Why cloud authoring tools are the best tools for eLearning

Let’s start by understanding, what exactly is ‘Cloud Authoring’!

Cloud authoring is ‘internet based authoring’. In other words, one can access these tools using their web browser. (For example, Google Docs) Everything is online and you just need to log in to get started with your work.

So, what makes Cloud Authoring better than others?

They are free! (Most of them)

Yes! Many cloud authoring tools like Google Docs, QuoDeck, etc. are free. Others like Powtoon, Dropbox, etc. are also free, but in case you need more features than you have to pay.

No installation required

You don’t have to download these tools in order to use them. You can access them using your web browser. All you need to do is sign up. So, you don’t need to have any particular configuration to use these tools. It also saves your effort of coordinating with IT department to install software on your computer.

Accessible from anywhere

These tools can be accessed from anywhere. You can access the content created on these tools from anywhere. You don’t have to go through the hassles of carrying the data everywhere.

Creating on the go

Using these tools, you can create/ edit content on the go. And here’s the best thing, once you load the tool on your website, you can use it even offline. You don’t need internet connection at all, except when you have to save or publish the content.

Easy to collaborate

Collaborating with your colleagues is a lot easier using these tools. You can share the files or the published content for reviewing. Or by sharing the credentials, you can even ask your colleague to make the necessary changes.

Want to try one of these cloud authoring tools? Try QuoDeck – a game-based learning creator.

 

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A day in the life of a serious game developer

If you are in the serious gaming industry, then probably, you would be familiar with this conversation.

(The conversation starts with me saying that I work with a serious gaming company)

The Other Guy: So, you develop games like Angry Birds? Which one have you developed?

Me (Exasperated already): No! We develop serious games. Not the fancy ones like Angry Birds or Candy Crush.

The Other Guy: Serious Games? What is it?

Me: These are games which are developed for purpose other than entertainment. These are games for training, research or marketing. In other words, these games are not just for fun, but for solving real world problems.

The Other Guy: Real world problems? Oh! Never heard about them. Seems like a new concept.

Me: Many think so, but it’s not. It’s been used since the 19th century, mostly for military or defence purpose. You know, Prussian forces used to have one called Kriegsspiel‘. But the buzz around serious games began once the digital scenario started booming. The term ‘Serious Game‘ was coined in 2001 and then it was adopted increasingly by different industries.

The Other Guy: Whoa! I had no clue. By the way, do these games work? I mean, after all these are just games!

Me: Well, you are right! These are just games. Only, they have a serious purpose. Serious games use entertainment and engagement to convey serious and strategic information or achieve communication objectives.

The Other Guy: I am not sure I understand it.

Me: Alright! So tell me, why is a game fun?

The Other Guy: Because … it is a fun activity which you play and try to win.

Me: There you go, my friend! In any game, you play to win. You make decisions or plan moves in order to win. Serious games work in a similar fashion, except, it delivers some kind of learning using the same mechanism. Amusement is secondary here, and yet it is the secret ingredient that makes serious games work. That’s the reason why we use games to teach our kids. Don’t you think? It makes boring stuff interesting!

The Other Guy: You have a point! Can you name any of these games?

Me: Yes, there are many out there! There’s this puzzle game called ‘Foldit’ which explains how protein folding happens in a human body. Even games like ‘Need for Speed’ can be termed as ‘Serious Games’ …

The Other Guy (Not letting me complete my sentence): Need for Speed? What does one learn from it? I have been playing that one for years!

Me (Now Frustrated): While playing the game, have you noticed advertisements for Porsche or any other racing cars?

The Other Guy: Yes! They’re always there!

Me: That’s the purpose. Need for Speed is an Advergame, a version of serious games, that is used for advertising brands. There are many out there! Even Movies come up with games for promotional purpose. Iron Man has done it. The Harry Potter game was a rage when it was released few years back.

The Other Guy: I remember that one!

This is how it starts and continues … But in most cases, at this point, either I am bored to continue or the other guy is!

So, have you ever had a conversation like this?

 

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Why you should use case studies to make your elearning course more engaging

There is a big difference between a course that is engaging, and a course that is well-documented.

You may create a comprehensive course with interactive branch scenarios and detailed explanation, but, if it is not relevant to the learner, than it will just confuse or worst case, frustrate her. Such a pattern may be good and easy to build, but it is only good enough to share information. It lacks in creating engagement and results in poor retention in the mind of the learner. Such courses are ‘well-documented’, but not engaging.

Engagement requires an emotional connection between the content and the learner. It goes beyond presenting interactive content; it is about designing truly motivating learning experiences.

The biggest challenge in creating an elearning course is engaging the learner, and there is a very simple solution for this – Case Studies

So here’s how you can use case studies to make your course engaging and interesting.

  • It is after all, a story: Humans have used the art of story-telling as a mode of communicating ideas and knowledge since the Stone Age, and there is a reason behind it. We tend to remember a story better than just facts, and it provides a very practical, firsthand account of events that happened, and the appropriate solutions to them.
  • It is simple: The simpler your story, the clearer is the message and the easier it is for the learner to remember and use it when required. If you stuff your course with extra details, your course will end up being a clutter of abstract information, making it tougher for both – you and the learner.
  • A relevant perspective: If you tell your story from the perspective of the customer, or anyone other than the learner, she will receive insights on the situation from a different perspective too. Also, this will raise the interest of the person enrolled in your course. Instead of telling the learner what they need to know, show them how not knowing affects others.

Even as a trainer, this makes things simpler for you as well.

Case studies need lesser time to build, and they rarely result in an information dump. Thus, you waste lesser time and energy, thinking and pondering over your course, and tweaking it time and again by introducing gimmicks to make it more engaging.

A case study is still mostly linear, but I see it as a first step in an iterative process of moving away from the boring click and read style. What is your take on this?

P.S.: If you are interested in knowing about micro-learning, then this one is a good place to start – 5 reasons why micro-learning is perfect for today’s workforce

 

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8 reasons to use serious games for training

1. Highly Engaging
Serious games are very engaging and communicate in a fashion that is easily acceptable by the human mind. Use of elements like story, interesting characters, relevant settings, etc engage the user emotionally.

2. Safe Environment
Users learn to deal with real life-like situations in a safe and engaging environment. They can make mistakes and keep on practicing till they are well-trained, which in turn boosts their confidence.

3. Instructional Design Based
Serious games are always designed after conducting an instructional design study (the study of creating instructional experiences which make knowledge acquisition more efficient and effective). It foresees and tackles the possible roadblocks that might hinder the learning process.

4. Reusable & Cost-effective
Once designed, Serious Games can be used multiple times. You don’t need a facilitator or special sessions to use this. The cost for maintenance and updating a serious game is negligible given its extensive uses.

5. Easy to Understand
Serious games are great when it comes to delivering complicated knowledge. These games communicate complex pieces of information in a fun and engaging way.

6. Reporting & Analytics
Serious games allow you to capture the users’ data. This is one of the main advantages they have over offline or classroom training. These reports can be used later for optimising the training content.

7. Acts as a Booster
These games can boost any learning methodology i.e. These games provide a welcome break in between modules or learning schedules and engage the user by means of its gameplay.

8. Tried & Tested
Serious games ARE effective! Several Research Studies have acknowledged the fact that serious games do add on to the overall learning experience. These games have been used in different sectors like defense, retail, insurance, etc and have been found useful.

 

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7 things to check before implementing a micro-learning system in your organisation

Implementing a learning system for any organisation is not an easy task. It requires deep analysis of the organisation’s requirements, resources and estimation of the future needs as well.

The key to a proper implementation of any learning system is identifying the constraints and defining the specifications for the system. This study, known as the ‘Detailed Constraint Analysis’, helps in identifying the constraints which might create a roadblock during the actual implementation. (Download this INCITE Micro-learning Framework to find out more about Detailed Constraint Analysis)

Here are the 7 recommended parameters one must check to ensure that the implementation specifications are comprehensive:

1. Device Constraints – These constraints pertain to whether the micro-learning is being built for the mobile or the desktop or both. Based on the answer to this question, constraints with respect to operating systems, screen orientation and sizing, app vs. web, etc. need to be further analyzed.

2. Security Constraints – These constraints pertain to the data and access security concerns of the organization. These can range from basic questions like whether the learning is to be accessible only inside the office to more complex issues like remote wiping of learning data on exits, etc.

3. Bandwidth Constraints – These constraints pertain to the network bandwidth available for the learning system. These constraints are typically derived from surrogate analysis of geographical dispersion and network capabilities of the devices on which the learning is to be deployed.

4. Org Structure Constraints – These pertain to the team structures within the company and non-hierarchical structures (like Leadership Group, Committees, etc.) that might be present. The main aspect to analyze is the likelihood and extent of overlap between multiple micro-learning systems for a learner who might belong to multiple cohorts.

5. Engagement Level Constraints – A lot of organizations seek to tread cautiously on the extent of engagement they would like to implement. The interaction level of the micro-learning has to be kept on the fine line which creates motivation without creating obsession which hampers work.

6. Learner Psychology Constraints – Depending on the organizational DNA and employee profiles, it is critical to understand the needs and attitudes of the learner groups and design the system accordingly. In this section, it is also critical to assess how learners might try to “game the system”.

7. Learning Objective Constraints – Ultimately, it all comes down to the learning objectives that you want to drive through the system. Depending on the objectives you want to achieve, you will need to make trade-offs on engagement, length, seriousness, etc.

Document the above constraints and your Learning System Specifications are ready! Now you can move on to the next stage – Designing the micro-learning system. (How to design a micro-learning system for your organisation in 6 easy steps)

 

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7 key elements of an engaging learning flow

Learning is a process, not an event, which makes the planning of the journey through the process, a critical part of learning design. The navigation of learning flows is fundamental to the success of any micro-learning implementation.

So, before we find out about the key elements, let us understand what is a ‘Learning Flow’.

A Learning Flow is a continuous steady stream of social micro-learning activities – accessible from the web and mobile devices. (Hart, 2014)

Now, let’s look at each of the elements of the above sentence, that describe a Learning Flow.

  • continuous – that are ongoing (i.e. no end date)
  • steady – that are daily (or probably more likely, weekly)
  • micro-learning – that are short – i.e. taking no longer than 15-20 minutes to undertake
  • activities – that involve reading (watching or listening to) something and doing something
  • social – that invite and encourage active participation and contribution
  • stream – that are organized and structured in the Flow in weekly themes
  • accessible from web and mobile devices – that ensure that learning takes place anywhere and at anytime

Make sure you keep these in mind while designing micro-learning solutions for your organisation. (How to design a micro-learning system for your organization in 6 easy steps)

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Is micro-learning the solution you need?

Micro-learning (a.k.a. micro learning or micro-learning) is an emergent learning strategy known for quickly closing skill and knowledge gaps. It seems to be an ideal instructional approach for many situations because:

  • Information changes quickly
  • People find it difficult to keep up with things
  • Resources are freely available online
  • Newer technologies support it

What is Micro-learning?

Some in the industry conceptualize micro-learning as a small and informal self-directed learning experience arising from one’s personal learning environment, such as watching a Ted Talk or taking a lesson from Khan Academy.

Others think of micro-learning as the planned organization of brief learning experiences designed to meet an extended learning goal. Still others think that micro-learning is synonymous with performance support or mobile learning.

Want to know more about Micro-learning? Read the complete article by Connie Malamed.

(Connie Malamed is an eLearning, information and visual designer. She has a Masters Degree in Instructional Design & Technology and many years of experience in the trenches.)

 

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How to design a micro-learning system for your organisation in 6 easy steps

Designing a learning system for any organisation is a critical task. It’s not easy, given the fact that one has to consider the various departments in an organisation and understand their training requirements. Not to forget, coordinating and collaborating with different entities like Learning Consultant, Human Resources, IT and so on. One often gets confused on where to begin.

The good news is, once you finish reading this article, you will know exactly how to start and where to start.

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting … The INCITE Micro-learning Framework – a step-by-step framework to help you design a Micro-Learning system for any organisation’s training need.

I am going to write down a brief synopsis of this framework which should be enough to help you get started. (Download the full whitepaper here)

Step 1 – Implementation

Understanding the objective of the micro-learning system

The first pillar of this framework is to discover the ask from the micro-learning management system and establish the constraints around organizational processes, technology and learner psychology. This will ensure that you stay focused throughout the process and will help you in your decision-making process.

Step 2 – Navigation

Establishing the flow of the learning content

Depending on the objective, the flow of the learning has to be established next. An established concept in Formal Learning design, creating a learning flow is akin to establishing curriculum and lesson plans for a course. In simple words, how do you want your learner to access your content. Should all the topics be accessible at the same time as a library? Or one needs to go through all topics in a particular sequence?

Step 3 – Content

Creation of micro-learning content

Micro-learning content is very distinct from regular e-learning content. It is driven by criticality of information, which in turn drives size and form of the content. Ensure that the content is developed keeping in mind that it is for a micro-learning system. (Read more: How to design micro-learning content in 4 easy steps)

Step 4 – Interactivity

Deciding on the interactive elements in the course

A learning system targeted towards the modern learner has to engage first and explain quickly. This makes it essential to embrace a participative pedagogy delivered through interactivity. Decide on the level of interactivity and the elements which would go well with your learners. It could be a quiz, or a video, or a game.

Step 5 – Testing

Deciding on the assessment criteria for the learner

The modern learner has typically grown up in a very connected social context, with high doses of competition and a healthy dose of skepticism towards authority. Modern testing methodologies have to account for these attitudes. The usual ones like online quizzes might not work here. Try exploring options like games or simulations. These are more engaging and effective.

Step 6 – Effectiveness

Measuring the learning outcome

Of all organizational processes, learning is perhaps the least measurable, reducing the focus and importance of this function in spite of its criticality for the organization. Measurement of learning effectiveness is critical to the success of any learning system.

That’s it! You are ready.

In case you want to know more about The INCITE Micro-learning Framework, you can download the complete whitepaper here – http://goo.gl/47iWZn

Also, if you need help in setting up a micro-learning system for your organisation, feel free to get in touch with me at deepak@quodeck.com.

How to design micro-learning content in 4 easy steps

“We are moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention” – Satya Nadella.

Micro-learning caters to this reality and helps in planning out content to be delivered in the most effective manner. (5 reasons why micro-learning is perfect for today’s workforce)

So how does one design micro-learning content?

Using the Criticality Analysis – a 4-step approach inspired from the INCITE Micro-learning Framework.

Step 1 – Collate

As a first step to designing micro-learning content, the learning material needs to be collated from across various sources. Look out for wiki articles, whitepapers, pdfs, blogs, presentations for raw content. Given the plentiful resources found on the internet and other sources, one could end up collating an incredibly large amount of information. The trick to collection is knowing what to pick. Remember, micro-learning is about bite-sized content, and that is where the collation focus should be.

Step 2 – Curate

Once all the content has been collated, as a logical next step, remove all duplicate or near-duplicate information. Post this step, classify the content nuggets into one of these 5 categories – Facts, Concepts, Processes, Procedures and Principles. This will help you in figuring out how to present the content.

Step 3 – Chunking

Chunking involves reducing information that can be difficult to remember, down into shorter and more manageable chunks. The typical rule of thumb for the length of a micro-learning topic is approximately 15 minutes. In our experience, this is enough time to cover 30-40 points at a maximum for a topic.

Step 4 – Compose

The next step is to organize the chunked content into a logical flow. Subsequent to that, each point is to be deconstructed into its critical import and additional information. The critical information has to be front and center in the micro-learning flow, while the additional information should be made discretionary in terms of access for the learner. This output should ideally be first organized into an instructional design storyboard.

And finally, even though this is not a part of the process, it is a critical thing – an authoring tool for composing your content into consumable learning blocks. This will largely be determined by the micro-learning technology you decide on. (Design a micro-learning system for your organization)

Hope this should get you started with your micro-learning content. Have any queries? Mention in the comments below!

 

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Insights on corporate e-learning, mobile learning, learner engagement, and all things game-based…