3 Strategies For Quickly Delivering High Quality eLearning

How To Quickly Deliver High Quality eLearning

Here are 3 strategies to help you quickly deliver high quality eLearning:

1. Reuse branded themes.

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Look for opportunities to create eLearning themes that you can use over and over. This will help save time and money as you build more projects. It also makes the development process more efficient and easier for your entire team.

How to reuse branded themes:

  • Use an eLearning authoring tool that provides ready-made themes that you can customize with your own branding. These themes will already be built to industry standards and include design best practices that will save you heaps of time. Some tools like Elucidat provide responsive themes that will automatically adjust to different mobile and tablet devices.
  • Set up your theme and brand the first time, then just focus on the content for future courses. This will speed up eLearning content development because you won’t have to spend any time designing your eLearning.
  • Pick a tool that provides Master courses (or Master templates). Master courses are reusable courses that you can use to quickly build new projects. All changes made to a Master course are automatically synced with the linked projects. This saves your team lots of repetitive work, since they don’t have to manually make changes to each project. Master courses also make localization projects much more efficient. You can quickly create courses in different languages and empower reviewers to comment on and collaborate directly inside the project.

2. Use cloud-based collaboration tools.

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Stakeholders will need to review your projects at some stage in the development process. This is often where your work runs into some snags.

How do your stakeholders manage the review and feedback cycles, track changes, and monitor version control?

These tasks can be particularly challenging if you have multiple stakeholders and reviewers working on the project.

How to enhance stakeholder collaboration:

  • Make sure everyone reviewing the project has access to the most up-to-date version. The best way to ensure people are working on the current project is to use a cloud-based eLearning tool that automatically manages updates and keeps the project current.
  • Use a system to track and manage review cycles and changes. eLearning software like Elucidat incorporates this functionality to help you track updates. For example, Elucidat has an easy-to-use comment tool that lets team members, subject matter experts and stakeholders add notes for the rest of the team. You can quickly see what changes or additions have been made and who made those changes. Is it time to throw away that frustrating spreadsheet you use to track changes?
  • Sign off on changes inside the project itself. This makes it easy to keep the updates and the tracked changes together in one place. Never again will you need to use another tool to manage the review process.

3. Reduce maintenance time with Rapid Release republishing.

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As an eLearning manager, you’ll likely need to factor in time for maintenance of content and projects. This is especially the case if your company requires annual updates to your compliance courses.

How to speed up eLearning maintenance:

  • Use an authoring tool that enables authors to push updates out directly to their Learning Management Systems. This is a serious time saver. No longer do you need to make the changes, republish the project, and then upload it again in the Learning Management System.
  • Elucidat’s Rapid Release™ republishing feature enables you to quickly update content in your Learning Management System without having to download and upload files to SCORM each time. Changes are processed straight to the Learning Management System – no need for republishing, packaging, or redeploying.

Conclusion: Embrace new technology. 

Embrace new technology that can help you design great-looking eLearning and increase the efficiency of your authoring team. Tools that make the development process more efficient will help you reduce the time it takes to develop eLearning projects. In turn, this will help you to control costs and deliver high quality eLearning, faster.

Next step: Discover more ways to deliver eLearning faster by signing up for Elucidat's eLearning Time-savers course

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

5 Best Practices For Transforming Faculty Into Fully Online Educators

How To Transform Faculty Into Fully Online Educators 

I am an Instructional Designer who teaches a fully online professional development seminar that focuses on Instructional Design principles for developing and delivering fully online and blended courses. As the 6 week seminar wraps up, one of the final assignments I require faculty to complete is a reflective learning journal. With permission from the faculty who participated in the seminar, I present a few excerpts from their journals that support and highlight best practices I have developed at my university for faculty development.

1. Provide Opportunities For Collaborative Learning From Peers. 

Design your training so that faculty are engaging in learning experiences that they can implement into their own online courses. For example, one of the projects in the seminar requires faculty to develop a learning unit that they will actually use in their own fully online or blended courses. All participants are required to submit this assignment to their respective group’s discussion board and provide peer review for each other’s work, using a rubric that I developed. The quotes below explain what insights faculty can gain by this kind of exercise.

One instructor’s journal entry states:

"I appreciated the openness of the class members to gently criticize each other and make suggestions to improve the quality of our assignments and understanding of those assignments. This really reinforced the use of the discussion forum and the ability to provide peer-review to each other regarding what had been submitted."

His classmate reveals an initial feeling of uneasiness but saw the benefit of the activity when she discloses the following:

"As for the peer review exercise: I admit that I was a little nervous about having others critique my work. However, my classmates —neither of whom I knew before this class— both offered constructive feedback that was right on target. I found the whole exercise so useful that I plan to use a similar approach in my own graduate classes."

This assignment gave faculty a hands-on example of how they could integrate online groups within a course as a means for peer review. It also functioned as a nice way for faculty to experience how students could provide instructional scaffolds to each other in an online learning environment, so that online discussions can be more engaging.

2. Train Faculty Online: Place Faculty In The Seats Of Students. 

Insight into the student experience is gained when professional development is given fully online. This is summarized by a participant who notes the following:

"I think the best faculty development workshops require us to view our courses and practices from a student’s perspective. Many of the assignments in this course challenged me to rethink my approach to moving course content online and how this approach would impact students of diverse skill levels and experience."

His peer reflects on the importance of instructor feedback. She states:

“I really valued the feedback I received on my assignments and again, being in the student’s seat, I really could see how crucial descriptive and appreciative comments from the teacher are!”

In my experience as an Instructional Designer, faculty are sometimes trained in group settings in a room with multiple computers and a teacher workstation. Although faculty are developing skills for using the various features of a Learning Management System, they are not truly experiencing online teaching and learning. The implications of the above quotes are tremendous; when faculty are placed in the seats of students for professional development purposes, it can influence the design, development, and delivery of their courses.

3. Develop Faculty’s Multimedia Skills.

Instructional Designers teach faculty about how to use multimedia resources, such as YouTube, for the enhancement of online courses, using video created by others. However, we should provide faculty with training on how to create their own media. This Instructor writes about his blended course and how he was able to immediately use what he was learning about podcasting from the training seminar I teach. He states:

"Practicum Assignments: These gave me a very good opportunity to develop rudimentary skills in each of the areas that were covered. (...) An additional bonus with the podcast was that with the snow days that we had, I was able to utilize that with students in one of my courses this semester."

His colleague concurs, whose course was also not fully online:

"What I particularly found helpful were the practicums. (…) This course introduced several new options. In fact, following the most recent snowstorm, I used Camtasia to create a lecture [capture] for a course I was supposed to host. As this course had been repeatedly canceled [due to inclement weather], this program was a phenomenal option. Having immediate access to this program made it so easy for me to solve a true problem in my course."

The professors’ comments make it very clear that assignments given in professional development sessions should not be busywork. In each example, these instructors were able to develop their own multimedia to meet the specific needs of their respective classes. Although it is convenient to use multimedia developed by others, an instructor may not find a video or podcasts that thoroughly covers the topic and of course. By having gained multimedia authoring skills, these participants are no longer reliant on what others have produced. They can now make contributions to various online multimedia repositories.

4. Modeling Examples Of Teaching Presence.

A common term in eLearning is teaching presence, which is “The design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes” (Anderson et al. 2001, p. 5). As the facilitator of a professional development seminar, model good online teaching presence through your engagement with faculty. I did this by providing video feedback to faculty using Jing and Camtasia Studio screen capture software. This faculty member reflects on the feedback I gave her as an example of instructor presence:

"I really valued the feedback I received on my assignments and again, being in the student’s seat, I really could see how crucial descriptive and appreciative comments from the teacher are! I liked, especially, Sabrina, getting feedback from you in Camtasia and being able to access it. I think this would work super well in my writing classes to go over student drafts and I am considering doing some of this semester!"

Students can experience isolation in an online environment by not seeing an active teacher presence. By modeling how one can give video feedback, I provided an example for the instructor of how she can make her presence felt by her online students.

5. Provide Faculty With Practical Skills For ADA Compliance.

Technology can meet the needs of busy adults, by providing eLearning opportunities in asynchronous formats. However, the development of these courses can sometimes form barriers for those with disabilities. A necessary ingredient to faculty development is not only helping faculty to understand disabilities and ADA compliance, but also giving them skills to make their courses more accessible. This need is exemplified in the two journal excerpts below. One instructor writes:

"Part of the challenge with accessible courses is creating them; easy access to the technology and support staff to teach us how to use it helps alleviate those challenges. This course gave me some new tools that I am enthusiastically using as a result of the instruction I received."

This is elaborated by the instructor’s classmate who states:

"The course materials and activities really raised my consciousness about practices that faculty can undertake to improve accessibility for all. It was a bonus to learn through first-hand experience that it's actually quite easy to create ADA-compliant Word documents, podcasts, and other course content that helps make classes truly accessible."

As faculty across the globe are asked to integrate technology into their teaching practices, more and more there will be a need to pair this integration with compliance so that all students are given an equal chance to learn.

Professional development can stimulate instructors to reflect on their pedagogy and become more self-aware about their engagement with students. It is not an arduous hurdle that administration directs faculty to leap over but is actually a useful vehicle to the educator for developing a new set of instructional strategies.

Resources

Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5 (2).  Retrieved from http://cde.athabascau.ca/coi_site/documents/Anderson_Rourke_Garrison_Archer_Teaching_Presence.pdf

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

How To Review The Effectiveness Of Your Learning And Development Function

Traditionally, Learning and Development teams have taken an inward-looking approach to measuring their effectiveness. They have analysed the things that matter to them, such as feedback on training courses, time spent on training courses, numbers of attendees on courses and so on. The problem in gathering this data, is the fact that it has very little relevance to the business. Why? Because the business wants to know the impact its investment in learning and development is having on business outcomes, not how successful a training course has been for those who attended it.

So how do you figure out the effectiveness of your Learning and Development function? To what extent are you able to demonstrate that you are adopting modernised learning approaches that deliver the outcomes the business needs: improved productivity, engagement; revenue and agility?

Data is Vital to Success

Data is vital; it provides the evidence you and your team need to understand impact and drive performance. An invaluable source of external, credible data is performance benchmarking – this provides robust, genuine and independent evidence on Learning and Development’s performance; the effectiveness and impact of the learning process. It enables organisations to reflect on their own performance and see how they compare against peers and top performing organisations.

However, in likeness to internal data-gathering, organisations are failing to grasp the opportunity on offer. Towards Maturity’s research shows that only 23% actively benchmark their learning strategy and practices against others in their industry, compared to 41% of top performing organisations. Only 17% actually use that benchmarking data for performance improvement, compared to 35% of top learning organisations.

So how can organisations use benchmarking to review their effectiveness?

Let’s start by defining it. Benchmarking is the process of comparing key performance indicators for one organisation with the indicators of others who are considered to represent the industry standard or best practice for that field. Business benchmarking focuses on 2 aspects: Key Performance Indicators (or KPI’s, comparing outcomes) and performance benchmarks (comparing activities).

This is nothing new; businesses have been benchmarking since the early 1990’s in order to develop new strategic direction and improve performance. Since 2003, Towards Maturity have been demonstrating effective practice benchmarking principles to help Learning and Development departments do the same.

Our benchmark helps organisations review their learning strategies, including the role of technology-enabled learning, through the application of our framework of effective practices. We define the Towards Maturity Model™ on six areas that we call workstreams, against which we measure the maturity of all organisations that benchmark. Below, we unfold these workstreams, which reflect the characteristics of more mature organisations.

It is important that benchmarks remain relevant and as future-proofed as possible, which is why we continually ask leading thinkers and practitioners in Learning and Development to sense-check our benchmark. This is critically important in an ever-changing world. Your effectiveness as an Learning and Development team must measure up to the current business context, not the business context of five years ago.

The Towards Maturity Model™

Defining Need
Mature organisations are more likely to align learning to business strategy, ensuring that programmes are relevant to both business and individual requirements.

Learner Context
Mature organisations are likely to have a greater focus on understanding the context of the learner, their motivations and environment.

Work Context
What are the work environment factors that might influence success? What needs to be changed? How should we go about it? Mature organisations ask these kind of questions.

Building Capability
Mature organisations target the changing needs of their learning and development professionals to ensure that they are to be equipped with the right skills, resources and reputation to effect change.

Ensuring Engagement
Mature organisations have proactive strategies for involving critical stakeholders who influence behaviour change.

Demonstrating Value
Mature organisations will be proactive in identifying the value their learning technologies are adding to their organisation.

The Towards Maturity Model helps L&D leaders adjust their practices to align with these six effective workstreams identified through extensive research on over 3,500 organisations since 2003.

The Towards Maturity Model™ helps L&D leaders adjust their practices to align with these six effective workstreams identified through extensive research on over 3,500 organisations since 2003.

We know that reflection is an essential part of learning; by using the framework of the Towards Maturity Model™ to reflect on the effectiveness of your learning strategy, you will learn what is working, what isn't and why. This generates insights that will have value for the wider business in terms of measuring outcomes. It will also help you make better decisions, which will help you become a more effective Learning and Development team or leader.

The Towards Maturity Benchmark™ is a useful tool to help you understand how effective your Learning and Development strategies are and how you compare to peers and top performing learning organisations.

If you are keen to find out how effective your Learning and Development team is, make sure you benchmark this year: it’s open until 31 July. More than 3,500 organisations have taken part to date, so there is plenty of data for you to benchmark against.

Start Your Benchmark

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

DevLearn 2015 Conference And Expo

DevLearn 2015 Conference And Expo

Innovation exists at the intersection of invention and value. But innovation doesn’t happen on its own–you have to make it happen by taking advantage of today’s cutting-edge technologies. DevLearn 2015 Conference & Expo will inspire the innovator in you to discover what technology makes possible for learning today and to examine and experiment with all the growing opportunities for tomorrow.

Come explore the changing world of learning technologies with the leading community of industry pioneers and witness innovation in the making, September 30 – October 2 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1QUJsGw

Concurrent DevLearn 2015 Sessions Posted!

At this year’s conference you will have the opportunity to explore more than 125 concurrent sessions in 13 key topic areas critical to those building and leading organizational learning and performance programs. We’ve posted descriptions for more than 110 of those sessions, which explore topics such as:

  • Development
  • Strategy
  • Emerging Tech
  • Management
  • Instructional Design
  • Performance Support
  • Mobile
  • Tools
  • Media
  • Social Learning
  • Games & Gamification
  • Virtual Classroom
  • Data & Measurement
  • And more: http://bit.ly/1NmmFOt

DevLearn 2015 Keynote Speakers

This year’s keynote speakers tap into the four critical elements of learning innovation: Curiosity, Disruption, Passion, and Technology. These keynotes are sure to inspire your inner innovator to take your own learning to new heights.

Curiosity, Discovery, and Learning
Adam Savage, Host, Discover Channel’s MythBusters

Learning Without Boundaries
Natalie Panek, Mission Systems Engineer, MDA Robotics and Automation

Learning Disrupted
David Pogue, Founder & Columnist, Yahoo! Tech

Digital Badges and the Future of Learning
Connie Yowell, Director of Education, MacArthur Foundation

Learn more about the DevLearn keynote speakers: http://bit.ly/1GCFiYZ

Co-located Event: Adobe Learning Summit

Join learning industry luminaries, eLearning and mLearning experts, peers, and Adobe product teams on an exciting journey at the Adobe Learning Summit 2015, co-located with DevLearn. Save $100 if you are also registered for DevLearn, plus an additional $50 with the Early discount if you register by August 14!

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1KiR0in

DevLearn 2015: Register Now and Save $100 or MORE!

Don’t miss this chance to join your colleagues from around the world at DevLearn, the event that showcases the innovations that shape what’s next for learning technologies. Register by August 14 and save $100 with the Early registration discount—in addition to all other discounts for which you may qualify!

Register now! http://bit.ly/1GyJ2eL

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1QUJsGw

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

JZero Solutions and Silver Lining Solutions expand their integrated functionality

JZero Solutions has announced that its JLMS Enterprise platform has been further integrated with Silver Lining’s performance optimisation solution, Optimizer. This integration enables the delivery of automated and individually personalised course assignments based on Optimizer’s assessment outcomes and powerful employee performance data analytics.

Roles of Course Facilitators, Learners, and Technology in the Flow of Information of a CMOOC

Wie langsam die akademischen Mühlen mahlen, merkt man daran, dass sich diese Studie auf einen cMOOC bezieht, der 2011 durchgeführt wurde (”Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011″, CCK11). Um sich ein Bild von der Rolle der Facilitators, der Lernenden und der eingesetzten Technologien im Kursverlauf zu machen, haben die Autoren mit Verfahren der Social Network Analysis die Kommunikation auf Twitter untersucht. Die Ergebnisse:

“The results of the week-by-week analysis of the network of interactions suggest that the teaching function becomes distributed among influential actors in the network. As the course progressed, both human and technological actors comprising the network subsumed the teaching functions, and exerted influence over the network formation. Regardless, the official course facilitators preserved a high level of influence over the flow of information in the investigated cMOOC.”

Das zeigt: Die Rolle der Lehrenden in cMOOCs wandelt sich. Neben sie treten Lernende, die eigene Sub-Communities formen. Am erstaunlichsten aber war für die Autoren die Erkenntnis, dass es Hashtags waren, die “the most popular nodes” im Kurs bildeten. Deshalb: “In our study, the role of hashtags in the community creation was apparent.”
Oleksandra Skrypnyk u.a., The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), Vol 16, No 3 (2015), Juni