Monday, March 29, 2010

Saving Time and Money on Developing Product Training

Yes, I hear you. Anything that saves time and money has to sacrifice quality, right? Not always. A unique interactive product training framework, published by Harbinger Knowledge Products, allows you to do the following, and much more:
  • Build learning experiences which combine interactive elements in an instructionally sound way
  • Re-use and maintain templates conveniently 
  • Easily localize and upgrade training to follow new product versions
The framework exploits intriguing new formats such as edumercials, virtual labs, games as well as more mundane templates - yes, who can do without how-to, drag-drop, label and compare exercises? The framework is tool-agnostic, and standards-compliant.

Curious? If you wish to see this in action, you can request a demo from Harbinger Knowledge Products.  A sample product training curriculum is also available in a Product Training Framework document. This is a must-read if you are planning to build e-learning for products.

Anybody would like to show examples of great product training? Just post a link here. Any thoughts on templatized product training? Does templatization enhance or hinder interactivity?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Active Learning - Unleashing the Power of Scenarios and Activities

Strategies promoting activities that involve students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing are called Active Learning, proclaims a white paper by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, an education-for-all movement that aspires to educate over 200 million children.

Active learning is not just for children. Active learning is a great way to achieve comprehension,  application and analysis- three key middle layers of Bloom's taxonomy - in adult learning. In this post, I give a few examples.

Let's deal with comprehension first. Imagine a set of questions the learner has to answer, based on the information provided. This is plain vanilla comprehension exercise as we know it. How do you make it an active learning exercise? Here is a trick. Engage the learning in finding the information required to arrive at answers. Now, the learner is not only comprehending information to answer questions, but also devising a way to look for that information, and hence, thinking about what he / she is doing. The finding exercise can be implemented in many ways. Learners could flip through pages, play a treasure hunt, use a search engine and so on.

Now let's look at application. What does the learner apply? Some answers could be: previous experience or simply the knowledge of relevant facts. Where does the learner apply them? In scenarios that represent real-world situations. You could construct scenarios where learner gets to apply experience or new facts to arrive at a solution.

Analysis is the next stage in Bloom's taxonomy. Here, the learner needs to discover underlying structural relationships between events, things, objects or other artifacts. Then, the learner needs to classify, analyze, compare or discover cause-effect relationships. How does active learning help here? Imagine a period of time during which certain events happen. When you present this in an interactive timeline, learners can not only discover the sequence of events, but also drill down to additional information, related events and thus discover cause-effect relationships.

Have you considered using active learning in your course materials? Any insights into what works, what doesn't? Examples? Online sources? Samples?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

e-Learning Authoring Tools: Industry Research Reveals New Insights

eLearning Guild's latest research paper presents a survey of Rapid e-Learning Tools. The paper, authored by Dr Patti Shank, reveals interesting facts and new insights in the evolving landscape of content creation applications. Some key takeaways:

  • Users select tools for specific features they want, that's their #1 selection criterion - cost figures as #2
  • Many respondents use multiple tools (typically 4 or more), which often include at least one tool from Adobe
  • Most rapid authoring tools are easy to learn, with Raptivity voted as #1 in time to proficiency
  • Top 3 tools ranked for ease of use: Apple Keynote, Raptivity, WebEx

According to Patti Shank, rapid e-Learning is often a good place to begin when getting started with e-Learning. It leverages new tools, and typically lowers the time to completion and the cost of e-Learning development. Rapid approaches are also used by organizations that have been using e-Learning for years because they also have a need to get needed information and instruction out quickly and inexpensively.

The eLearning Guild Research report is titled "Getting Started in Rapid e-Learning" and can be accessed by clicking here.