Tools for eLearning Professionals

7 PDF Tools for eLearning Professional

BY , IN ELEARNING TOOLS · ONLINE TRAINING SOFTWARE

Sometimes your online course PDF files can get a bit out of hand. Instead of wasting your time and resources on unsuccessful PDF editing, check out these great PDF tools. These tools can help you easily modify, convert, or view any PDF file.

  1. Adobe Reader XI is a free, trusted tool for reliably viewing, printing, and annotating PDF documents. It’s the only PDF file viewer that can open and interact with all types of PDF content, including forms and multimedia.
  2. Nitro Cloud has multiple tools to help create PDFs, as well as convert your PDFs to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These free and easy to use tools can also help you sign documents and even collaborate in your browser.
  3. Doro PDF Writer may not have all the features that other PDF tools have, but it works great for printing PDF files, as it’s free. While installed as a virtual print driver, you can convert any printable document or image to PDF format. It gives you a few security features such as 128-bit encryption, password protection, and the ability to enable/disable the copy, paste, and print functions for the document. Doro PDF Writer is Windows compatible.
  4. Acrobat XI Pro is packed with smart tools that give you even more power to communicate. With the option to subscribe or buy, you can merge and organize multiple documents, spreadsheets, web pages, and more in a single PDF that’s easy to share. Although it may be a bit costly, Acrobat is the best of the best.
  5. Bullzip PDF Printer is free, Windows compatible PDF printer with up to 10 users for personal and commercial use. Features include PDF printing, graphical user interface, password protection, 128/40-bit encryption, watermark customization, and more.
  6. Some PDF to Text Converter is a free, fast, and accurate way to convert any PDF to text, so you can edit and reuse your content. Without requiring any Adobe product, the extracted content is saved to text files where it can be searched, archived, repurposed and managed.
  7. PDFTK Builder is a free PDF manipulation tool for windows. With this tool you can easily rearrange (reorder, delete, & duplicate) pages in a single document and/or merge pages from multiple documents. In addition, you can add a background to each page in a document (or just the first), rotate pages, and add password protection to your documents.

With these 7 PDF tools, you’ll quickly be on your way to building a great online learning course! Remember, your learning management system must have the ability to upload your files online as well.

Developing Video Based Learning

How To Create Engaging Video Based Learning

We have all heard of the catchphrase more than often; visuals speak 1000 words, so videos speak a million or a trillion of words. As learning experts have also rightly pointed out, it’s better to show than to tell the learners. It has been proven by most of the researchers that visually demonstrating a new skill or behavior can be an important component of multi-modal instruction.

As humans, we all like or even love videos. It is estimated there are over 6 billion hours of video that are viewed on YouTube every month, and that is almost an hour for every person on earth.

Though this type of learning is not new, with the advancement of YouTube it has become increasingly popular. In addition, video based learning caters to different learning styles and suits different types of content.

Here are some tips that you can use as an Instructional Designer to create engaging video based learning:

  1. State clear objectives.
    First and foremost, you must have a clear goal in your mind in order to produce a video. In order to do this, you need to have clearly defined objectives for the videos. Setting clear goals is helpful to design the videos effectively, as you will have clear focus and will be able to meet the learning goals.
  2. Keep them short.
    The length of a video is the most important aspect to keep the learners engaged via the videos. You must ensure that the videos are not long; instead, ensure that they are short nuggets. Thus, if you have a lengthy module, you must try to break it up into bite-sized snippets that may range from 1-2 minutes. You need to ensure that the videos that you develop are easily digestible by the learners. Include more visuals than text: You must also ensure that you include more visuals in a video than just plain text. This is from my personal experience, where I feel that a video must not look like a replica of a PowerPoint and include more images; and when I say images, they should appear realistic.
  3. Include voice over in the video.
    This is another important aspect for video based learning, as there is a difference between a video based learning and a classroom training. In a video based learning the learners are left all by themselves, so the text or visuals you include in a video needs a supporting text via audio. In addition, it is also helpful to prepare an audio script for the audio that will accompany the video.
  4. Incorporate captions.
    There are various benefits of adding captions to a video and one of most obvious reason is to allow the learners who have a hearing disability to view the video with ease. Studies show that transcripts increase engagement and that captions increase the completion rate of video from 40% to 80%. There are various video-editing tools that allow you to add captions in your video such as Camtasia Studio. Incorporating captions in a video is also important for the learners who have English as a second language and have some difficulty in understanding what is being spoken, as they can get the captions translated.
  5. Record your screen.
    In case you are developing a video for an application, then it would be good to include a simulation. You can do this by recording the screen to show the things that you may not be able to do it via text or audio only. For example, consider a situation where you want to display to a learner how to save a file in MS Word. So, over here, a simulation or recording would prove to be much helpful, as it would make learning much more enjoyable and memorable. There are various tools that allow you to record your screen, such as Camtasia or Screenr.

These tips can allow you to create enriching and engaging videos, as video is the most powerful tool used for learning. So, the next time you are planning to create video based learning, you must ensure to remember these guidelines.

Reference:

Here is an excellent infographic to show the importance of video based learning: INFOGRAPHIC: Victory Through Video.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Building elearning Content For The Modern Learner

How To Build Content For The Modern Learner

We recently collaborated with a client to create microlearning videos based on their pre-existing sales methodology and training materials. The client had a team of experienced instructional designers, subject matter experts, and course creators to script the content prior to our video engagement. We quickly realized what a struggle the team had writing or rewriting good concise learning content.

Seeing this struggle made it clear that other content creators had to be dealing with the same challenges.

Here are 3 challenges the team faced and how we helped improve their content creation process in order to align to the modern learner:

1. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.

There’s the old “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them” method. Which we love, but there’s a difference between doing it succinctly and beating a dead horse. The great thing about online learning technology is it puts the learner in control. If they missed something in a video, they can use the play bar to rewind the video and play it back.

Improvement: Be deliberate with your delivery.
To get over this hurdle, you need to get good at editing. Whether it’s you or someone else on your team, read and re-read your content to ensure you’re not saying the same things over and over again. Act as if you have to pay a dime for every word you use.

2. Explaining Everything.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. If you are very close to your content, you may have the tendency to over explain because you know so much.

Improvement: Focus on one learning objective. 
If you continuously ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I want someone to get out of this?” as you write AND edit, you will keep yourself on track. Using this method, we are able to omit entire paragraphs in our editing process! Sounds simple, but many people write objectives at the beginning of a project, yet don’t rely on them to guide the process.

3. Giving Little Or No Context.

When teaching a methodology or process, it’s easy to jump right into the “how-to”. And, yes, we said to be succinct and to the point, but you also have to set the stage.

Improvement: Give context. 
To ensure content is recalled and remembered, create context for your learners. How can you relate the concept you’re teaching to something they’re familiar with? Short stories and relatable experiences are the best way to set the stage and create context.

The next time you’re challenged with creating a new training initiative in Learning and Development, think about these 3 challenges and try the improvements we implemented. We hope our experience will help increase your training’s effectiveness and shorten your production timeline.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Tips For eLearning Professionals

10 Habits Of Top-Notch eLearning Professionals

What separates the best from the rest? I’m sure that the first word that comes to mind is “talent”. Granted, talent is important; but it is not enough on its own. How often in life haven’t you seen talent being wasted by lack of motivation, focus, and hard work? Unfortunately, or fortunately, talent is not the trait that separates the good from the mediocre. The high achievers of this world share two other characteristics: Determination and will. To stand out from the crowd of eLearning professionals, you need to be determined to succeed. To rise above the rest you need to be in love with what you do, work hard, and really want to make a difference. You also need to start doing what successful professionals do. This is why in this article, I will share 10 habits that separate the successful ones from the mediocre. Building these habits takes time, practicing them over and over again, and figuring out what areas to work hard at without losing focus and faith. But guess what? It is certainly worth the effort.

This is what Top-Notch eLearning Professionals do to stand out from the crowd:

  1. They don’t give up.
    Thomas Edison had famously said “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10.000 ways that won’t work”. Persistence is the key to success; if you are not able to accept that failure is inevitable when working towards your goals, you will not be able to achieve anything more than random successes related to pure luck. Failure comes in many forms, e.g. making mistakes or facing rejection, but not giving up is critical. Failing is always hurtful, but the way you are dealing with it is the deciding factor: Will you allow it to teach you something or prevent you from moving forward? The first choice is what top eLearning professionals go with; they learn from their mistakes, analyze their unpleasant experiences, and use the data to get a little closer to their goals every time. We all make mistakes and we all get rejected at one point or another. Your focus should not be on how to avoid mistakes, but rather on how to use any challenge in your favor, i.e. how to use it to develop your critical thinking and problem solving skills. This is the only way to deal with a mistake: Learn from it
  2. They respect every project they take on, whether they like it or not.
    Top-notch eLearning professionals
     are not snobbish about eLearning projects. If you’re getting paid for your work, you need to do your best regardless of the job. There are no unimportant projects or unimportant clients; every single task you take on is equally important. Of course there will be difficult clients, impossible Subject Matter Experts, and boring assignments, but what will separate you from the rest of the pack is professional responsibility. If you absolutely hate a project or a client, maybe it’s better to cut ties with them. But if you decide to take on the particular project, you must respect your work and deliver an exceptional product.
  1. They value time.
    High achieving eLearning professionals don’t waste time. They know that constantly taking breaks from what they are doing will not help them achieve success. They highly value their time, because they know that it is their most treasured asset. Valuing time does not mean overdoing it and burning out, because to deliver a professional work you need to have a clear head and a well rested mind. But poor time management skills will lead to missing deadlines, appointments, useful networking opportunities, and, most likely, your professional credibility. So, make a habit of valuing time, yours and others’ around you, and start by developing your time management skills, now.
  2. They do not procrastinate.
    Speaking of “now”, procrastination and success don’t go hand in hand: On the contrary, procrastination slowly, but very effectively, reduces and ultimately kills motivation, which is the fuel of success. Are you the type who waits for the market to get better? Or for their current project to be completed? Or for their kids to finish school? Maybe you should modify your plans and adjust them to your timetable. But don’t waste time: Create smaller goals, more feasible and realistic. Stop slipping further behind week after week. Move towards your goals taking a smaller step; but keep moving.
  3. They are open to feedback.
    Top-notch eLearning professionals value feedback and reflection, simply because it makes perfect sense. When you work in the learning business, you know that feedback is essential to the learning process. Thus, ignoring any feedback related to your personal development is like saying “there is nothing more I need to learn”. Communicating with other professionals, sharing experiences, and knowing how to accept constructive feedback is essential; it is actually a great way to test your ideas, methods, and future plans. On the other hand, being defensive or taking criticism personally will not only deprive you of the opportunity to learn something new or see a different, often refreshing perspective, but will also isolate you from the eLearning community, which, trust me, will be a fatal mistake.
  4. They never say no to networking.
    Being an active member of the eLearning community is critical, as relationships are the catalyst for success; a fact that high achievers know well. People work with those they know, like, and trust, and how else will you know other people and get them to like and trust you unless you get out there and connect with them? Networking not only is the ultimate way to build and cultivate relationships, but also can offer you new career opportunities, accelerate your professional development, and give you a hand when you have any kind of trouble. Also, it is a great way to be positively influenced by people you admire for their achievements, knowledge, and experience. Networking can offer you great advice that Google cannot give you, assistance that your friends are not able to provide you with, and get you back in the game when you haven’t worked for a while. So, go to eLearning conferences, be active on LinkedIn, and build effective networks with other eLearning professionals on Facebook and Twitter. Connect with, and even model successful people who share your goals and values and see the profound impact this will have on your business and personal life.
  5. They embrace collaboration.
    But there is another kind of relationship top-notch eLearning professionals are very interested in: the one they have with their eLearning team. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, you must realize that success is about people. When you are a part of a team, you need to know what to do best and how to use other people’s talents for what you don’t know that well. Effective collaboration cultivates creativity, promotes forward thinking, and boosts performance. Improve your communication skills if you have to, and learn how to relate to project managers, graphic designers, Instructional Designers, Subject Matter Experts, and programmers at all levels. Fostering your relationships with your team will not only increase its performance, but also boost the effectiveness of your eLearning projects.
  6. They always look for opportunities to learn.
    eLearning professionals know that learning is an ongoing process. Top-notch eLearning professionals are thirstier for knowledge than their own learners are. They grab every opportunity to learn; from their audience, their colleagues, books, blogs, social media, websites, you name it. To stand out from the crowd, to separate yourself from the rest of the pack you need to never stop learning. Always keep your eyes open and focus on everything that grabs your attention. Learn as much as you can about Instructional Design, graphic design, programming, writing, project management, communication skills, teaching skills, and so on; be a perpetual learner and never stop looking for new ideas, methods, and tools. No knowledge is ever wasted.
  7. They push themselves out of their comfort zones.
    High achievers are survivors; they face failures without ever losing sight of their goal. Most importantly, they take risks. Have you ever met a top-notch eLearning professional who was simply a follower, who only tried the same things others did before them, who didn’t push themselves out of their comfort zone? Neither have I. Whatever the result of your risk taking, whether it is a total failure or a total success, examining what happened and what can be learnt will develop your big picture thinking skills and help you gain confidence and maintain a positive outlook, which is more than essential. I’m not suggesting you should suddenly quit your job or take on a project which is way out of your potential. I’m only saying: Push yourself to the limits. Push yourself through doubt and fear. Get deadlines, competition, challenges, and your own goals to push you. Get out of your comfort zone. Only this way you will set yourself up for better projects and success.
  8. They really, really, love their job.
    Highly successful eLearning professionals have a true passion for eLearning; under no circumstances they would invest their time, energy, and resources on anything less than their passion. Think about what you do for a living and ask yourself a simple question: “Would you do it for free?”; if the answer is “Yes!”, you are not only a very lucky person, but also very likely to make a difference and separate yourself from the crowd. In fact, having a true passion for eLearning is the only habit of top-notch eLearning professionals that is incredibly difficult to “build”; you are either feeling it or not. If you find true pleasure in your job, that is if it offers you a great sense of achievement and happiness, you have made the biggest and most important step towards success. It means that no failure can discourage you and no mistake can demotivate you, because you have a passion; and passion is just a free and unlimited fuel.

Now that you know what separates top-notch eLearning professionals from the mediocre ones, you may be interested in learning about what makes an eLearning team a high performance eLearning team. Read the article The Top 7 Qualities Of A High Performance eLearning Team and learn everything you need to know about how to ensure that your team is not only a truly great eLearning professional group, but also 100% dedicated to attaining their shared goals.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

E-Learning Technologies In Language Teaching

How To Use E-Learning Technologies To Improve Educational Quality Of Language Teaching

E-Learning or technology in learning has become a buzz in the education industry and today it caters to the needs of modern-day learners. Infusing technologies in classroom learning have added to stimulus and enhanced learner’s interaction within the classroom. E-Learning has a vast presence in almost every field. Language teaching is one such field where technology has taken over and improved the ways of learning.

Take for example, the English language. Teachers today use different techniques like movie-clippings, advertisements, commentaries, dramatics and more. Not only it makes the session much more interesting than the old book style teaching but also keeps the learner attentive during the class. E-learning has also changed the perspective of distance learning. The modernization lets the students be equally interactive like someone present physically.

The Teaching Style Then (Past Trends)

Language teaching has evolved over the centuries. Earlier the language was taught as a subject rather than developing a skill. The methods used then ignored the development of oral proficiency of the learners. To name a few of the methods that were a part of learning processes in the past include:

  • Grammar-Translation Method
  • Bilingual Method
  • Direct Method
  • Audio-Lingual Method
  •  Structural Approach
  • Communicative Language Training

Teachers have been in constant search of more effective and better ways of teaching language.

Getting to Know the Current Trends in Language Teaching

Teachers today have realized that the old concept of teachers reigning a class with passive students. Today considering the need of the hour, language teachers today organize a number of conferences and seminars to create a platform where they can keep themselves updated about upcoming ideologies in the language teaching techniques and technologies, keeping themselves professionally updated and equipped with the current trends.

Current trends include a proper blend of edification and e-learning tools.

E-Learning Tools and their Use in Language Teaching

A diverse range of technological tools that can be used by capable teachers to enhance learning and teaching situations. These tools make learning more interesting, interactive, meaningful and stimulating for the students. These tools are powerful as they are capable of bringing a change and reform traditional forms of learning.

Internet, YouTube, Skype, Twitter, Smart-boards, Blogs and Podcasting are some of the successful tools that have changed the way language is taught.

The Teaching Job Sector; How E-Learning has benefited the teaching jobs?

Teaching is considered one of the best jobs and with the development in technology, these have also become one of the most interesting jobs. Online teaching jobs today are gaining fame and people with an added advantage of e-courses certification are an edge above the rest. Also, if you are willing to teach, but have a regular job you can enroll yourself for an online teaching program where you will be required to give classes once or twice a week.

E-learning has let no geographical barriers take away the will to teach or learn. In this era, to grab an e-learning teaching job, you should have an expertise in subject matter and networking.

Analysing the job market in this industry, today there are a number of jobs that require the knowledge of e-learning. Distance education universities, even corporates and offices conduct e-learning modules to train their employees.

On the Concluding Note

The efforts of teachers and technology combined to improve the quality of education and learning attempts to emphasize a number of advantages. Though the use of e-learning is growing in language teaching, there are still certain drawbacks attached to it. Advancement in E-learning extends further possibilities of learning going beyond traditional way of teaching.

Easy access to materials, flexible space, time and pace of study and immediate feedback are some of the advantages that make language learning a fun thing to go.

Also, introduction to online teaching adds to the enrichment of learning a foreign language. Overall the advantages are numerous. But talking about the other side, there are some drawbacks that can keep the traditional method at an edge. The creation, preparation and uploading of the material is time-consuming and requires the teachers to put in a little extra effort that is required in the traditional methods of teaching.

Microsoft Dynamics LMS Integration

Why Microsoft Dynamics LMS Integration? 

Let us see how Microsoft Dynamics LMS integration combines the power of your CRM with your Learning Management System to streamline your business.

Dynamics CRM On The Up And Up 

The success of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been astounding. In a few short years since entering the market in 2003 as Microsoft CRM, and through various different versions of Microsoft Dynamics all the way up to the Dynamics 2015 version we see today, Microsoft have wrestled a large chunk of the market away from other CRMs, such as Salesforce and SugarCRM, and built a business worth over $2 billion.

With recent moves focusing on increasing the productivity of companies, rather than simply supplying IT systems, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been given a new home under the Cloud and Enterprise product division as of June this year. With the departure of Kirill Taterinov, who had been head of dynamics since 2007, and the departmental reshuffle which saw Dynamics fall under new jurisdiction, it may seem a lot like Microsoft Dynamics’ future was straying into the realms of uncertainty.

What Next For Dynamics? 

However, following the Microsoft Convergence conference in March of this year, which showcased the new and exciting developments in store for the service, it is now clear that its future is indeed very much alive and even more exciting than had previously been thought.

Microsoft Dynamics’ move to Cloud and Enterprise makes a lot of sense within the context of its trajectory of recent years. Part of a series of changes that aim to consolidate the power of sales, marketing, service, and social, this move is integral to transforming Dynamics, together with other applications and services, into a connected set of products which truly help to streamline the business and change the way it operates by increasing productivity across the board.

How Does Your Learning Management System Fit Into This? 

Although not part of this new wave of Microsoft developments, Learning Management Systems are fast becoming important and vital part of the growth of an organization for this very reason: they streamline not just training, but the business as a whole. With a strong Learning Management System geographical locations, time zones, and language cease to have so much relevance as self-paced,  training is available on-demand and on almost any portable device with the latest mobile learning functionality.

The best corporate Learning Management System like Paradiso LMS from Paradiso Solutions gives the organization the power to ensure that all stakeholders in the company -employees, channel partners, and customers- have instant access to important and up to date training, and that geographical location, disability, or lack of a reliable internet connection are no barriers to the availability of the training.

Integration Is The Way Forward 

Just like a robust CRM such as Microsoft Dynamics, an LMS can transform the way an organization works, and there are frequently overlaps in terms of data and functionality. This is why Paradiso Solutions has developed Microsoft Dynamics LMS integration, so that two of the most important applications in constant use at your organization can work together to provide a better, more streamlined experience. Paradiso has already had much success in this area with its Salesforce LMS integration, which works in much the same way, and the integration can easily be adapted to work with Microsoft Dynamics AS, GP or NAV.

Microsoft Dynamics LMS Integration Features 

But how does the integration work? How can two applications that serve two different purposes work together? Well, as mentioned, there are a number of overlaps in which data synchronization can serve an important purpose:

  • Single Sign On (SSO).
    Microsoft Dynamics LMS integration has Single Sign On (SSO) built into it, so that after you log into Dynamics your training is available via a tab on the dashboard. No more having to remember loads of different login credentials; Dynamics LMS integration gives you direct access to eLearning content from your CRM.
  • User Information Exchanged.
    When a new user is entered into the CRM, this information is automatically shared with the Learning Management System. Important user data like name, address, social security number, position, department etc. is synched between the two systems. This way you ensure that all data is up to date and current. Likewise learning records can easily be viewed from Microsoft Dynamics and vital information -for example the completion of crucial compliance training- is sent from the Learning Management System to the CRM. This way if employees or partners are yet to complete certain mandatory compliance training, you will automatically know.
  • Advanced Reporting.
    Reporting is a fundamental part of checking not only that certain training goals, learning plans, or milestones are being achieved, but also how effective your training is across the company. Thanks to the Microsoft Dynamics LMS integration the data used for building the reports can come from both your CRM and Learning Management System, increasing their granularity and accuracy and helping to build a more detailed picture of your learners and their progress.

As I already said training from the Learning Management System is accessible via a tab on the Dynamics dashboard. Bringing your Learning Management System and CRM together helps with learner engagement, as learners can go directly to their training without fussing around logging onto other platforms.

Make Your Sales Team The Best They Can Be 

Your sales team is what drives the business. Without a strong, clued-up sales team your business can’t grow at its full potential. It is for this reason that sales training is so crucial, and even more important that your CRM and Learning Management System work together. Whereas previously training your sales team relied on instructor-led face to face classes, now your Learning Management System allows you to control what your sales team learns (new products, changes in tactics or company policy etc.), how the training is delivered (classroom-based, gamification, blended learning, and more) and on what device (PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone). There is now no excuse for not being able to complete training, thanks to the Offline Player which lets learners download training when connected to the internet to be completed at their convenience.

Microsoft Dynamics LMS integration makes a lot of sense and, given that it is a Microsoft product and incorporates Office365, is immediately familiar to anyone who has ever worked with MS Office. Clearly there is cost to bear in mind, especially if your organization is a Subject Matter Expert. At Paradiso we work with you and your organization to determine which features are the best fit for your business, based on factors such as company size and budget. Our solution is tailored to you, and we do all the hard work, development and implementation for you, as well as providing full client training.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Mobile Learning Solutions

Custom Mobile Learning Solutions For Your Company  

In this article I will outline how custom mobile learning solutions can be used for primary learning (formal training) and informal learning (performance support intervention and social learning) to provide the required performance gain you seek.

The Forgetting Curve

Most of us are familiar with the “Forgetting Curve” that defines the exponential nature of forgetting. As you see from this diagram featuring the “Forgetting Curve”, we forget 80% of what we learned in 30 days!

 

EID_Innovative_eLearning_image_02

It is evident from here that it is not enough to have formal training that happens for a short period of time during the year and is expected to lead the learner from learning to application at work and a behavioral change. Instead, the adopted learning strategy must look beyond formal training and identify approaches to create “learning as a continuum”.

How To Offset The “Forgetting Curve”? Is There A “Recall And Retention” Approach To Offset This?

There are multiple approaches that can be used to offset the “Forgetting Curve”. One of them is to have on-going smaller bytes of learning instead of one large chunk. If these bytes could be delivered in interesting and engaging formats and made available to learners within their work-flow, they will work effectively in helping learn, recall, and retain. Over a period of time, this would lead to the required application at work and the anticipated behavioral change.

Custom mobile learning solutions are a great fit to move from discrete learning events (typically associated with formal training) to learning paths or learning pathways that have additional measures to help learners:

  1. Recall.
  2. Retain.
  3. Reinforce.
  4. Apply.

What Benefits Do Mobile Learning Solutions Provide?

As we know, instead of one big training program, if there are smaller chunks of learning over a period of time we are likely to retain better. While this can certainly be achieved with traditional eLearning approaches as well, mobile learning solutions have a significant edge in achieving this.

Let me begin with a list of the key advantages of custom mobile learning solutions from one my earlier articles, What Are The Benefits Of mLearning? Featuring 5 Killer Examples:

  1. Flexibility to learners.
    At the top of the benefits list is the flexibility mLearning or mobile learning offers. This includes:

    • Flexibility and choice of device to access learning “anytime, anywhere”.
    • Flexibility of learning with more varied formats (videos, podcasts, and so on).
  2. Better completion rates and higher retention.
    The bite-sized or micro-learning approach makes it easier for learners to initiate, complete, and retain learning better.
  3. Collaborative learning.
    Collaborative learning is a great way to engage with peers to share learning experiences and be part of communities of specific practices.
  4. Higher engagement.
    The experiences are more immersive and statistics reveal that more learners complete the courses through mLearning than traditional eLearning.
  5. Multi-device support.
    With multi-device support the same course is available on varied devices ranging from PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  6. Performance support.
    Mobile learning or mLearning is becoming the preferred approach to provide performance support intervention as mobile devices are an intrinsic part of the learners’ work-flow. Performance support facilitates an easy access to information while at work and increases the probability of usage and retrieval.
  7. Learning path.
    Mobile devices can also be used to update learners on their “learning path” thereby facilitating “learning as a continuum”. With more people depending on phone-based organizers, integrating links in organizers to commence/resume the courses saves time for learners.

Can You Leverage On The Power Of Custom Mobile Learning Solutions For Your Company To Enhance Your Learning Strategy?

My personal experience in working with several organizations globally is that learners very quickly opt for tablets or smartphones for learning. (As highlighted earlier, studies show that more learners complete the courses when they have an option for Tablets or Smartphones). How do we ensure that we leverage on this higher learner engagement for a more effective learning? This is where custom mobile learning solutions find the right fit.

Let me outline how we handle this. We draw inspiration from Dr. Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher’s Five Distinct Moments of Need©. These moments of learning are:

  1. When learning for the first time.
  2. When wanting to learn more.
  3. When trying to apply/remember.
  4. When something goes wrong.
  5. When something changes.

You can use this framework to extend the formal training (for learning needs 1 and 2) and just-in-time Performance Support Tools (for learning needs 3-5). More specifically, looking at the nature of the learning need, you can integrate social learning programs.

What Are The Significant Gains For Organizations If They Opt For Custom Mobile Learning Solutions?

Let’s take a look at a typical Learning and Performance Ecosystem and see what custom mobile learning solutions are possible for your company:

EI Design Learning and Performance Ecosystems1

You can use custom mobile learning solutions to achieve performance gain. The application could be for:

  1. Formal Learning.
    Custom mobile learning courses that are available on tablets and smartphones (similarly, you can offer mobile apps for primary learning).
  2. Performance Support Tools (PSTs).
    That is Performance Support Tools in varied forms like mobile apps, interactive PDFs/eBooks, expert videos, webinars/recorded webinars, whiteboard animations, and webcast/podcasts.
  3. Social Learning.
    That is social learning for collaborative learning, sharing, content curation, and so on.

You can use creative Instructional Design to meet the learner-centricity objective with innovative learning designs delivered on tablets and smartphones (while retaining the flexibility of offering them on PCs and laptops).

Custom mobile learning solutions provide sticky learning through many approaches.

Here are my Top 6:

  • Gamification.
    A gamified interaction to identify time-wasters that would in-turn help team members with effective planning was designed to deploy on smart phones.

 

  • Decision-making – branching scenarios.
    An interactive exercise demonstrating a conflict scenario at workplace where the learners could relate him/herself in the situation and make decisions. This mobile-friendly engaging interaction was designed to ensure sticky learning.
  • Story-based. 
    An instance of story-based approach from our multi-device compatible Instructional Design courses.
  • Scenario-based. 
    Learners get a chance to walk through and interact with a series of scenarios in this multi-device course to identify and mitigate conflict situations at work place.

Scenario-based

  • Guided exploration.
    An exploratory navigation through instances where learners can choose among a set of options and evaluate what is right and wrong.

Guided_exploration

  • Interactive videos. 
    Engaging videos designed for mobile devices that carry the learners through real life situations. The videos are paused at points letting the learners interact and check their understanding.

Over the last 4+ years, we have crafted custom mobile learning solutions of over 400 hours for both formal and informal learning (Performance Support Tools). We have crafted learning strategies that work for both individual learners as well as for collaborative (social) learning. If you have any questions on how you can successfully integrate custom mobile learning solutions for your company, do reach out to me.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Online Teaching

The 5 Pillars Of Online Teaching And 40 Apps And Tools To Strengthen Each Pillar  

Life as an online teacher can get complicated if we get lost in technology, marketing, social media, creating courses, running courses, dealing with email, and growing as an online professional on the cutting-edge of education. However, if we plan smartly from minimalist perspectives, we can employ tools that will work for us and save hours of time and stress.

Remember also that many “Teacherpreneurs” these days adopt Pareto’s principles into their working lives. They try to identify 20% of the most essential parts of the business and improve them to get 80% of their results.

I will identify 5 pillars of the online teaching business; within each pillar you will find a variety of tools to help you smarten up that side of your business.

The 5 Pillars Of Online Teaching

fivepillars

 Image created by Sylvia Guinan using Prezi technology.

  1. Website/Blog. 
  2. Content Creation Tools. 
  3. Course Management Tools. 
  4. Personalization Tools. 
  5. Marketing Solutions & Social Media.

Let us have a look at how you can strengthen each pillar with the following smart apps and tools:

1. Tools And Apps For Smart Home Pages.

Firstly I would recommend WordPress for your online home because it’s very user-friendly and allows for the integration of magical plugins that make your website work like a dream.

The most important thing to consider is the overall look of your website and blog. You can choose one of the free WordPress themes, which is good and easy, but, if you are of a creative mindset and have a particular vision in mind, you may wish to manipulate the interface yourself. Traditionally we needed professional web designers to do this for us. However, I myself have researched ways of designing one’s interface without coding.

  • Visual Composer.
    Visual Composer is an award-winning drag and drop page builder with front and backend editors. It allows you to intuitively manipulate the look and feel of whatever template you are using. It allows you to add text, images, and buttons to your page or choose pre-defined looks if you want to save even more time. The plugin is very inexpensive and saves a lot of time, money and stress.
  • Prophoto.
    Another more expensive and ambitious solution is ProPhoto, which imports all kinds of themes beyond the WordPress defaults and allows you to design and manipulate to your heart’s content.
  • Social media feather.
    Social sharing buttons are extremely important for online teachers who wish to share their work online. A website shares course descriptions, testimonials, resumes, lessons, and knowledge. The blog is an ongoing educational resource that attracts people to your website. Therefore, you’ve got to maximize sharing potential with the best social sharing buttons. I found that most social sharing buttons have hidden problems. Some pop out and hide your screen when you’re trying to read. Others are limited, ugly or faulty. Smart teachers need smart social sharing buttons. I chose Social Media Feather because they feature “likes” and “shares” simultaneously, integrate with a wide range of social sharing sites, and are very attractive, yet non-imposing. They are speedy, automatic, and light. They are not free, but they save time and headaches. It took me a long time to realize that some free tools are extremely expensive because they eat up your time, brain power, patience, and sanity. This, in a spiraling domino effect, eats up your money before you’ve had time to earn it.

2. Content Creation Tools. 

PowerPoint and Prezi are the standards for presentations and eLearning content.

  • PowerPoint is necessary for virtual classrooms and the great thing about it is that you can share your work on Slideshare, which is another indispensable tool for extending your digital footprint.
  • Prezi is a laterally-designed tool that promotes creativity and alternative eLearning design. Although you can’t upload it to your virtual classroom, you can embed it onto blogs, Learning Management Systems, social media, and so on. It can also be used as a tool for showcasing course offerings.

Although PowerPoint and Prezi are must-haves, it’s also good to liven up courses with other forms of multi-media, both for content creation and, later, for viral social media shares.

I like to use:

  • Posters, flyers and lists.
    TackkStorifySmorePinterestListly, and Pearl Trees.
    You can create lessons with these tools and embed them into course and have your students create their own socially viral content.
  • Video.
    YouTubeAnimotoGo Animate, and TedEd.
    These tools are so powerful in helping you design content and courses that reflect your own online teaching interests and brand your courses with your own teaching approach. Video brings language to life, as does imagery. That’s why multi-media can accelerate learning when a teacher wields web tools with wisdom and foresight.
  • Comics and story boarding tools.
    Comic LifePixtonPowToonBitstripsMake Beliefs ComixToondoo, and Storybird.
    Again, language is brought to life through comic creation and language learners can be inspired to write stories and create their own characters, situations, and even series of stories in the target language.

Finally, if you want to become a professional eLearning designer you may also decide to invest in more powerful and al-inclusive solutions, such as Articulate Storyline. This level of creation is a specialization that can help you to build courses faster, run them more seamlessly, and set you up as an expert in the nice of materials and course design, so the investment can lead to contracts with major clients in the eLearning business.

3. Platform/Learning Management System/ Video-Conferencing Solution.

User-friendly, intuitive and wildly flexible (with regard to embed codes and social sharing) would define my ideal home for online courses.

You need to be able to put all content into one easily accessible area, have discussion forums, multi-media sharing options, and places where students can access content and class recordings. If you have to spend too much time managing your courses or fixing bugs, then this does not a smart online teacher make.

You can choose to build things on your own website or use a commercial platform for hosting your courses.

4. Personalization Tools.

Technology allows us to personalize our brands, teaching values, courses and social learning ethics more than ever before. It also allows to personalize the individual learner’s experience. How one does this is really up to the imagination, and many tools I’ve already mentioned can do so.

How is that possible?

Well, the tools I’ve already mentioned are what I call “blank canvas”, storytelling tools. You tell the story of your professionalism. Your students tell the stories of their learning journeys through multi-media.

To make personalization even more effective, however, we can put a razor sharp focus on thinking skills, cognitive development, lateral-thinking and planning via mind mapping tools, infographics and the wonderful world of visual intelligence. Translating text into imagery and vice versa.

You can use these tools to plan your work, curricula, brainstorm etc. , and your students can use these tools to become better thinkers, memorizers, more autonomous learners, and more creative people.

Here are some good mind mapping and infographic tools:

iBrainstorm appText 2 Mind MapSpider ScribePoppletMindMapleCoggle, and iMind.

Here is an article about mind mapping if you want deeper information for your eLearning school.

Infographic tools are PiktochartVisualize.me, and Ease.ly.

5. Marketing Solutions And Social Media.

I use many of the same multi-media tools for marketing as I do for content creation. First of all, multi-media marketing is creative, tells a story, and show cases the work you do for your students. Can you really advertise multi-media classes on a text status update that no one will ever read?

Some of the flyer tools I shared above were originally for marketing, but I also exploit them for educational purposes.

Here is a promotional video about making the most of webinars that I made using Go animate.

There is also a lot to learn from the Social Media Examineρ on Facebook and directly from the website.

Apart from following the Social Media Examiner, though, let me tell you some things I find effective:

  • I use Canva to create social media images for Facebook etc. This amazingly creative site was built for the purpose and its genius lies in the fact that it sizes images to fit Facebook banners etc. Anyone who has tried to resize banners for social media or create original images will appreciate this.
  • I also find that LinkedIn is a most valuable marketing site that’s underused by online teachers in general. Running a group on LinkedIn and writing regular blog posts on your LinkedIn profile gets you noticed by serious clients, colleagues and organizations.Your LinkedIn profile has its own inbuilt blog generator and dedicated URL, so if you haven’t tried it before, take a look.
  • Hootsuite is a great tool for managing all of your social media accounts in one place and saving time as you promote your work across multiple platforms.
  • Finally, I’ll leave you with Sniply, a very smart tool indeed. It’s a URL shortner that offers a customized call to action message when clicked on. It allows you to promote others and yourself at the same time. Very smart, very social.

Afterthought

Oh, lastly, I must give you some tools to manage all of these tools 😉

To keep track of online projects you can simple use Google Drive, or the massively effective and user-friendly Trello for vast collaborative business projects, or Evernote, another powerhouse of communication and organization.

 

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

ADDIE For Instructional Designers

The ADDIE Model: Instructional Design

For many years now, educators and instructional designers alike used the “ADDIE” Instructional Design (ID) method as a guide in designing and effectively tracking a project’s progress. “ADDIE” stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. This sequence, however, does not impose a strict linear progression between each step. Rather, each stage is a clear instruction on its own. This means that even if the individual applies ADDIE at the middle of the project, it will still retain its value and be able to provide a sense of structure to the whole program. Educators find this approach very useful having stages clearly defined which makes implementation of instructions effectively. As an Instructional Design (ID) Addie Model has found wide acceptance and use.

The concept of Instructional Design can be traced back to as early as 1950s. But it is only until 1975 that ADDIE was designed and developed for the U.S Army which was later on implemented across all U.S Armed Forces.The Centre for Educational Technology department at Florida State University designed Addie Model for the U.S. Army. Subsequently all the U.S. Armed Forces adopted it. Today, the influence of the ADDIE method can be seen on most ID models being used. The goal was to finish each step before proceeding to the next. The original ADDIE model had sub-steps under each of the 5 steps. The five phases in Addie Model are based on the earlier ID model known as Five Step Approach which the U.S. Air Force developed. All existing ID models draw heavily from ADDIE process. The model in its original form had many sub stages within each of the five broad phases. One had to complete a phase before starting the next in a linear fashion. Practitioners over the years have made several revisions in the stages of the original hierarchical version. This has made the model more interactive and dynamic. It was in the mid-1980s that the version similar to the current version appeared.

Addie: Stages

Addie modelThe five components of the Addie Model are:

Analysis

The analysis phase can be considered as the “Goal-Setting Stage”. The focus of the designer in the analysis phase is on the target audience. It is also here that the program matches the level of skill and intelligence each student/participant shows to make sure that what they already know won’t be duplicated and instead focus the learning on topics and lessons yet to be explored. In this phase, instructors distinguish between what the students already know and what they have to know after completing the course. Several key components are to be utilized to make sure analysis is thorough. Course texts and documents, syllabi and the internet are to be employed. With the help of online materials such as web courses, a structure can be determined as primary guide for the syllabus. At the end of the program, instructional analysis will be conducted to determine what subjects or topics are to be included. The Analysis Phase generally addresses the following questions

1. Overall background of the students/participants who will undergo the program. Personal and educational information such as age, nationality, previous experiences and interests should be determined. What is the target group? What are the educational goals, past knowledge levels, experiences, ages, interests, cultural background etc. of the learners?

2. What the students need to accomplish at the end of the program. What are the learner’s needs?

3. What will be required in terms of skills, intelligence, outlook and physical/psychological action-reaction? What are the desired learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, behavior etc.?

4. Determining popular methods being used around the subject and taking a look at what needs to be developed and improved. Review of existing instructional strategies employed. Are they adequate? What aspects need to be added, clarified and improved upon?

5. Determining target objectives of the project. What instructional goals does the project focus on?

6. Determining various choices to be used. Is the learning environment conducive or not? A combination of live or online discussions? What will be the Pros and Cons between online and classroom based study? What delivery option is to be chosen? What type of learning environment is preferred? Does one opt for online or face-to-face or a blend of both? If online is preferred what will be the difference in learning outcomes of classroom-based learning and web-based learning?

7. Determining limiting factors to the overall goal of the project. Will it be resources — both technical and support, time, human resources, technical skills, financial etc.,?

Design

This stage determines all goals, tools to be used to gauge performance, various tests, body, subject matter analysis, planning and resources. This is where all approach should be done as planned while following a very specific set of rules. This systematic approach makes sure everything falls within a rational and planned strategy or set of strategies that has an ultimate goal of reaching the project’s targets. Being a stickler to the details on each step of the way is crucial to the success of the design stage. In the design phase focus is on the learning objectives, content, subject matter analysis, exercise, lesson planning, assessment instruments used and media selection. The design phase needs to be specific. Each element of the instructional design plan must be executed with attention to details. It should be systematic with a logical, orderly process of identification, development and evaluation of planned strategies which target the attainment of project’s goals.

During the design stage, the IDs need to determine:

1. Different types of media to be used. Audio, Video and Graphics are prime examples. Are third party resources going to be utilized or will the IDs create their own? Will you prepare the teaching learning material

2. Various resources at hand required to complete the project. What are the available resources at your disposal for completing the project?

3. Level and types of activity to be generated during the study. Is it going to be collaborative, interactive or on a per participant basis?

4. Using a teacher’s style approach, what way will you implement the parts of the project (e. g behaviourist, constructivist etc,.) ?

5. Time frame for each activity. How much time to be assigned to each task and how the learning will be implemented (per lesson, chapter, module, etc.,). Are the topics linear in progression (e.g easy to difficult)?

6. The different mental processes needed by the participants in order to meet the targets of the project. What are the prescribed cognitive skills for students to achieve the project’s learning goals?

7. Knowledge and skill developed after each task. Do you have a way of determining such values have indeed been achieved by the student? What is the method adopted by you to determine the acquisition of desired competencies by the students?

8. The roadmap on how the study or project will appear on paper. Will it be advantageous to the ID to create a map of the different activities to see if they are in line with the goal of the project?

9. If the project is web-based, what kind of user interface will you employ? Do already have an idea on how the site will look like?

10. The feedback mechanism you will use to determine if the participants are able to digest the lessons. What is the mechanism designed by you to obtain learner’s feedback on material learnt?

11. Given the wide variety of student preferences and learning styles, what method will you implement to make sure that the program fits their wants? How will you design your project activities so as to appeal to diverse learning styles and interests of students? Will you opt for variety in delivery options and media type?

12. Pinpoint the main idea of the project.

Development

The Development stage starts the production and testing of the methodology being used in the project. In this stage, designers make use of the data collected from the two previous stages and use this information to create a program that will relay what needs to be taught to participants. If the two previous stages required planning and brainstorming, the Development stage is all about putting it into action. This phase includes three tasks namely drafting, production and evaluation. Development thus involves creating and testing of learning outcomes. It aims to address the following questions:

1. Is the time frame being adhered to in relation to what has been accomplished in terms of material? Are you creating materials as per schedule?

2. Do you see team work across various participants? Are the members working effectively as a team?

3. Are participants contributing as per his or her optimal capacity?

4. Are the materials produced up to task on what they were intended for?

Implementation

The implementation stage reflects the continuous modification of the program to make sure maximum efficiency and positive results are obtained. Here is where IDs strive to redesign, update, edit the course in order for it to be delivered effectively. Procedure is the key word here. Much of the “actual” work proper is done here as IDs and students work hand in hand to train on new tools and make sure the design is continuously being evaluated for further improvement. No project should run its course by itself and on the absence of proper evaluation from the IDs. Since this stage gains much feedback both from IDs and participants alike, much can be learned from and addressed.

Design evaluation is done in the implementation phase. Designers play a very active role in this stage which is very crucial for the success of the project. Developers should consistently analyze, redesign and enhance the product to ensure effective product delivery. Meticulous monitoring is a must. Proper evaluation of the product, course or program with necessary and timely revisions is done in this phase. When instructors and learners actively contribute in the implementation, then instantaneous modifications can be made to the project thus making the program more effective and successful.

The following are examples of what can be determined:

1. Advise on your preferred method of record keeping as well as the actual data you would like to mine from the experience of students interfacing with the project.

2. What is the emotional feedback given to you by teachers and students during initial demonstration of the project? Are they genuinely interested, eager, critical or resistant?

3. As the project proceeds, do you see that IDs are able to grasp the topic immediately or do they need help?

4. Explain how you are going to deal with any possible errors during testing. What will be your reaction when after presenting activities to students things do not go as planned?

5. Did you prepare a back-up tool at the event of initial failure of the project? When technical and other problems arise do you have ‘backup’ strategy?

6. Will you go for implementation on a small scale or a large scale?

7. When the student group gets the material can they work independently or is constant guidance required?

Evaluation

The last stage of the ADDIE method is Evaluation. This is the part where the project is being subjected to meticulous final testing of the what, how, why, when of the things accomplished (or were not accomplished) of the entire project. This phase can be broken down into two parts: Formative and Summative. The initial evaluation actually happens during development stage. This “Formative” phase happens while students and IDs are conducting the study while the “Summative” portion of it occurs at the end of the program. The evaluation stage main goal is to determine if the goals have been met and know what will be required moving forward in order to further the efficiency and success rate of the project.

Every stage of ADDIE process involves formative evaluation. This is multidimensional and an essential component of ADDIE process. It assumes the form of formative evaluation in the development phase. Evaluation is done throughout the implementation phase with the aid of the instructor and the students. After implementation of a course or program is over, a summative evaluation is done for instructional improvement. The designer throughout the evaluation phase should ascertain if the problem relevant to the training program is solved and whether the desired objectives are met.

While often overlooked due to time constraints and monetary reasons, it is an essential step of the whole ADDIE method as it aims to answer the below questions:

1. Determine the categories at which the effectiveness of the project can be established (improved learning, better motivation etc.,). On what factors or criteria will the effectiveness of project be determined?

2. Determine the way you will implement data collection as well as the timing at which it will be effectively made. When will the data related to the project’s overall effectiveness be collected and how?

3. Determine a system for analyzing participant feedback

4. Determine the method at which you will need to change some parts of the project prior to full release if needed be. On what basis will you arrive at a decision to revise certain aspects of the project before its full implementation?

5. Determine the method at which reliability and content validity can be observed.

6. Determine the method at which you will know if instructions are clear. How is the clarity of instructions assessed?

7. Determine the method at which you can analyze and grade the response of the participants on the project

8. Determine who gets to receive your final output regarding the project. Who will prepare this report on the results of the evaluation?

Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple Choice Questions In eLearning

Multiple choice questions feature a stem question or statement, which is accompanied by a series of alternative answers. Only one alternative is correct, otherwise it is considered a multiple answer question, and the remaining alternatives are known as “distractors”. Multiple choice questions can assess learner knowledge when they are in the form of what, where, when, and who questions. However, they can also be used to determine the level of synthesis and analysis, two key aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy, if they appear as how and why questions.

Best Practices For Creating Multiple Choice Questions

  1. Only provide one correct answer.
    As they consist typical example of closed-ended questions, the set of multiple choice alternatives must contain a single correct answer. Also, the answer must be verifiable and unambiguous. For example, if two alternatives might be correct or the answer is debatable, then the multiple choice question is not truly effective.
  2. Determine the number of alternatives in advance.
    Decide how many alternatives you will include for each question and keep it the same throughout. For example, if you provide five alternatives in the first question, ranging from A to E, the second question should also consist of five alternatives. As a general rule, you should limit the number of variables to 4 or 5, as this decreases the chances of a learner correctly guessing the answer and prevents memory overload.
  3. Concentrate on the learning objectives.
    Every multiple choice question that you include in your eLearning course should relate to the learning objectives or goals. If it does not center on a key takeaway or important concept, then it’s best to leave it out of the exam. The question, itself, should tie into a single objective, and give the learner the opportunity to display their knowledge of the subject matter, rather than testing them on every detail of the online lesson.
  4. Verbosity has no place in multiple choice questions.
    It may be tempting to use as many words as possible to elaborate the question and make it more challenging for the learner. However, effective multiple choice inquiries consist of concise questions and corresponding alternatives. The fewer words the better. Keep in mind that you aren’t trying to assess reading comprehension or vocabulary skills , unless this is the key learning objective of your eLearning course. Instead, every question is intended to gauge how well learners know the subject matter and if they are achieving the learning goals.

4 Tips On How To Use Multiple Choice Questions In eLearning

  1. Ensure all questions and alternatives are of similar length.
    An alternative that is longer or more detailed than the others is generally the correct one. Be sure to keep all questions and answers a similar length so that it blends in with the other options. If the correct alternative is quite lengthy, then create another lengthy answer to make it less conspicuous. If the correct alternative is more complex or in-depth, by nature, you may want to make all of the alternatives more complicated as well.
  2. Randomize the correct answers.
    Switch up the order of your correct alternatives and ensure that they don’t follow a noticeable pattern throughout the exam. For example, if “A” is the correct solution for every other question, your learners are most likely going to be able to find the pattern and use it to their advantage. Even if they don’t know the subject matter, they can get at least half the questions right by simply selecting the “A” alternative 50% of the time.
  3. Steer clear of “above” answers.
    At some time or another, we’ve all taken a test that has tested our mettle and baffled us to some degree. Chances are, when we were given the option to choose “None of the above” or “All of the above” during this exam, we went for it. This is because we knew that these answers were likely to be correct, thanks to the fact that it wasn’t a multiple answer assessment and our instructors had to provide us with a way to choose multiple different alternatives, hence, the “All of the above” option. Now that you are wearing the “test-writer” hat, it’s important not to fall into the same trap by giving your learners a catch-all alternative. If you want to provide more than one correct answer, simply provide your learners clear instructions before the question to let them know that they must choose more than one answer.
  4. Leave manipulation out of the equation.
    Deceiving the learner by creating similar answer options may be tempting, especially if you believe that doing so will make the test more challenging. However, it’s best to leave trickery out of the equation, as it won’t allow you to test a learner’s understanding of the topic. If they know the subject matter, then they will be able to spot the correct answer in the set. Disguising another alternative to make it look like the correct choice, such as using a word that can be used in lieu of the right answer, will only confuse and frustrate the learner. Not to mention, it still won’t give you a clear idea of whether they know the subject matter.

Use this article as a guide to develop multiple choice eLearning questions that quickly and effective determine how much your learner knows, and if they need additional resources or support to achieve their learning goals and objectives.

Interested in learning more about how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in assessment? The article How To Write Multiple-Choice Questions Based On The Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy will show you how to write multiple-choice questions based on the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Matching Questions

Matching Questions In eLearning

Matching questions consist of two columns and learners must match an item in the first column with a response in the second column. It is an ideal eLearning assessment method for learners who may not have strong reading comprehension skills, as they are only required to connect key concepts or ideas instead of writing a detailed explanation. In most cases, the learner is granted partial credit for the questions they answer correctly. For example, if the learner answers 6 out of 10 questions correctly, then they will receive 6 out of 10 points on that portion of the online exam.

5 Best Practices For Developing Matching Questions

  1. Matching questions must contain a premise and response.
    Each set of matching questions must contain a premise and response column. The premises should be in left-hand column, and the responses in the right-hand column. As a general rule, each premise is numbered and each response is prefaced by a capital letter. For example, the first premise would be labeled with a “1” and the first response would be labeled with an “A”. Learners must then match a premise to a response by applying previously learned knowledge.
  2. Content must fall into a specific category.
    Each premise should align with a certain theme, and the same goes for responses. For example, if the first premise is a word that must be defined, all of the premises should be a word that requires a definition. All of the responses must then be definitions that match a corresponding term in the premise column. Otherwise, learners can simply guess the correct answer due to the fact that each item has its own context.
  3. There must be a single answer for every question.
    There can be no ambiguity about which response belongs to which premise. Every premise should have one specific verifiable response, and there must not be another response in the column that would suffice. For example, if “kitten” and “feline” are both in the response column, then the learner could easily choose one of the two when responding to a question about cats.
  4. Only test fact-based knowledge.
    Matching questions can only be used to test factual subject matter. Generally speaking, this form of inquiry is not the best option for analysis or reflection, and should only be used to determine the learner’s comprehension of ideas and concepts. Definitions, connections, and causes/effects are all ideally suited for the matching question format.

4 Tips To Use Matching Questions In eLearning

  1. Avoid language that reveals the answer.
    Be careful not to give the answer away by making certain words plural or revealing the response in another set of matching questions. For example, if you define the term in another section of the exam, your learners can simply skip back to that screen to get the correct answer. Ideally, every response in the second column should be a realistic and plausible answer. Avoid exaggerations or responses that stand out from the others. Also, research your audience beforehand to get a clear idea of their vocabulary comprehension abilities. If they aren’t familiar industry-specific jargon, use more basic vocabulary.
  2. Provide a greater number of answers.
    Always include more items in the response column than the premise column. This makes it more difficult for the learners to simply guess the right answer by matching all of the answers they know and then matching up the one or two that they aren’t sure about. For instance, if they correctly match 5 out of 6 premises with their corresponding responses, they automatically know that the remaining premise belongs with the leftover response. You should typically include at least 2 or 3 extra responses to prevent educated guesses.
  3. Keep your columns short.
    If possible, keep your list of premises to a minimum. Usually 6 or 7 premises for each set of matching questions is the maximum number. However, less is best. Otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming your learner’s memory. If you are testing a wide range of concepts or ideas, then create multiple sets of matching questions. For example, when dealing with 30 key terms that must be defined, break them up into 5 sets of premises and responses to prevent cognitive overload.
  4. Preface the question with clear instructions.
    Above all else, your matching eLearning question must contain clear and concise instructions that tell the learners exactly what they need to do to correctly answer the question. Include a detailed explanation of how they are expected to answer the question, as well as the relationship between the first and second column. For example, if they need to match a term to its corresponding definition, include instructions such as: “Move each term in Column 1 to the correct definition in Column 2. Each item can only be used once”. This gives the learner a clear indication of how to match the items, as well as the relationship between the two columns.

A carefully crafted matching question has the power to gauge learner knowledge and improve information retention. They also offer instructors the opportunity to pack a lot of assessment power into a short span of time, making them an ideal tool for on-the-go online experiences.

Speaking of on-the-go learning, mobile learning is on the rise, which means that mobile assessments have to keep up with the pace. Read the article 5 Tips To Develop Mobile Learning Assessments to discover 5 tips for developing effective mobile assessments for your mobile course.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Open-Ended Questions

Open-Ended Questions In eLearning

An open-ended question in eLearning, which is often referred to as an “open question”, is a form of eLearning assessment which allows learners to formulate their own response without having to choose from a set of pre-determined answers, as is the case with closed-ended questions. They prompt learners to think about the various solutions to the problem and answer in their own words, which helps them build critical thinking, communication, and creative reasoning skills.

Types Of Open-Ended Questions: Open-Ended Questions vs. Open-Ended Statements

  1. Open-ended questions.
    An open-ended question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no and requires a longer response, such as a sentence or paragraph. Responses that are more in-depth may even call for an essay or lengthy presentation. Typically open-ended questions start with one of the following words: what, why, or how.
  2. Open-ended statements.
    Open-ended questions do not have necessarily to be questions. In fact, they can be statements that may require a longer response. For example, an open-ended question can begin with “Tell me…” or “Describe…”, etc. Notice that despite the fact that they are not in the form of a query, they are still classified as open-ended questions.

6 Tips To Use Open-Ended Questions In eLearning

  1. Encourage learner reflection by posing open-ended questions.
    Open-ended questions help your learners to not only explore a topic, but delve into their personal thoughts and opinions about the subject. They have the opportunity to reflect upon how they can use the information in their real lives and how it can benefit them, which makes them more likely to actuallyretain the knowledge. You can even begin each lesson with an open-ended question that prompts them to think about the value of what they will be learning, so that they are willing and ready to participate.
  2. Lead with a closed-ended question.
    Closed-ended questions do have a purpose, and that is to determine a learner’s level of understanding before you pose open-ended questions. Ask your learners a simple and straightforward closed-ended question to find out how much they know about a particular topic. This will help you to then formulate open-ended questions that are in-line with their current knowledge base and skill sets. For example, if the closed-ended question reveals your learners know very little about the topic, you can ease into more basic open-ended questions to familiarize them with the ideas and concepts.
  3. Apply the YES/NO rule.
    Creating open-ended questions is not as easy as it might seem, particularly if you are dealing with a more complex topic. A good rule of thumb is to evaluate every open-ended question you create using the YES/NO rule. If you can answer it with a simple yes or no response, then it is actually a closed-ended question that might not spark the lively online discussion you’re hoping for. In this case, revise the question so that it leaves ample room for debate, creative thinking, and reflection.
  4. Steer clear of loaded questions.
    There is a clear distinction between an open-ended question and a loaded one, also known as a leading question. For example, “How did you feel about your amazing eLearning experience?” would be a loaded question, because it already puts an opinion in the mind of the learner. You aren’t going to get the helpful feedback you need to improve your eLearning course, as you are guiding their response with the wording you’ve chosen. “How did you feel about the eLearning course”, instead, is a more appropriate open-ended question, as it does not contain any personal opinions or feelings. The same rule applies to questions you use throughout the eLearning course as well. Keep them neutral and try not to sway the opinion of your learners.
  5. Every open-ended question must tie into the learning goal.
    Every open-ended question that you use in your eLearning course should relate to the learning goals and objectives. To do this, you must first have a clear idea of what information you are trying to gather by asking the question. Also, how are you going to be evaluating the answers? When you are crafting each open-ended question, think about how it will help you to improve the eLearning experience or track learners’ progress. If you want to create a compelling open-ended question that makes them think and put their knowledge to use, then carefully consider the impact of each word.
  6. Be as specific as possible when formulating your question.
    Open-ended question responses have a way of veering off topic quite quickly. You might intend on asking a series of questions, but the first question you ask may spark a lively online discussion that takes up the entire class period. This is why it’s important to have guidelines in place, and to be as specific as possible when you are posing an open-ended question in synchronous eLearning environments. Let your learners know exactly what is expected of them and guide the online discussion if it strays from the topic. When you are writing your questions, define parameters and determine how you can get the most accurate response from your learners. Don’t ask them about a broad topic, but specific ideas or concepts that you want them to reflect upon.

Give your learners the opportunity to reflect, review, and remember the key takeaways of your eLearning course by creating effective open-ended eLearning questions. Use these tips to ensure that you don’t guide them down the path to an answer, but let them take the lead.

One of the most effective ways to encourage your learners to open up when answering open-ended questions is to foster a positive attitude in eLearning. The article 11 Tips To Encourage Positive Attitude In eLearning features 11 tips that can help you inspire, motivate, and engage your learners, so that they are more likely to actively participate in the eLearning experience.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.