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