Artificial Intelligence Mentors Individualize Learning

Artificial Intelligence Mentors And Learning 

Most of our lives we learn specifically what we need to achieve our goals. As children we learn how to crawl, walk, and talk when we are physically ready to do so. We learn when our brain is sufficiently developed. We only attempt something new, like the precarious act of walking, when we are motivated to do so. Babies start to crawl to get to something that they want – their mother and her milk, a shiny toy, or perhaps something to explore. We learn to talk to get what we want. We cry to express our desires, to complain about the temperature, or to signal that we have fresh poop!

Our mothers urge us to walk. Our fathers play games with us. Our parents guide us away from dangers. Our mentors help us exercise our inquisitive minds safely. Our mentors help us reach our goals. That is the natural, organic way of learning.

Mentors guide our learning.

Organic Learning 

The organic way of learning continues throughout our lives except for when we are in the formal industrial educational system that we call school. You’ve heard this before. Schools were designed to rapidly teach large groups of people to meet the demands of an industrial age. In school all students are expected to learn the same content at a pace that is set by the system, whether or not they are ready for it. And we are expected to learn on a set deadline. As a society we have been doing this for centuries but it is a difficult way of learning.

The formal industrial education system is not organic.

Student Evaluations 

We measure students according to the formal education system. It's a contrived way of measuring intelligence, creativity, and productivity. We are judging students on their ability to excel in the system. It does not take into account their individual abilities to learn and to be productive. Some students are slower to learn, but are great problem solvers. Others are not good problem solvers, but can remember anything they read.  Given enough time and motivation anyone can find their niche to excel and achieve fulfillment.

To succeed in school means that we have learned how to succeed in school.

Industrial Education System 

The industrial education system is strong during elementary and high school. College students have more control of their learning but are still subject to a rigid structure. After graduating from college, learning decreases. Unless required for a job learning trails off. Many doctors do not keep up with advances in their professions.

Learning is a difficult thing to do. As we enter the work force we have less time to do it. The old saying that “we live our dissertation” is a reference to the fact that after we graduate we essentially coast along what we learned from our formal education.

People do want to learn. The great expansion of lifelong programs and of online schools proves that people hunger to learn. It is part of being human. In fact, people who stop learning have decidedly less enjoyable lives.

What makes learning difficult is that the current model of simulating the classroom online does not take into account that people work, have family obligations, and spend time with their friends.

The traditional school system is not very good online.

Artificial Intelligence Mentors 

Instead of reproducing the traditional classroom online a new paradigm is needed. We need a model of education where mentors guide us in our learning, just like when we were babies.

That is what artificial intelligence will deliver in 2016. Artificial intelligence mentors will accompany us on our phones, tablets, and computers. Artificial intelligence mentors will help us choose what we should learn to reach a goal. They will teach us. They will serve up videos. Perhaps they will talk to us in virtual reality worlds. They’ll be there when we need them, whether on the job, or at home. We will get exactly the information we need when we need it.

Artificial intelligence will deliver individualized education in an economically viable package that will flip education and put learning back in the hands of the student!

Artificial intelligence mentors will guide learning throughout life. 

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

mLearning: The Chance To Enhance Education In Developing Nations

How mLearning Can Enhance Education In Developing Nations 

The ubiquitous nature of mobile devices becomes evident when you look at the results of the TIME Qualcomm survey which said that 84% of the respondents could not go a single day without a cell phone in their hand and 44% would leave their wallets at home but not their cell phones.

Of the 7 billion on the planet, over 6 billion have access to a working mobile phone. To put this number in perspective, only 4.5 billion people have access to toilets.

To better understand how technology can enable reading (a baby step to mLearning), UNESCO conducted a survey to learn about the habits, preferences, and attitudes of mobile readers. Specifically, the survey was designed to discover who reads on mobile phones and why; if and how mobile reading changes reading habits and attitudes towards reading; what people read and want to read on their mobile phones; what the central barriers are to mobile reading; and what factors predict people’s intentions to read and keep reading on mobile phones.

The survey was completed by over 4,000 people in seven countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe) and supported by qualitative interviews with numerous respondents. The depth and breadth of data collection make this study the most comprehensive investigation of mobile reading in developing countries to date.

From the study, it appears that people read more when they read on mobile devices, that they enjoy reading more, and that people commonly read books and stories to children from mobile devices. The study shows that mobile reading represents a promising, if still underutilized, pathway to text. If every mobile phone could be transformed –easily and cheaply– into a library brimming with books, access to text would cease to be such a daunting hurdle to literacy.

mLearning brings unique advantages when compared with other mediums, the prominent being the ability to provide highly personalized attention 24/7 to all students. The time spent per session is less in mLearning and it aims at completing small chunks of 3-5 minutes. The advantage of accessing a module while waiting for a bus or in a coffee shop provides huge ease of use. Pan India mobile data usage has grown YOY 74% in the year 2014. This suggests people living in smaller towns and cities can get access to the best possible learning resources from across the world, at a very affordable price. As per TRAI and census of India data, cell phone penetration in India stands at nearly 78 connections per 100 individuals which is likely to grow heavily in the coming years creating the right launch pad for m-learning solutions.

Presently, the market for mLearning products and services is estimated at USD 3.4 billion, a tiny fraction of the USD 4 trillion spent on education globally. Although mLearning is a nascent market, publishing houses, mobile network operators, and device manufacturers have been focusing on it for years. Commercial mLearning offerings could take one of many forms. A non-exhaustive list would potentially comprise:

  1. Educational e-books and courses accessed through portable devices.
  2. Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and authoring tools.
  3. Game or simulation-based learning tools.
  4. Adaptive assessment services.
  5. Test preparation support.
  6. Distance tutoring and homework support.

By 2020, it is expected that global spend on education would double to USD 8 trillion. mLearning may address up to USD 70 billion of this market through specialized product offerings and a growing market for devices coupled with a coordinated m-learning ecosystem for effective dissemination of knowledge.

The focus to provide universal access to mobile connectivity is necessary for mLearning in India. Successful implementation of Digital India becomes a prerequisite for provisioning of the mLearning backbone. Furthermore, the renewed focus of the government on NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) would also be a step in the right direction with respect to m-learning and technology enabled learning in large.

India’s online education market size is set to grow to $40 billion by 2017 from the current $20 billion. India has one of the largest education systems in the world with a network of more than 1 million schools and 18,000 higher education institutions. More than half of the country’s 1.2 billion population falls in the target market for education and related services. This includes all age groups, for beginners, school students, for the elderly citizens, and even for employee training or re-training purposes in both rural and urban areas – they are all an audience and beneficiary of this delivery mechanism.

In India (and every developing country), mLearning could provide last mile educational solutions without the hassle of physical infrastructure and availability of teachers. For the rural population, the biggest mLearning challenge would be customized material in a regional language. Grassroots institutions (like the anganwadis in India), NGOs, and local primary schools need to cooperate with providers in order to cross the language barrier in order to make the entire effort a useful one.

If the world puts its energy and resources behind the Global Goals by 2030 initiative, then an essential pillar of attaining Goal 4 (Quality Education) would have to be mLearning.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

BrainStorm 17.0

BrainStorm 17.0: For Ed Techs, By Ed Techs.

At BrainStorm 17.0 we gather education technologists from around the midwest to connect, inform, and inspire.

The goal of the BrainStorm 17.0 Conference is for K20 techs to network with their counterparts from throughout the Midwest and to connect with technology vendors who tailor their products for the K20 community.

Connecting K20 techs with their colleagues is what BrainStorm is all about.

Learn from K20 techs and vendors who have the solutions you're looking for.

Get inspired by new products and ideas at our one-of-a-kind vendor fair.

BrainStorm 17.0 Suggested Topics

Topics taken from attendee survey from previous conference

  • Chromebook 1:1 and management
  • Supporting STEM programs
  • Effective training of staff on new technologies
  • Office 365 administration
  • Google Vault
  • Network monitoring on wired networks
  • SNMP sessions
  • GAFE admin session
  • Windows 10 in the classroom
  • Raspberry Pi or other digital signage options
  • Video integration
  • Google scripting
  • Google for Education management
  • System Center (SCCM) demos and advice
  • Image deployment
  • iPad vs. Chromebooks
  • Internet security
  • MDM solutions
  • Hardware troubleshooting/repairs
  • Identity management and authentication across platforms
  • managing staff - budgeting processes - future planning of equipment life cycles/budgets
  • High density wireless
  • IT Leadership topics
  • Internet filtering of Chromebooks, etc. outside the network
  • 1:1 – Support and Management Best Practices
  • Telephony (Open source VoIP, Asterisk, etc.)
  • Virtualization (VMware, Hyper-V, etc.)
  • Windows, Mac, and/or Linux Desktop Administration
  • Windows, Mac, Novell, and/or Linux Server Administration
  • General Best Practices – Wireless, Infrastructure & Networking
  • ITIL Standards
  • Clean, managed, multiprotocol wireless
  • Online Office Suites (Google Apps, Office Live, Zoho, ThinkFree, etc.)
  • Podcast Distribution & Management
  • Next Generation Firewall (Content Filters, Layer 7 Filtering, Bandwidth Management)
  • Best in Class Software Tools to Manage a Network
  • Security UTM (Malware Protection, Anti-Virus, Spyware, Rootkits, etc.)
  • Active Directory/Open Directory/eDirectory/LDAP
  • Cross-Platform Directory Integration (AD, OD, eDir, etc.)
  • School Technology Policies
  • Switches - Configuring and Best Practices
  • Personal Mobility Devices (iPad/iPod/Netbooks/Tablets)
  • Successful Planning & Implementation of VDI
  • SANS - Storage Area Networks
  • Multi-Platform Network Setup, Tips, Administration
  • Zenworks Configuration Management
  • Group Policy Sessions
  • Problem/Change Management
  • Surviving a Technology Audit
  • Mailserver Administration (Kerio, Exchange, Zimbra, etc.)
  • Email – Time to Outsource for free to Google or Microsoft?
  • Getting Support from School Administration
  • Backup/Cloud Storage
  • Eliminate on-site file storage for students (staff?) – Skydrive, DropBox, Etc.
  • Actual Demos of Software in Use by School Personnel
  • Shellscripting (Powershell, AppleScript, Bash, etc.)
  • Money Saving Projects/Techniques
  • CANs (Community Area Networks)
  • Best Practices for Beginner IT Personnel
  • Content Management Systems (Drupal, Joomla, CMS4Schools, etc.)
  • Taming Roaming Profiles
  • Imaging (Hardware Independent, System Center, Deploy Studio, Casper, Ghost, etc.)
  • Equipping Teachers with Laptops
  • K12 Funding from Government Agencies
  • Ideas on how to maximize your Technology Budget
  • Roadmaps for: Windows, Office, SharePoint, IE, Firefox, Etc.
  • How to do a Security Audit on your Network
  • How to Conduct a Digital Forensics Investigation
  • Software Licensing Traps

BrainStorm 17.0 will be hekd at the Kalahari Resorts & Convention Center (WI, US) on February 28 - March 01, 2016.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

8 Important Characteristics Of Baby Boomers eLearning Professionals Should Know

Baby Boomers' Important Characteristics 

If you want to design eLearning experiences that truly matter, then learning as much as possible about your audience is the first step in the development process. Baby boomers are one of the largest learning generations today, as new retirees leave the workforce and look to take up new skills and online studies. Thus, it’s essential to explore their characteristics before creating your next eLearning course.

  1. Strong work ethic.
    Baby boomers aren’t afraid to put in a hard day of work. For many of this generation, some of their self-worth comes directly from their professional achievements. They acknowledge that success comes from dedicating a great deal of time and effort into their careers, which also means that they may find it difficult to find the perfect home-work balance. In terms of designing eLearning experiences for baby boomers, it’s essential to create bite-sized modules that allow learners to cover a particular topic in depth before moving onto the next. Otherwise, they may simply try to complete a lengthy eLearning course in one sitting and not fully absorb or retain the information. Their strong work ethic makes them motivated to learn as much as possible and do their very best, even if that means unintentionally overloading their mental processes.
  2. Self-Assured.
    This generation is independent and self-assured. They were raised during a turbulent time in history, and they were required to take on their fair share of responsibilities in order to fulfill their roles in society. This also means that they aren’t afraid to question authority if they don’t agree with the status quo. Though they are prone to following the rules of society, they will also voice their opinions if they feel something violates their personal values or perspective. As eLearning professionals, we must take this into consideration when designing eLearning courses and create a feedback system that allows them to address their concerns and share their opinions. Also, you should give them control over their own eLearning experience, such as allowing them to decide which module they will complete next or which online activity they would like to participate in.
  3. Competitive.
    Baby boomers like competition. One of their biggest motivators is racing to the top of the corporate ladder, or a leaderboard in the case of gamified eLearning, doing their best to surpass their peers and co-workers. This is why using badges, points, and rankings, is always a good idea when you’re designing for baby boomer audiences. However, bear in mind that they respond more favorably to intrinsic motivation than extrinsic. Though winning a tangible reward may work for some, they are typically driven by internal forces, such as self-improvement and personal growth.
  4. Goal-centric.
    This post-war generation is all about goal setting and achievement. They enjoy creating goals for themselves, or even being assigned specific goals to reach. This goes for both their personal and professional lives. As such, it’s wise to include a progression bar or checklist into your eLearning course design, as well as milestones that your learners must meet along the way. This gives them the opportunity to track their progress and achieve smaller goals throughout the eLearning course, which keeps them focused and motivated.
  5. Resourceful.
    Baby boomers were raised in an era where resourcefulness was a necessary trait. Not to mention that many of their parents lived through the Great Depression. People often had to make do with what they had. As such, this generation can squeeze every ounce of usefulness out of the online activities, exercises, and tech tools that you offer them. Give them just the bare necessities that they need to solve a problem or tackle a challenge, then leave them to their own devices. Let them hone their skills with what they have, which also allows them to explore the subject matter on their own terms.
  6. Mentally focused.
    Unlike more recent generations, baby boomers know how to keep their minds focused on a particular subject or topic. They have amazing attention spans, which enables them to stay on track when they are engaging in eLearning experiences. This also means that they may take a bit more time with an online assignment, as they painstakingly pay attention to every detail and every sub-topic. Give them enough time to reflect on the subject, absorb the key ideas, and commit it to their long-term memory before moving onto the next online module.
  7. Team oriented.
    One of the baby boomers’ strongest characteristics is their strong sense of community. They thrive in team environments, whether that be in-person or online. Naturally, this means that you should include plenty of online group collaboration activities that give them the chance to solve problems with their peers and benefit from the experience and skills of others. In fact, you may even want to pair them up with younger generations to allow both parties to reap the rewards.
  8. Disciplined.
    Baby boomers like structure. Many grew up in households that were highly disciplined and structured, which shaped who they are today. Though they enjoy being able to navigate the eLearning path on their own, such as choosing their next module, they must also have the option to follow a pre-set learning path that leads them right to their goals. Give them a schedule to follow and encourage them to meet specific deadlines.

Baby boomers may not be “digital natives”, but technology can still be a valuable learning tool. The key to developing eLearning courses for this generation is respecting their personal experience and making it an integral part of the learning process. By using this baby boomer characteristics guide, you have the power to develop an eLearning course that meets their personal needs each and every time.

Want to learn more about this particular target audience? Read the article Tips To Engage And Inspire Baby Boomers In eLearning to discover 8 tips that can help you create motivational, inspiring, and engaging eLearning experiences for your baby boomer audience.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

5 Ways To Survive A Student Email Avalanche

How To Survive A Student Email Avalanche 

When you teach online, you quickly notice that your inbox is always filled to overflowing with student email. 

And if you don’t check your messages for a day or two, look out!

When you do open your email it’s like watching an avalanche coming roaring down a mountainside – straight towards you.

What can you do to make sure you’re not snowed under by student email, answering message after message for hours on end?

Here are 5 ways to deal with student email well before it snowballs out of control. 

1. Make communication time frames clear. 

Many online students don’t realize that eLearning involves delayed contact. They’re much more used to instant answers and immediate feedback. So don’t wait for them to find out the hard way that teacher-student email is often delayed in an online learning environment. Tell your students what to expect when communicating with you:

  • Will you answer emails within one working day?
  • Do you have virtual office hours?
  • Are there specific times you are unavailable?
  • Will you return graded work within 5 working days? Or 10?

Explain the rules of eLearning communication, and online students are more likely to work within those rules.

2. Prevent unnecessary student emails in the first place.

Set up your Learning Management System to be as learner-friendly as possible. If your online students can find the information they need without extensive searching, they’re less likely to email for help with simple queries. By encouraging independent learning you find that student email more often relates to valid questions - rather than multiple queries about when the next assignment is due.

3. Scan your inbox before you answer even one student email.

Student email tends to follow certain patterns. Rather than just wading into the snowdrift of student email, scan your inbox first. Get the “lay of the land” – are there messages from colleagues or management you need to answer first? Is there a reply from a student you’ve been waiting to hear from on an urgent issue? Deal with those messages first, and get them out of the way. Then you can look for patterns – are there any online students who’ve sent you several emails since you last checked?

Let’s say a student has sent you 4 emails overnight. Try reading them in reverse date order, from the earliest to the latest message. You may well find that the student has answered her own question in the process. That means you can send one email back to the student, instead of four. A single-line response –“Great to hear you’ve sorted it out independently!”– saves you time and unwanted aggravation.

4.  Don’t multi-task.

When you teach online, juggling many tasks is second nature. But when it comes to student email, it helps to deal with one snowball at a time.

Let’s say you get a student question about an aspect of the course materials. You need to check your Learning Management System to find the answer. But the system is taking forever to load this morning! So you impatiently open another email and start dealing with that at the same time. This can cause complications pretty quickly. Before you know it, you’re halfway through several queries and you’re starting to confuse yourself (and very probably your online students) in the process. It’s actually more efficient to deal with each student query in full, completely, and then move onto the next. What seems like saved time through multi-tasking can actually lead to a lot of backtracking and cross-checking, as you try to make sure you’re matching the right answer to the right student.

5.  Answer student email in blocks.

Try this easy time management technique. Check your message twice or three times a day, in blocks. Not when you’re halfway through grading a paper. Not while you’re having lunch. If you turn your speakers off, you won’t hear a demanding bleep every three minutes when another deluge of student email arrives in your inbox. That makes it easier to finish grading that pile of papers by the end of the day. If you keep opening student email messages, every new student crisis or question will distract you from your goal.

These practical approaches will help you take control of your inbox, and get on with the business of the teaching day.

Student email doesn’t have to freeze up your productivity like a heavy snowfall.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

The Secret To Reduced Employee Turnover: How A Learning Management System Facilitates Employee Development

How The Right Learning Management System Facilitates Employee Development And Reduces Employee Turnover 

“Increase employee development efforts” should be at the top of every company’s list of New Year’s resolutions. There is a plethora of reasons for this. For example, employee development boosts employee satisfaction and workforce productivity, and reduces turnover. It comes down to how a Learning Management System is leveraged internally. However, most employers don’t connect employee development efforts (or lack thereof) with a high rate of turnover. This is why a company that neglects to professionally develop its workforce will lose its most precious commodity: Human capital.

Most Companies Are Lacking In Employee Development

If your organization is weak in the area of employee development, don’t feel bad; so are most companies. The article Why Top Young Managers Are in a Nonstop Job Hunt, published by the Harvard Business Review, states “Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits. Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development… but they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring, and coaching”.

Organizations that want to hold onto employees must increase employee development initiatives. A company that neglects to do this will suffer with a high turnover rate and reduced productivity.

Employee Development: The Secret To Reduced Employee Turnover

Companies that have unsatisfactory turnover rates may be neglecting to arm their employees with the skills they need for long-term success in the workplace. Victor Lipman, contributor to Forbes, says

“It’s hard to think of an important aspect of management more neglected than development planning: helping your employees shape the future direction of their careers. Yet for a variety of reasons, this valuable activity is often ignored… or handled as a bureaucratic exercise… or an afterthought.  Companies pay a high price: The loss of top young talent.”

Is your company holding onto talented workers by investing time and money into their professional development? If not, the best time to start is now.

Facilitate Employee Development With A Learning Management System  

Let’s face it: Employers avoid developing their employees because it takes too much effort. Sometimes it even feels overwhelming or burdensome for managers to take on the additional responsibility of implementing an employee development program. If you’ve been avoiding taking more initiative in the area of employee development, consider implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) and letting it do the hard work.

A social Learning Management System perfectly facilitates employee development efforts. How? The answer is simple: By operating as a training tool that equips employees with the skills they need for professional success. An eLearning system delivers this information in ways uniquely helpful to each individual learner. According to John Laskaris, author of the article eLearning in the Workplace, “eLearning in the workplace is geared towards enhancing learning and organizational performance”, both of which are important aspects of employee development.

Learning Management System administrators are often surprised to discover how easy an eLearning system makes employee development. Since a Learning Management System is a digital training center that users have 24/7 access to, it eliminates the need for in-person training. This takes the pressure off both administrator and learner, giving trainees the gift of flexibility/self-paced learning, and administrators the gift of free time.

How A Learning Management System Enhances Employee Development Efforts

The more of a priority employee development becomes to your company, the lower its turnover rate will be, and the higher workforce productivity will climb. The proof is in the pudding. See how a Learning Management System can work for your unique needs. If you are serious about seeing these positive changes, let a fully hosted Learning Management System be the channel through which your organization’s employee development efforts come.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

3 Ways eLearning Simulations Can Be Used As An Effective Marketing Tool

How eLearning Simulations Can Be Used As An Effective Marketing Tool 

Simulation is a powerful tool for creating memorable learning experiences. However, many big brands can now use simulation-based eLearning to add further value to their products; making it useful from a marketing perspective. These are just some of the different ways eLearning simulations can be used:

  1. Simulated product training.
    Case scenarios and online tutorials help a customer make full sense of a product, and see if it’s something that they might use or need. It helps potential customers to imagine themselves using the product in a particular situation, and can create positive association if the training is effective. From a personal point of view, when I had to learn to use some design software as part of a course, I was impressed with the online tutorials available for a well known program. This led me to use that one rather than any rival product. Well presented and easy-to-follow online support can help build brand loyalty, with a tutorial video being far more accessible than a simple list of instructions.
  2. Capturing data for target marketing.
    Using eLearning simulations with a focus group can help a company find qualitative data that shows what potential customers are looking for in a product. eLearning moderators can generate a full report of a learner’s behavior within a simulation using analytics, and break it down for use in marketing. For example; if a focus group were invited to test a simulation of a car manufacturer’s new model and a certain age demographic were observed enjoying testing the car’s stereo and speakers, then any future marketing and advertising could specifically target that age group by showing off the car’s music capabilities.
  3. Gathering feedback to improve design.
    Learning is all about feedback and providing an opportunity for learners to become better at tasks. In this instance we can flip this on its head. If most of the members of a focus group are struggling to use a simulation of a product during concept testing –despite appropriate instructions–, then maybe the product itself is too difficult to use or flawed in some way. Eliminating design flaws or features that hinder user-friendliness could save a company millions from potential product failures.

The Future 

At CH Digital Solutions we believe that the rise of 360-degree video and new virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift have the potential to take eLearning simulations to the next level. While a standard 2D video can simply show you a course or event, a 360-degree video has the ability to fully immerse a learner in an environment and allow them to engage in a simulation like never before.

Marketers and advertisers can also take advantage of this new technology in a similar way.  Destination BC is aiming to promote tourism in British Columbia, Canada by releasing a 360-degree teaser video showing the sights and sounds that would greet a would-be visitor. Such videos showing viewers what they could experience themselves in the flesh have already been used for festivals, sports events and cars.

With the format now widely available on Facebook with most smart phones, it appears that many adverts could soon become a learning simulation of some kind – placing potential customers in new and unusual situations to build interest in a brand or product.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.