I am a dissertator at the University of Wisconsin, and my research topic is on “Factors that enable collaboration between the IDD (instructional design and development) team and the subject matter expert.” I have written a series of blog entries on the various expertise sharing factors, which I have discovered (slow drip style) can be utilized by eLearning managers. While conducting my research, one interviewee said bluntly: “the amount of collaboration really comes down to the personality mix of team members.” Well, yes and no. “Personality style” and “influencing style” of the group leader(s) and team members does play a role. But the topic of team member “style” is not specifically part of my research.
At the recent eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions conference in Orlando, I presented a session on how managers can enable greater subject matter expert collaboration with design and development teams (IDD). I was excited to see a packed room with a very attentive group of eLearning project managers and instructional designers.
Adding to the inspiration were the two conference keynote speakers (Sir Ken Robertson and Jonah Lehrer), who also addressed the value of understanding the tacit knowledge that experts may know but find hard to share. Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide, talked about his flight simulator experience and the importance of understanding how emotions and hidden patterns play a big part in an expert’s decision-making process.
When you are taking a live workshop and putting it online, you do not have the pressure of designing a sixteen-week curriculum like K-16 educators — All you have to do is cover the equivalent of four to six hours of instruction.
The challenge is the intangibles of face to face — the social behavior like bonding and talking. In Part I, Deb Adair’s comment stressed the importance of building social presence to replace live interaction. As online learning developers, we must build learning experiences with more content and more opportunity for learners to discuss topics of their interests with peers. This blog post will outline the second most important concept in delivering an online course: Consistent design of learning activities and use of Bloom’s taxonomy to encourage learner engagement in higher level learning.
A lot of trainers and instructors have struggled with the question, “How can I take my full day workshop and create an online equivalent?”Design approaches for course conversion range from providing recorded webinar/webcast series to purist academic approaches following formulas like William Horton’s Absorb—Do—Connect methodology to even more complex evaluation-driven design using a Quality Matters rubric. As with a lot of things in life, the design approach selected often depends on the authoring tools and resources at your disposal.
In this first blog post in a series, we will discuss a main point of contention against repurposing face-to-face (F2F) workshops into eLearning: loss of human contact and interaction. When it comes to crafting online learning activities, how do you assemble them so that not only are the learning objectives covered, but the learners are thoroughly engaged in the material? Most often I am asked: “What can we do to bring personality to the online experience?” F2F instructors often use their dynamic personalities and passion for the subject matter to engage learners. One of the primary objectives of attending a workshop is to gather practitioners together to learn from each other.
I recently came across an article I wrote this past February on building a team for game development, which headlined in the Training Conference daily newsletter called Game On or Game Over for Online Training. I defined the four critical components to effective management of immersive learning simulation (ILS) projects:
- Defining a culture.
- Setting goals.
- Building a team.
- Managing time, cost, and quality.
Upon further reflection, this article really can be applied to most highly interactive development projects.
Let’s analyze how these components can be incorporated into any high-end eLearning project.
Guy Kawasaki’s continuous tweets have drilled the Alltop aggregate sites into my psyche, and there it was—a site for eLearning! To apply to be accepted, it required a blog name. After six months of blogging, I finally decided to name this blog: “Managing eLearning.” I will occasionally get into the weeds about eLearning tactical issues, like voicing an opinion on instructional design, but most of the time my blog posts will focus on:
- Efficient management of eLearning projects
- Leadership issues in the development and deployment proces
- Strategic discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities within the eLearning space
Tony Karrer asks a great question in his blog post: “What is good writing?” It is really all about context. Although I agree that concise and bullet-pointed writing can be worthwhile in certain contexts, I do believe that teaching fundamentals is the first priority of a K-12 writing curriculum.
This post has prompted me to muse about another important question: What is good interactive writing?Those of us challenged to develop good online learning activities realize that great eLearning starts with good information design and activities that engage learners. To engage a learner’s mind means that we must keep the learner’s attention with teaching activities that are interactive. This means writers must understand web techniques like hot spots, links, branching, dragging, graphic placement and the like. Sometimes it means a full blown simulation or game (See Karl Kapp’s discussion of building Math Games for Middle School Students). Good storytelling still matters, as does an understanding of the Chicago Style Guide.
A quick search of Wikipedia finds that we need to do some work documenting and updating the definition of “serious game” and “game-based learning” — at least in Wikipedia. Consider this post a call for “all hands on deck!”
The number of groups, institutions and individuals working on the subject of games and learning is growing. Academia has been studying video games and learning for the better part of two decades. Most academics would agree with Wikipedia’s definition of “serious games.” I also like the cryptic “game-based learning” definition that currently exists in Wikipedia: “Game-based learning is a branch of serious games”. My understanding of a geeky separation factor between the two has been that video games are built with complex “game engines” usually costing millions, while casual games or “edutainment” games have been built in Shockwave, Flash, and Java (to mention a few programming languages) sometimes at no real monetary cost. According to Jim Gee, the commercial video game by its very need to competitively succeed in the marketplace has evolved into a strong pedagogical machine. The video game must be challenging and that requires continuous learning (“keep the gamer at the edge of his/her competency level”). I am personally more interested in “game-based learning” (a definition that needs the most work on Wikipedia) since as a subset of the “serious game,” it generally refers to games built for the purpose of teaching a body of knowledge. The eLearning Guild in its research document, “Immersive Learning Simulations”, attempts to group both games and simulations. The guild audience primarily consists of corporate eLearning employees. Here is a brief listing of what might be included in a Wikipedia definition of “game-based learning” throwing a wide net of potential constituents involved in teaching something using games or simulation, however “casual”: