Sneak peak: what’s in store for eFrontPro in 2015
When Steve Jobs first introduced OS X he said it would be the foundation for the next ten years of Mac OS. While some classic Mac OS users complained about a few changes compared to how the old OS operated, OS X was proven not only a stable platform for Apple to build upon, but also something that brought in ten times as many users as Mac OS classic had.
eFrontPro is like our OS X.
Staring at the blank screen or sheet of paper is every creative’s nightmare. E-learning professionals are not far from writers and designers in this sense, as in most cases they need to start from scratch and build a program that will truly add value, be aesthetically pleasing and is in line with the learning objectives of a company.
The easiest way to fight creative block is to simply glance over to what others are doing and copy what seems to be working for them. John Cullum’s character in the film Kill Your Darlings declares, “There can be no creation before imitation.” This seems to ring true for most people trying to come up with a new product or idea and being lost in doubt or lack of creative spark.
Yes, it is tempting to imitate the success of another e-learning program and in some cases, when done within reason, copying design, style and presentation is not illegal. However, just in as many cases, bare imitation without first considering the audience and specific goals of the program tends to fire back.
In our recent introduction to eFront’s architecture, we emphasized it’s open source nature and extensibility. In this post we’ll take a look at eFront’s module system, and how it enables eFront users to extend and mold the software to their e-learning needs.
In the software world we call extensible programs “modular”, and their distinct units of functionality “modules”. When those modules are installed separately and after the installation of the basic software, they are also called “plug-ins” and “add-ons” (think of browser add-ons/plug-ins, from the Flash Player and IE toolbars to the rich Firefox add-on ecosystem).
You’ve probably seen a horse trainer reward his horse with a cube of sugar after a successful performance of a new trick. This simple gesture holds the key to better engagement and participation in your e-learning courses.
Of course your users aren’t horses (except if you’re pioneering animal e-learning), but the principle, which behavior psychologists call “positive reinforcement”, still holds.
Users need to know they’re getting something out of this e-learning thing, and they need to be assured that they’re making progress. That’s important, because if users are not confident that they are making progress they tend to withdraw and see the course in a negative light.
There are several ways to go about rewarding users.
If you are employed, you should know that there are certain rules and regulations governing both your workplace and the profession you are in. Some professions have more than others (financial institutions, for example, have stricter regulations due to their business of handling large sums of money), and sometimes these rules and regulations may be unclear or vague to the average worker.
This is why compliance training is necessary so that one doesn’t violate company policy (or even worse, the law). Compliance training also covers most liability of the employer; since the employee was trained on these responsibilities, it is part of his or her job to comply.
So how can one use e-learning so that compliance training can be fun and engaging instead of the rigid and uninteresting exercise that some employees make it out to be?
If you’re reading this you’re either evaluating eFront (or eFrontPro, our revamped, flagship product) or you have already joined the ranks of those who use it and love it. In either case, it might be interesting to take a look under the hood, and see what makes its engine tick: the technologies, APIs, programming libraries and tools we used in creating it.
Don’t worry, you won’t need a degree in programming to understand this post. We’ll just give you a high level description of what powers eFront, the software analogous of opening the hood of a Ferrari to take a peak at its engine; you don’t need to be mechanic to appreciate that. And in case you do have a degree in programming (or can hire someone who does) our software let’s you modify, enhance and alter whatever part of it you want to build the hot-rod of your dreams.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
The holiday season. A time to dabble in festive home decoration, stuff socks with Santa’s presents, spend some quality time with the family, and make those life-changing “new year resolutions”.
We all make a few of those (“exercise more”, “learn Chinese”, etc), and we all fail to keep most of them. But why constrain your resolutions to personal things? Here’s a resolution for your business development: “integrate e-learning in my enterprise”.
Unlike most personal new year resolutions, this doesn’t take lots of self-control to achieve. With modern LMS platforms like eFront/eFrontPro being so accessible and easy to deploy and use, it’s actually a resolution you can implement in zero time and start seeing the benefits immediately. Take that, Chinese lessons!
As for what this benefits are, here are 3 use cases for integrating e-learning in your business in 2015:
A couple of decades ago it was inconceivable for educators to tailor their materials and teaching approach towards the individual student. The different learning styles as a concept started gaining pace ever since the term and idea behind it was first introduced in the mid 70’s.
We Learn Best in Different Ways
Today, it is only too obvious that we don’t all share the same learning mechanisms, and while it may be impractical to apply this to the everyday classroom environment, it has certainly influenced the direction, in which online learning is developing.
You don’t need to look further than yourself and your immediate circle of friends to spot the differences in your learning styles. While you may feel comfortable reading long pages of solid material, some of your friends may find it completely indigestible. While some people remember close to everything of what they hear, others’ attention wanders off as soon as they hear a narrator’s monotonous drone. While some need to isolate themselves in the deepest, darkest corner of the library or office to concentrate, others need to talk through new material with a partner or a group.
Running a business, or any other social endeavor for that matter, is all about feedback. Especially in a competitive market such as e-learning, your options are mostly limited to adapt and improve (like Apple in the 00s) or perish (like AOL in the same decade).
Now, when it comes to feedback, there are three things that matter: getting it, “getting” it, and doing something with it. Which is exactly what we’re going to cover in this post.
There’s a saying in the real estate industry that the three most important aspects of a real estate property is “location, location, location”. In e-learning those three aspects would be “content, content, content”.
All the fancy gizmos (augmented reality, gamification, interactive multimedia and the like) won’t help you if your content is not up to the task ― the task being helping your students learn and understand the course’s subject matter, of course.
The generic advice we gave in previous posts still holds: it should be clear and succinct, well structured and divided into the appropriate lessons (or “chapters”), and accompanied with relevant as opposed to decorative examples, illustrations and media.
Beyond that, we cannot tell you in detail about how to write or structure your content because it depends on the particular course you’re offering and what better suits it.
Instead, we’ll have a look at what you should include in your course, taking into account what modern LMS platforms offer. Some of the advice (such as the need to have lessons) are seemingly obvious, but bear with us, as we delve into some issues course creators face, that you might not have thought.