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The Growing Popularity of E-learning

In December 2013, E-Learning Infographics posted an infograph outlining the rise in popularity of e-learning and the benefits that are being seen worldwide in the use of online technology for training purposes.

Below is a snippet from their report

Infographic Elearning Statistics 2014

 

The full report can be found at:

http://elearninginfographics.com/elearning-statistics-2014-infographic/

 

The popularity of e-learning is set to grow even quicker in 2015. Why is e-learning such a popular choice for businesses? Well, these statistics only scratch the surface.

E-learning cuts down on the time staff spend in training, and therefore off operational duties, because it can be delivered anywhere, anytime. Depending on the method used, staff can participate in the learning experience at a time most suitable for their productivity. For example, if an outdoor job is called off at the last minute due to inclement weather, a productive use of this time would be to have your staff participate in their online course during their down-time.

E-learning is particularly useful for organisations with regional offices over vast distances. Instead of the travel and accommodation expenses associated with bringing all of your staff together, or sending trainers across the country, you can provide online portals for training. Depending on your needs these online portals can include interactive learning materials, webinars where your trainers can interact with your staff face-to-face and online chat rooms where staff can share their ideas.

The statistics presented for e-learning growth in 2014 show the opportunities that can be generated by incorporating e-learning into your training strategies. Above we have detailed just two of the ways these savings are achieved. If you would like to find out more about the specific ways in which e-learning could save you time, money and increase productivity – these articles may also interest you:

 

“E-learning: Get yourself on the train” Government Technology Review.

http://www.govtechreview.com.au/e-learning-get-yourself-on-the-train/#.VFwHKUv3_Ro

“M-Learning Reaches a Tipping Point” by Dr Allen Partridge

http://www.2elearning.com/top-stories/item/55642-m-learning-reaches-a-tipping-point

 

Alternatively, if you think e-learning is for you, but you aren’t sure where to start, contact us and we can provide you with some options.

 

Turning your classroom course into an e-learning experience: Implementation and review

Just as you would with any training programs and learning materials you have developed, it is important to trial your product before implementing it on a larger scale. Trialing is a critical step to ensure that your product contains accurate content, is user-friendly and engages your audience, and meets your organisation’s required outcomes from the training.

This last point is particularly important because it requires you to:

(a)   Know what your required outcomes are

(b)   Have methods in place to measure that these have been met

During your trial you should not only be checking your learning materials and instructional methods, you should also be reviewing your measuring tools to ensure they will provide accurate results as to whether your e-learning program has met your organisation’s needs.

Depending on your outcomes, measurement tools could include:

  • Surveys or questionnaires for students to complete
  • Data on course completion rates, graded assessments or skill observations
  • Interviews with supervisors to gain insight into staff skill improvements
  • Gathering data on productivity or staff retention

Be sure to use measurements that suit your outcomes. For example, there is no point gathering information on increased productivity if the online course you developed was to ensure your staff are up to date with new legislative requirements. This could be measured simply by recording completion rates and observing the implementation of the legislation in the workplace.

Once you have trialed your product you can then use these measurements to track your success during implementation. Depending on the purpose of the course and the length of time it will be used with staff it is worth considering an ongoing plan for monitoring and review. This could mean that a cohort of staff are put through the program, their participation measured, their feedback considered, and any changes or improvements can be made to the course before the next group is trained. This continuous improvement is an effective way of ensuring you course remains relevant and engaging throughout its life.

As with all of the steps in your project, we recommend that you consider your required outcomes, measurement methods and your plan for implementation and review during the planning stage.

 

For more information on measuring learning outcomes, check out these articles:

“Nuts and Bolts: What you Measure is What You Get” Jane Bozarth

http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1482/nuts-and-bolts-what-you-measure-is-what-you-get

“3 Simple Ways to Measure the Success of Your E-Learning” The Rapid ELearning Blog

http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/3-simple-ways-to-measure-the-success-of-your-e-learning/

 

This concludes our series “Turning your classroom course into an e-learning experience”. I hope we have provided you with some insight into the basic steps required for the successful transformation of your training programs.

If you have reached the end of this series and decided that e-learning is a pathway you would like to travel down, but you would like to discuss with us any outsourcing of your course design or development work. Please contact us to discuss your options and how we can assist in your project.

Good luck!

 

 

Turning your classroom course into an e-learning experience: Design and development

Apologies everyone for the length of time between posts! We have been very busy at the FBL office developing some exciting new learning resources on communication in the workplace, and bullying & harassment. Time flies when you are having fun, and it seems to have run away from me this time.

I believe when I left you last we had looked at some basic requirements for planning your e-learning program and we were about to discuss some of the issues surrounding the design and development phase.

During the planning phase you will have identified what you would like your e-learning course to look like, the authoring tools you will use, and the platform from which your learners will access your course. It is now time to begin designing your material in detail.

There are a number of factors you will need to consider during the design phase and these will effect whom you decide to assign to particular tasks:

  • The design of the learning experience
  • The accuracy of the content
  • How this will be interpreted for creation in your authoring tool

Here at FBL we have instructional designers, content experts (in Management and in Training and Education) and authoring specialists in our authoring tools of choice (e.g. Articulate Storyline and various audio-visual equipment and editing programs). If our clients require materials for content outside of our expertise, we work with their content experts to ensure the accuracy of content while designing the learning experience and interpreting the information for the relevant authoring tools.

It is important to remember that the online environment is a different learning experience for the student than the classroom. The activities and course structure that were suitable in the classroom may not be suitable online. This is where the design of your learning experience is important. You need to decide how you will apply the basic principles of training and assessment to the online environment, the order in which you will present your content, and how the students will interact with the content through activities and simulations.

The instructional designer, the content expert and the authoring tool specialist will all need to work together to create a storyboard for the learning material. As a basic guide:

  • The instructional designer will provide advice on the introduction of new content, the relevance of activities, the number of activities and where they should be located etc.
  • The content specialist will ensure that the information presented is accurate, that the activities are at a level appropriate for student knowledge and skill, that the simulations and scenarios are an accurate representation etc.
  • The authoring tool specialist will provide information on whether the activities and the content can be developed by the program being used to create the materials, and can suggest alternatives based on their knowledge of the technology.

Depending on the skills of the staff involved, these tasks could be conducted by multiple people or only one person. Independent of the number of people in your project team, it is very important that you consult with stakeholders during the development of you storyboard, and have them review your ideas before moving into the development phase, to avoid wasting precious time and dollars developing a product that does not meet their requirements.

Once everyone is happy with your storyboard, the authoring tool specialist can begin development. This phase will differ for each project depending on the authoring tool being used and the time allocated.

If your organisation does not currently have a particular preference, we recommend that before beginning your project you spend adequate time researching the variety of authoring tools available and choose one that best suits your needs and level of expertise. Often companies decide that it is easier to outsource the development phase to teams who specialize in developing materials using particular authoring tools, even if they have the instructional designers and context experts in-house. This is because it is easier and cheaper than purchasing the hardware, software and training required to bring the equipment and expertise into their organisation for the quality of product they require. It is important to be aware of this before beginning the project so that external experts can assist you throughout.

By now you have probably realized that there can be a lot involved in the development of e-learning materials. Which is why, as you are probably well aware, the decision to turn your classroom resources into e-learning materials, is not something that organisations commit to lightly.

Once the design and development of your product is complete, however, you are on the downhill run! It will then be time to look trialing your materials and monitoring your program’s implementation ongoing.

 

Next post –

Turning your classroom into an e-learning experience: Implementation and Review

Turning you classroom course into an e-learning experience: Getting ready

Let us assume that you have been conducting face-to-face training with a particular session plan for quite a while. You may have tweaked it a few times to get just the right content and appropriate timing. You probably amend it slightly each time you train to ensure it meets the needs of the particular students in the class. But after the initial development time, your session doesn’t take long to update and amend. You use similar, if not the same, learning resources in each session and your activities don’t differ greatly from group to group.

Enter e-learning …

Maybe you’ve realized that your clients need the flexible learning options that e-learning provides. Maybe you are looking to offer both a classroom and e-learning option for students. Maybe your manager has simply told you your course must be amended for the e-learning environment.

So what do you need to do to make this happen?

Just like classroom-based program development you will need to plan, design, develop, review and monitor your program. The difference is that you will be doing this for a very different learning environment, and it is important that you consider a number of questions before you begin:

  • Do you have a Learning Management System or similar platform to allow students access to your online materials?
  • How will you communicate with students? What technology will you use?
  • Will students be able to communicate with each other? How?
  • Have you considered how you will present the learning materials? For example:

–      Will you include only content in your learning materials?
–      Will you include interactive activities and simulations?
–      Do you plan on including videos or audio voiceover in your material?
–      How complex/detailed would you like your simulations to be?
–      What authoring tool will you use?
–      Will you include webinars or mentoring sessions in your program?
–      Do you have appropriate copyright licenses for electronic media?

All of these questions will need to be considered in order for you to gain an understanding of:

  1. How much it will cost to develop your e-learning program.
  2. How much of the development will be done in-house and how much you will want to outsource.

Depending on the skills that your staff have in the development of online learning materials, and the authoring tools you already have access to, outsourcing some of your development can be an effective way to reduce cost and development time.

Once you have considered all of the technology and materials required for your e-learning, and who will be responsible for each, you will be ready to begin designing and developing your course.

 

Next week –

Turning your classroom course into an e-learning experience: Design and development.

To use, or not to use, e-learning …

In 1997, I remember computers were just beginning to come of age. More and more people had one … just the one … in their home and their office. They were the days of the CD ROM, and it was perhaps not really what many people wanted their training to look like. So it seems it has taken all that time for E-Learning to start to be seen as an acceptable learning format, and it has occurred with a huge increase in the development of technological devices.

Just look how far we have come in 17 years! Now, if you don’t have a mobile device, or two, as well as a computer or two, you are seen to have lost pace with the world. It has taken that long for some of us to be comfortable with technology … and maybe there are still some of use who aren’t? Now, more than ever, though, workplaces and individuals are starting to look at what this technology can be used for to assist to enhance their knowledge and skills and what benefits it can bring over other learning formats.

The age-old challenge with learning and development is how do you measure its success? In particular, how to you measure the benefits of technology and e-learning in the workplace over more traditional forms of learning?

Every learning format has its advantages and disadvantages depending on how it is implemented. What is needed is to ensure there is a point of balance. Contingencies must be put in place to ensure that any of the disadvantages are counteracted before learning begins.

E-learning has a number of obvious advantages:

  • Less time off the job
  • Less travel time and cost
  • Can be accessed any time and anywhere as long as you have an internet connection (study can be scheduled around work and family commitments)
  • You can work at your own pace
  • Discussion forums give access to other participants and learning coaches across vast geographical distances
  • e-learning encourages and develops more direct interaction with learning coaches and instructors
  • e-learning can accommodate different learning styles and facilitate learning through a variety of activities
  • It develops knowledge of computer and mobile technology
  • Successfully completing an online or computer-based course builds self-confidence and encourages participants to take responsibility of their own learning.
  • Participants have access to material they have already completed and can refer back to it at any time.

Potential disadvantages:

  • Participants may fall behind if they are not motivated and have low self-discipline or organisational skills
  • Participants may become confused without the structure and constant contact a classroom environment provides
  • Participants may feel isolated from the learning coach and other participants depending on the methods of communication available to them
  • The learning coach may not always be available at the exact time the participant requires assistance
  • A slow internet connection or older computers may make accessing the course materials frustrating
  • Managing computer files and online learning software can sometimes seem complex for participants with limited technology knowledge and skills.

E-learning isn’t for everyone or suitable for every situation. However, with the right combination of technology and support it can yield excellent results for participants and employers who are in an environment where e-learning would enhance their learning experience.

If you are not sure if e-learning would benefit your organisation, contact us to discuss your current situation. We can assist you to choose the best learning format for your specific needs.

 

Next week …..

“Turning your classroom course into an e-learning experience”

Leadership and the Integrated Leadership System (ILS)

Leadership is an exciting, challenging and ultimately rewarding journey for those with the vision and courage to take it. It is a journey that starts within, and over time, sees us developing the capability to deliver the attributes referred to in many quotations:

Where there is no vision, the people will perish

— Proverbs 29:18

We must become the change we want to see

— Mahatma Gandhi

When the best leaders work is done the people say “We did it ourselves!”

— Lao-tsu

FBL is committed to supporting leaders within the business who are willing to get out the polishing cloth and get on with the job. Building great leadership ability is a never ending cycle of action, reflection and learning that is a great privilege, and the opportunity to unlock the very best we have to give this world.

The FBL Integrated Leadership System (ILS) has been developed to assist the leadership teams, and those who aspire to moving into leaderships roles, to identify and develop the competencies the they need to become high level performers in these roles.

The system acknowledges that leaders require a mix of technical, management and leadership expertise. The balance of these elements will depend on the actual role being performed. Frontline leaders close to the day-to-day operational action will need higher levels of specific, current, technical competency than those involved in more strategic positions such as Business Unit Managers or the Senior Executive.

The five core leadership competencies that the ILS model is built on are:

Shapes strategic thinking

Achieves results

Cultivates productive working relationships

Exemplifies personal drive and integrity

Communicates with influence

Do you agree with these core leadership competencies?

What is your experience of leaders – the good and the not so good?

 

To find out more about the ILS and our leadership courses click here.