Ten tips to build interactivity

Interactivity is a key component in the learning process. While it’s relatively easy for a teacher in a classroom to interact with the learners and, by ‘reading’ the situation, involve them in the learning process in the most effective ways, it’s much harder for those producing online learning materials. For one thing, they can only make educated guesses at their learners’ needs, state of mind, attitude to and preferences for learning and so on.

So, when developing online learning materials, it’s important to define the content that needs to be learned; determine what the learner must do as a result of completing these learning materials, and so decide on the most appropriate ‘treatment’ for the content. Users must interact with online learning materials to navigate through the materials; amass information and make decisions.

Considering what the learner needs to know or do – rather than what the teacher wants to teach – involves you in ‘interactivity’. So here are ten things to bear in mind about interactivity when you’re developing online learning materials:

  1. Allow the learners to control their learning – so they’re more likely to engage with the whole learning activity. You should always let them see where they’re going on their learning journey and what options they have at each stage of that journey. Continue reading

eLearning in Australia

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lee Corbett, Chief Executive at simply elearning. She has years of experience in the elearning market in Australia and was the perfect person to gain some insight on what’s happening Down Under.

1.    Please tell us a little about yourself and your organization

I have been in the elearning and VET sector training world since 2000 when I was engaged by Southbank Institute of TAFE in their Engineering faculty. I have held several committee positions nationally, mainly in the telecommunications and electronics industry skilling areas. I left TAFE in 2006 to set up an elearning department for one of the private mining RTO’s here in Queensland before starting my own business late 2007.

We are a specialised elearning content development company for the mining industry and all of the associated trade areas. We cover a lot of different facets of the sector from first aid, to plant maintenance and everything in between.

Having worked with TAFE I was familiar with a lots of LMS’s but none that wowed me.  Then after a lot of research I came across the eFront LMS. I loved the system. For a relatively complex system as far as output goes, it was very functional and for me fairly easy to understand. We matched it against the likes Blackboard, Moodle and Janison it wins hands down.

Anyway, we loved the system so much we started to refer it to our clients and the relationship with eFront has grown from there. Now with the TalentLMS on the market we are so excited about being able to provide clients in Australia with a LMS solution regardless of their size or budget. I can’t wait to see where we are in 5 years time!

2.    How would you describe the state of elearning in Australia today?

I should first clarify what I believe to be the difference between elearning and online learning. There has been a lot of resistance from trainers and educators. This is mainly due to job security rather than their dislike for elearning. Online learning (prevalent in TAFE & Universities) is merely taking paper based or video resources and putting them on the internet for students to access, download and view. Whereas true elearning is the development of training content from paper based to learner led resources. This is where you require instructional design and the ability to sit in the participants seat in front of a computer and have the content ‘talk’ to you whilst you ‘interact’ with it. This is the work that we do. We take paper based resources and we use graphical designers, instructional designers, and animators etc to build them into a ‘storybook’ of learning.

In my opinion, the elearning market in Australia is still in its infancy. Online learning is very popular with TAFE’s and Universities, but true elearning is something that the nation is still coming to terms with. Continue reading

Calling all elearning infographics! – here’s 10 to start with

Infographics have become ubiquitous and they’re a brilliant way to get clear, useful overviews of what’s happening where! Here I’d like to propose a collection of samples relevant to elearning and learning technologies.

  1. Growth of Distance Learning (USA)
  2. Boosting Business Agility (UK, Europe)
  3. Are we wired for mobile learning?
  4. Which Social Network Should You Use — and When
  5. elearning statistics for 2013
  6. Kids and the mobile technology takeover by Edudemic
  7. Technology’s impact on education
  8. Instructional Design
  9. A great set of infographics on social learning
  10. A great set of infographics on elearning

For a closer look at some of our favorite free tools for creating infographics check this post. We also like this article on how infographics can help you produce better elearning courses.

And if you’d like to add your favorite elearning infographic to this list, please put them in the comments below! I feel an infographic on infographics coming on :) ~ @rgogos

Telecommuting vs ‘Telepresence’

There are countless articles all over the internet describing telecommuting and how that compares to “traditional” working in an office. However, most of them deal with the matter under the assumption that the employee is either self-employed, or has a flexible working schedule. That means, when comparing the two types of employment, one of the key advantages of telecommuting is presented to be the freedom in making use of your time in your own way.

This is not necessarily an advantage though. Under the light of recent developments, where Yahoo and now Best Buy are cancelling their flexible work programs, it would be interesting to present a third option: working from home, but in an office at the same time (for the sake of this post, let’s call this “telepresence”). This means that you get to work from the location of your choice but under the 40-hour schedule and availability obligations you would have if you were to work in an office (I have been working this way in our company for several years).

So, how does “telepresence” relationship compare to the other two extremes (and why is it better)?

You can find telecommuting vs office work comparisons all over the internet, so I’ll only present a list of “telepresence” advantages compared with telecommuting: Continue reading

Twitter in the classroom

It’s inevitable that any medium designed for ease of communication and networking will be applied to a learning context however many educators are still trying to come to grips with Twitter, and in particular its use in the classroom.

For a comprehensive list of resources on Twitter in the classroom and workplace, check out Dr. Tony Karrer’s list here – and also Edudemic’s 100 Ways to use Twitter in Education.

There are a multitude of ways Twitter can be integrated into classroom teaching, for example: Continue reading

FERGHSC on adopting eFront LMS & creating a new revenue stream

FERGHSC is an online tutoring business based in Sydney, Australia that focuses on supporting students in their final year of schooling (the Australian Higher School Certificate aka HSC) their focus is on developing systems for HSC success through video lessons, interactive feedback such as their essay marking service and website course material, developed by a team of experts.

We had the pleasure of speaking with the FERGHSC team recently and gained some insight into why they chose eFront over other LMS’ and how it helped them create a new revenue stream. Here are a few snippets from the full customer story:

On choosing eFront: “A strong consideration was the ability to monetize our online business model, offering various courses at different price points, however it was the suite of built in modules [in eFront] which we felt allowed us to get started quickly and hit the ground running.”

On what they’ve achieved: “Thanks to the eFront system we are able to continuously built upon our existing courses, adding value through additional lesson material and extra quiz questions. For example, with the math type built in we are able for the first time to offer mathematics courses online and continue to add new material to these courses.”

“The best thing is that students just love the software and find it very easy to use.”

For more check out the full customer story on Slideshare: