When faced with the fact that this is the 21st century and so much of life is technology-driven, some people wonder if teachers will soon become obsolete. I can’t see that happening, because there are still too many things that require “hands on” learning. Even if regular schooling, as in years 1 to 12 become computerized, a need for teachers will still continue in order to grade assignments and exams, as well as to provide tutelage. My own son provides a great example of why we still need teachers.
Master Four is learning to write. A very clever boy, he knows how to operate the computer and has his own games to help him learn everything from reading to math. There is even a program that shows correct pen strokes for writing! He had been trying to teach himself from that writing program, but it didn’t seem to be sinking in. We sat down together and began to practice writing and in less than an hour, he was scribbling his name. All I did was show him how to do the pen strokes and he could imitate my hand position and stroke order.
However, there is one problem that even I can’t solve… correct grip. I’m not a qualified teacher and don’t know how to teach my son how to hold a pencil properly. That is what he has a kindergarten teacher for, because I just can’t figure out how to do it without a great deal of frustration. So, for all of us parents who can’t figure out how to teach something that requires a physical example, there will be teachers who will do the work for us.
Does that mean we need instructors for everything we learn? Of course not. Workplace training (or any sort of auxiliary learning) is just one area where having face to face training can be simply a money pit. For example, if you partner a seasoned employee with a new one, then there is downtime as the seasoned person trains the newbie and answers any and all questions, as his work gets left on his desk for another day or two. This type of partnering usually makes the new employee feel more comfortable to approach that seasoned person with any and all future questions, thereby further hindering production by the veteran.
Or, if it’s a continuing education course that all employees have to take and a classroom set-up is provided in the conference room, well, what production could happen when everyone is sitting in the conference room? It’s not only the expense of production loss, but also the cost of facilitating the training such as the cost of the venue and equipment needed, including the instructor to teach the material, or if you have employees spread all over the country, possibly setting up various venues or having a trainer or team of trainers go to various locations. It would be much more cost and time-effective to have that training done via e-learning.
Some courses are constantly being updated. So, in a classroom scenario, it is a challenge to get an expedient turnover of information between the time it is released and the time the students learn it, because in the middle are trainers that need to learn, understand and then disseminate the material, as well as reprint and redistribute manuals. In an e-learning environment, content can be changed quickly and then employees can learn new information, thereby eliminating the middle man, so to speak.
People like having a face to connect with a course too. They like to feel that there is someone they can approach with questions on the subject matter. It is familiar to sit in a class with an instructor, because it’s what’s always been done. So if it isn’t broken, should it be fixed? Most of these issues are resolved in the design of any good e-learning course, so it’s not as much a case of a course being “broken”. It’s just a different medium, rather than the flesh and blood sort.
The “face” of an e-learning course may not be an actual face, but more the overall look and feel of the design. Some courses do make use of an avatar or images of people so as to give an actual face with which the learner can identify. Having a good, easy-to-use player will help the learner feel empowered and in control. All these “faces” help the learner to be able to connect with the course and feel a sense of familiarity.
I can’t think of one e-learning course that doesn’t have some kind of help attached to it. We all know that a button with a good old question mark on it is for help. So, for a learner to be able to ask a question regarding an e-learning course is a matter of clicking a button or two. Glossaries help with the program and common questions regarding the material are usually included in courses. It isn’t common for a course not to be programmed well enough to cover all bases. There are also some courses designed with the function of being able to e-mail questions that aren’t covered. From experience, I can say that often answers ARE within the material, but have been overlooked.
There are also plenty of people who prefer traditional classroom instruction over e-learning because there is less responsibility on the part of the learner for acquiring the knowledge of the subject matter. Classrooms are teacher-driven, whereas an e-learning course is student-driven. In the classroom, it is easy to say, “The instructor didn’t cover that.” When dealing with an e-learning course, all the information is there for the learner, but it is up to the student to learn the material. It is known what information the course contains and from the assessments, it can be known what the student has learned.
Along these same lines, what is actually being taught can vary from teacher to teacher, so consistency can be an issue. It’s highly unlikely that every single trainer will do and say the same things, so the material conveyed can vary, as well as the level of quality in training, but in an online course, the material is the same, in every instance. It also caters to the various learning styles of the students.
In any group of people, you have varying levels of skills and learning preferences. Some learners like to read, others to listen and even more who prefer to watch and do. An e-learning course can cater to all those styles at once through text, images/ animation, audio, games, etc that will engage and hold the student’s attention. Meanwhile, the classroom instructor must resort to rote learning and can only go as fast as the slowest student, usually losing the attention of the quicker learners.
There is a middle ground in the classroom versus the e-learning debate, which is called blended learning. It takes the best of both worlds and puts them together. Blended learning is the ideal learning process in that initially the learners complete an online course to gain knowledge in the subject matter and then proceed onto the classroom portion to reinforce what was learned through the practical application of the concepts. By the time everyone gets to the classroom, they are all on the same page and have relatively equal knowledge of the material to be fully ready to participate in application and problem-solving. In a way, that is what Master Four in doing in his quest to learn to write. He uses his computer program to learn the basics such as the alphabet and pen strokes, then I (or his kindergarten teacher) physically go through the lab portion of holding the pencil and physically writing.
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It has been a very eventful one year as an instructional designer. Got to experience many things; some good and some not so good. I stated “not so good” because of the improper planning that led to rework and fewer times we were unable to understand the requirements of learners. Happened to meet diverse learners who came up with their own different requirements. Being an instructional designer, I got to understand many things. Let me share a few of them that would really go into making an effective eLearning course.
In eLearning, assessments are usually in a way of click and go, which will not impact the learner more. How to design an assessment which engages learner? Using some design approaches we can make assessments more effective and engage to the learner like scenarios, case studies, interactivities like drag and drop, roll over etc. Assessments designed using games in background can be more engaging to the learner like cricket, football, golf etc. Games in assessments make the learner to show much interest and it helps in reinforcing when applying on job.
Under a good administration, the Nile gains on the desert. Under a bad one, the desert gains on the Nile. – Napoleon Bonaparte
Avatars enhance the quality of learner engagement by grabbing and retaining his attention. They go a long way in motivating your people in the online learning environment. However, if we want to use avatars/ characters effectively in our eLearning courses, we must understand what avatars are, why they are useful and how they can be used in eLearning.
Learning affects all aspects of our existence, every day. The process of learning new things or refreshing existing knowledge keeps our minds up to date and also improves the quality of our life. So, it is very important to retain what we have learned as it helps us to be effective in yielding desired outcomes. Generally, most of us have the tendency to forget most of the things.
Instructional designers usually come from different educational backgrounds, and most of them do not have a degree in instructional design. So, what does it take to become a good instructional designer and design effective eLearning courses?
All instructional designers wish to create excellent eLearning courses that capture the imagination of their learners. But, what does it take to design a top-notch online course? How can you make a course that leaves learners spellbound? Well, you need to focus on 4 critical aspects to create a first-rate eLearning course. Let us see what they are.
The effectiveness of classroom training and eLearning is often debated. It is common knowledge that classroom training and eLearning are used extensively to deliver training. But, which of these media is more effective? Well, training in a classroom enables real-time interaction with the instructor. On the hand, the online training medium is highly flexible and learners can access courses anytime, anywhere. Which of the two is more effective?
In his article, Facing Down The Biggest Challenges In Manufacturing Today, Tom Bonine, President, National Metal Fabricators lists down the following as the most important problems dogging the American manufacturing Industry.
In eLearning courses, two types of assessments are used – formative and summative. Formative assessments are conducted after completing each topic. On the other hand, a summative assessment is conducted at the end of the course. In formative assessments, feedback is given after each question is answered. The goal of a formative assessment is to reinforce the learning. Whereas, the goal of summative assessments is to evaluate the learner. A summative assessment is similar to a final exam where feedback is not provided and results are shown at the end of the course. This info-graphic shares some information about formative and summative assessments, used in eLearning courses.
All eLearning professionals, when developing eLearning deliverables, must ensure that their training material achieves the most encouraging results. Therefore to achieve better training outcomes, we must always keep the following 3 things in mind.
Assessments in eLearning courses play a vital role. Assessments help the learner understand the level of knowledge he has gained from an eLearning course. At the same time, they help the trainer evaluate whether the learning objectives of the eLearning course have been met or not.
We all remember our school days. Don’t we? We still cherish the happy moments spent with our friends during those days. But, there were a few times where we faced difficulties with certain subjects. The formulae in mathematics, complicated equations in physics and chemistry and important dates and years in history was no less than a “haunting movie”. But, thanks to our teachers who would try out all possibilities to make these difficult subjects interesting, we could learn them effectively. The same is the case with instructional designers. They need to act as teachers and make eLearning interesting, so that learners are engaged effectively.
India ranks on the top of the outsourcing destinations for Information Technology, according to a study by the consulting firm AT Kearney. Six Indian cities, including Hyderabad, ranked in the top 6 of this list.
Preparing the audio script for an eLearning course is a very important task which must be done carefully, as a small mistake in it may lead to a lot of rework. If we take care of a few things before sending the script for recording, we can avoid mistakes.
How are eLearning courses made effective? The answer – through effective instructional and visual design. The most significant part of eLearning course development is the design phase.
Do you believe that you can get better results by including games in your online courses?
Companies across the world have following the trend of globalization for new market opportunities. This led to the expansion of their workforce exponentially. Now, a big question arises as to how quickly can you train this workforce, so as to make them ready for the job. In this regard, cost-efficient training methods like eLearning could help companies meet training challenges in the age of globalization. Let us see how eLearning can help reduce training costs.
A picture paints a thousand words and is very effective in communicating what often can’t be said through words. A picture can also break the monotony of words and present a breath of fresh air. Right from childhood, all of us are fascinated by pictures, their vivid hues and the depth of emotions they evoke.
What is content in the context of an eLearning course? It is the training material that is made available for developing an eLearning course. This is collected by instructional designers from various sources. Some of the content is provided by the subject matter experts, other materials may be shared by line managers or training managers. The content is usually developed by multiple authors and therefore lacks consistency in the way it is presented. After all, each author has his/her own style of writing and expressing thoughts.
It is common knowledge that an interactive eLearning course engages the learner very effectively. But, how can you make an excellent course that captures the imagination of your learners? Well, you can create wonderful learning experiences using videos.
It is well-known that the ultimate goal of an online learning course is to bring a measurable change in the performance or behavior of the learner. Therefore, as instructional designers, it is our job to make effective elearning courses that impart first-rate training.
There are many instructional design strategies which engage the learner in an online learning environment such as scenarios, case studies, interactivities, etc. Now-a-days most organizations want to gamify their courses to create better learning experiences.
There are many instructional principles and models that guide us in creating an effective learning process. One such model is Gagne’s instructional principles. These principles keep learners glued to eLearning courses. Here are a few of these principles.
Most of the eLearning experts concur that learning requires learner’s engagement. The aim of any instructional designer is to engage the learner in an online learning environment. How to create learner’s engagement in eLearning courses? In this blog I would like to share some ideas and approaches to engage learner in eLearning courses.