devices. A consistent look and feel of the text and the layout is of utmost importance here while ensuring user-friendliness. Also, when as designers we handle the content across devices, we should be careful about the placement of images. We can either reduce the size of the image by cropping it or scale it in a way that it is not displayed beyond a particular size. A combination of both works well in some instances. Another important factor to consider is the layering of interactivities, especially for smaller devices. For the larger devices, we had to limit the layers to two or three so that the navigation would not become complex for the smaller devices. Again here, the content chunking could be looked at from two different perspectives. One is how comfortable is your target audience with scrolling the content. If the course is created with only smartphone and tablet users in mind, then it is fine to chunk content in a way that users could scroll and view it. But if the primary user group is desktop, then it is better to avoid any form of scrolling content. When as designers we are doing analysis of content, it is at that point we should identify the types of content and think of alternative approaches using which we can treat that content. We should also decide at that point whether we should include that content for the mobile version.
  4. Development process.
    This is a crucial consideration when designing responsive learning for the fact that the process can make or break an effective learning experience. While focusing on the development process, we should bear in mind the following:

    • The process should be iterative and fluid. 
      What we mean here is that the process should allow ample scope for revisions to ensure that we are able to meet the commonly aligned goals or objectives.
    • Higher testing time should be accounted in the development process. 
      It takes a considerable amount of time to test the eLearning on different kinds of devices. If this is not kept in mind while estimating scope and budget, it may lead to escalations and customer dissatisfaction.
    • The storyboard should focus more on the core content and the visual elements.

We sincerely hope that the above-mentioned points have helped you in understanding the challenges to creating courses for multiple devices and you would consider the right set of activities to ensure learning success for your multi-device audience.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Using BYOD In Schools: Advantages And Disadvantages

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using BYOD In Schools   

So, what is this BYOD policy? BYOD was primarily a policy that was embraced by the IT departments of various organizations. According to WhatIs.com,

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is the increasing trend toward employee-owned devices within a business.

But BYOD has permeated educational institutions as well. And these days students are asked to bring their own devices to schools.

Is BYOD Really Helpful?

Like almost everything, BYOD has its own merits and demerits. To start with the advantages, BYOD makes the process of imparting education cheaper, as schools don’t have to install their own technological devices. Furthermore, it ensures that students are more organized. And, if you want, you can also experience a unique classroom where students and teachers swap their roles. But there other benefits of the BYOD policy; here’s a quick look at some of them:

  1. Offers Comfort Of Using A Known Device.
    The most important advantage that BYOD offers is surely the comfort of using one’s own device. It may be easy for schools to install their own devices, but that wouldn’t help the cause; when students bring their own devices to school, they bring something familiar with them. This means that they can use it without hassle and are able to focus more easily on the lesson, as they don't have to think about handling completely unknown devices.
  2. Leverages Students’ Love For Their Devices.
    These days you can find many tech-inclined students who love their devices more than anything else; that’s why students remain glued to these devices round the clock. Using these devices to impart lessons is a great way to leverage students' love for their devices. This is expected to be more effective than the traditional chalk-and-blackboard method of teaching.
  3. Advanced Technology Makes Learning Easier.
    The advancements in the field of technology have helped to introduce lots of devices. Many of them have features which were hard to imagine even only a few years back. All these are not only making the process of imbibing lessons easier for students, but also helping to retain them longer. And all these can be best utilized if students are able to use their devices properly, so using their own devices surely helps them learn more effectively.

Although it offers some amazing benefits, BYOD comes with its cons. Here’s a sneak peek at the possible problems that this policy might lead to:

  1. How To Reduce The Distraction?
    That’s one of the most important questions to ask as a teacher who is looking to introduce BYOD in the classroom. The electronic devices can be used to perform so many things; no wonder they can be distracting. And, as a teacher, that’s not something you would like to happen in your class. Even if several websites are blocked, students who are quite tech savvy might be able to unblock them and visit them if they wish.
  2. Security: A Major Issue.
    Are the networks of the institutions properly secured? That’s a major question which is going to pop up if BYOD is allowed, as BYOD poses a few security issues. Moving too much data in the BYOD area can result in its theft. This is primarily an issue in offices and commercial organizations; however, it is also important to undertake the necessary steps to ensure safety while implementing BYOD in the educational institutions.

Using technology in classrooms has become widespread these days. Despite the few disadvantages, the benefits that BYOD offers are driving its increasing popularity across the globe and it is expected to be a regular integration soon in many more educational institutions around the world. In fact, BYOD is being dubbed as the upcoming revolution that the world of education is expected to experience quite soon.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

The Mobile Challenge: Giving The Modern Learners What They Want

How To Give The Modern Learners What They Want  

According to our In-Focus report, Mobile Learning in the Workplace, mobile learning is definitely on the rise, big time. Our research shows that it really took off in 2013; this was the year that mobile learning became the norm, rather than the exception. And it’s still growing.

Modern learners are pushing the mobile learning agenda, but many employers have taken up the challenge as well, recognizing that the future is mobile and implementing new learning practices. Some are more forward-thinking and mobile-advanced than others, and some are more tuned into how their workforce is learning and wants to learn than others.

When conducting our research, we found that the top learning companies -respondents in the top quartile of the Towards Maturity Index- are more likely to have incorporated mobile devices in learning than those in lower quartiles. This indicates that mobile learning offers real business benefits.

These are some of the key findings:

  • 71% of respondents are using mobile devices, up from 36% in 2010 and 47% in 2012.
  • This proportion rises to 83% (up from 65% last year) in top learning companies.
  • Top learning companies are also more likely to be using and developing mobile apps.
  • 52% provide learners with smartphones, rising to 60% in top learning companies.
  • 48% provide learners with tablets, rising to 57% in top learning companies.
  • 41% have a policy of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), rising to 66% in top learning companies.

As these figures demonstrate, most organizations have embraced mobile learning. A lot of them have formulated Bring Your Own Device policies. Some provide employees with smartphones or tablets. Tablets are the huge success story of the fast few years; the fastest growing market of all mobile devices.

Typically, Bring Your Own Device occurs in large organizations of 20.000 plus, multinationals and organizations with over 10 years’ experience of using eLearning. Furthermore, 38% of those organizations fall into the top quartile of the Towards Maturity Index.

Are these businesses enjoying any benefits as a result of their policies? We found that 43% of the Bring Your Own Device group reported improvements in organizational productivity because of eLearning, with 48% of their managers reporting additional business benefits. Plus, 29% say it has made a significant contribution to increasing organizational revenue. Those are the business benefits, what about staff benefits? Well, 37% of the Bring Your Own Device group said learners put what they had learnt into practice quickly, 34% said learners recommend eLearning to colleagues to improve job performance and 35% noticed positive changes in staff behavior. Those organizations providing smartphones or tablets to their workforce also report the same benefits, but to a lesser degree.

Organizations that are going mobile need to do it properly. They need to do it strategically and with a real understanding of what their learners want and need and how this ties into business needs. It’s very easy to do a half-hearted job; such as going mobile, but not enabling content for mobile use or not using learning tools that are best suited to mobile delivery.

A big concern for businesses –and quite rightly so– is always security. Going mobile can mean increased IT security risks, particularly with employees bringing their own devices into work. Organizations need to manage these risks as best they can, such as offering tablets or smartphones for employees to use or deploying Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology.

When done well, mobile learning brings many advantages to organizations; increased productivity, revenue, staff satisfaction, and so on. It enables modern learners to learn at the point of need and use that learning immediately in their jobs. What’s not to like about that?

Here's what our research of more than 5,000 learners tells us about what motivates people to learn online:

  1. 75% want to be able to do their job faster and better.
  2. 51% like to learn just for personal development.
  3. 50% want to be eligible for promotion.
  4. 47% want to obtain professional certification.
  5. 41% want to be enabled to earn more money.
  6. 39% want to keep up with new technology.
  7. 35% want to achieve/maintain a higher certification level.
  8. 35% want to increase productivity.
  9. 22% want to pass an assessment.
  10. 10% want to compete against colleagues for a high score.

The Towards Maturity Benchmark™

The Towards Maturity Benchmark™ is a useful tool to help you understand how effective your Learning and Development strategies are and how you compare to peers and top performing learning organizations.

If you are keen to find out how effective your Learning and Development team is, make sure you benchmark this year: it’s open until 31 July. More than 3,500 organizations have taken part to date, so there is plenty of data for you to benchmark against.

Start Your Benchmark.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Benefits Of Using HTML5 In eLearning

HTML5 In eLearning: 6 Benefits eLearning Professionals Should Know

Until quite recently Adobe Flash was one of the most popular authoring tools for eLearning courses, thanks to its high level of interactivity, immersive graphics and engaging animations. However, with fewer smartphones and tablets being able to support Flash these days, HTML5, a mobile-friendly alternative, is becoming the new favorite among eLearning professionals. Here are just a few of the most notable HTML5 benefits that you may want to consider when choosing the eLearning authoring tool for your next eLearning deliverable.

  1. Reach a wider audience.
    The usage of mobile devices shows rapid growth. In fact, the number of people accessing eLearning resources via their smartphones and tablets grows daily, as individuals are now seeing that learning on-the-go offers a wide range of unique advantages. Given that Flash has not been supported by popular mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads, you will have to meet the demands of your mobile learning audience by creating HTML5 courses that can actually be accessed on these platforms or run the risk of not reaching a wider audience. By using HMTL5 authoring tools you can adapt your eLearning course on all screen sizes and even create smart meta-tags that give you the ability to optimize your eLearning course for mobile devices.
  2. Greater accessibility for learners.
    The simple truth is that many learners just don’t have the time to seat down at their laptops or desktops to access eLearning courses. Even though they may want to learn new information and develop their skill sets, life’s obligations prevent them from participating in lengthy eLearning courses or online training events. However, HTML5 gives you the power to create eLearning deliverables that can be accessed anywhere, whenever it’s most convenient for the learner, even offline, as it supports offline storage, which means that your learners can store the data for your app or eLearning course and access it at a later time without even connecting to the internet.
  3. Ease of customization.
    One of the most significant advantages of Flash is that eLearning professionals are able to customize the eLearning course, down to the last detail. The interactions are dynamic and immersive; even the graphics can be interactive.  HTML5 can also be customized with ease, without having the same accessibility limitations as Flash. eLearning professionals can customize the flow of the eLearning content adapting the viewing panel, which makes it accessible on a variety of different browsers and screen sizes.  Better still, you are able to make all of these modifications by simply changing the coding, rather than having to install a plug-in or master the nuances of a third-party program. You can then deploy your online applications and eLearning courses rapidly, thanks to the fact that they automatically work across all browsers, online platforms and operating systems.
  4. Multi-browser support. No plug-in is required.
    When your learners want to access an online Flash-based course they need to download a trademarked player or a plug-in before they can even view your eLearning content. On the other hand, HTML5 can immediately be accessed on Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Apple Safari or Mozilla Firefox without having to download a plug-in that enables the web browser to comprehend the code. This offers a variety of other secondary benefits. For example, learners will be more likely to enroll in your eLearning course if they know that they are able to access it across all eLearning platforms. In addition, they can quickly and conveniently log onto the eLearning course and start learning without wasting valuable time downloading a plug-in. This gives them more time to actively participate in the eLearning course.
  5. No restrictions on multimedia integration.
    The video that you integrate into your HTML5 course can be accessed on any browser or platform. Older authoring tools considered videos and other multimedia elements as a “black box”, which meant that they would appear as a black box if the user did not have the necessary plug-in or application. However, HTML5 allows for easy multimedia integration by eliminating the need for proprietary players and making video and audio presentations searchable in the browser. As such, you can create dynamic and interactive eLearning courses that feature multimedia presentations, thereby boosting the engagement of your audience and offering them a more comprehensive eLearning experience, regardless of the browser or device they use on a regular basis.
  6. HTML5 in eLearning is the new industry standard.
    One of the most convincing arguments for switching to HTML5 is that it is the new industry standard. eLearning professionals all across the globe are already using HTML5 to design their eLearning courses, primarily due to the fact that they want to capitalize on all of the aforementioned benefits. It even reaches beyond the Instructional Design industry. For example, YouTube announced that it will be phasing out Flash and utilizing HTML5, and Google rolled out its “HTML5Rocks” portal that features tutorials and articles that focus on this innovative program.

These are just of the arguments in favor of using HTML5 in eLearning. As more eLearning professionals begin to leave behind Flash and take up HTML5 the many possibilities that this tool can bring to the industry will inevitably become bigger and better.

Now that you’ve learned about the benefits of HTML5 in eLearning, read the article The Ultimate List Of HTML5 eLearning Authoring Tools to discover the top HTML5 authoring tools you have at your disposal.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Backchannel Applications: Embrace The Backchannel

Backchannel Applications

Did you know that being shy is not the same thing as being introverted? It's true. A shy person has fears about interacting with others, but doesn't necessarily want to be alone. An introvert, on the other hand, gathers energy in solitude and expends a lot of energy when in a group; to recharge, the introvert must retreat and take some time alone to regroup. The article "What is the difference between being shy and being introverted?" by Carol Bainbridge explains the difference very well. I used to think I was an introvert. Here's a story about how I found out I was wrong.

Marriage and Family Class, Holy Family University, 1992

The class had just received the results of the Myers-Briggs personality test we took the last class. We reviewed the results in silence, reading the descriptions of each code and correlating them to our results. After a few minutes, the teacher asked, "Did anyone find their results surprising?" I raised my hand.

"What did you find surprising, Heather?" he asked.

"That the test says I'm an extravert," I responded.

Created by Heather using tagul.com

Created by Heather using tagul.com

Those were some of the reactions to what I said. I was shocked. I'd spent most of my life thinking I was introverted. Turns out, I wasn't. Sure, perhaps at one point I had been shy, but by the time I was a Junior in college, those days were long gone. Some classmates wondered aloud how I could consider myself introverted when I was always contributing in class, for example. It was hard to explain to them that I considered myself a loner; being an only child had conditioned me to being quite comfortable by myself for long periods of time. I am not one to have a great number of friends, either, having espoused the philosophy that if you can count your true friends on one hand, you're a lucky person. "Better to cultivate true friendships than try to befriend every person you meet" was my motto.

It turns out that the classification hinges on your preferred sources of energy. Today, I understand that I am energized when I am speaking with a group, teaching or training, and being social. I used to be terrified of public speaking, for instance, but now I come away from the experience with something akin to a runner's high. The more the audience interacts with me, the better. Just like a runner, however, it's easy for me to "hit a wall" and "crash". As anyone should, I must be careful and moderate my actions and interactions with other people.

That brings me to the point of this post.  You probably thought I wasn't going to get there, didn't you?  That's all right, because I wasn't sure I was going to get there either.

Backchannel applications can help introverts and shy students alike. Introverted students can reserve their energy; shy students can contribute without being terrified. Teachers do not have to broadcast identities when using these applications, as most of them allow anonymous posting and showing responses in the aggregate. Those who are introverted can "spend" their energy wisely. Students who are shy might enjoy seeing results that align with their expectations; in other words, they would feel included within a group instead of feeling like an outsider.

They can help teachers, too. How often do we teachers make our way through a lesson wondering if everyone understands the purpose and content of it? I'm sure that the answer varies by teacher. Even if we ask for confirmation from our students, those who are reluctant to speak in a group setting will often indicate they understand. A backchannel application helps the teacher gather accurate information about the class. It is a powerful tool for formative assessment.

To conclude this post, I leave you with a list of my favorite backchannel applications. I won't review them here, as many others have done that already, but if you would like more information about any of them, feel free to email me at hmedick@gmail.com, or leave a comment in the comment box below. Thank you!

In another post, I will offer more reasons to embrace the backchannel, such as helping students that work at a different pace than the rest of the class.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

10 Easy Steps To Get Started With 1-to-1 Programs

10 Steps To Follow Before Launching 1-to-1 Programs

A successful 1-to-1 program give learners the opportunity to supplement their education and benefit from a complete eLearning experience. In addition, 1-to-1 programs also allow learners to learn more about the technical tools they have at their disposal, so that they can take full advantage of virtual resources in every aspect of their lives. In this article, I’ll show you how to get started with a 1-to-1 program in ten easy steps.

  1. Research successful 1-to-1 programs before creating your own strategy.
    The first step in creating and deploying a successful 1-to-1 program is to research case studies and visit other learning institutions who have implemented 1-to-1 programs. If at all possible, schedule an interview, so that you can learn what they did right and what they wish they’d done differently when rolling out their program. Also, check online to see if there are any schools who have posted their results or insights since launching the 1-to-1 program.
  2. Learn more about the expectations and limitations of your learners and educators.
    Speak with as many people as possible, both learners and educators/facilitators, to find out what they expect from your 1-to-1 program. What do they hope to achieve? Do they have a clear idea of what the program entails? What will your 1-to-1 eLearning environment look like and what will everyone be able to do once all learners and educators have their own devices? This is also the time to talk about the budget and what you can realistically spend on the 1-to-1 program.
  3. Build your team and identify their key roles.
    Begin building your team of educators and tech experts before you begin developing the structure of your 1-to-1 program, as you will want them to be involved in every step of the process. In addition, clearly define the role of each member of the team. What will they be expected to do and when? How will they fit into the planning and development stages and will they require any technical training before you roll out the program in full force?
  4. Determine your program goals and objectives.
    As is the case with all successful educational programs, you need to have preferably measurable learning goals and objectives in place. What are the learning goals that you hope to achieve in every subject? Coordinate with the head of every department to gain a better understanding of the specific objectives they have in mind. Then, develop a mission statement around these objectives and goals.
  5. Develop a list of supported devices.
    It’s important to create a list of all the devices you would like to support in your 1-to-1 program. Again, this will greatly depend upon the budget, as well as the needs of your learners and their tech experience. Keep in mind that this device will serve as an invaluable tool in every subject. Have a list at-the-ready, then, narrow down your list of choices by speaking with learners, educators and administrators to get their feedback. Also, if learners are expected to bring their own devices and you are creating your own online materials and eLearning courses, create a list of supported platforms on hand.
  6. Take time to build a solid infrastructure.
    Bear in mind that creating a successful 1-to-1 program infrastructure is a time consuming process which can take several months. After you’ve done your research, created a mission statement and guidelines, and defined goals and objectives, it’s time to build a solid infrastructure. Before you bring out the tablets, you’ll need to have high-speed Internet/Wi-Fi in every classroom or have a specially designated Wi-Fi area.
  7. Identify how the devices will be used in the educational setting.
    Just like any other learning tool, you have to know how devices fit into the overall plan. What purpose will they serve, and how will they be used to enhance the educational experience for your learners? Do all of your learners already know how to use tablets and access applications or will you need to offer training beforehand? Clearly define the role of the device in the learning environment, so that there is no confusion about why they are there and what they can offer to learners.
  8. Formulate a realistic roll-out timeline.
    Be realistic when you are creating your implementation timeline. While you may want to start using devices next month, training, budget concerns and other issues may delay your plans. It’s often best to gradually roll out the program. Test the waters and remedy any problems before you invite every learner to participate.
  9. Give facilitators and instructors the opportunity to explore the new program.
    Your educators are going to be on the “front line” of the 1-to-1 program deployment. As such, you’ll want to ensure that they are familiar with how to use the technology most effectively by giving them the opportunity to explore the program in advance, ideally, several months before the roll out. Schedule meetings with them to address any concerns or questions, and direct them to videos, articles and other 1-to-1 program sites that can offer them more information about the program.
  10. Continually monitor and improve your 1-to-1 strategy.
    After you’ve deployed your 1-to-1 program to a handful of learners and educators, get their feedback so that you can continually improve your strategy. View test results to see if their performance has been improving or hold focus groups to determine how the new 1-to-1 program has benefited them in and out of the classroom.

Follow these 10 simple and straightforward steps to develop and launch successful 1-to-1 programs for your audience.

Are you looking for ways to create a successful mobile learning strategy? Read the article How To Create A Successful Mobile Learning Strategy: 6 Secrets For eLearning Professionals  where I 'll shed some light on the secrets behind developing a mobile learning strategy that is on target and offers your audience a memorable and compelling mobile learning experience.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.