Incorporating Virtual Reality Content, Tools, and Devices into Learning Solutions

Incorporating Virtual Reality Content, Tools, and Devices into Learning Solutions

The concept of virtual reality dates as far back as 1938 when Antonin Artaud, a French director, and actor, referred to theater objects and characters as “la réalité virtuelle” in his essay collection called “Le Théâtre et son double”.  The English translation of this book, published in 1958 as The Theater and its Double, is the earliest published use of the term “virtual reality” (Artaud,1958).

Using Existing Content

Think about the use of existing virtual reality content in education.  Limitless possibilities await Instructional Designers/Developers.  The opportunities are there.  Instructional Designers/Developers can create learning solutions based around exploration type content that already exists. Much of this content is available free.  Imagine designing/developing learning solutions based around exploring the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC.  Virtual museum tours already exist such as the tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. These tours can be viewed using a mobile device or computer.

Let’s dive deeper and talk about tools and devices that allow users to totally immerse themselves in a 360-degree virtual reality experience.

Designing, Developing and Deploying Virtual Reality Learning Solutions Using Adobe Captivate 2019

With Adobe Captivate 2019’s built-in interactive features designing, developing and deploying realistic virtual reality situations and scenarios is a cinch.  Adobe Captivate 2019’s virtual reality capabilities can also increase productivity by decreasing the amount of time it takes to complete a VR project.  Interactive elements such as hotspots can add to learner engagement.  For more information on how to use Adobe Captivate 2019’s virtual reality features view the article “Adobe Captivate (2019 release) and Immersive learning with VR experiences” by Pooja Jaisingh (Senior Learning Evangelist) it is a helpful and insightful resource.

Popular Virtual Reality Devices for Content Playback

There are several devices on the market today that will allow playback of virtual content.  We will touch on a couple of these devices below.

Samsung’s Gear VR with Controller

In today’s world of technology, virtual reality is most recognized with products such as Samsung’s Gear VR with Controller which has a consumer cost at around $129.99 at Samsung.  When Gear VR is paired with a Smartphone such as the Galaxy S9+, Galaxy S9, Galaxy Note8 and more, the experience is awesome.  The user is immersed in a 360-degree world.  Also, the current Gear VR model weighs 0.76 lbs (without the Smartphone).  The Samsung Gear VR with Controller has been identified as a product for playing games and viewing movies.  This tool would be great to use in an exploration type learning solution as well.  There does not seem to be an educational type of package offered in any way for the Gear VR with Controller.  Google on the other hand does, so we now will take a look at Google Cardboard.

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard is the most economical way to provide learners with that great virtual reality immersive experience.  Build your own viewer using everyday items (download the kit) or take advantage of one of Google’s certified viewers.  Just pair it with your smartphone.  Also, choose from a variety of low-cost Google viewers.  However, keep in mind that purchasing kit bundles such as Google’s Expeditions kits come at a high price.  The kits are priced according to the number of registered students. For example, at Best Buy kits range in prices between $4,750.99 and $10,499.99.  Also, there is the Google Daydream View Headset which we will not go into the details of in this article.

References and Resources:

Antonin Artaud (1958), The Theatre and its Double Trans., Mary Caroline Richards. (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1958).

Google Cardboard, Get your Cardboard. Retrieved from https://vr.google.com/cardboard/get-cardboard/

Pooja Jaisingh (2018), Adobe Captivate (2019 release) and Immersive learning with VR experiences, Published August 22, 2018.  Article retrieved from https://elearning.adobe.com/2018/08/adobe-captivate-2019-release-and-immersive-learning-with-vr-experiences/?sdid=LLVYTFD5&mv=display

Samsung, Samsung’s Gear VR with Controller, Information retrieved from https://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/virtual-reality/gear-vr/gear-vr-with-controller–galaxy-note8-edition–sm-r325nzvaxar/

Smithsonian Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Tour, Retrieved from http://naturalhistory.si.edu/VT3/

Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC, Retrieved from https://washington.org/smithsonian-institution-museums?gclid=CMPC3viYnM4CFUFbhgodZ50Bhg

Photo:

Article Photo by Bradley Hook from Pexels, Retrieved from Pexels.com at https://www.pexels.com/photo/sea-landscape-nature-sky-123318/

Wikipedia, Antonin Artaud., Article retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonin_Artaud

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Present the Perfect Design Portfolio at Your Job Interview (Video Included)

If you work in learning and development, you have an automatic advantage walking into any job interview. Why? You know how to tell a story. You tell a story every time you step in front of a class, develop an e-learning course, or work in instructional design.

A job interview is just another story. You’re telling your prospective client or employer what you’ve done in the past, keeping in mind which details are going to be most important to them. You focus on the plot points most interesting to your interviewer. And you bring a portfolio that is a visual representation of your story.

Here are some tips to help you assemble your design portfolio:

Your design samples are not the main focus of your job interview. You are. Know your background and know what kind of story you want to share. Think of your portfolio as a prop.

The secret to an amazing design portfolio is simple. Keep everything you work on. At least, anything that shows your current level of skill and reflects your true value. Each time you prepare for a job interview, sift through your design samples and decide which pieces emphasize the most relevant plot points in your story.

Learn about the organization that is interviewing you. Know their branding, the scope of the project you are being hired for, and try to understand what they most value. For example, is the project on a tight budget? Is the organization cutting edge and willing to spend extra time and money for creativity? Bring design samples to the interview that will allow you to talk about your past efficiency, or your amazing creative efforts.

Bring more design samples than you need. More samples make for a more impressive portfolio.

Organize your design portfolio so you can lay it out quickly in front of the client or employer. Here is what I use to organize everything. Spread out the samples. Take at least half of the table. Encourage your interviewer to pick items up and look them over. Let the client or employer wander through your portfolio and pick up what is most interesting to them. Tell your interviewer the story of whatever pieces they pick up. Don’t be afraid to guide the interviewer to particular pieces and explain why you feel those samples are relevant to what they hope to accomplish with you.

In the past, have you produced confidential or proprietary content? Figure out what you are legally allowed to include in your portfolio. Your design portfolio is evidence of your skills. Even if you can’t show a full course or a high quality print of a final product, show what you are allowed to show, tell the interviewer that the sample is a fragment or a low res copy if that’s the case, and still use that sample to breathe life into your story.

What if you didn’t do all of the work on a design you’re showing? Just tell the interviewer and explain your role. Sometimes I show visuals I didn’t personally design. Why? Because they’re associated with training programs or curricula I developed. I tell the prospective client or employer that I didn’t design the poster they’re holding, but it was part of XYZ Training Program I created. I’m establishing credibility by showing my interviewer proof that I really developed that training program. They’re holding a piece of it.

If you haven’t been working as a designer or developer long enough to have lots of client work, feel free to create your own samples branded in the style of a specific company. You can even create examples using the branding of the organization that is interviewing you. Just be sure to tell your interviewer that you created the samples for personal development rather than for a client, if that is the case.

I used to work in retail L&D, and they say that if you can get a customer to pick up a product, there’s a significant chance they will buy it. You can apply that concept to your design portfolio. Go to the job interview prepared to hand your work to a prospective client and tell them who you are as a designer or developer. Good luck!

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Articulate Storyline 3 – Wide Variety of Interactive Templates to Make Content Development Easier

We release the next set of Articulate Storyline ready-to-use interactive templates to help budding developers and instructional designer. Click on each image to view the template details. 01. Tab Interaction- 056 The Tab interaction template helps in presenting related contents on a single slide. This makes navigation through the contents an easy task for the…

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Articulate Storyline Interactive Quiz Templates

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How to turn the staff training to contribute in the goals of an organization?

 

Every business will have their own goals to achieve and they make every possible effort to accomplish these goals effectively and efficiently. A very common goal that we find in most of the product/ service based companies is, providing an effective on-job training to up skill the staff. The best approach to meet the training goal is to establish direct connection between business goals and training.

In this blog we will discuss how we can connect business goals with training outcomes i.e. learning objectives?

Organizations should adopt a Top-down approach to reap maximum benefits out of their training efforts. The business goals should guide to define the skill sets and knowledge it requires in workforce.

But this transition is not simple as it appears to be. Generally, the business goals are defined in broader perspective and in different parameters – something which are defined in terms of monetary, market-share, technological advancements. These are quite different than an individual’s achievements as training outcomes.

This means,

“The broader organizational goals should be converted into learnable as well as measurable individual achievements – in terms of specific knowledge and skill sets that enable an individual (a human resource) to achieve broader goals of an organization”

Turn Business Goals into Learning Objectives

Learning and Development (L & D) professionals or Instructional Designers are responsible to align aims of learning with business needs.

Step 1 – Analysis: Analyze the business needs and workforce current capabilities

The business goals may not be described in measurable terms, but they must be put-in using plain and specific terminology that describes those best.

Sample business goal areas are as follows:

  • Increasing market share to ____% in 6 months
  • Lowering production cost to ___% in 12 months
  • Increase marketing team to ____ numbers in 3 months
  • Improve customer service with not more than 10% of tolerance in failing to fix complaints on-time

Against to these business goals, check the current capabilities of the corresponding workforce. This is to identify the gap between what is the current competency and what is required to meet these goals. List down all the gaps in accordance with their priority to meet respective business goals.

Step 2 – Define: Break broader business goals into specific and measurable learning objectives

Define all the gaps using specific and measurable terms such as Bloom’s verbs. Each gap may require multiple skills and knowledge areas, so list down the learning objectives as many as required to achieve business goals fully and effectively.

For example,

Business Goal: Improve customer service with not more than 10% of tolerance in failing to fix complaints on-time

Identified Gaps:

  • Customer care executives are not completely aware of the product features that company sells.
  • Customer care executives are not able to describe product features as mentioned in product manuals.

Learning Objectives:

  • List the product features as they are in the user manual supplied with the product.
  • Explain features using the terminology used in corresponding product technical manuals.

Conclusion

In step 2, you must have noticed how the business goal is transformed into learning objectives. The effectiveness of these transformation lies on the ability of L & D professional. After we develop learning objectives, we need to evaluate them; and the best approach is to develop sample content for each objective and check whether it is relevant in achieving the corresponding business goals.

Swift eLearning Services Pvt. Ltd. is one of the best eLearning companies in India helping organizations achieve their business endeavors using our custom eLearning solutions for workforce training.

Source link: http://www.swiftelearningservices.com/how-to-turn-the-staff-training-to-contribute-in-the-goals-of-an-organization/

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Improving your (Blackboard) course

Here are a few of my initial thoughts on finding myself a Blackboard user again after a four year absence. These are based on my recent experience in picking up on courses designed by others, co-designing courses with Keypath colleagues and eight years as a Bb user and those memories of how frustrated I used to get with Bb! Think of this as a check-list for your course.

  1. Descriptions – There is no reason why a folder, file or activity does not have even a short descriptor available. It takes such a short time to write one, so do it. Give the student a reason to click the title (no, ‘click here’ does NOT count!). What is the file or folder about? What do you expect them to do with the information or activity when they click the link? Put the link contents into context of the course, unit or week subject. Give them a purpose!
  2. Naming convention – Adopt a naming convention for your files and folders, and stick to it. Ideally this should be used consistently across the whole course or programme, not just your own modules. Think about the file or folder or activity in isolation … which looks better: ‘week_1.pdf‘ or ‘Accounting1.pdf‘ or ‘MD001_Week_1_Acocunting_Introduction.pdf‘. 
  3. Dates – If you’re re-using a Bb course and have rolled it over (see, I’m getting right back into the terminology here!) then please, please please check and re-check any and all dates? This is one reason why I never liked to use dates for adaptive release on content as this would make the rollover such a massive job, with a very real scope for some adaptive release settings to be missed. Get it wrong and students won’t be able to see or use your course. Also double check the grade centre for any and all dates. If in doubt, delete previous assignments and start from scratch.
  4. Links – Check all links, and not just to see if they work. Check they go to the right website or webpage and that it is still the right page/site you need (check for errors too). If you link to other Bb or institutional pages these are also available to your new students; either they need permission or you should move/copy the page to somewhere where they can access it.
  5. Formatting – Use the textbox for formatting your text, don’t rely on formatting copied across from Word. In fact, make sure you don’t by pasting any copied text into the HTML aspect of the textbox, which will not copy and formatting, then using the formatter for all formatting. Nothing annoys me more than seeing changes or inconsistencies in font, font size, indents, bullet or lists, etc. A little bit of attention at the start can improve your course no end.
  6. Contact – Are the right details available for the academic teaching and administrative teams? Have any changed? Can you put any extra content here like the time a student should expect a response (24/48 hours?), weekend or out-of-office replies, etc.?

Improve your course with images, descriptions, videos, assessments, interactions, etc. More here
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  1. Images and graphics – Use images and graphics carefully, make sure you attribute them properly, load them to the course content collection to be sure they’ll copy across in rollover. if possible always talk with your friendly ID or LT, they’ll help either find them images or design new ones for you ;-)
  2. Video – Consider video. Whether you record your own (with or without professional support) or use one of the many that are available online (YouTube, Vimeo, TEDTalks, etc.) but be sure to check the owner and copyright status of the video. If user ‘jonny5alive‘ loaded a BBC news item then odds are it wont be available online for very long. If the video is from the legitimate BBC account, then it’s a good one to use. This is not just about copyright, it’s also about making sure the video is less likely to disappear mid way through your module and you have to scramble around trying to find an alternative. If nothing else, record a short module intro AND a short intro to each week/unit. Not only will this be something you can reuse next year, it’ll also be a way for your geographically scattered students to engage with you and build a relationship. I’ve written more about videos in learning here.
  3. Activities – Whether your module space is for purely online learning & delivery, blended learning or your campus-based students, you can still make use of the Bb course area for activities or, if not the activity itself, explanatory and help guides to help students find and partake in the activity.
  4. Assignment – As with ‘dates’ above, check and re-check all aspects of the assignment submissions, especially how and when it’s available. Check with the academic and admin teams about grades, feedback, etc.

All the above are iterative stages to creating a working, competent, consistent, relevant and engaging course/module space for the students.

Image source: Domiriel (CC BY-NC-2.0)

Section 508 and WCAG – Compliances to Increase Accessibility in Elearning

Section-508-WCAG_Compliant-eLearning

Have you ever imagined how a person with disability would access your eLearning course? May be you haven’t given a thought of designing eLearning in that perspective. But eLearning accessibility has been the industry hot topic now. And an eLearning course should be designed such that it works for everyone across the organization so that no one misses the training opportunities. In this blog, we will discuss the eLearning course accessibility challenges and corresponding compliances – Section 508 and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).

According to UNESCO, “Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights.”

eLearning courses are not completely accessible to hearing or visually impaired learners – they miss-out some or major portion of the course content. And brings the need to create eLearning courses for differently abled learners. So as a learning designer we should know the challenges that Differently Abled Learners face while accessing the content.

Elearning Course Accessibility Challenges For Differently Abled Learners

A non-compliant course will pose following challenges for differently abled learners:

  • Visually impaired students can’t identify graphic elements present on the screen
  • It is difficult for a color blind learner to recognize differences in colors
  • Cognitive impaired learners find it difficult to comprehend the logical branching of course topics
  • Hearing impaired learner may completely miss-out the course narration or sound signals

Section 508 and WCAG Compliances to Increase Accessibility in eLearning

In particular to US residents, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and for global learners, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed accessibility norms for differently abled.

Section 508 and WCAG compliances in corporate eLearning development follow learner-centered approach to ensure your course is accessible to all.

What is 508 Compliance?

Section 508 is a law from Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that states U.S. Federal agencies to develop their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

What is WCAG Compliance?

WCAG is an international standard by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that suggests guidelines for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities.

Note: Section 508 is a law in US, but WCAG is a recommendation for global learners.

Design considerations to follow while developing Section 508 or WCAG compliant courses:

  • No information should be conveyed using colors or variations in colors
  • Have fewer variations in slide layouts
  • Maintain consistency in structure, content, and other elements
  • Provide transcript for course general narration, videos and animations
  • Provide alternative text (alt text) for every non-text elements such as images, graphs, interactions
  • Provide brief descriptions about the links that take learner outside of the course such as internet / intranet
    Do not have automatic navigations
  • Allow learner to access the complete course using short-cut keys in parallel with mouse interactions

Conclusion

As Instructional Designers, we must not only consider the special needs of differently abled learners but be equipped with required expertise to develop an accessibility-compliant eLearning course that meets Section 508 and WCAG standards.

We will come-up with more on Section 508 and WCAG accessibility compliances in our next blog post. So stay tuned.

Original blog post: http://www.swiftelearningservices.com/section-508-wcag-compliances-increase-elearning-accessibility/

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Learning Technologists as Project Managers too

As I work my way through job boards and role profiles in my effort to avoid my recent redundancy and the impending doom of an empty bank account (yes, really) I have found a lot of roles being advertised with headline grabbing titles and/or impressive requirements. What I’ve also found is there is sometimes a narrowness in thinking, from both employer or agency, in that people can and should be pigeon-holed into a role because of the title. If your title is one thing (LT?) then that means you can’t be considered for a role as an ID. Yes, there are differences, but there are also similarities which can be greatly enhanced by crossing disciplines, and this cross over can benefit both individual and employer with fresh ideas, fresh perspective and fresh enthusiasm.

What I’ve also seen, and this is the reason for this post, is that Learning Technologists* (LT) are also very effective project managers. Here’s why. The quotes are taken from jobs being advertised today for project managers in engineering and finance companies:

“As a project manager it is your responsibility to deliver projects on time and in budget, by planning and organising resources and people.”

Obviously, yes. An LT is required to work with multiple teams from academic, administrative and IT perspectives. Often the estates teams can be involved if it means new kits needs installation, as well as legal and HR if contracts need signing. Not to mention what happens when you need to dig into the data the system collects, where it’s stored and the data protection (and GDPR) issues that follow. Sometimes the LT is at the heart of this making sure the work is done and everyone involved has the necessary information to hand in a timely manner.

The thing is, we LTs often don’t know about the budgets or wider timelines involved, other than start of term or assessment dates. But this doesn’t stop us working to deadlines and strategies that have defined and immovable timelines. Damn, we’re good!

“Select, lead and motivate your project team from both internal and external stakeholder organisations.”

Sometimes the ‘team’ may just be you and the academic colleague who wants to do something they’ve never done before. Sometimes you may be experienced at this task, or it’s new to you too. The stakeholders here may be other staff who need mentoring or training on something new, they could also be students who need guidance on new assessment criteria or group working parameters. Again, it’s up to you to manage, “lead and motivate”.


Unleash your inner project manager
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“Planning and setting goals, defining roles and producing schedules of tasks.”

The timeline could include a new cohort of students, the NSS survey, release of module/unit materials for online learning, scheduled meeting, fixed reports, annual budget review, etc. It doesn’t matter the actual purpose of the goal, role, or schedule of tasks, the LT is at the centre and working with others to ensure nothing slips and everything works.

“Report regularly to management and the client.”

However the report is structured it doesn’t matter if this report is verbal over a coffee, written via email or other social channel used, or a formal document presented to a board or committee, the ‘client’ will have contact from the LT on the status of the work and progress. A good/great LT and project manager will also make sure delays and timeline slippage is reported well in advance and any impacts taken into account.

“… first point of contact for any issue or discrepancy arising from within the project before the problem escalates to higher authorities.”

As above, the LT is this point of contact on any work he/she undertakes. Whether the work is consider small or ‘incidental’ or a full-on VLE review with institutional impact, the LT is fully aware of the impact to themselves and those involved.

Project management is defined as “the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives” (APM) and a project manager is “typically to offer a product, change a process or to solve a problem in order to benefit the organization” (Project Insight).

Working on implementing a new VLE or LMS for your department or institution? Chances are you’ll be working with a dedicated project manager or someone who’s acting in that role. Initiating some training on new tools or design or assessment criteria or rules around lecture capture … chances are you’ll again need to plan ahead for delivery of the training, resources to support it, room bookings or webinar time/space. See … you’ll need to employ project management techniques to make sure it happens when you want it to, how you want it, and where you want it.

Sounds familiar? It sounds like work I’ve engaged in for years now. I just didn’t know I could add ‘project manager’ to my list of skills too!

* Note: When I say Learning Technologists, I also mean Educational / Instructional Designers too.

If you’re interested, I’ve found this series of 15 journals (free download) from Product Focus, really useful introduction to project and product management. You’ll have to read your own skill and projects into the words, but it’s all there if you want it.

Image source: Judith Doyle (CC BY-ND-2.0)

Change the title, change the work?

Have I had it wrong all these years … is not been about me being a Learning Technologist (LT), I’ve actually been an Instructional Designer (ID) instead? Bear with me here …

I’ve been looking at opportunities on job boards (more on this another time) and have been looking at the requirements and roles for Instructional Designers. There are more of these around that LT or senior LT roles. Based on the role profile and job description, it got me thinking; “Well, that’s what I’ve been doing isn’t it?” Here are some of the descriptors and requirements that are asked for on an ID position, and how this mirrors the work I’ve been doing as an LT

“This role will be creating high quality new learning programmes for [name here], being the designer of the blended, engaging and interactive learning programmes to address specific business needs.”

“Creative, direct and concise. Good with technology. Great communicator, especially with clients.”

“Analyse base content and current study materials to identify the best way to present the content online.”

“Consider the range of instructional media available: video (face to face, voice-over PowerPoint), interactions and questions to recommend the most suitable for each instructional need.”

All the above have come from current ID roles being advertised. All this is precisely what most LTs I know are doing, and what I’ve done many times before too, yet you can be compartmentalised into a role by title, not by merit?

Let’s contrast this with similar descriptors from LT roles currently being advertised …

“Design and Development of e-learning content.”

“Undertake a range of activities to advocate for digital learning and its associated technologies.”

“The LT is expected to work proactively to identify potential resources for the [name here] and to plan and manage the development of varied e-learning material, including video, webinars, self-paced interactive resources, and [VLE here] activities.”

“Provide leadership and support for the development of innovative and effective teaching and learning practices using information technology.”


Learning Technologist or Instructional Designer ... or both? #edtech
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Do you see the similarities here? The only difference is that the ID role requirements are for commercial/corporate employers, and the LT ones for universities. Same role, often similar responsibilities and management duties (team and self), but different ‘sectors’. Of course, there are many differences in the roles that mean there are clear distinctions that warrant the different titles, and that’s fine – LTs may be more limited in scope in what and how they deal with, LTs may look after a tool (VLE, lecture capture, etc.) rather than a department or programme or academic group, etc..

But, for myself and those LTs I know and have worked with, we are much much more than this. We engage, advise, collaborate, curate, anticipate, lead, mentor, showcase, develop, design, implement, consult, etc. All these things are appropriate terms for both LT and ID roles. Yes? Perhaps it’s more to do with context … in my more recent roles and work I am so much more than an LT … I am now manager of an entire organisation’s learning platform, how it works, why it works and who it works for (internal and external). I ‘manage’ all aspects of the relationships between organisational parties with interest in the training as well as all external stakeholders, whether they are course participants or suppliers or accrediting bodies or potential clients.

According to the definitions in the ID role profiles above I have a more ID background and approach than LT, and have been since my 1st day in an LT-titled role, since I learned about my craft and stopped blindly following convention of the (enforced) VLE module structure and thought about making the learning more engaging and inclusive. It’s not about using the tools provided, it’s not even about finding new tools, it’s about using appropriate tools at an appropriate time for an appropriate motive to further the learning opportunities.


ID or LT? It's about using appropriate tools at an appropriate time for an appropriate motive to further the learning opportunities #edtech
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So, are you an Instructional Designer or a Learning Technologist. Does the title/name given to your role even matter? Perhaps the difference here is time … what was once two distinct roles have now merged in outlook and intention and can be seen as the same, depending on which title the organisation prefers?

Image source: Olle & Agen (CC BY-SA 2.0)