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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4 Steps to Selling Your eLearning

If you’re thinking of a career as a freelance instructional designer in elearning or instructional led training, or you’ve already made the leap to running your own ID business, you will need some sales skills. For me when I decided to go freelance, it was a return to the skills I already knew. After all, my career before training design was in retail sales. I just needed to blow the dust of these skills to become successful as a freelance instructional designer. to make things easy for you, I’ve broken the sales cycle down to a simple four-step process.

1. Building a Relationship

We’ve all got the email asking us to quote on a potential job. If you type up the quote and email it off, I promise you will never hear from 99% of these people ever again. That’s because you haven’t built a relationship with your potential client. I always set up a meeting whether it’s online or face to face to first of all discuss the potential client’s needs. Building that relationship is about many things, but an important aspect of it is trust. Think about it, do you trust an anonymous email, or do you trust someone who you’ve had a conversation with and listened to you speak.

2. Identify the Need

During that conversation, I do more listening than talking and allow the potential client to talk about their business needs. That’s right I said business needs. Companies don’t have training needs they have business needs. In fact, identifying the business goal is more important than any learning objective. For example, if Groot industries need to sell 100,000 planks in the upcoming year and they only sold 90,000 in the previous year, their business goal is to sell 10,000 more planks. Identifying the needs will mean lots of questions about the business. At first, you might think that the sales department has a performance gap in that they are not selling those 10,000 more planks. Once you do some more uncovering you might learn that the factory is not producing enough planks to cover that potential 100,000 planks. In either case, you need to ask lots of questions until you uncover the real need.

3. Demonstrate How You Can Satisfy That Need

One mistake I made in this area was in my speech patterns. I often would say things like “I think I can help you with this…” or “I’m pretty sure my training can solve your problems…”
A sales colleague of mine role played this out and he pointed it out to me. Since then I now say things like “My training solution will give you the results you’re looking for…” or “I can design an eLearning course that will address your needs and give you the results you’re after…”
Being confident in your skills and abilities will be contagious. People will also have that confidence. If you’re wishy-washy with your answers about your training solutions, they will likely hesitate.

4. Ask for the Contract

So often sale people forget to ask for the sale. Some people don’t ask for the sale because they are afraid of rejection. I think generally people want to buy things. Certainly, business managers want to get solutions to their business challenges. If you’ve done all the steps correctly up to this point, confidently ask for the sale. You can say things like “When would you like me to get started?” or “What email address can I use to send you the contract?”
You might be surprised that they will just take the next step without any objections.

If this article has helped you get started in your freelance business, I would love to hear from you. Also, if you have any other suggestions that could help others get started in freelance instructional design, feel free to put your story in the comments section below.

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What You Need to Know to Become a Freelance Instructional Designer

If you would prefer to watch this on the YouTube channel to get the live chat, here is the link: https://youtu.be/GWUcHr6PC9g

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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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Trends in Training & Learning Management (Includes Webinar Recording & Slides)

On November 21, I facilitated a discussion of major trends in learning and development.  Fun and data was had by all, thanks to our awesome audience from around the world!

If you would like to check out the full session recording, click here.  The description is below.  And here are the slides:

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 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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I’m creating an intro video to my software course and need some advice

Hi There

Captivate, and elearning in general, is new to me so I am looking for all tips possible here!

I am doing an introductory video for an online course I am developing. This video includes some animations, done in Adobe Animate (as I explain what the software package can do) and then I move onto some screen capture clips whilst I give a brief description of each lesson topic.

So I have an animation, converted to a video clip, as well as the screen captures done in Captivate, also converted to movie clips.

All these clips are put together using Premiere Pro to make the full video, and I have added the audio file that accompanies the video.

So a few questions:

  • Is this the right way to do this kind of thing?
  • What are your processes to follow for the above type content.
  • What other methods could make a video of this type easier to compile?

Any tip here are helpful, so thanks in advance.

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Science of Learning

Our Talent Management division is currently focusing on the “science of learning” topic and  several experts have given presentations about what that looks like for both the learner and the developers. By definition: Learning sciences (LS) is an interdisciplinary field that works to further scientific understanding of learning as well as to engage in the design and implementation of learning innovations, and the improvement of instructional methodologies. (wikipedia) Some of you may recall Multimedia Learning during your graduate work if not it is the study of learning to design for online learning.

What does all of this have to do with Captivate? Well, as I get more immersed in using web authoring tools like Captivate we have to keep in mind that although the learner may not know that why we design courses the way we do we are well aware of what we are trying to accomplish. Anymore, packaging the development tool with the respective LMS will give us the complete picture if the products we are developing are measuring the learners true learning capabilities. Because of the nature of my customers environment the science of learning is becoming very important for some of our topical areas.

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Top 5 Questions Answered for Content Curation in Learning and Development

With the help of facilities such as the Internet, searching for information has become easier. We get results in a matter of seconds. But, sourcing the right kind of information can be taxing and time-consuming. Organizations are on the lookout to identify the right information they need to use for employee training. To offset this challenge, content curation is one of the approaches that can be used. Implementing this approach can help learners access whatever information they need at any time they want.

There may be a lot of queries associated with the adoption of content curation for learning and development. Here are a series of top 5 questions along with answers that will help bring in some perspective as you begin to adopt content curation to support employee training.


By looking at these 5 questions and answers on the topic of adopting content curation for learning and development, organizations can gain a better understanding of what content curation is, the processes associated with content curation, tips that can help facilitate content curation exercises to support organizational training, how organizations can enhance their existing learning strategy, and the best practices that can help in multiplying the impact of content curation exercises. With this information, organizations can adopt content curation into their learning strategy to significantly improve learning at the workplace.

If you have any queries or need any specific support, do contact me at apandey@eidesign.net.

Source: https://www.eidesign.net/5-reasons-to-adopt-a-personalized-learning-plan-for-your-corporate-training/

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Using Design Thinking To Create Better Custom eLearning Solutions

Design thinking is a recent phenomenon in the world of eLearning and it is a method that combines empathy, ideation, and problem-solving of complex and undefined problems. In this article, I will discuss how design thinking can be applied to create better eLearning courses.

How To Use Design Thinking To Create Better Custom eLearning Solutions

In my previous blogs on Whole Brain Learning and Kolb’s learning styles, I talked about how we can improve the learning process by using certain strategies that are targeted to individual learning styles. From Kolb’s theories, we know two important styles that are converging and diverging. These two styles are used in Design Thinking which will be explained little later.

First, let’s understand what exactly Design thinking is.

Design Thinking-Definition

Design thinking is a method for the practical, creative resolution of problems using the strategies designers use during the process of designing.

-Visser, W. 2006, The cognitive artifacts of designing, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Design thinking has been developed from ideas and tools that are used in other domains such as computer science, psychology, and so on. Also, design thinking in learning context has been influenced by the influential work “Learning Organization” by Peter Senge.

Analytical Thinking vs. Design Thinking

Design thinking has evolved because of one problem with the traditional method of problem-solving. In the traditional analytical model, the focus is on the problem rather than the solution. There was an experiment that was conducted, where scientists and architects were given a problem with color blocks. Scientists tried to resolve the problem by coming up with various combinations. However, the architect group resolved the problem by creating a solution using the available resources. So, unlike scientists, the architects focused on the solution and did not focus on overanalyzing the given problem. Instead, they tried to synthesize the existing information and came up with a practical solution to the problem.

Same can be applied to the learning context. If we talk in terms of Bloom’s levels, analytical thinking is the fourth level of thinking which is all about using available information for a well-defined problem and solving it. An example of analytical thinking is say understanding urban groundwater problem. The geoscientists look at available information and suggest remedies to address the problem.

However, many real-life problems such as say addressing the issue of children constantly watching TV or immersing in video games requires a different kind of solution. Here the problem is more deep-rooted and is simply put a human level problem.

Here is where design thinking comes to the fore. Design thinking is about solving a problem that is not well defined and may have multiple solutions to begin with. The situation is ambiguous and fluctuating, and hence there needs to be a lot of synthesis work to understand and define the problem using a variety of clues, discussions, and brainstorming to come up with an appropriate solution that may work well.

Design Thinking Model For eLearning

Design thinking model has five parts or steps which are—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

Design Thinking Model For eLearning

When it comes to building custom eLearning courses or gamification solutions, design thinking can be quite useful, as it is iterative in structure.


Empathize is the step where Instructional Designers understand the pain points and gaps that need to be addressed. The earlier thinking was to analyze the content or audience demographics and so on, as the first step of requirement gathering and analysis. However, using the design thinking model, Instructional Designers can focus more on understanding the psychological and emotional needs of people. In other words, Instructional Designers need to understand how learners do things, why and how they think about their current situation, and what it is that they want to do to make their job meaningful.

Once Instructional Designers understand the psychological underpinnings, then they can proceed to the definition phase.


Here, Instructional Designers define what exactly the problem is that organizations and learners are facing, and how they can work on that problem.


In the ideation phase, Instructional Designers can talk to a variety of people including the SMEs, visual designers, and other stakeholders in order to come up with a variety of ideas that may lead to a solution that will work.

Sometimes, the client does not know what exactly will work. They may come up with a request to develop a level-2 course. But after understanding the psychological needs of the learners and discussing all ideas threadbare, Instructional Designers can build on those ideas and come up with an entirely different solution, such as a game.

After developing the game and seeing how it has a great impact on learners, everybody will realize that even though the time may have been spent on ideating, it was worth it. Some people may wonder why they had not come up with the concept of a game at the beginning themselves, as that would have saved a lot of time. But that’s how design thinking works.

After the ideation phase, the next 2 steps are prototyping and testing the idea. More often than not, the prototype will act as a catalyst for the subsequent phase of the project, as many issues are resolved at this phase.

Design thinking is not much different from the traditional ADDIE model; however, its strength is that there is more emphasis on the empathy and ideation part, which somehow are not much stressed in the traditional models.

A Case Study

The customer wanted to develop a level-2 course. However, after understanding and empathizing with the learners’ needs, we suggested developing a game instead. The process took some time, since there were quite a few iterations. However, the effort paid off in the end because the game had a better impact on the overall learning.

Game based eLearning sample


To conclude, in a brief write-up, I showed the core elements of design thinking that can be used to develop custom eLearning courses.

Suggested further reading:

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