Divergent Thinking In eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know

What is Divergent Thinking?

Divergent thinking is a problem solving approach wherein learners are encouraged to consider a variety of different solutions, rather than just providing them with a limited number of conclusions. By doing this, learners have the opportunity to analyze a myriad of solutions and strategies to find out which one will work best for the particular problem or challenge.

At its core, divergent thinking is all about using creative, analytical, and lateral thinking skills to arrive at a viable answer. According to Hudson (1967), divergent thinking learners are able to elaborate upon ideas and concepts when a stimulus is provided, which allows them to open their minds up to a number of different possibilities and outcomes. Applied to eLearning, this not only helps them to more effectively solve problem autonomously in the virtual classroom, but also in the real world. In this article, I’ll share 4 best practices and 5 tips for integrating divergent thinking into your next eLearning course.

4 Best Practices For Applying Divergent Thinking In eLearning

To create an eLearning environment that encourages creative problem solving, keep the following divergent thinking best practices in mind:

  1. Observation comes before feedback.
    Constructive criticism, praise, and all other forms of feedback should only come after observing the learner and their thinking processes.
  2. Every idea counts.
    No matter whether the idea seems completely random or off-topic, it still holds value in a divergent thinking learning environment. Encourage learners to gather as many ideas as possible throughout the problem-solving process.
  3. Encourage differing opinions.
    Every learner is going to have their own opinion, and that’s the beauty of divergent thinking. Encourage all members of your audience to share their experience, insights, and opinions in order to view the problem from multiple perspectives.
  4. Combine unique ideas.
    In some cases there may be multiple different solutions to a single problem. Divergent thinking is all about collaborating, sharing, and combining unique ideas to arrive at a creative solution that works. One idea might even lead to another, which leads to another, and so on, until the problem is resolved.

5 Tips To Use Divergent Thinking In eLearning

  1. Turn the tables on your learners.
    Rather than presenting your learners with a question, why not take their creativity a step further by encouraging them to come up with their own problems to solve. This gives them the opportunity to solve real world issues and challenges they may encounter on a daily basis, while sharpening their lateral thinking skills.
  2. Foster a divergent thinking online community.
    If you want your learners to broaden their thinking horizons and share every idea that comes to mind, they must feel supported. They simply won’t be willing to provide input if they feel as though they will be judged or criticized for their opinions. For this very reason, it’s important to cultivate a divergent thinking environment where learners feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experience with their peers. Let them know that they divergent thinking is not only welcomed, but a necessary part of the learning process.
  3. Hold frequent brainstorming sessions.
    Throughout the duration of the eLearning course hold brainstorming sessions that center on the subject matter. Incorporate a brainstorming session into a group collaboration exercise, or ask your learners to brainstorm before they begin a self-guided assignment. Firstly, however, you will want to set up the ground rules of the brainstorming session. Ask your learners to begin by analyzing the problem at-hand for a few moments and clearly stating what needs to be resolved. Also, encourage them to respect the ideas and thoughts of others by giving everyone the opportunity to speak.
  4. Challenge the status quo.
    This tip is actually two-fold. Not only should you challenge commonly accepted ideas, but you should also encourage your learners to challenge the ideas of their peers in a respectful manner. Prompt your learners to question the status quo by asking them to examine why a task or problem is approached in a particular way, and why this approach is often the most popular. If learners have ideas that conflict, encourage them to explain further why their idea is better and how they believe it will solve the problem. You can also spark the discussion yourself, by adding a shocking or contradictory statement that prompts your learners to question “the norm”.
  5. Make the most of mistakes.
    Mistakes can be powerful instruments of learning, if we know how to use them effectively. Encourage your learners to reflect upon mistakes they make during the learning process, as well as solutions that led to undesirable or unexpected outcomes. Let them know that it’s perfectly acceptable to take risks, as long as they know how to make the most out of the mistakes that may result from those risks.

Use divergent thinking to your advantage by using these best practices and tips when creating your eLearning course. By encouraging your learners to think outside the box and consider multiple different solutions to the problem, you are equipping them with the skills they need to tackle any task in and out of the virtual learning environment.

Divergent thinking goes hand-in-hand with creative thinking. If you’d like to learn how to use creativity to your advantage when designing your next eLearning course, the article 7 Tips To Use Learners' Creativity In eLearning features 7 tips that will help you develop a compelling creativity-driven eLearning experience.

References:

  • Hudson, L. (1967), Contrary Imaginations; a psychological study of the English Schoolboy Harmondsworth: Penguin

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

14 Things That Your Learning Management System Doesn’t Do (But TalentLMS Does)

What Your Learning Management System Doesn't Do (But TalentLMS Does)

eLearning is a very competitive industry. Vendors compete on features, performance, ease of use, stability, extensibility, support, pricing, and lots of other things.

That’s part of what keeps us motivated to work on new TalentLMS features, enhancements, and updates (like the recent update about TalentLMS in Cloud that we've released mid-May). And, judging from the results, we are probably doing a few things right.

Besides the seamless Cloud-based turnkey experience and our well praised support, here are 14 things TalentLMS does that your Learning Management System doesn’t.

  1. Converts presentations to videos.
    If you've been doing seminars, internal training, and so on, you probably have tons of PowerPoint presentations. Problem is, they are not that exciting as a training material, and they also require a compatible viewer program. TalentLMS lets you automatically convert these presentations to video for incorporation in your online lessons.
  2. Consumes content directly from Wikipedia, YouTube, Prezi, etc.
    Speaking of incorporating external content into your courses, internet is filled to the brim with excellent eLearning material in all kinds of formats. Instead of manually copying and pasting or making do with links to it, TalentLMS allows you to directly consume content from Wikipedia, YouTube, Prezi, SlideShare, and many more sources. Content can be seamlessly integrated with your own material and reused in many lessons and courses.
  3. Sends reports at scheduled intervals (to anyone you choose).
    You probably know that TalentLMS has a powerful reporting system that gives you insights to all aspects of your eLearning portal and its users. But did you know that you can also automate your learning reports in TalentLMS and have them sent at scheduled intervals to specific recipients? Perfect for keeping your instructors or pointy-haired boss in the loop.
  4. Lets you build custom reports and perform mass actions.
    Besides the default report types that TalentLMS provides, you can also go wild creating your own custom Learning Managent System reports (using the same powerful filters and tools that are available for the default report types). Even better, TalentLMS lets you perform mass actions on the results of a report, updating, notifying, or even deleting multiple items (students, instructors, groups, courses, etc.) at once.
  5. Integrates video conferences.
    Web based eLearning is great for giving students the freedom to study at their own pace. Sometimes though, a little face-to-face (or “real time”) session is indispensable.
    With the video conference tools TalentLMS offers, you can have the best of both worlds. You get not only audio and video conference capabilities, but also real time chat and a virtual whiteboard to boot. Even better, video sessions can be scheduled and handled just like normal lessons, through TalentLMS’ support for instructor-led training. What distinguishes us is that video conferencing comes as part of the main TalentLMS offering. You do not have to integrate, install, or buy a 3rd party video conference subscription; it just works for you!
  6. Lets you collect subscription payments.
    While TalentLMS is ideal for internal training inside a business, it also allows you to build your own full blown eLearning school and sell courses. And when it comes to getting paid, it also allows you to offer subscription based courses. Subscriptions allow your end-users to have access to all of your paid courses by paying a single monthly fee, as opposed to a per course, one time purchase. Subscriptions currently only work with the Stripe payment service, but they will soon be available through PayPal too.
  7. Lets you build custom user types.
    Besides the default built-in user types (Instructor, Student, and Administrator) TalentLMS comes with, the software also lets you build your own custom user types. You can add your own fields and information to these custom user types (depending on your business needs) and define their privileges and permissions in excruciating detail (if that’s your thing).
  8. Integrates with Stripe.
    For those of you selling courses, TalentLMS offers built-in integration with Stripe, the fastest growing payment processor in the world. And for those whose region is not covered by Stripe, we also offer PayPal support. Between the two services, TalentLMS covers 99% of the world (the rest is probably Antarctica, so not much business interest there) and allows you to handle payments from all major credit card companies.
  9. Offers gamification.
    Adding a little bit of competition makes for a more interesting and challenging learning experience. In modern web terms this is called “gamification” and TalentLMS offers that too (surprise, surprise). Gamification takes the techniques that game designers use to engage players, and applies them to non-gaming experiences such as learning. TalentLMS's built-in gamification options include “points” (score), “badges” (medals), “levels”, “leaderboards” (high score lists), and “rewards” (bonuses).
  10. Connects with 200+ services through Zapier.
    TalentLMS was the first learning platform to offer integration with the Zapier platform, a service that enables web apps to communicate letting the user easily build coordinated tasks. This enables TalentLMS to integrate with any Zapier-compatible web app, a list which includes Dropbox, Evernote, Salesforce, Gmail, Twitter, MailChimp, and Trello.
  11. Lets you share courses even with non-registered users.
    TalentLMS was designed with flexibility in mind, and the knowledge that one-size doesn't always fit all. So while some other platforms may force an impenetrable wall between registered and non-registered users, TalentLMS allows you to share a course with anybody, regardless of his registration status, if you so wish.
  12. Offers social signups for your end-users. 
    Why force new users to open another account for your eLearning portal? TalentLMS lets them register through their social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.), removing one extra step that doesn’t offer much (if anything) to their experience.
  13. Offers a free account for life.
    While we run a commercial service (and a very successful one at that), we still understand that some people want to evaluate our offering risk-free, while some small businesses, especially in developing countries, might not be able to afford our full featured plans. Instead of just offering a limited-period demo account, we did something better: we offer a starting plan that allows for up to 5 users and up to 10 courses, free for life.
  14. TalentLMS isn't superstitious.
    But we added a 14th item in this list, just in case you are :-)

Conclusion
Here we are: 14 things TalentLMS does but your Learning Management System doesn't. Sure, you may find that the latest version of some competitive Learning Management System does a few of them. But I guarantee you that it doesn’t do most. And then there’s our ease of use, performance, stability, and pricing to consider.

So, take TalentLMS for a test online drive (now, with our free-for-life starting plan) and see for yourself.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

3 Ways To Reduce eLearning Development Costs

How To Reduce eLearning Development Costs

Once upon a time, I was commissioned to work as part of a team on an extensive set of learning courses for a well-known business school in the USA. We are talking turn of the century here, so it’s some time ago in terms of learning technology. Back then it took us 18 months -and tens of thousands of dollars- to design, build, and deliver 60 hours of high value learning content. It was cutting edge at the time, but in today’s world it would be considered too costly and would be out of date before it was even deployed.

Since the old tricks no longer work, let’s look at 3 ways modern eLearning tools can help you reduce eLearning development costs and deliver your eLearning quickly, cheaply, and without compromising quality.

1. Use pre-built themes.

Instead of spending time and resources on eLearning design, use a pre-built theme that has been designed using instructional best practices and with learner experience in mind. Ready-to-go themes help you start authoring content faster, which means you can get your courses out to learners more quickly.

A theme is a set of basic building blocks for your project. You’ll want a theme where everything on the page is editable so you can add your own branding, colors, fonts, and imagery. Pre-built themes let you build afresh or modify existing themes so you don’t have to waste time (and money) setting up your courses from scratch each time.

Some authoring tools like Elucidat come with pre-built themes and also give you complete flexibility to create your own bespoke themes.

Here's a quick look at Elucidat's themes:

Reduce eLearning Development Costs elucidat-themes1

2. Use Master courses.

Master courses are reusable courses that you can use to base any new project on. Any changes that you make to a Master course will automatically update to all of the linked projects. This feature saves you heaps of time because you don’t have to manually go through and make changes to each project one at a time.

Why is this good? Well, here are two examples to show you how Master courses can save you time and money:

Example 1: You need to create and maintain similar projects for different internal departments.

Imagine you need to personalize each course with each department’s colors and contact details. By using a Master course, you can make the course once and then release slightly different versions for each department.

If you need to update all these courses, you can make the change to the content in your Master course and that change will automatically push to each of the linked projects.

Example 2: You need to create courses in multiple languages.

A Master course is a time saver for when you need to release courses in multiple languages. You can create your Master course with the pages and assessments set up and then create a project for each language you need to release. Now instead of starting from scratch for each language, you use the base structure and edit the content accordingly.

3. Build once, deliver on multiple devices.

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon is enabling more and more learners to use their own devices to take courses online.

Here are the 4 reasons why I’m a big advocate of BYOD learning:

  1. It increases engagement with your content.
  2. It saves time and money: A sales person out on the road can learn without physically being in the office.
  3. Learners can complete courses while commuting to and from work.
  4. Learners can focus more on the learning if they are using a device they are comfortable using.

Whether you like it or not, BYOD learning is here. This means you need to make sure your courses are accessible on all devices. You need responsive designs that adapt to the screen size on which it is being viewed.

Instead of creating multiple versions of eLearning for different devices, you can reduce eLearning development costs by using a tool that is multi-device compatible. Authoring tools that let you create and test responsive eLearning can save a lot of duplicate work.

Take a look at this screenshot that shows how Elucidat enables you quickly test responsive eLearning:

Reduce eLearning Development Costs Elucidat-responsive-slider

eLearning inspiration: Learn how Utility Warehouse used Elucidat to deliver responsive eLearning to 46,000 leaders

Final takeaways

  • Instead of building brand new designs each and every time, use pre-built themes to get started quickly.
  • Instead of starting from scratch for every new course, use a Master course with a base structure that can be used and tweaked for your future projects.
  • Instead of creating multiple versions of eLearning for different devices, use Elucidat's authoring tool which makes it easy to build and test responsive eLearning.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

IDEC 2015

IDEC 2015 conference is supported by Sakarya University and TASET

The convergence of recent technologies, web and mobile technologies, provides unique opportunities and an infrastructure for both face to face and online learning environments. However, specific environments for constructing knowledge are needed. In such environments, knowledge media should bring together the technology and learning theories to form meaningful settings for learners with different academic, administrative and support needs. IDEC aims to provide an environment for experts to discuss the current state of the art for learning in schools, industry and universities.

IDEC 2015 Scopes

  • Asynchronous Learning
  • Constructivist Perspectives
  • Data Mining Strategies For E-Learning Organizations
  • Diffusion Of Innovation
  • Distance and Open Learning
  • E-Portfolios
  • Innovation and Change In Education
  • Instructional Design
  • Intelligent E-Learning Systems
  • Interactive E-Learning Systems
  • Interactive Learning Environment
  • Knowledge Management In E-Learning
  • Life Long Learning and Technology
  • Mobile Learning
  • Multimedia Applications
  • Network Based Education and Training
  • Simulations In Education
  • Virtual Classroom, Virtual University
  • Distance Education
  • Educational Technology
  • Integrated Learning Perspective
  • Tendencies in the Field of Education Communication and its Technology

IDEC 2015 Keynote Speakers

  • Prof. Dr. Mustafa Soylak, Erciyes University, Turkey
    Speech Title: Preparation, Characterization Nanosized Materials for Solid Phase Extraction of Elements at Trace Levels in Environmental Samples
  • Prof. Dr. Ali Ekrem OZKUL, Anadolu University, Turkey
    Speech Title: Crisis in Higher Education
  • Prof. Dr. Murat BARKAN, Yasar University, Turkey
    Speech Title: The Future of Cultural Education
  • Prof. Dr. Buket AKKOYUNLU, Hacettepe University, Turkey
    Speech Title: How to equip students with visual literacy skills through infographics

IDEC 2015 conference will take plac on September 2-4, 2015 at the Original Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

What Is Bespoke eLearning? Featuring 6 Killer Examples

What Is Bespoke eLearning?

There are two kinds of online courses that you can choose from for your eLearning needs:

  • Off-the-shelf courses (generic).
    Off-the-shelf courses are ready to use.
  • Bespoke (also known as custom) courses.
    Bespoke or custom courses, as the name suggests, are specifically designed or tailor made to meet your requirement.

Off-the-shelf courses can be deployed quickly, whereas bespoke or custom courses will need longer time to develop and deploy. While bespoke courses may be more expensive on account of initial development costs, they would not have any associated recurring licensing costs.

What Are The Advantages Of Using Bespoke eLearning?

Bespoke eLearning courses are branded for your organization. They may use the raw content that you have or use content that is specifically created for you. The examples and case studies would be relevant to your organization and the assessments would be specifically designed for you. Their design approach factors for your learners’ preferences, your culture, and is tailor made to meet your learning and business mandates.

How Does Bespoke eLearning Fare Against Off-the-shelf Courses? 

Off-the-shelf courses are quicker to deploy, but have certain inherent shortcomings. By definition, they are generic and may not be able to meet the specific requirements of your organization. Again, they offer standard features that you need to live with and they cannot be customized to suit your specific requirements.

Let us see how these aspects are offset in the bespoke approach and what advantages you will get when you opt for it:

  1. The courses are developed as per your branding. They feature your imagery and this helps learners relate and connect better to the learning piece.
  2. The content is specific to you and your learners. It is presented in a form that will engage them and ensures the required learning mandate is met.
  3. The learning experience is customized to your program. It uses a learning strategy that is best suited to meet the required learning mandate.
  4. The Assessment strategy is customized and aligns effectively to your learning and business mandates.
  5. Looking at your dynamics, the delivery format can be for traditional eLearning or multi-device (the content would run on tablets and smartphones). This enables you to choose an authoring tool that is most suited to your requirements.
  6. You can also decide on supplementing your primary eLearning with Performance Support intervention that can lead to better application of the learning on the job. This will have a significant impact on the ROI of eLearning.

The Bespoke eLearning Advantage Through 6 Examples

Let me illustrate the advantages of bespoke eLearning through 6 examples.

I have selected examples that address varied training needs like compliance, application simulation, and professional skills. The first example illustrates an approach that is scalable and can be applied for any training area like soft skills, induction programs, and so on.

Bespoke eLearning Example 1: To highlight intuitive and immersive experience.

This example is my personal favorite, as it showcases a design that does not have a “Click next to continue” or “Prompt text”. The learner can intuitively ascertain (through visual cues provided alongside the content) on what should be done next. It creates an immersive and engaging learning experience.

It is a multi-device design that adapts equally well to PCs/laptops or tablets.

Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke1

 

Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke2

Bespoke eLearning Example 2: Gamification in Compliance.

We created a simulation-based task-oriented Gamification course, which was interactive and engrossing. To achieve this, we incorporated a real work environment (visually), an element of challenge (bonuses and bombs), rewards for success (caps, badges), and learning through activities including elements of surprise and delight.

Do refer to this case study in detail in my earlier article Gamification in Compliance through a serious game concept.

Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke3

 

Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke4

Bespoke eLearning Example 3: Branching scenario and simulations with a progress indicator.

This example showcases a complex decision making scenario. While the learners are going through the scenario, the visual indicator (shown on the right) provides cues on how they are faring. This enables them to pause and reflect on their choices and even re-think their strategy mid-courseBespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke5

Bespoke eLearning Example 4: Application Simulation.

This is a great example of how we uplifted dry and linear content into an interesting and engaging format.

We chose a responsive design (to support PCs, Laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones) and made learning bite-sized enabling learners to undertake a long, arduous journey in short, engaging steps.

You can view the "Office 2013 – Application Simulation" under App Simulations section (as part of our Demos).Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke6

Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke7

Bespoke eLearning Example 5: Scenario with a twist.

In our suite of Generic Compliance, we chose a scenario with a twist by adding a theme of “Choose the Right Path”. While all of us have a sense of right and wrong, this approach added value in the context of the specific compliance mandate in terms of the most appropriate behavior and why the learners need to demonstrate the same.

You can view the "Compliance – Introduction to the Code of Conduct" under Compliance section (as part of our Demos).

Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke8

Bespoke eLearning Example 6: Performance Support Tool - Featuring Interactive PDFs as a learning aid to supplement online learning.

This is also one of my personal favorites, as it provides a better learning experience through simplicity.

Interactive PDFs can be used to convert mountains of boring information into a visually appealing, interactive format. Furthermore, you can integrate videos, interactive demos, and audio to create an engaging learning experience.

Do refer to the detailed case study on this outlining the value the Interactive pdf brought to my PowerPoint deck in my earlier article Performance support - Featuring Interactive pdf as a Learning Aid to supplement online learning.

Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke9

I do hope these examples illustrate the power of custom or bespoke eLearning in creating an effective and immersive learning experience. I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Challenging MOOCs

Audrey Watters hat einen MOOC auf edX bearbeitet (”The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture.”) und einen Erfahrungsbericht geschrieben. Ihr Urteil: “Rather, I worry that MOOCs will increasingly deliver all studies in a similarly “lite” version, that MOOCs will be unlikely to provide much critical analysis or equip students to develop any, particularly on topics where there are passionate feelings or entrenched opinions.”
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, 23. Juni 2015

The essence of web literacy

Ich halte regelmäßig Vorträge, Workshops oder Seminare, in denen es um die Medienkompetenzen von Weiterbildnern geht. Was müssen sie wissen, um ihre Maßnahmen zeitgemäß zu gestalten, und wie können sie die neuen Netztechnologien dabei sinnvoll und gezielt einsetzen? Im Kern geht es also um “web literacy”, und da ist Mozilla Learning heute eine erste Adresse. Mark Surman, Head der Mozilla Foundation, fasst hier den Stand der Dinge kurz zusammen.

“Read. Write. Participate. These words are at the heart of our emerging vision for Mozilla Learning (aka Academy). Whether you’re a first time smartphone user, a budding tech educator or an experienced programmer, the degree to which you can read, write and participate in the digital world shapes what you can imagine - and what you can do. These three capabilities are the essence of Mozilla’s definition of web literacy.”
Mark Surman, Commonspace, 3. Juni 2015

surman_201507a.jpg

3 Reasons Why We Have Interactive E-Learning

interactive e-learning: why do we do it

What is interactive elearning?

In previous posts we discussed different ways to interact with onscreen elements. Generally, interactions are limited to click, mouse over, or dragging interactions.

Then we explored two key points when building interactive elearning. The first point is to get the users to “touch” the screen. Find ways to have them interact with onscreen elements. The second point is to have them interact with the content to create a great learning experience.

 

Interactive e-learning comes from interacting with the screen and the e-learning content

Now let’s look at common reasons why people interact with the elearning courses and then we can use that to build better interactive elearning. To keep things simple, we’ll look at three common reasons why people interact with their courses.

Interactive E-Learning: Course Navigation

The most obvious reason why people interact with the elearning course is to navigate from one point to the next. The “next” button is the most common form of interaction. We click it to navigate from one screen to another.

Of course, there are all sorts of others ways to navigate content. It could be an onscreen button, like a gate screen that we click to advance. Or perhaps it’s something like the example below that uses a slider instead of next buttons to navigate from one screen to the next.

What I like about the slider interaction is that we are able to replace a clickable button with a draggable slider. This novelty helps engage those viewing the course and gives them better control of the navigation.

interactive e-learning slider example

Click here to view the slider navigation.

When building your next interactive elearning course, think about ways that the user navigates the content. Play around with ideas that move beyond clicking and the next button. Perhaps there’s a way to include more mouseovers and dragging.

Interactive E-Learning: Exploration

Another common reason why people interact with the onscreen content is to explore and collect information. Most courses are linear and they require that a person click in a specific sequence. However, by allowing for non-linear interactivity, the user gets a bit more control and can access the content they need, when they need it—or at least start with the content that seems the most interesting to them.

interactive e-learning examples

Here are a few common types of exploratory interactions to give you some ideas:

Couple exploratory interactions with decision-making and you have the foundation for solid interactive elearning and dynamic branched scenarios. They let users explore and collect information to make the decisions required to demonstrate their understanding of the course content.

Interactive E-Learning: Make Decisions

Outside of navigation, the most common reason we interact in our online courses is to make decisions. Usually, it’s a simple quiz question with a submit button. But interactive elearning could also include decision-making scenarios or other non-standard assessments.

Ideally, it’s designed to make decisions and then get feedback based on our decisions. Sometimes the feedback is immediate and sometimes it’s delayed and compounded.

interactive e-learning decision-making branched navigation

Here are a few simple decision-making interactions:

As you can see, assessments and decision-making interactions don’t have to rely on the out-of-the-box quiz questions. There are all sorts of ways to make the decision-making interactive to create a better learning experience. As you plan your next assessment, see if there’s a way to add some novelty or different ways to interact during the decision-making.

Interactive elearning means the learner interacts with the screen and course content. There are only a few ways to interact with the screen. In addition, there are specific reasons why they’re interacting. Do you want them to go from one piece of information to another? Are you giving them opportunities to explore? Or do you want them to collect some information and make decisions?

Understanding why they’re interacting with the course content will help you better determine how you want them to interact. And in turn, you’ll build better interactive elearning courses.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

Upcoming E-Learning Workshops & Events (2015)

  • August 4 & 5 (Seattle). Community-based elearning workshops focused on practical tips & tricks. You can register for one day or two days. To learn more & register, click here.
  • September 23 & 24 (Vancouver). Community-based elearning workshops focused on practical tips & tricks. You can register for one day or two days. To learn more & register, click here.
  • October 28 & 29 (Philadelphia). Community-based elearning workshops focused on practical tips & tricks. You can register for one day or two days. To learn more and register, click here.

Free E-learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

9 Tips To Enhance Active Listening Skills In eLearning

Active Listening In eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know

I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”, Ernest Hemingway once said. More than a half-century later, little has changed; indeed, most people don’t listen, despite listening being one of the most important human skills. The way we listen can have a major impact not only on our personal relationships, but also on our professional lives and job performance.

A good listener has the ability to better understand and process information; a great listener has the ability to use this information to negotiate, influence, and avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. But what does it take to become a great listener? Only one thing, actually: Practicing and improving your active listening skills.

Having active listening skills means that you are able to communicate effectively and create deeper connections with others. Active listening is an essential quality all learners should have, as it can greatly improve their communication skills and help them build strong relationships. In this article, I'll delve into the basics of active listening that every eLearning professional should know in order to develop eLearning courses that enhance learners' active listening skills, so that you will be able to help your learners to engage both mentally and emotionally in every conversation, and achieve long-term success in their personal and professional lives.

First Things First… What Is Active Listening?

While “hearing” and “listening” are two words that are often used interchangeably, there are many contrasts between them. While hearing is the involuntary act of perceiving sound, listening actually requires some effort. The individual must first choose to concentrate, and then, the brain has to process this information to add contextual meaning. During active listening, our minds focus on the information just received and process it accordingly; this is when truly amazing learning experiences take shape. This also explains why active listening is not just listening to what is being said, but also absorbing it. It involves focusing on the subject matter, processing it, and comprehending the concepts. To best illustrate the idea of active listening think back to a time when you sat in on a lecture or meeting and remembered absolutely nothing that was discussed after the fact. This is a perfect example of hearing instead of active listening. You may had been present, but your mind was not.

As far as the cognitive processes involved are concerned, while you are actively listening, your brain goes through a variety of different tasks. It must first understand the context of the eLearning content presented, then pair it with personal feelings, experiences, or previous knowledge. While actively listening, your mind also takes subtle nuances into account, such as gestures, expressions, colors, images, and body language. Even the pitch of someone’s voice or their tone plays an important role in the process. Only after all these factors are taken into consideration, your brain can then begin to absorb the information.

When the process of information recall takes place, learners are triggering their memory schemata, which improves comprehension and helps them identify which eLearning content is useful and relevant and which can go by the wayside to make room for really valuable data. Thus, they are able to absorb the key takeaways of the eLearning course and commit them to their long-term memory, rather than being overloaded with all data that is flowing into their mental pathways.

Active listening is so crucial in online learning environments because it distinguishes learners who are actually participating from those who are merely going through the eLearning course material. When learners are actively listening during the eLearning course, they are able to more effectively process the information and engage with the subject matter, instead of merely being passive observers. They can also access knowledge that they’ve previously acquired to make connections with new concepts or ideas, and decide how to apply this information in real world settings.

9 Tips To Enhance Active Listening Skills In eLearning

Active listening skills can be difficult to master and therefore it takes time, determination, and patience to become an excellent active listener. In order for your learners to enhance this excellent communication skill, consider the following tips:

  1. Grab the attention of your audience with interactive learning activities.
    Include interactive scenarios, simulations, and presentations that grab the attention of your audience and make it virtually impossible for them not to actively listen to the subject matter. If your learners are engaged in the learning process and feel as though you are creating a connection with them, they are more likely to focus on the eLearning content and not be distracted by outside stimuli. Use bright colors and graphics to draw attention to key concepts or special fonts to make the takeaways stand out on the page.
  2. Include a summary at the end of every eLearning unit.
    Summarization is one of the most effective ways to encourage active listening among your learners. Provide them with a summary at the end of each eLearning unit that gives them a quick overview of the main takeaways, so that they can focus directly on what they need to know and trigger their active listening abilities.
  3. Link subject matter to previously knowledge.
    Include exercises and eLearning activities that encourage your learners to access previously learned knowledge so that they can create that all-important connection. When they are able to associate new concepts to what they already know they are more likely to actively listen, as they are already familiar with the subject matter and the new information sounds more meaningful to them.
  4. Assess learners newly acquired knowledge.
    By integrating tests and exams at the end of each lesson you gain the ability to assess whether or not your learners are actively listening. If they can correctly answer the questions and show a mastery of the topic, then you can rest assured that they are actually paying attention to the eLearning content presented. This also prompts them to pay closer attention in future online lessons, as they are aware of the fact that they will be tested at the end.
  5. Give your learners time to reflect.
    Create brief pauses in between online lessons to give your learners the opportunity to reflect upon the subject matter and tie it to real world challenges or ideas. You can also use this time to ask them questions that encourage reflection, such as expressing their thoughts about a particular story you have shared or ask them to identify trends out of the eLearning material just presented.
  6. Provide feedback. 
    Reflecting to what is being said, either orally or in writing, will both help you understand that your audience is actively listening and at the same time will offer your learners the chance to clarify their points. Providing feedback encourages expression and deepens understanding. Encourage your audience to ask clarifying questions, paraphrase what you hear, and summarize their statements, comments, and messages. Boost knowledge retention by asking them to paraphrase what they have learned too. Have them sum up the eLearning unit in their own words, with just a sentence or two. Then, you can review their summaries and provide constructive feedback, clarify any misunderstandings they may have, and distinguish active listeners from those who are just passive observers.
  7. Teach them not to criticize.
    Being judgmental will greatly compromise the effectiveness of a good listener. Teach your audience that when they hear something alarming in what other learners say during a synchronous eLearning session, they may feel alarmed, but they should try not to mentally criticize beforehand what they heard and jump into conclusions. Instead, they should be patient and try to follow the reasoning and train of thought of the other person. Most importantly, they should resist the urge to use negative facial expressions to convey their emotions if a web-camera is on.  They should rather keep an open mind, wait until their virtual classmate develops his or her point of view, and avoid letting their personal filters and assumptions distort what they are listening to.
  8. Teach them not to interrupt.
    Interrupting sends a variety of messages, all of which are negative. It frustrates the speaker and sabotages the understanding process. As a facilitator of the eLearning process do not leave space for interruptions. Teach your learners before asking questions to make sure that they let the other speaker finish what they are saying, even if they are expressing an opinion they do not agree with. Make them understand that by interrupting their virtual classmates, they will both lose the chance to know the entire argument, and they will force the speaker to repeat it after their interference.
  9. Respond Appropriately.
    This is of utmost importance, especially when online discussions take place. As a facilitator of the eLearning process, refrain from suggesting solutions before you are specifically asked for your advice. Active listening communicates respect and understanding. Treat learners in a way that you think they would want to be treated and avoid letting them know how you would handle a similar situation, unless they ask for your opinion. Then, be honest and open in your response, always by trying to stay focused on the subject; sometimes it is easy to stray away from the topic, so keep your questions and comments relevant.

Types of Questions You Should Ask To Enhance Active listening Skills In eLearning

The most effective way to help your learners develop their active listening skills is by using skillful questioning. Questions that require your audience to be active during the learning process and emphasize the importance of active listening, are key to successful communication. Use your eLearning scenarios and quizzes for asking questions that generate curiosity, stimulate reflective conversation, and invite new possibilities. Consider using the following types of questions:

  • Open-ended questions. 
    They offer the widest possible scope for responding and they extend the understanding of the subject matter in a variety of ways.
  • Probing questions. 
    They ask for further clarification of the answer, which helps your learners express themselves in different ways.
  • Hypothetical questions. 
    They encourage the introduction of new ideas and alternative approaches to a solution.
  • Reflective questions. 
    They check the level of understanding of your audience and they provide them with valuable feedback.

These types of questions encourage your learners to use their critical thinking skills in order to extend their understanding of a particular concept. The more powerful the questions of your eLearning course are, the more engaged and interested your audience will be, and the more challenged they will feel to pay attention and stay focused on the eLearning content.

Active listening is a powerful tool that makes a world of difference when it comes to knowledge absorption and retention. By using the above tips you can create eLearning courses that develop your learners’ active listening skills while boosting engagement and interactivity.

Now that you know everything you need to know about active listening, you may be interested in learning other ways to improve your employees’ performance. Read the article 5 Tips To Develop Custom eLearning That Improves Employees’ Performance and discover how custom eLearning can motivate your staff to use their talents and skills to the fullest capacity.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.