4 Obstacles Subject Matter Experts Face On A Regular Basis

4 Obstacles Subject Matter Experts Need To Overcome

It's always wise to step inside someone else's shoes from time to time and see things from their perspective. You may work with Subject Matter Experts for virtually all of your eLearning projects, but are you truly aware of the challenges they are contending with? Learning as much as possible about their work process, professional philosophy, and the obstacles they must overcome can drastically improve your collaboration. As a result, both your eLearning team and your audience will benefit. Here are the 4 most significant obstacles that Subject Mattar Experts face on a regular basis.

  1. Inexperience in the eLearning field. 
    Not all Subject Matter Experts are familiar with Instructional Design models and eLearning course design. They are completely competent when it comes to their niche, but eLearning may be slightly out of their scope. Even those who are experienced in the eLearning field need to know the specifics of your eLearning project so that they can do their job effectively. Unfortunately, some Subject Mattar Experts are asked to create eLearning content without any introduction to the topic, eLearning course layout, or online learner's backgrounds. The eLearning professional simply doesn’t take the time to get them familiar with how the entire eLearning development process works or all of the steps involved. Instead, they naturally assume that the Subject Matter Expert is an expert on all things, including all of the instructional design models, theories and eLearning principles that will be applied. This is why it’s crucial to be clear from the start with your Subject Matter Expert about what they can expect, what you expect from them, and the process that everyone must follow. In fact, you may even want to hold an eLearning project kickoff meeting where you assign roles, clarify job responsibilities, and give everyone the chance to meet their new eLearning team.
  2. Busy schedules.
    Virtually every working professional is pressed for time. This also applies to Subject Matter Experts. One of the major obstacles that Subject Matter Experts face on a daily basis is finding time to tackle their to-do list, both in their personal and professional lives. Your Subject Matter Expert probably has a significant amount of work to do for your eLearning course, including research, eLearning content development, and a variety of other tasks that require dedication and focus. This is in addition to all of the other things that are going on in their lives at the moment. Therefore, eLearning professionals should try to be as flexible and accommodating as possible. If a Subject Matter Expert is dealing with a sudden emergency, then do your best to work with them and be understanding about the situation. Also, keep in mind that their time is valuable, as well. Prepare for your SME meetings in advance and create a list of questions or topics that you need to cover in order to get the most out of your time, and theirs. Let them know that you appreciate their time and effort, and you are there if they need to discuss any issues that may arise over the course of the eLearning project.
  3. They are completely in the dark about the eLearning goals and objectives.
    Subject Matter Experts should have a clear idea of what your online learners need to achieve by the end of the eLearning course. In many cases, the experts are not informed about the goals of the eLearning project before they dive into the eLearning content. This usually comes down to a lack of communication. It’s possible that the Instructional Designer simply assumes that the Subject Matter Expert knows what needs to be accomplished or didn’t have the time to clearly convey the goals. Whatever the issue might be, the Subject Matter Expert is now in the dark about the desired outcome. As a result, they are neirther able to choose the ideas or concepts that align with the goals, nor do they have the opportunity to create eLearning content that offers real value. eLearning professionals should make a point to specify the goals and objectives from day one, so that Subject Matter Experts have a clear direction and there is no confusion about what learning needs to be achieved.
  4. They don’t know how the information will be applied.
    Subject Matter Experts are expected to know a lot about their specialty. After all, it’s one of the reasons why they are such an integral part of the eLearning team and the eLearning course design process. However, this abundance of knowledge can be problematic, if the Subject Matter Expert does not know how online learners will be applying it. They must have an idea of what the online learners will be expected to do with the information and how it will be used in the real world. Otherwise, they might include so much information that it overwhelms your audience and diminishes the value of your eLearning course. Sit down with your Subject Matter Expert beforehand and get their input about what should be included and what can be omitted. Identify exactly what your online learners will be doing with what they’ve learned and how it should benefit them in their real lives. Above all else, make sure that your Subject Matter Expert is aware of who will be taking the eLearning course and has access to all of the audience research you’ve conducted. If they can get a clear picture of their target audience they are more likely to create personalized learning materials.

Of course, Subject Matter Experts all have individual challenges that they must face over the course of their professional lives. This is why you should focus on communicating with your experts and building a successful working partnership. Doing so offers you the opportunity to discover their unique obstacles, so that you can potentially give them the support they need.

Looking for additional tips on working with Subject Matter Experts? Read the article Working With Subject Matter Experts: The Ultimate Guide to discover 9 additional ways that you can collaborate more effectively with your Subject Matter Expert.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips To Create An Efficient Training Simulation With ITyStudio

How To Create An Efficient Training Simulation With ITyStudio 

With more than 10 years spent designing eLearning modules, we can affirm that the most appropriate method to create those «Aha!» moments is developing a training simulation.

For instance, in a training simulation where your learners act as corporate managers, they might unexpectedly realize that the best way to keep power over others is not to be authoritative, but instead to listen and include their team directly into the decision making process of the organization.

There are some skills that can only be learnt by doing, and analyzing how people react to our actions. Managing people is one of them.

This phenomenon, when coupled with other strengths of a training simulation, can enable learners to get a deep understanding of the most abstract training concepts.

Nevertheless, once again, training simulations are often misunderstood.

A lot of training managers make critical mistakes that completely break their training modules, leading to poor results as well as unsatisfied trainers, leaving everybody kind of frustrated.

In this article, we are going to give you some tips, in order to design an effective and engaging training simulation.

1. Know your audience.

To create an effective training simulation, the first thing you need to do is to define your audience.

In other words: Be aware of their knowledge, skills and expertise levels.

The point is, if you do not clearly define what skills they currently master, what they already know and what they need to go to the next level, then you will have a hard time developing an online training simulation that will have a real added value for them. The last thing you want to see happening is wasting your hard-earned money and precious time basing your training simulation strategy on assumptions. Your training simulation will be pointless, because you will not have the right pedagogical approach for the particular people attending your training.

Consequently, to increase your audience’s professional knowledge base, you must evaluate them. This is the first step you need to take to develop an engaging training simulation.

The cool thing is that, with ITyStudio, this stage can be completed easily. As you can see on the screenshots below, you can set up criteria of analysis for your learners:

Training simulation

Moreover, based on these criteria and your attendee’s answers, a pedagogical radar is automatically delivered:

Training Simulation

2. Grab your learners’ attention.

A best practice consists in creating an eye-catching title and introduction for your training simulation. Besides, one of your best allies as an attention grabber will be humor.

In a serious enterprise environment, using small pieces of humor here and there is proven to be a great pedagogical tool, and it will make your training simulation engaging. Be careful though, do not overuse it. Otherwise, your learners might not stay focused, thus failing to absorb the most important details of the training simulation. It is important to provide them with a clear framework that brings their attention on your key pedagogical concepts.

By highlighting these key points, you will enable your learners to focus on what is really important from the very beginning. A good way to do it is, for instance, to insert a PDF file or a video within the training simulation, and ITyStudio makes it easy.

3. Establish a solid pedagogical structure for your training simulation.

Once you catch your learners’ attention, you now have to settle your pedagogical approach. In other words, you have to think about what you want them to learn. Based on our experience at ITyStudio, we can give you two pieces of valuable advice in this regard:

  1. Get realistic expectations concerning the outcome of your training simulation.
  2. Do not flood your audience with content.

The bottom line is that you have to put yourself into the attendee’s shoes. Think about that. It is impossible –and painful– to absorb too much information, in a limited period of time. Thus, you have to create what we call a «brain friendly» training simulation, in which you divide a large volume of pedagogical content into key sections.

This is a step by step approach. Indeed, the more clearly structured you training simulation will be, the easier it will be for employees to retain it. For instance, what we did with ITyStudio for one of our customer is dividing his training simulation into three areas. Each area being linked with a key section of the course.

4. Stimulate attendees’ emotions.

It is proven that including emotional elements will greatly impact the efficiency of your training simulation, as well as your audience’s engagement. That is the reason why you need to design it in a way that your content triggers emotional responses.

Actually, it is all about following an emotionally-driven approach. We highly encourage you to use scenarios and storytelling to do so. Fortunately, this is the secret weapon of ITyStudio! Thanks to its branching scenarios feature, the only limit is your imagination. Judge it by yourself:

Training simulation

5. Put interactivity to your training simulation.

Stimulating your learner’s emotions is a good starting point, but you can go further: Put interactivity to your training simulation. Forget the old fashioned «info screens», and focus on creating series of activities that entertain attendees instead.

For example, you can add games, videos, pictures… Any kind of interactive elements that could enable your learners to practice useful operating procedures. By putting in place engaging content, your audience will be more likely to retain what they are learning.

ITyStudio has been created with interactivity in mind. In the video below, you will have a practical example on how to setup interactivity between characters:

6. Show to your learners how the training simulation could be useful in the real world.

This last tip might be the most important of all. Because knowledge is nothing without action, you have to give your learners the opportunity to use the concepts taught in the training simulation.

Give them the chance to make choices, and to see themselves in scenarios where there are real world benefits. The main idea here is that, by encouraging employees to use the pedagogical content they received in a real world framework, they will be able to realize how their specific skills can be applied in their daily situations.

With ITyStudio, you can easily allow your learners to make decisions, and put them in a real world framework, thanks to your branching scenario.

Now, It’s Time To Take Action: Create Your First Training Simulation For Free!

Hopefully, this article gave you an insight on how to create an engaging training on your own, using the authoring tool ITyStudio as an example.

As you have seen, you will not get overwhelmed by all the technical stuff, as everything related to web design is already done for you, and the pedagogical structure can be easily laid out through right click and / or the drag and drop system.

The most beautiful part is the outcome: Learners do love interactivity, and you will be able to offer them plenty of it.

Moreover, you will see that your pedagogical results will be better as well.

Ready to go to the next level? Give it a try! Start your 30 day free trial here!

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Occupational Health And Safety Training: Turning Uhhhs Into Ohhhs

4 Tips To Make Health And Safety Training More Engaging 

Running training on Health and Safety? Here are some things to think about...

A regular feature of corporate training programs is an awareness training to employees on Health and Safety act. In Ontario, this is Occupational Health and Safety Act.

It is, unfortunately, a drab topic. People sit through the mandatory training as if it were a punishment. It is quite a challenge to bring in enthusiasm and excitement, or even some form of involvement in a training that rants about acts, laws, and possible jail terms for those not following these acts and laws.

On a side note, one of my theories is that the moment a training is made mandatory, we lose audience’s interest. There is a sense of resentment in the learners that is hard to overcome.

Nonetheless, not all is lost for Health and Safety trainers. Here are some lessons I’ve learnt along the way that will make Health and Safety training more interesting and engaging and I’d like to share with you today:

1. Make it relevant.

Consider your audience and make the topic relevant to them. If you are speaking to warehouse workers, talk about forklift safety. To office workers, cite examples about repetitive stress injury. If you are addressing shop floor employees in a chemical plant; well, there is no dearth of examples there. If a particular scenario does not happen in my world, then it has no relevance for me. People are moved by situations and events they can relate to. And when people relate, that is when they learn the best.

2. Make use of invested partners.

In an ideal world, everyone is equally invested in their own safety, and that of the safety of their surroundings. In the real world, some of us are more safety-aware than others, and these people are your partners. Employees who are first aid certified or are fire captains are one example of staff members that are invested and understand the gravity of the topic. Employees that sit on your organization’s Health and Safety committees are your best friends indeed: They can be leveraged as subject matter experts. The great thing about using such resources is their credibility among other workers. Since they are “one of them”, and not an external trainer, their inputs and observations are way more authentic than yours. And this is a valuable tool in training.

3. Use a good mix of media.

Video clips of common workplace accidents can be horrific, but can be used aptly to impress the importance of the topic. I like the commercials by WSIB; find them on YouTube:

Another good option is to have your leaners complete an online Health and Safety training course prior to attending a live in-class session. This ensures a basic level of knowledge among the class, and saves you from taking them through boring, legal stuff. You can rather use the time to discuss real-life scenarios and case studies that will resonate more with the audience, Here is an online training course freely made available by Ontario Ministry of Labor.

4. Use numbers strategically.

Numbers have a “real” quality to them; it is impossible to argue with cold, hard facts. However, be careful when employing numbers to make your case. It is important that the numbers speak to the audience, and make the issue seem real, not unreal. For example, instead of saying we have 60 fatalities each year, say roughly 1 person dies at work each week. This hits home way closer. Another example may be to make use of previous convictions under the law. How many supervisors were fined and/or jailed is not as provoking a statistic as saying that 1 supervisor in such-and-such company was fined $65,000 and 1 year in jail. Numbers like these can raise even the most reluctant learners from their seat and make them sit up and take notice.

Other training best practices, such as making a session interactive, using activities etc., usually work well with Health and Safety training too. However, there is a completely different angle to the Health and Safety issues: Somber and cautioning; because of the nature of the topic.

Not every training can be, or needs to be, fun. However, the end goal of all training stays the same: To make sure learners take back with them something more than what they came in with.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

CITE 2016

The 7th International Conference on Information Technology in Education (CITE 2016)

CITE 2016 is devoted to the advancement of information technology in education. Information technology (IT) deals with the use of computers and software to store, protect, convert, process and transmit information securely. IT has become an integral and necessary part of education, and can make lessons more enjoyable, creative and effective. The scope of CITE 2016 covers both theoretical and practical areas of information technology in education; Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following: long distance learning, full time learning, collaborative and group learning, learning systems platforms and architectures, E-learning and knowledge management, socially informed and instructional design, modeling and representation, evaluating of teaching and learning technologies.
CITE 2016 will be a valuable and important platform for inspiring international and interdisciplinary exchange at the forefront of information technology in education. The Conference will bring together academicians, educators, engineers and policy-makers from all over the world, and we hope that you will take this opportunity to join us for academic exchange and visit the city of Beijing.

CITE 2016 Areas of Interest
Collaborative and Group Learning

Group Learning Environment
Networked Learning Communities
Analysis and Modeling of Group Interactions
Design Principles for Collaborative Learning
Communities of Learners, Communities of Practice
Blog Culture and Its Impact on Education

Evaluating of Teaching and Learning Technologies

Performance Technology in Education
Evaluation of E-Learning Programs
Assessing the Use of Technology in Learning
Learning Systems Platforms and Architectures

Web-Based Learning Platforms
Technology Standards for E-Learning
Metadata for Learning Objects and Materials
Document Management for Learning
Authoring Tools and Assessment Tools
E-Learning and Knowledge Management

Organizational E-Learning Strategies
Blended e-Learning, Instructional Design
Mentoring and Coaching Programs
Human Resource Management and Development
Lifelong Learning, Evaluation of E-Learning
Quality Management of E-Learning
Inter-Disciplinary Perspectives
Theory Development, Experimental Methods
Socially Informed and Instructional Design

Social and Cultural Dimensions of Learning
Social-Historical-Cultural Contexts and Identity
Motivation and Engagement in Learning
Informal Learning Environments
Development and Evaluation of Learning Environment
Grid-Based Distributed Learning and Resources Environment
Modeling and representation

Models of Learners and Facilitators
Learning Process Models Design
Tasks and Problem-Solving Processes
Knowledge Representation and Ontologies
Innovative Pedagogical Models
Policies for Technology Implementation
Professional Development

CITE 2016 Keynote Speaker

Prof. Timothy Teo, University of Macau, Macao (China)

Timothy Teo (Ph.D.) is Professor of Education, Associate Dean, and Director of the Educational Research Centre at the University of Macau. He is also Honorary Professor at the University of Auckland. Timothy’s research interests are multi-disciplinary and include both substantive and methodological areas. These are Educational Psychology (Self-efficacy-teachers and students; Beliefs about teaching and learning; Meta-cognition), ICT in Education (Technology acceptance and adoption; e-learning), Music Education (Psychological processes of music teaching and learning), and Quantitative Methods (Psychometrics; Instrument development and validation; cross-cultural measurement; issues in survey development and administration; structural equation modeling; multilevel modeling; latent growth modeling; Item Response Theory modeling). Timothy is chief editor of two international journals, The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher(TAPER) and International Journal of Quantitative Research in Education(IJQRE) and a member in over 10 journal editorial boards. As an author, he has edited three books and written many book chapters and conference papers. To date, Timothy has published 128 peer-reviewed journal articles, with over 87in highly-ranked SSCI journals including Computers and Education, Educational and Psychological Measurement, Interactive Learning Environment, Journal of computer Assisted Learning, British Journal of Educational Technology, Journal of Research in Music Education, Computers in Human Behavior, The Internet and Higher Education, Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, and Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment.

The 7th International Conference on Information Technology in Education (CITE 2016) will be held from February 28 to March 1, 2016 in Beijing, China.

 

 

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.
  6. Join.me
    If one word could sum up Join.me 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.

7 Best Practices For eLearning Course Navigation

eLearning Course Navigation Best Practices 

As a seasoned eLearning professional, I firmly believe that a module should be designed in a way that the learners do not encounter any challenge while moving from one slide to another. It should never be designed in a way that keeps the learners guessing about the next move; else they will end up losing their focus very soon. Now the question is whether there should be a set of best practices for eLearning course navigation. If yes, here are 7 of them:

  1. Provide a single way to navigate forward.
    Learners often get confused when they see multiple ways on a slide to navigate forward in the course. For instance, if there is a “Next” and a “Continue” button on the same slide. In this case, it should be either of the buttons and not both. You may consider removing one of the buttons so that the learners are not confused as which of the paths they should follow next. In some scenarios, where it is a tricky situation, you may want to add a call-out to provide clear guidance to the learner.
  2. Provide a tour on how to navigate through the course.
    For the benefit of your learners, it is always a good idea to provide them with brief explanation of how they should navigate through the course. It need not be something elaborate. It can be as simple as a few text boxes that have instructions in them and a couple of arrows that point towards the different buttons on the slide. The various things that you may want to highlight include a way to exit, a help feature, and other navigational information that you feel is important for your learners.
  3. Always use short and crisp titles.
    As an eLearning professional, your success will always be measured by how easily your content is digested by your learners. Hence, it is a good idea to label your links or icons clearly. For instance, you want your learners to click a button to exit the course. Start with an action verb and label it as, “Exit Course”, which is more direct, rather than “Click Here To Exit The Course”.
  4. Use icons that are relevant to the context of your course.
    It is always better to use icons that your learners are already familiar with. For instance, a forward arrow is more relevant when you use it to direct your learners to navigate to the next page or screen. An image of a star or a flower will confuse them regarding the action they would need to perform. Also, while localizing your eLearning course, it is good to use images that are accepted globally.
  5. Be consistent with the placement of navigational links.
    You must be absolutely clear and consistent with the placement of your eLearning course navigational links. They should be inserted in the same place on every slide. It helps the learners decide where they want to go next in the course. To be consistent with the position of the links, you can use the navigational controls that are already built in the template. It helps to avoid the slide jumps that most frequently occur when you place the links manually.
  6. Allow learners to view their progress.
    When your learners are navigating through a course, and do not know how much they have covered so far or when the course is going to end, at times they may feel discouraged and disoriented. Therefore, it is a good idea to let your learners view their progress through different ways, for instance, by encouraging communication, providing them with immediate feedback, etc.
  7. Perform a thorough testing of the eLearning course navigational links before deployment.
    Prior to publishing the course and sharing it with your learners, you must perform a thorough testing of the navigational links. You may also like to seek the feedback from few of your peers who have never seen the course before to check if they are facing any kind of difficulty while navigating through the eLearning course. In some cases, it happens that the course links work fine in the first instance, however, when it resumes to its initial state, it may throw up some linking errors. Hence, it is important to check every navigation link in every page.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

kPoint Technologies releases PoP, a video caching solution for enterprise subnets

kPoint Technologies has announced the release of its new video caching solution, called kPoint Point of Presence (PoP), ahead of Learning Technologies 2016. The innovative caching solution will help organizations build their own video content distribution network to eliminate re-delivery of video content to a subnet. By installing kPoint PoP, organizations will improve the end-user video experience while significantly reducing both bandwidth consumption and server load.