Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebrating the iPad Anniversary : Are You Migrating e-Learning to iPad?

It's been a year since the revolutionary iPad was first announced. Several organizations have realized the importance of delivering training through the iPad. Yet, the best practices are not widely shared, and many 'e-learning to iPad' projects continue to be explorations into the unknown. One question about elearning migration to iPad concerns the choice between a native iPad app versus the browser. In this post, I draw on the experience of working on several mobile learning projects and technology products at Harbinger Group to offer a thought.

For delivering e-learning content, there appear to be two ways to go. One, build a native iPad app for delivering an engaging learning experience that fully leverages the iPad's device capabilities. Two, use the browser to deliver content and reduce development costs. Which way to go? After nearly a year of working through several iPad projects, the emerging consensus here seems to be a creative combination of both approaches. Static content can be delivered through browser, with minor modifications to suit the screen size. That part is a no-brainer. Even much of the interactive content can  be delivered using HTML5, through the browser. Only some parts of the course - where you either need to use unique device capabilities or you need to create a unique user experience - lend themselves to app development.

So, in a course migration project you may choose to develop an app that contains HTML elements. These, in turn display pages that contain HTML5 interactions. This helps you save development costs and make the most of the iPad, while re-using the interactive HTML e-learning content that plays on the laptops.

Any readers would like to offer additional insights and best practices? Any real-life examples?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ad-hoc Social Learning Environment Version 2: BaseCamp 2011

In an earlier post, I described an ad-hoc social learning environment where a blog was set up to drive learning for a group of 40 executives in a company, spread over multiple locations.

Recently, this environment was put to use again to conduct a program titled BaseCamp 2011, where nearly fifty managers got together to learn select topics in strategy, finance and leadership. The online social learning program was conducted over a duration of six weeks.

This new experience helped us gain some more insights in social online learning. Here is a brief summary.

1. Interactive presentations work great
Posting presentations online and sharing them amongst program participants is useful in its own right. What is more, the ability for learners to interact around individual slides of a presentation adds significant value and enhances the learning experience notably.

In BaseCamp 2011, the presentations were hosted on TeemingPod, a social interaction tool. Each slide had a 'comments' tab where participants could go and add comments, raise questions or answer questions related to that slide. This in-context learning interaction was very useful in clarifying ideas being taught in the presentation.

2. Multiple online discussions scale better
The class had a business case study to work on, and given the class size it was necessary to make multiple small groups that could discuss the case amongst themselves. With the TeemingPod discussion feature, it was a snap to create ten small groups. Each group had its own online discussion area where they could post their views and read others'.

3. Not everything needs to be public
In this class, there were several questions where we felt the participants would answer more openly if we were to ask them to submit their answers directly to the instructor, rather than post them on the portal for everyone to see. Accordingly, unlike BaseCamp 2010 we did have a few assignments where answers were submitted directly to the instructor.

4. Learning can be combined with new process rollouts
As part of the leadership curriculum, the BaseCamp also rolled out a new one-on-one process. People not only learned how to conduct effective one-on-one meetings with their direct reports, but they also received process documents and made a commitment to participate in the new one-on-one process.

Overall, BaseCamp 2011 continued to build on top of BaseCamp 2010 and gave us additional insights into exploiting online social learning environments.