5 Ways To Make The e-Learning Process Simple

How To Make The e-Learning Process Simple

  1. Keep all scenarios from being too complicated.
    If you are going to pose some kind of e-learning scenario for learners to resolve, then you need to make sure anything you want to talk about is as simple and easy to figure out as possible. If you are going to pose an e-learning scenario question for someone to resolve,there is no reason for you to add lots of background detail information to whatever you've got to ask. Just get straight to the point of whatever you want to discuss and learners will be more likely to stay motivated and willing to learn about whatever you want to discuss.
  2. Explain any new terms of concepts as they come about.
    There are many sensible concepts and terms that you might end up introducing in the e-learning process. You may get your audience to learn about new procedures, processes, terms and other ideas that you might want to talk about for a while. You need to be certain that you're helping everyone that comes around to learn about whatever you want to introduce as soon as possible. This is to keep the e-learning process from being far too complicated. You don't want to lose learners by bringing up stuff that they might not get.
  3. Keep all scenarios and concepts realistic.
    All of the bits of content that you want to introduce in the e-learning process must be grounded in realism. This can provide learners with realistic thoughts that they can use when finding ways to make their processes a little easier to understand and figure out. You must especially try and keep the scenarios that you want to introduce relevant to whatever it is you want to highlight and discuss. By doing so, you will be making it to the point where employees in the workplace are going to want to learn more about what you want to highlight and even feel a little more confident about the concepts they are learning.
  4. Be willing to challenge the understanding of your learners.
    Sometimes your learners may have assumptions that are unique, but at the same time may also be inaccurate. You need to be willing to challenge whatever it is they are thinking, so they'll pay a little more attention to whatever you have to say. More importantly, you will need to correct the learners in your e-learning program by letting them know about all the important concepts that have to be introduced. If you can introduce all the right ideas to everyone, then it will be a whole lot easier for you to get them to see just what is for real.
  5. Consider the motivations of your learners.
    Think about those who are trying to learn new things and focus on providing answers to their questions. Specifically, you have to think about why they want to learn and what you want to get out of your e-learning program. If you address the things that learners want to learn about the most, then it will be amazingly easy for you to target your learners in a way that is sensible and suitable for your desires.

Make sure you keep the e-learning process as simple and sensible as possible no matter what concepts you want to introduce. Don't ever make things difficult or else learners won't be likely to actually learn anything.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

10 Strategies To Help Online Learners Complete An Online Program

How To Help Online Learners Complete An Online Program

  1. Offer a face-to-face orientation (especially for those new to online learning).
    This approach allows instructors and learners to examine the syllabus; learn how to use technology, materials, and procedures; ask questions; and get to know their colleagues and instructor. Such orientations have proved to be an effective strategy for learner completion of online learning experiences.
  2. Offer orientation in the distance mode in which learners will participate.
    Numerous online learning programs, including EdTech Leaders Online (from Education Development Center), offer an online orientation for online learning. This is obviously a more relevant and appropriate strategy where technology literacy is high. Such online orientations allow learners to participate as much or as little as needed and focus only on areas where they need help and they are often held both synchronously and asynchronously, using video, audio, chat, and web-based platforms to provide help as needed. One teacher professional development project in which I was involved, which used videoconferencing as the main instructional mode, provided a two-hour videoconferencing orientation for teacher-learners. This orientation focused on synchronous, video-based collaboration with remote groups; participation in video-based discussions, and videoconferencing etiquette—extremely important in videoconferencing, where off-site learners are often “ignored”—within one’s local group and between remote groups.
  3. Organize learners into learning teams, cohorts, or a community.
    Online learners need access to peers. Research is quite clear that feelings of social and academic integration and being an active part of an online learning community result in higher online completion rates than learning alone or participating in self-paced study courses.
  4. Help learners develop self-study and time-management habits.
    A number of successful online learning programs do this in their orientations. In contrast, online programs with high attrition rates often do little to help online learners develop schedules, techniques for completing work, and skills needed for successful completion of an online course of study. Potential and first-time online learners should be helped to manage their time, develop a study schedule, and set up routines and procedures by which to accomplish their online work. To reduce the amount of up-front and ongoing support and guidance learners may demand of their instructors, online programs can employ a couple of strategies. First, they can work to help learners become successful online students, helping them to cultivate independent study strategies and skills. These include time management and print and electronic resources retrieval; self-study strategies, so that students are not overwhelmed by course requirements; evaluation and problem-solving skills and, where needed, enhanced reading comprehension, writing, and technology skills. Distance education programs should also follow up with teachers to make sure that they are adhering to their schedule and plan.
  5. Help learners with writing.
    Web-based learning is still a read-and-write medium. Many learners have problems with the rhetorical, grammatical, and mechanical conventions associated with writing. An online program in Indonesia, which I designed, devoted two days of its face-to-face orientation to helping online learners (teachers) develop writing skills. Learners examined the structure and characteristics of good written posts (anchors). They practiced writing online posts alone and with their coaching partner, practiced responding to discussion questions using Google Docs, provided one another with feedback, and revised their posts. Finally, learners helped to develop indicators for rubrics so that they understood the assessment criteria for their own written work. The online course also provided other opportunities for communication, such as voice tools within an online course, so that online learners who had undiagnosed disabilities or were simply poor writers could still participate in online communication.
  6. Provide some level of technology training.
    One area in which potential distance learners often do receive preparation for distance learning is technology. Many times, though, the technology instruction is both overly expansive and decontextualized from the learning experience as a whole. While potential learners need instruction in the technology they will use, it should be just enough, just in time, and job-embedded.
  7. Provide structure for online learners.
    It is important to set aside a learning space, establish dedicated times when learners can use computers or access television broadcasts, and provide live technical support and a support person who at specific times can help learners with difficulties they may have with content, directions, an assignment, or technology.
  8. Educate potential learners and instructors about the “spirit” of online learning.
    Beyond following the “letter” of online education, learners must really understand and believe in the “spirit” of online learning. They must be educated to realize that online education, particularly online learning, requires a high degree of individual and collaborative involvement. Without the discussion and collaboration that fuel the engine of online learning, learning grinds to a halt.
  9. Offer blended learning opportunities.
    Some may feel that this approach defeats the purpose of an online program; however, combining online learning with a significant portion of face-to-face assistance offers greater opportunity for successful completion of a distance education program, since blended learning offers several advantages. First, it offers personalized and individualized just-in-time teaching, learning, and support. Second, blended learning opportunities bridge the psychological, conceptual, and programmatic distances between instructor and learner, between the distance program and the learner, and between the distance program and schools. Finally, there is evidence that highly technical subjects, such as music, mathematics, and pedagogy, may simply be more difficult to learn online or via distance and thus require learning opportunities or technologies (such as videoconferencing for learning pedagogical techniques) that provide a more blended experience.
  10. Use technology to track student participation.
    Most Learning Management Systems now come with analytics and data dashboards that track an online learner’s progress, and inform both the online instructor and online learner when the latter is falling behind. It’s important to consider the robustness of the analytics of the LMS you use for your online program, recognizing that not all are equal. (While Moodle’s has improved greatly, the LMS that impresses me in terms of its analytics is Desire2Learn). Similarly, there are apps that allow students to track their own online learning progress (Florida's Virtual High School has a number of these).

You may also find valuable the article Helping Online Learners Succeed.


Burns, M. (2011). Distance learning for teacher training: modes, models and methods. Available: http://go.edc.org/07xd

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Helping Online Learners Succeed (Part 1)

Assess Students’ Readiness to be Online Learners

Many universities assume that because their students are part of the Facebook and Instagram generation, that they have the skills to be automatically successful online learners. This is a dangerous assumption as the high rates of attrition in online courses and MOOCs (as high as 90 percent in some cases) attest. Education institutions also assume that because students are eager online learners that they will understand and accept the new models of instruction and ways of working online or in blended environments. This is also dangerous assumption. Many students, though they may appear to be eager online learners, will often resist new models of teaching and learning and the increased responsibility they will need to be pushed and supported to learn differently. And many university students will take online courses because of the perception that it is easier, and they will need to be pushed and supported to work harder (especially when they see that an online course often involves more work than a face-to-face course.)

The next two posts in this series will focus on supporting online learners. The first step in this support is to diagnostically assess students’ readiness to be an online learner.

Not every learner should be an online learner. Research on successful online learners demonstrates that successful online learners are highly motivated, self-directed, and comfortable with technology and have good time-management skills. These are clearly the types of learners that online programs should attempt to reach. Many other students simply may not have the skills or disposition or desire to learn online.  These dispositions and skills can often be measured through an assessment of online readiness that looks at students’ technology fluency, ability to work alone, self-directedness, etc.

This is not to suggest that students who lack the skills to be successful online learners should be screened out of online education opportunities, since research also demonstrates that these skills can be cultivated in an online learning environment. Rather, it means that institutions must diagnostically assess a student’s readiness to participate fully in online courses via learning skills and interest inventories. In so doing, it can embark on four courses of action:

  1. Build its online program by starting with learners who have skills to do well in an online course
  2. Develop the skills of “weak” online learners by offering “mini-courses” that give learners a taste of learning in an online world
  3. Make sure to offer multiple structure and supports in online courses (such as mentors, frequent office hours, and virtual “face time”) so all types of learners can be successful.
  4. Choose learning management systems with strong analytics that allow instructors to track student progress and implement a commensurate course of interventions should students begin to fall behind.

Next month’s post will offer more suggestions on helping students successfully complete online learning programs.


Burns, M. (2011). Distance education for teacher training: Modes, models and methods, pp. 185-188. Available: http://go.edc.org

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Do the Fonts of your eLearning Course make a good first impression?

Sticks and stones break my bones … And fonts can up and hurt me.

It is easy to dismiss focus on appearance as being shallow or worse. As one who rabidly avoids spending time on appearance (my lone lipstick tube crumbled at the bottom of my bag after years of non-use), I feel a bit like a hypocrite whenever I give advice about appearance. However, the following has nothing to do with fashion or personal hygiene and everything to do with eLearning course design. As one involved with instructional support at a small college, I see many different approaches to instructional design, some good, many, well, not so good.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

The Rapid Storyboard Development Process

How To Rapidly Develop a Storyboard with Snagit

Inserting visuals into a storyboard, normally a boring manual task, can be streamlined with this process. You will learn how to move screen captures and pictures quickly and reliably into the storyboard document, eliminating the manual repetition of copy, paste, resize, and repeat. And if you need to link your visuals instead of embedding them, there's an easy way to do that, too.

Every time I do a storyboard for an e-learning project, I spend a lot of time in the “Visuals” column, defining what the finished project will look like. Since I started in the Instructional Design field as a writer, it has always been easy for me to get the outline and words right.

So, how could I make it easier to get the visuals right as well?

I’ve always respected the fine products from TechSmith, both Snagit and Camtasia Studio. And when screenshots are needed, I rely on Snagit. That’s simple and many designers do so routinely, taking screenshots from their computer screen and dropping them into the storyboard.

Recent Snagit releases have helped the tool evolve into an image management tool as well as a screen snapper. So I propose a new workflow for handling images in storyboards. It will dramatically speed your design time.

First, determine what types of images you need in your storyboard. I typically use:

  • Screenshots from any software I am teaching
  • Layouts of slides to be built in the development tool
  • “Comps” and screenshots from web images as visual placeholders, and
  • Perhaps hand-drawn sketches of layouts, scenes or artwork

Did you know you can manage all of these visuals very efficiently in Snagit? The following sections describe an automation technique in your workflow to speed things along.

Screenshots, Layouts and Comps

Here is a way to automate the process of loading screenshots, layout images and photo comps into your storyboard using Snagit 12. The automation features were added in recent Snagit releases, available for purchase or evaluation at http://www.techsmith.com. If you have any problems in the steps that follow, the Snagit help system and tutorials cover these features in depth.

  1. In Snagit Editor, add the Output Accessory for Word or PowerPoint , whichever tool you use for storyboards. Use the download feature to get new accessories (Share > Accessories Manager).
  2. In Snagit, add a new capture profile for the output accessory. Below is what mine looks like.
  3. Typical settings to send screenshots to Word automatically.Disable the Editor option to send the capture to the selected output immediately after capture.
  4. Open your storyboard file and put the cursor where the first screenshot will go.
  5. Following your outline, go through the software application, presentation or comp images and use your selected profile hotkeys to capture scenes (I use Ctrl + Shift + W for this profile).
  6. The screenshots automatically load into your storyboard as soon as you snap them! What could be easier?

Mobile Photos

Here’s a brave thought. If you need a sketch or picture in your storyboard, snap a photo with your mobile device. Most mobile phones do a pretty good job of capturing a sketch or drawing. And they are good at taking pictures. Both of these would be useful in your storyboard. Snagit and the TechSmith Fuse app make it easy to drop these images into your storyboard in a few quick steps. Don’t bother to email or message them out from the mobile device to the computer where you are writing the storyboard; Fuse handles the transfer for you. Once the image is in Snagit, it’s easy to send it to the storyboard.

  1. Install TechSmith Fuse on your mobile device (iOS or Android). See the information and tutorial video at http://www.techsmith.com/fuse.html.
  2. Using the Fuse App, take pictures of the scenes or sketches you want in the storyboard.
  3. Send them to Snagit directly from Fuse. You’ll need to have your mobile and the computer on the same network. Fuse guides you through the process.
  4. When you see the image on screen in Snagit Editor, click Sharing > Output Accessories > Word or PowerPoint.
  5. Voila! It goes right in the storyboard wherever the cursor resides.

Repeat the process to grab them all.

Accessory Options

For all types of captures processed through the Snagit Accessories, you have options for how they are handled. For example, if your Microsoft Word storyboard is already big and you want to link the images instead of embedding them, select the down-arrow menu below the accessory button. Click Options and check the Link to file option. You’ll get a Save as dialog to allow you to name it and save it before going to Word. The image and document remain linked as long as you don’t disturb folders or filenames. Better still, your Word final document file size will be much smaller.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.