Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mini-bite Learning - One of the Top e-Learning Trends

Came across an article on Vista Training's blog that talks about 8 trends in eLearning. Last one in the list is about mini-bites of learning (also called learning chunks by Craig Weiss in his blog) where the author talks about learning which is incremental and can be done through short learning programs. Here is a portion of the article, which paraphrases Craig Weiss's thoughts. (You can access the article here.)
"Mini-bites" of learning: Not all training is focused on teaching a new hire how to perform a task from scratch. Some of it is incremental or remedial in nature. That means a growing demand for short learning programs, packed with just one or two nuggets of knowledge that help workers get a specific task done. Weiss envisions lessons that are five minutes in length at maximum. Formats could include brief videos and one-page documents.

Performance support is one possible use for "mini-bite" training: In the construction and mining industries, an equipment operator could watch a brief video in the cab of his machine prior to performing a task. This would bring the required best-practice knowledge to the top of his mind, increasing the odds that he will perform it at peak efficiency.

Are you too thinking about short learner attention spans? Is five minutes too long for many of your learners?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Learning Arcs and Story Arcs

The purpose of a learning arc is accomplish a change in the learner, as implied in the learning objective, by taking him/her through multiple learning interactions.

Think for a moment of a TV series drama, which follows a story arc, spread over several episodes. The main character undergoes transformation as the plot progresses. The story culminates with the resolution of plot towards the end. A well-designed self-paced learning experience parallels some of these elements. The learner experiences one or more ah-ha moments as s/he moves through a series of interactions with the learning environment, completing a learning arc. Learning arcs transform the cognitive state of a learner, and concerns get resolved as learning progresses.

With that background, then, here is a definition of interactive learning arc for instructional designers who build e-learning courses. An interactive learning arc consists of multiple interactions linked together in a cohesive learning experience that is complete in itself, and can be part of a larger online course.

Have you used learning arcs as short learning nuggets all by themselves? Have you used learning arcs as branches within longer web based courses? What are your thoughts about the various ways in which learning arcs get implemented?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Learning Interactions in PowerPoint: Add Engagement to Instructor-Led Training

e-Learning course designers have traditionally turned to traditional classroom instruction for insights in instructional design. Now with a couple of decades experience of e-learning, classroom instruction can incorporate some of the best practices in e-learning. The use of learning interactions is one such example.

Self-paced e-learning courses employ learning interactions that allow learners to engage with the course materials in interesting ways. Interactions include games, exercises, simulations, drill-downs and so forth. Course authors typically use ready templates of such interactions, and add content as appropriate. When effectively incorporated, interactions make learning more engaging and memorable, provide a change of pace, and improve outcomes.

In the classroom environment, too, there is a need for enhancing outcomes. Since PowerPoint is one of the most commonly used presentation tools, I will limit my comments to a typical PowerPoint presentation here.

All of us know that slides after slides of ‘training’ content can be boring. The way to overcome this is adding interactivity. If you incorporate a quiz game, a quick exercise, a brainteaser or even a few trivia questions, the classroom comes alive. To make this process simple, Raptivity, the leading interactivity builder, recently released a PowerPoint add-in. This free tool installs a menu for interactions inside PowerPoint. Using the add-in, people can search and add interactions to their presentations in a single click. To know more, write to info@raptivity.com.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Brand New User Interface for Raptivity

There are two reasons I love the new user interface of Raptivity.

One, it is trendy. The look-and-feel, colors, white spaces and screen layouts are pleasing to the eye. The design is simple and soothing.
Two, it boosts productivity. Its customer-inspired design helps you get around in fewer clicks. The interaction search is powerful. Help is embedded in the right places, so users can access support materials, other users' work samples and community from the application. The descriptions of interactions include useful tips on how and where you can use them.

Besides, Raptivity now provides a HTML5 preview of your work - another first in the industry.

Download Raptivity to try this yourself. Or check out the six cool things about the new Raptivity interface here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Learning at Harvard

For all the discussion on learning and interactivity in these pages, I always had a hunch that I would discover something new about learning if I were to go back to school. As it turns out, the hunch was right. I did get the opportunity to spend some time at Harvard Business School recently. And, getting back to campus life was both enriching and fun.

So, what are the 'new' things I discovered about learning? Here we go.

  1. A lot of learning is accidental. You run into someone from a different walk of life, start chatting and come away with a new idea. Happens all the time.
  2. Stories are a powerful way to immerse yourself in the subject matter. Nearly a hundred and fifty case studies that we completed were an amazing experience. It was like we were living inside those stories. In some cases, the real-life protagonists would show up in the classroom. That was cool.
  3. Lecturing is easy, listening is the hard part. The best HBS professors get it.
  4. When the learner understands that enjoyment of learning is directly proportional to the preparation beforehand, no additional motivation is needed to flip the classroom.
  5. The design of the classroom and seating arrangements should encourage interaction - it has a big impact on the learning outcomes.

In our graduation ceremony at Harvard earlier this year, my classmates and I were ecstatic. We had endured the hard part. Now, I miss the campus, and  our cohort of over a hundred owner-presidents and CEOs. The time we spent together in various interactions spread over the three years has been most memorable.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Job Aids Come to Help

Since time immemorial, job aids have been in use by workers and artisans of all kinds. A well-designed job aid helps in improving efficiency, cuts down time to get the work done, and reduces frustration.

We recently spotted one opportunity for a new kind of job aid for Raptivity users. Raptivity has the largest number of interaction templates among all elearning tools. Being a specialized interactivity builder that works with all authoring tools, Raptivity continues to the at the forefront of interactivity. Users often express that they cannot locate, much less remember, every interaction in Raptivity. To make the selection of interaction easier and more intuitive we have put together Raptivity Album, a free job aid. To download the Raptivity Album, click here.

Even in the online learning world, some of us prefer a handy printed manual. The newly released Raptivity Album is yours to download for free, print and keep.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One Interactivity Builder for Many Authoring Tools

Of late, some vendors in the e-learning tools industry have started using the word 'interactivity' in a rather loose way. You hear of authoring tools that provide interactivity building features. This leads some users to believe they are getting course authoring and interactivity building in one package!

Of course, we do welcome the efforts by authoring tool vendors to help their users build engaging courses. What is important for course designers to understand is that the state-of-the-art in interactivity is further along. With a tool like Raptivity, which focuses only on interactivity, and works with other authoring tools, you make an investment in interactivity building that goes a long way.

Why a separate interactivity tool? There are many good reasons. One, it does not lock you into one authoring tool or platform. You can use multiple authoring tools - depending on what the content or client demands - and still use the same interactions. Second, you get a large variety of interactions, and more get added with time. Third, among all kinds of content, interactions are the hardest to migrate across platforms and devices. A specialized interactivity tool can anticipate the migration issues and make your work future-proof. Finally, interactivity tools treat each interaction as a unit, which can be re-used as it is, or with tweaks.

Interactivity building is different from content authoring. Course developers use many authoring tools. To make their courses engaging and interactive, they need one interactivity builder.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Innovative Customers in Action

According to Tom Kelley, the innovation guru, one of the ten faces of an innovator is that of an anthropologist - someone who really understands what people want, and why. Well, when it comes to software tools, who knows what users want better than the users themselves?

We recently discovered this quite serendipitously. A user on Raptivity community, InteractivityHub, suggested we build a learning interaction that involves characters and speech bubbles. His idea was to allow the course designer to input a dialog, and then for the software to render it in speech bubbles in a sequence. The Raptivity team liked this idea, and the 'Character Dialog' interaction was born.

Another user on the community wrote about the need for cliparts, backgrounds and such media elements people need in course design. Again, the Raptivity team thought it over and came up with the Raptivity Asset Library with over a hundred such assets.

This is the spirit of customer co-creation at its best. With Raptivity Evolve, we continue to build new exciting interactions that premium users get for free. We say to users: Now you are in the driver's seat. Tell Raptivity what you want us to build in the next interaction. We will built it.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Five Ways to Make Online Learning Engaging

A new complimentary whitepaper titled 5 Creative Ideas of using Raptivity in Online Training outlines five innovative ways to make online learning interesting and engaging with the help of learning interactions.

In specific, the paper suggests instructional designers and trainers consider the following techniques.

1. Combining an interactive e-book with a rapid-check assessment to implement an open book test.

2. Using games such as crosswords, TV shows and board games and to make learning fun and exciting.

3. Simulations where user gets to play a role in a situation and apply knowledge to decision making.

4. Using characters to provide opening and closing remarks, intermittent summaries as well as dialogs.

5. Encouraging exploration through the use of walk-through, zooming and other interactions.

While these techniques can be implemented in a variety of ways, the paper suggests over a dozen interaction templates within Raptivity that make the implementation quick and easy. You can download the whitepaper from the Raptivity website.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Using eLearning Tools - It's Like a Relationship

The tools you use for producing e-learning day-in and day-out are no more than a bunch of software, programmed to work in a certain way and produce course output, right? Well, in part that may be true, but you might want to think again about that one.

Consider this: The last time you were stuck with an animation that wouldn't work, or a picture that was looking distorted, or the exam score that wouldn't appear correctly on the LMS - who did you turn to for expert help? The last time you had a great idea on how the tool could be improved, how did you share that with the vendor? And when your team hired a couple of fresh developers new to the technology, how did you arrange for their training?

Products that you use are not just software - they come with professional relationships you build with the vendor, other users and experts in the ecosystem. When you become a user of a product, you belong to a world of professionals that are linked to the product.  Every tool you have in your bag is like a relationship.
That is why I am excited about Raptivity Evolve, a remarkable new initiative that brings value to Raptivity users on an on-going way through new complimentary interactions, webinars, samples and more. Also interesting is InteractivityHub, a vibrant online community,  where  users exchange thoughts and ideas, ask questions and provide answers. The Raptivity Valued Professionals (RVPs) are experts that volunteer their help on community. Raptivity Empower provides an array of complementary services, including in-depth training, to help users get the most out of the tool.

The idea of an innovative software that actively supports an on-going relationship has found good traction amongst e-learning developers. At the end of the day, it is all about relationships.