Traditional Learning Vs. Online Learning

The article talks about the differences between classroom/traditional learning vs. online learning. Even today there is a vast number of people who are hesitant to try out unconventional learning methods. In this article, we try to investigate the differences between the two.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Benefits And Limitations Of Web Conferencing For Synchronous Learning

A Learning Management System can strengthen web-based training with social tools that ensure the learning doesn't stop when the webinar is over. Here are the benefits (and some limitations) of web conferencing for synchronous learning.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Leadership In Online Classrooms: In eLearning, Everyone Is A Leader

It is important for both students and teachers to develop and practice leadership in online classrooms to make eLearning environments rewarding and effective. This article will consider some of the key ways this can be achieved.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Top 6 Open Source Web Conferencing Software Tools For eLearning Professionals

Staying in touch with your eLearning team and hosting winning webinars can be a costly endeavor, especially for Instructional Design professionals who work remotely and hold frequent events. In this article, I’ll highlight the best open source web conferencing software options that are flexible and free.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Top 10 Web Conferencing Software Tools For eLearning Professionals

Top Web Conferencing Software Tools eLearning Professionals Should Know

Collaborating with eLearning team members, offering live training events, and enabling online learners to reach out to their peers are just a few of the many uses for web conferencing software. However, due to the sheer abundance of web conferencing software tools that are available today, finding the one that suits your needs and fits your eLearning budget can be challenging. Just to make the process less time consuming and stressful, below you will find a list of the best 10 web conferencing software you may want to consider.

  1. AnyMeeting
    AnyMeeting is the go-to web conferencing and webinar tool for small organizations, thanks to the fact that it is an all-in-one platform which features everything from video and phone conferencing support to webinar hosting. It’s been around since 2011, and has quickly become one of the most popular options available, boasting over 800,000 registered hosts. You can sign up a free trial and pay just $18 for small group meetings after that.
  2. Onstream Meetings
    Onstream Meetings is great for eLearning professionals who want a more personalized web conferencing platform, as it allows you to customize every aspect of your web conference screen. Its interface is easy to use and they offer a wide range of plans that are just right for organizations of any size. Some of its standout features include: real-time reports, mobile apps, and on-the-spot meetings.
  3. Zoho Meeting
    Zoho is a user-friendly web conferencing software tool gives you the power to hold virtual meetings and host live webinars in a matter of minutes. You can even embed the web conferencing platform directly into your eLearning blog or website, which can significantly boost attendance rates. It’s also a great tool for eLearning professionals who wish to offer online support to their online learners without having to rely on other instant messaging platforms.
  4. InterCall
    InterCall offers both audio and video conferencing support, and it is compatible with a variety of different secondary platforms, including: Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Live Meeting, and Microsoft Lync. Their plans start at $25 per month, which covers up to 10 participants, making it one of the most affordable web conferencing options online today.
  5. ClickMeeting
    ClickMeeting features a user-friendly interface and a great price point. You can sign up for a free trial without even entering any payment information, then choose from one of their many packages after that. Their basic package starts at just $30 per month, which is a bit more than other options, but that covers up to 25 attendees. If you plan on hosting large scale webinars, you can opt for their $280 per month package, which covers up to 1,000 users. Their 30-day trial can support up to three presenters, five participants, and two hours of recording time.
    If one word could sum up it would be “modern”. Their interface is sleek and streamlined, making it easy to host events without having to shift through a variety of different functions and buttons. Best of all… it’s free to try! For the Pro plan, they offer a 14-day trial that does not require any payment information. Another perk is their whiteboard integration, which is available via an iPad application.
  7. Adobe Connect
    Adobe Connect is another web conferencing tool that excels when it comes to personalization. In fact, you can fully customize your meeting space to reflect your brand image. However, you need to use a VoIP or other third-party service for the audio components. You don’t need to provide any payment information to take advantage of their free 30-day trial, and after that there are various plans, starting at $45 per month depending on your corporate needs. Adobe Connect also provides for both mobile and computer access to the virtual events, as well as a customized URL, storage, and recording. You can even edit your recordings directly in the tool.
  8. Cisco WebEx Meeting Center
    The WebEx Meeting Center from Cisco stands out from the crowd for two very important reasons. First of all, it boasts an impressive array of features. Secondly, it’s free! If you do want to give their premium plan a try, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial that gives you access to all of the upgrades. However, the free plan is even top notch. It includes: a host license, VoIP audio connection, document and screen sharing, whiteboard integration, SD video, and 250MB of storage on the Cloud. If you want to take advantage of the premium free trial, you’ll get to host up to 25 attendees, HD video quality, and dial-in number support.
  9. Citrix GoToMeeting
    Citrix GoToMeeting is one of the most intuitive and user-friendly platforms available.  Citrix offers a free version that includes up to 3 participants. However, you can also sign up for a free 30-day trial to get upgraded features. One of the most notable highlights of GoToMeeting is that it offers a 60-day refund policy, just in case you’re are dissatisfied with the platform.
  10. eVoice
    eVoice is a great tool for eLearning professionals who need VoIP in combination with video conferencing. It features toll-free dial-in numbers to boost your professional image, screen sharing which supports up to 2,000 users, and a free trial so that you can try out all of its features. The only downside is that they don’t offer whiteboard integration.

Many of the top web conferencing software tools offer a free trial that allows you to try before you buy. So, take advantage of this opportunity and see which platform best suits your needs and your eLearning budget. This can help you avoid a great deal of trial and error in the long run.

Want to learn more about differentiated pricing factors of different video conferencing systems? Read the article The Insider's Guide To Video Conferencing Pricing Models to discover the video conferencing pricing structures that are available today.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Top 7 Benefits Of Web Conferencing Software For eLearning Professionals

Web Conferencing Software: 7 Top Benefits For eLearning Professionals

While text messages and emails are now the preferred methods of communication, people still rely on face-to-face chats and more personal ways to stay in touch. This can be difficult if your eLearning team is distributed and your audience is all over the map, however. This is where web conferencing software comes into play. With the click of a button you can collaborate, host webinars, and communicate with clients from around the world.

  1. Reduces training costs.
    Gone are the days when you had to pay for on-site instructors. Web conferencing software gives you the opportunity to host webinars, online training events, and business meetings without having to cover travel and accommodation expenses. In addition to the expense of printed training materials, you can also avoid site rental fees, as the online training session can be carried out anywhere as long as there is internet access. This is ideal for a distributed workforce, as every member can stay right where they are and still have access to the online training program. Most web conferencing software vendors have a limited number of participants. As such, you will want to be sure that you choose an option that accommodates your maximum number of online learners.
  2. Improves team collaboration.
    Your online learners can meet-up to discuss important business decisions or even work on projects via the web conferencing platform. Many solutions even offer virtual training classrooms and online scheduling tools, which makes them ideal for online collaboration. In fact, you can even hold impromptu online meetings if online learners need to quickly address a concern or chat with their virtual classmates about a specific task or online assignment. If the web conferencing tool does not have built-in document sharing, you can always pair it with a free project management platform to create an all-in-one solution.
  3. Provides a flexible support solution.
    This benefit is actually two-fold. Not only can you offer your online members personal support, but you can also take advantage of a flexible support system for differentiated online training. For example, struggling corporate learners can schedule a web conferencing appointment with their online training facilitators to ask questions and receive the individualized help they need to succeed. Some web conferencing tools even have integrated screen sharing features that allow support staff to remedy issues remotely. Before signing up for any web conferencing tool, ensure that it offers the support services that you need based on the intended use. For instance, features that are ideal for team collaboration may not be as useful for online learner support.
  4. Streamlines the client review process.
    Before web conferencing software, eLearning professionals had to schedule a meeting with the client, potentially rent a meeting space, and print all of the necessary materials. With web conferencing tools, however, eLearning professionals can meet with their clients in virtual meeting spaces and share their ideas within a fraction of the time. There are no travel and hotel expenses, and you have the ability to work around the client’s schedule. In fact, you can reach out to them all throughout the eLearning design and development process to make sure that you are all on the same page. This can also reduce revisions at the end of the eLearning project, as you can double check with them along the way and gather their eLearning feedback.
  5. Allows eLearning professionals to host interactive webinars and online training events.
    Web conferencing software can give you the power to host interactive and engaging webinars for your audience. Many even have online registration, scheduling, and analytics to monitor the turn out. If you are going to use the web conferencing tool primarily for webinars and online training courses, it’s important to find an online platform that can accommodate live virtual crowds. For example, a web conferencing tool that can only support up to 10 users at once may not be ideal if you plan on inviting 100 participants to your next online training event.
  6. Improves social learning experiences.
    Web conferencing tools are not just for eLearning course development. They can also be used by your online learners to collaborate with their peers and share their personal experiences and insights. As a matter of fact, you can integrate web conferencing into your online course design to offer your audience social learning experiences that are more interactive and engaging. This is ideal for asynchronous online training courses where online learners may feel distanced emotionally from the eLearning experience, as it allows them to interact with others and work on online projects remotely. In many ways, web conferencing tools can help you develop a stronger eLearning community. Online learners can gather virtually and ask questions, address concerns, and broaden their understanding of the subject matter.
  7. Removes geographical limitations.
    Without a doubt, one of the most significant advantages of web conferencing is the removal of geographical limitations. No matter where your eLearning team members are located, they can stay connected to their colleagues and work together to create amazing online deliverables. Likewise, online learners have the ability to reach out to their peers and online course facilitators in order to get the most out of the online course. Even online learners who live in remote regions of the world now have access to an immersive and enlightening eLearning experience.

Web conferencing software offers you the ability to interact with your eLearning and Development team, as well as your online learners. To reap all of these rewards, however, it is important to find the web conferencing tool that is ideally suited to your needs. Read reviews, ask for a demo, and research all of your options to avoid unnecessary trial and error.

Take the time and stress out of finding your next web conferencing tool by reading the article Top 10 Video Conferencing Systems For eLearning Professionals, which features the top video conferencing tools that every eLearning professional should know about.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Synchronous Learning Advantages And Disadvantages In Corporate Training

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Synchronous Learning In Corporate Training

Synchronous Learning has changed everything in the corporate online training environment. Synchronous interaction eliminates the isolation that asynchronous online training involves, as it promotes collaboration and fosters a sense of community. Especially in the corporate world, where effective team work among distributed workforce is considered of especially high value, synchronous learning can help eLearning professionals develop significantly engaging online training courses. But are there any hidden drawbacks to this practice? In this article, I'll share 10 advantages and disadvantages of synchronous learning in order to help you decide whether you should implement it and integrate it into your corporate online training strategy.

5 Synchronous Learning Advantages

  1. It is cost effective.
    You do want the best for your employees, don’t you? Imagine having the chance to provide them with knowledge from the best experts from around the world for their training, without paying the accommodation and travel expenses that traditional corporate training involves. Your employees can take their online training courses at home or at their offices while connecting not only with the most reputable trainers, but also with their colleagues who live in different cities or even different countries without having to move. The only costs you need to have in mind are those related to the development of the eLearning course, as well as the trainer fees.
  2. It is convenient.
    Taking an online training course without having to be in the same location with the rest of your peers, regardless of their position on the world map, provides a great level of flexibility, especially for large organizations that have a globally distributed workforce. Apart from videoconferencing, your employees are given the opportunity to participate in online discussions from any location, as long as they have an internet connection. As physical barriers of distance are eliminated, your staff may use any device for their online training, from desktop computers to mobile phones and tablets.
  3. Provides immediate feedback.
    Real-time interaction means instant feedback, and instant feedback allows not only your employees to immediately get their questions answered, but also trainers and instructors to immediately recognize difficulties in understanding of the online course material. Rapid feedback has an incredibly important role in eLearning; it enhances knowledge retention by keeping your audience active in the learning process, as a quick response allows your audience to learn from their mistakes and to eliminate the chances of repeating them in the future.
  4. It is highly motivating.
    A synchronous learning environment enhances learning by increasing your corporate audience's motivation levels, as real-time interactions are much more engaging than the isolated environment of asynchronous learning. Using performance goals in real-time activities is a great way to inspire your employees to demonstrate and develop their skills and abilities while competing with each other in engaging team player eLearning games. Real-time activities provide ongoing motivation, as they encourage participation from all employees, even the most reticent ones.
  5. Fosters a sense of community.
    Social interaction and collaboration are the essence of synchronous learning, as your employees have the ability to communicate not only with their trainers and instructors, but also with each other, no matter where they are located. Organizing a series of online group activities encourages team work and cooperation, as online discussions allow your audience to develop their learning community in online forums or in social networks and exchange ideas, questions, and concerns about the eLearning course material.

5 Synchronous Learning Disadvantages

  1. It is strictly technology-based.
    This goes, of course, for online learning in general; however, the truth is there are several large organizations, the employees of which may still lack sufficient computer skills in order to get their training online. This means that these people might struggle to engage in a synchronous online training program. Lack of technical knowledge, poor computer skills, and inability to handle the various technologies involved in synchronous learning may tremendously frustrate and discourage online learners, so high dropout rates might be expected.
  2. Demands a high speed internet connection.
    It is true that synchronous learning requires a good bandwidth, and this could be an issue when online training for distributed workforce is involved. Trying to synchronize several different areas in the world via collaborative learning technologies can be challenging, but different bandwidth capabilities may create serious problems.
  3. Local time barriers.
    Synchronous learning eliminates barriers of distance, but what about barriers of time? Different time zones can create communication challenges, as a synchronous learning course requires from both employees and trainers to be online at the same time. Distributed workforce has conflicting work schedules, and sometimes not even technology is able to facilitate real-time interactions.
  4. Requires careful planning.
    Speaking of conflicting schedules, as a consequence of the above disadvantage comes the challenging planning process that synchronous learning requires. Coordination of schedules is absolutely necessary, but sometimes not possible. To ensure full participation to an asynchronous learning course you need to carefully plan your online meetings; however, different time zones can lead to very limited time frames, which naturally weaken both the training group’s identity and the virtual community’s interpersonal bonds.
  5. It is challenging for employees with poor social skills.
    Studying at one’s own pace creates a sense of isolation, but some of your employees might crave this exact sense. A synchronous learning experience demands active participation and collaboration, and some members of your workforce might not be as social, as open, or as communicative. This is not a wrong thing by default; after all, you don’t need all of your employees to have strong communication skills, only the ones that are expected to work closely with others or to connect with customers. However, in a synchronous learning environment the “quieter” employees may find it challenging to participate in online discussions or online group activities, and learner frustration is never welcome in a successful online training program.

Now that you know all the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous learning, you may be interested in knowing more about how you can implement it in combination with asynchronous learning techniques and instructor-led classes. Read the article Tips To Use Blended Learning In Corporate Training and learn about the various blended learning models and how to utilize them in your next blended learning course.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Top 10 Video Conferencing Systems For eLearning Professionals

Top Video Conferencing Systems eLearning Professionals Should Know About

On occasions when face-to-face communication is essential, but in-person meetings are out of the question, video conferencing systems are a valuable asset. The challenge is to find the best video conferencing system for your specific eLearning needs and budget, especially when there are so many options available. Here are the top 10 video conferencing systems that every eLearning professional should know about.

  1. Google Hangouts
    Google Hangouts offers a free version that is one of the top video conferencing systems available today. However, if you plan on including more than 20 people in your chat, then you may want to consider their upgraded subscription. Hangouts Pro is just at $9 a month and can accommodate up to 50 users at once. It also boasts other great features, such as email reminders, so that you can boost your attendance rates. 
  2. ClickMeeting
    If you’re looking for a video conferencing system that allows you to brand your virtual meeting space and waiting room, as well as hold moderated Q&A sessions and private chats, then ClickMeeting should be at the top of your list. They offer a 30-day free trial, and plans start at just $30 per month after that.
  3. Citrix GoToMeeting
    This video conferencing system is packed with features, ranging from meeting scheduling and easy-to-create invitations to participant identification and built-in screen sharing capabilities. It is $24 per month up to 5 attendees simultaneously, or $39 per month up to 25. The convenient invitation links are a big plus, as attendees can simply click on the hyperlink to access the chat on any device.
  4. Adobe Connect
    Adobe Connect offers a user-friendly interface and boasts a wide range of features such as breakout rooms, private chats, and slide sharing. You can even carry out polls throughout the eLearning course of your virtual meeting to get immediate feedback, or share documents to work on online projects collaboratively with your team members. Their subscriptions start at $45 per month. They also offer Adobe Connect Webinars for $1250 a year and Adobe Connect Learning for $3500 per year.
  5. Skype Premium
    Skype is one of the most popular free chat tools. However, they also have a paid version, Skype Premium, which is $9.99 per month. Their Premium option features group calls that can accommodate up to 10 users, as well as a screen sharing tool that boosts its collaboration factor. If you already use Skype for one-on-one online meetings and want to add more participants into the mix, then Skype Premium is the natural choice. The low price point also makes it ideal for small businesses or eLearning development teams.
  6. eVoice
    From conference calling to call routing, eVoice provides a wide selection of features that make it a great video conferencing system for eLearning professionals who need an all-in-one solution. Their plans start at $29.99 per month, which includes 1000 minutes of calling and 5 extensions, as well as 15 phone numbers. Their basic packages only cover voice, but their premium subscriptions include video and web conferencing. If you want to convey a more professional image, but simply don’t have the budget to set up a physical office, eVoice is definitely worth considering.
  7. Cisco WebEx
    The free version of WebEx only includes voice calling, but their Premium package features voice conferencing that supports up to 8 users simultaneously. It is $24 per month or $228 annually, and boasts screen sharing tools, document sharing, and a whiteboard where every member of your team or audience can jot down their opinions and ideas. Cisco also offers an Event Center where you can host webinars, and a Training Center that allows you to conduct online training.
  8. Join.Me
    According to their website, 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Join.Me, which comes as no surprise thanks to their user-friendly platform and quick setup process. You just download it onto your computer and start your first meeting in a matter of minutes. They offer a 14-day trial for all of their plans, but also have a free option that features VoIP conferencing. After the trail is over, you can carry on with the plan for just $19.99 per month, which covers phone numbers and video conferencing system.
  9. StartMeeting
    This option is ideally suited for webinars and online presentations, as you can host up to 1,000 users at a time. They also offer a 30-day free trial that gives you the chance to try before you buy. After that, it is $19.95 per month. However, if you want to add in video support, StartMeeting must be paired with a variety of other video conferencing systems, such as Adobe Connect, to add in the video support.
  10. Yugma
    Yugma offers a free version that allows for up to 2 participants and limits the virtual meetings to an hour. They also have 6 different paid plans that start at $24.50 per year. The platform features screen sharing, audio conferencing, private chats, Skype support, and whiteboards that streamline collaboration with your team. You can also poll your audience during the meeting and add annotations.

Reach out to team members and boost the collaboration of your online course by using these video conferencing systems in your eLearning strategy. If the platform offers a free trial, then take the opportunity to try out the features and functions to ensure that it’s a good fit for your eLearning needs.

Want to learn more about differentiated pricing factors of different video conferencing systems? Read the article The Insider's Guide To Video Conferencing Pricing Models to discover the video conferencing pricing structures that are available today.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning: Can You Tell the Difference?

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning: How To Integrate Them Into Your eLearning Course Design

Synchronous learning happens in real time. The learners typically log on to an eLearning platform, such as a web conferencing or webinar tool, and engage with the instructor and peers. This can even come in the form of an online chat room where learners gather at a specific time and date to broaden their understanding of the topic. It is an ideal option for distracted or unmotivated learners who need a more collaborative online experience, as well as self-guided learners who require a higher level of support or direction.

This is the exact opposite of asynchronous learning, which can occur at any time. Learners are able to complete modules whenever they like, regardless of whether other members of the online class are logged on. They are given the tools and information they need, but must decide when and how they will use these online resources to achieve their learning goals. With that being said, there are usually deadlines and schedules that a learner must follow. For example, they may have to turn in their online assignments by the end of each month or have to participate in at least one online discussion per week. Asynchronous learning courses often have a common space where learners can post questions, turn in online assignments, or engage in eLearning activities.

4 Tips For Designing A Successful Asynchronous Learning Strategy

  1. Variety is key.
    Integrating a wide range of online activities and exercises not only avoids dreaded learner boredom, but it also caters to a broad range of learning preferences and styles. For example, offering a text-only online course might exclude learners who prefer to learn via eLearning videos and simulations. This is why it’s essential to include a good mix of learning materials into your asynchronous learning strategy. Bear in mind that self-guided learners are more likely to disengage from the eLearning experience if the online course fails to grab and hold their interest.
  2. Develop a solid support structure.
    One of the downfalls of asynchronous learning is that it lacks face-to-face instruction. As such, you must have a solid support system in place to assist those who need additional help with the subject matter, or even the learning management system. If they encounter a glitch or cannot log in to the eLearning platform, they should always have a way to get in touch with someone who can offer assistance.
  3. Create a collaborative online community.
    Self-guided learners who are participating in asynchronous learning experiences run the risk of feeling isolated. They are not engaging in real-time discussions on a regular basis. Thus, they are not able to collaborate with their peers and benefit from their experience as often. To alleviate this, consider building an online community, such as a forum or blog, where learners can meet and share their ideas, concerns, and questions. You might even want to think about developing online exercises that require learners to team up, via web-based project management platforms, to complete the online assignment or solve a common challenge.
  4. Make it easily digestible.
    Your asynchronous learners are probably going to be accessing learning materials on-the-go. Therefore, you need to make the modules bite-sized, so that they can get the info they need as quickly as possible. This also gives them the ability to pause once they’ve completed a module and then pick up where they left off at a later time. Digestible learning materials help to avoid cognitive overload, as well, which is always a plus. Be sure to include a course map that allows learners to track their progress and quickly view which module is up next.

3 Tips For Designing A Successful Synchronous Learning Strategy

  1. Set the tone.
    The key to an effective synchronous learning course is creating the ideal learning environment. Since your learners are going to be participating in a real time discussion or online presentation, you need to have their full attention; this means removing all distractions from the room when they are accessing the eLearning course, and setting aside enough time in their schedule to sit in for the entire online discussion. Make them aware of the expectations well in advance so that they know how to prepare for the event.
  2. Don’t overload learners with text.
    Only include text for the key takeaways of the online presentation. Don’t overload their mental processes by writing out your eLearning script word for word on the screen, or giving them text passages for each story that you share. The only exception to this rule is, of course, when you have hearing impaired learners in your audience. If this is the case, then you may want to consider adding optional subtitles that can be turned on or off during the event.
  3. Create a flexible schedule.
    Unlike asynchronous learning, synchronous learning courses typically stick to a schedule. However, this doesn’t mean that learners should have to put their lives on hold in order to participate in a virtual discussion. Try to make the schedule as flexible as possible, and record your online events so that absent learners can still get the information they need at a later time. Before you begin the eLearning course, conduct a survey to figure out the best days and times for your learners, so that you can create a schedule that works for them. Also, keep their busy personal and professional lives in mind when creating the deadlines for online assignments and eLearning assessments.

To determine which approach is right for your learning goals and objectives, as well as your audience, conduct surveys, focus groups, and needs evaluation analysis before you begin developing your curriculum. If you’re still on the fence about whether an asynchronous or synchronous strategy is ideal for your learners, you may want to think about utilizing a blended learning approach that offers the best of both worlds.

Looking for an affordable way to reach out to online learners and boost peer-to-peer collaboration? Read the article 6 Tips To Use Google Hangouts For Synchronous Learning to discover how you can use FREE Google Hangouts in your synchronous learning strategy.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.