mLearning Designs for Use in University Orientation

I am curious. Has anyone designed an mLearning VR project focused on orienting new college freshmen? Possibly using hotspots for building locations, guides for course scheduling, etc?  Just brainstorming ideas and would love to see if this has been done before and how it was set up.  Thanks in advance!

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Moment of panic

That moment of panic when you realise there’s a problem with your website/blog. When your phone can’t connect to the server to download your emails, and the following seconds (it feels longer at the time) it takes to exit email and type your web address in to see if it’s you or the server. You know that feeling? Yeah, thought so.

I had this yesterday. No email, so check the URL. Blog not loading, showing a ‘cannot connect to server’ error. Nothing mentioned on the hosting company’s status page so fired off a support ticket. An hour later the report is all good, but it took another hour or two before DNS and networks caught up with the changes. Thanks to Reclaim Hosting for their prompt action! While it doesn’t sound much, ‘an hour or two later’, it does feel a while lot longer than that at the time. Like waiting at the doctors for an appointment, or a late running plumber, time when you need something quickly/urgently, seems to run so much slower.

And of course, it’s not as simple as this. It never is. I had a half-written postI was editing and wanted to add one more thing before publishing. Changes hand’t been saved to the server and I daren’t restart my machine or browser to see if the problem was my laptop. Arghh. A quick cut-and-paste to Word to preserve the content and I made sure I didn’t exit the browser either, just in case.

The worst instance of this was when I was waiting for my interview for the University of Leicester, in 2012, when I found my website not working and had actually been pulled from the server for violating the hosting companies rules. I spent a frantic 30 minutes exchanging emails in trying to get it back and working before the interview, by removing various plugins and promosing to do more when I had more time later that day.

Nothing causes more fear than a page or server error when you need your website most.

Image source: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Learning Thursday #10 – The Many Acronyms of Learning Technology

Learning Thursday is a blog series that features a new L&D article every other week along with discussion points.  Read and then share your own ideas by commenting below!  Check out the last Learning Thursday here.

Have you ever noticed how many acronyms there are in the learning and development industry?

You’d think we were NASA.  Every instructional design model, every teaching method, and every new flavor of learning technology has an acronym.  Why?

In two words: Marketing strategy.

Take learning technology vendors for example.  Many acronyms are used to delineate different types of learning systems, when in fact the functionality across the categories is similar.  For reference, here are some of the more prominent learning system categories.  Feel free to comment other types below this article:

It’s not easy to define which system features or traits belong in which category.  It can be difficult to tell whether a specific platform is principally a learning management system (LMS), or a learning content management system (LCMS), or something else entirely.  An LMS can easily have learning record store (LRS) features, and vice versa.  Adobe Captivate Prime is an example of “hybrid” learning technology that straddles more than one category.

Here’s a video where I discuss similarities and differences between an LMS, LCMS, and LRS:

You might ask, if there’s so much overlap between system types, why don’t we just let go of these acronyms and refer to everything as a learning technology platform?  Because there’s the need for vendors to market their platforms.  And part of marketing is differentiation – making one product seem in some way better, more innovative, or more learner centric.  Making one type of learning technology seem more desirable than another.

I was talking recently with McLean & Company, contributing to their annual learning technology report that will come out this summer.  One of their questions was, “Are learning management systems going away?”  My response was that, in time, the term learning management system may indeed be replaced with something else.  But the inherent functionality we associate with an LMS – the course catalog, reporting capabilities, and much more – are necessary for many organizations and will continue to exist.

The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter which type of system a vendor provides, or what they call it.  What matters is whether their platform does what your organization needs, whether it’s user friendly, and whether the future of the platform is aligned to your organization’s goals.

If you are in the process of selecting a learning technology platform, look past the marketing verbiage and evaluate each platform for what it truly is.

Feel free to comment and share your opinions.

Try Adobe’s learning management system, Captivate Prime, for free.  Connect with the author on Twitter or LinkedIn, and follow me on Adobe’s eLearning blog.

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How to automate elearning project operations to save time and money

What Do We Mean By eLearning Automation?

Commonly, automation stands for minimizing or eliminating human interaction in a process.

With the development of technologies, automation had an impact on every industry. We take many automated processes as a usual thing. For example, you sign-up for any software online and immediately receive welcome Email with your name included, after making a purchase the receipt is instantly sent to us. It’s a basic example of an automation process that includes email marketing and payments, but there is more in online learning.

The most common implementations of automation are quizzes generation, answers check, providing a student with immediate feedback and instantly showing results without human interaction.

The future of elearning automation is behind artificial intelligence (AI), where the learning process will be personalized to each user and the system will adapt to students performance. We have talked about it among elearning trends for 2019.

How to improve your elearning platform through automation

Authoring automation

Automation helps more effectively format and distribute content to users. For example, before starting a course, a student can take a quiz for the system to understand what areas the student is familiar with. The platform can then tweak the course modules according to the learner’s level of knowledge. Such an approach increases engagement and helps learner stay interested and move through the course quickly. Moreover, LMS can generate quizzes and exams from your assessments and create a unique learning path for each student.

If talking about corporate training, automation can save time for managers and HR departments in the way that employees are automatically enrolled into the right training modules for them.

Automated notifications and feedback

You can automate announcements of new courses and modules as they are published to save yourself time on manual sending and students benefit in staying up to date. Educators can automatically be notified with who and when have passed or failed test and immediately sent their results.

In addition, learner satisfaction surveys can be held automatically and generate reports for you.

Create a personalized learning experience

Automation of some elearning processes don’t just save time and money, it can completely transform the learner experience and make it more personalized. We have seen personalization in work on YouTube and ecommerce industry, it’s time to start implementing it in elearning.

For example, the learner fails a quiz. After that the system is triggered to send an email with some additional materials covering the topics, a student has failed on. Moreover, a user of your elearning platform can be enrolled to an additional course according to his final exam results. Students will have their own learning paths and can learn on their own pace.

Customer service and support

Modern technologies allow automating even such human tasks as support and Q&A. You can save yourself a lot of time and reduce the number of employees by creating rich FAQ page or even whole help center with search function as we have done for one of your clients.

In addition, chatbots can better customer satisfaction with an instant answer to questions.

Automated Report Delivery

It is possible to create automated report delivery and moreover, in different formats. For example, you would like to have a monthly report of your course performance in PDF format and Excel table with financial reports. In addition, they can be automatically sent to your inbox each month.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Your platform’s integration with CRM can bring your business to the next level and we are not talking about just managing your customers. By monitoring learner performance and discovering patterns, CRM can bring valuable process automation.

For instance, some of your students abandoned learning on some module, CRM can detect that and send an email to users for encouraging them to continue the course.

Customer relationship management allows to control the stages, students are on and interact with them with relevant information. This also provides students with personalized experience.

Bottom line

Elearning automation can save you time, money and create a personalized experience for your users. As a result, the performance of your course or training should increase and the learners get better results as the system optimizes for their own pace and level of knowledge.

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What does education mean to you? #EducationDay

Inspired by the tweets I’ve been reading today, and from Sheila MacNeill’s post of the same title, here is something that education and learning means to me. As with everything these days, we have the hashtag #EducationDay to use.

It must be said, or rather I must say it, that without the Internet then I would be as learned as I am. Before I became connected and before I used the Internet for collaboration I read books for pleasure, I never read a newspaper (sometimes watched news on TV), and I rarely read ‘business’ or non-fiction books (beyond an occasional biography). Becoming a Learning Technologist in 2007 opened my eyes to the power of the Internet for learning. Yes, I’d used and worked with the Internet in so much as being a web designer and working with geographically isolated communities of practice using the Internet to pull together for professional and special interest goals. But I’d not considered the Internet for online learning. Yes, perhaps I was behind the curve in this, but I’ve caught up … !

I have benefited from using the Internet to learn from others, to work with others, to collaborate and share with others. The Internet has enabled me to do things previously unknown to me and take my personal and professional development in areas and directions I know I would not have gone without it. Connections made with both individuals and institutions have taught me more than I can realistically comprehend or voice. Opportunities to find, share, connect, collaborate, curate, communicate, etc. through browsing and following online has brought me to you, and you to me.

For me, in short, my #EducationDay is a reflection on 25+ years of Internet use, where it has taken me and why. The link to the #EducationDay above (and here again) says “education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.” Yes. This. Oh yes, this. If only everyone had this chance. Which is one reason why I am trying to do a little to feed back to the learning community with me tweets, my blog posts or LinkedIn updates, and my interest and involvement a a trustee in Learn Appeal, the learning charity.

Image source: CadaverTeeth (CC BY-NC-ND-2.0)

Long road to ruin

I’ve borrowed the title for this post from Messers Grohl, Mendel, Smear, Hawkins and Shiflett … more commonly known as Foo Fighters.

Why? Well, over the 2018 festive break I’ve read more than a few reflective pieces from those in my extended network about the direction and increasingly intrusive nature of technology in our lives, and this song title leapt to mind. The ‘long road to ruin’ here is how we are ‘letting’ tech companies access and control our lives.

This control may not be actual control, however the trend for app-enabled and ‘smart’ devices like watches, fitness trackers, toothbrushes, weighing scales, light bulbs, door locks, etc. certainly is trending towards this. Whilst we are paying for the devices, sometimes with contactless payment, we are handing over the data of what we do with these devices (personal, location, health, etc.) to an organisation we know nothing about. Nor do we know what they’ll do with that data. Or who they’ll share/sell it to?

From the data we create and hand over one of these purchased devices to the data we create on free services like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, we have the illusion that we are in control, using features such as how private we keep our account, opting in or out of different settings, yet we don’t have the control we think we have. Amazon is using our browsing and purchasing habits to tailor itself to what it’s algorithms think we’ll want next. Not to mention what we ask Alexa or what we watch or listen to through your Prime membership. Whilst you can link accounts between these services, and the cross-analytics you generate there, you think you’re being clever by not doing it and preventing that kind of access/data control over you, it turns out it doesn’t matter anyway, these organisations are sharing your data/control anyway.

I now have too many devices in the home that have the ability to listen. With only one device actively set up to do this (Amazon Echo) the others all have microphones that could, if hacked or otherwise taken control of, listen without me wanting or knowing it. I hear you cry ‘if you’re that paranoid, don’t have them!’ which I’ll agree with, but I’m also a sucker for making my life easier, or access to information or family or news or games or a good deal on Lego easier. I have chosen to enable these devices and have chosen to bring them into my life. But what they do, that’s the device itself and the organisation that ends up collecting the data I create, with that data still troubles me.

Apart from these devices that collect data on what I do, where I do it, who I’m with, there are also devices and organisations that know more about me than probably I do. Devices with fingerprint or facial recognition. Companies that use voice recognition or voice-stress analysis in an attempt to root out hacking in an attempt to keep us safe, even from ourselves.

So, why a ‘long road to ruin’? Unless we have a full and very frank understanding of this data we create and precisely what is being done with it, by and with whom, then I believe we are all in for a very hard lesson to learn when it comes to light exactly what we’ve allowed to happen in the name of simplifying our lives – “we are entering the post-privacy age.”

Image source: Alan Levine (CC BY 2.0)

Learning Thursday #2: Project-Based Learning

Earlier this month, I started the Learning Thursday blog series, which features a new learning and development article every other week that has a unique perspective.  I’ll also post some discussion points for those who would like to reflect on the article.  If you’d like to participate, please follow me here on the Adobe eLearning blog and comment on this week’s article:

Krajcik, J., & Blumenfeld, P. (2006). Project-based learning. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 317–334). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

(The Google Scholar link will take you to a free PDF of the article.)

Introductory Paragraph: Any teacher or parent can tell you that many students are bored in school. But many of them tend to assume that boredom is not a problem with the best students, and that if students tried harder or learned better they wouldn’t be bored. In the 1980s and 1990s, education researchers increasingly realized that when students are bored and unengaged, they are less likely to learn (Blumenfeld et al., 1991). Studies of student experience found that almost all students are bored in school, even the ones who score well on standardized tests (Csikszentmihalyi, Rathunde, & Whalen, 1993). By about 1990, it became obvious to education researchers that the problem wasn’t the fault of the students; there was something wrong with the structure of schooling. If we could find a way to engage students in their learning, to restructure the classroom so that students would be motivated to learn, that would be a dramatic change.

After reading the article, please add a comment with your thoughts on one (or all) of these questions:

  1. Can you give an example of a project-based learning experience you’ve had?
  2. What is one topic you would like to deliver using a project-based learning approach?
  3. How can learning technology be used to support project-based learning?

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Learning Thursday #1: Mobile Technologies in Education

We’re almost to the new year, so I figure I’ll start a new blog post series.    I’m going to put out a new learning and development article every other week that has a unique perspective.  I’ll also post some discussion points for those who would like to reflect on the article.  If you’d like to participate, please follow me here on the Adobe eLearning blog and comment on our first article:

Vavoula, G., Sharples, M., Lonsdale, P., Rudman, P., & Meek, J. (2007). Learning bridges: Mobile technologies in education. Educational Technology, 47(3), 33–37. Google Scholar

(The Google Scholar link will take you to JSTOR, where you can read this article for free.)

Abstract: MyArtSpace is a service for children to spread their learning between schools and museums using mobile phones linked to a personal Web space. Using MyArtSpace as an example, the authors discuss the possibilities for mobile technology to form bridges between formal and informal learning. They also offer guidelines for designing such bridges.

Please add a comment with your thoughts on one (or both) of these questions:

  1. Have you seen a learning experience in the corporate world that is similar to the MyArtSpace experience discussed in the article?
  2. Can you think of an environment other than a museum where this sort of learning experience would be effective?

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Free Webinar: Successfully Implement Your Learning Management System (LMS)

I’m doing a free virtual session on November 29 for anyone implementing a new learning management system! Content is based on my book LMS Success. Come join our awesome, always energetic audience.

Register here: https://elearningindustry.com/webinars/successfully-implement-your-learning-management-system-lms

Here is the session description:

Congratulations! You’ve selected the perfect Learning Management System. Now what? Join Katrina Marie Baker in this 60-minute webinar for a lively discussion and some amusing war stories from past implementations.

Our agenda will cover how to:

  • Complete your implementation so smoothly that executive leadership is in awe of your project management skills.
  • Avoid common pitfalls that cause your implementation to stretch out longer than originally expected.
  • Work effectively with your LMS vendor to determine a timeline, set expectations, and get everything done on time.
  • Assemble an administrator team that is excited, knowledgeable, and well organized.

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Free Webinar: Trends In Training And Learning Management

On November 21, I’m doing a virtual session covering the biggest trends in training and learning management! Just in time for the new year. The audience is always super involved, which keeps things entertaining.

Register here: https://elearningindustry.com/webinars/training-trends-and-learning-management?utm_source=presenter&utm_campaign=adobe_webinar_nov21

Here is the session description:

Join Adobe’s Senior Learning Evangelist Katrina Marie Baker for this lively conversation about the latest trends in training & development. Based on recent studies and research, the session will explore what people are doing in organizations around the world, and how organizations can achieve great results with modern learning programs.

Katrina Marie Baker will discuss the:

  • Impetus behind creating and developing virtual universities
  • Growing demand to encourage learner immersion and ongoing engagement
  • Rise of mobile learning
  • Role of skill-based learning in business training
  • Use of gamification for learner engagement and motivation
  • Ongoing expectations of learners for video
  • Proving the value of your learning program through more relevant reporting

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