What are the benefits of e-learning?

What are the benefits of e-learning?

What are the benefits of e-learning?

It’s easily adaptable
We know that it’s tricky or almost impossible to get something perfect the first time around. And even if you do get learning material right the first time, it’s still important to try and test the material with real learners, seek feedback, and then make improvements. This is easy with e-learning as it is often hosted on an online platform, which allows for quick changes and improvements. There’s little downtime and learners will always be working with the best possible product.

It can reach a large audience, no matter where they are
Where traditional training courses might be limited to a certain number of learners per teacher, or even to a certain number of seats in a room, e-learning can be made accessible to the widest audience necessary. E-learning can also be accessed by people all around the country, or even around the world. For this reason, e-learning is incredibly useful for organisations that have people spread over different offices or working remotely. It enables everyone access to the same information and the same standard of training no matter where they are.

E-learning technologies are designed to incorporate the latest learning strategies
E-learning technology and software is constantly being improved to make sure that instructional designers can provide learners with modern learning programmes. The new technologies enable designers to make learning interesting and relevant, and to incorporate new learning strategies that may not have been possible with traditional materials. For example, giving learners the opportunity to learn through exploring or attempting a set of questions first, rather than simply providing the correct answers as is necessary with paper-based materials.

It is fit for the 21st Century
Throughout most of history, learning has been pretty consistent. We see photos of children sitting in classrooms hundreds of years ago that look very similar to our modern-day schools. E-learning makes use of technological innovations to ensure that learning continues to move forward. Advancements like gamification and Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) are enabling learning to take place in completely new ways and in many cases, in safer environments. There are plenty of examples of these technologies being used for learning already. There are virtual courses for crane operators and truck drivers that provide learners with safe and relevant job-specific training. These are such exciting advancements in the e-learning industry and can’t wait to see more technologies emerging to help our learners.

What is an LMS?

What is an LMS?

What is an LMS?

For those in the workforce, there is a constant drive to get more out of each day. Every waking moment can be consumed by emails and meetings, even if we are not at our desks. When it comes to workplace education, there is a need for an equally accessible solution that can be accessed on demand.

Enter the LMS (Learning Management System), a powerful piece of tech that is trying to change the way we access education.

Created in the early 90s, the LMS is unusually old when it comes to technological solutions. The software was initially designed to deliver online university content to students across Europe. In recent years it is still very much a go-to for universities having outlived many of its younger counterparts. So how has LMS stayed up to date? And what draws businesses into using it?

Behind the scenes of the LMS is the well oiled pit crew it relies upon. The online community is very much dedicated to creating more tools and plugins as learners need them, thus ensuring a durable and future proof solution. Any tool or documentation that an LMS cannot provide from its initial state is often already provided by the community.

At its very core however, an LMS serves a very simple concept – to deliver learning content (video, documents, quizzes) from mentors to learners. What sets an LMS apart over other solutions is its ability to customize that concept to a huge range of situations. Need a fast way to mark 200 quizzes? An LMS can automate that. Need a way of tracking achievement? An LMS can report that. These advantages on their own however would undermine it’s main advantage—accessibility.

Whether you are a student/tutor/teacher an LMS is a great way of educating without being confined to a single location. Whether you are a full time student or a full time employee the ability to gain education at your leisure is immensely important for growing new skills. Nurturing these skills is the best way for business to keep ahead.

Five tips for writing a good assessment

Five tips for writing a good assessment

Five tips for writing a good assessment

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1. Make it applicable

Think of the most realistic way of assessing the learner’s ability. For example, if the learner is being tested on strapping a sprained ankle, the assessment should ask the learner to perform that task. Written answers to a set of questions will not enable the learner to demonstrate that they can perform the task confidently. This may be an obvious example, but it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about the most relevant way to assess a learner’s abilities – a pen and paper assessment may not make the most sense.

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2. There shouldn’t be any surprises

Assessments should be used to reinforce the learning process, and not to catch learners out. Therefore, assessment tasks should be familiar to learner before they open the assessment booklet. To make sure learners are prepared, give them access to practice assessments or provide examples of the types of questions they will need to answer beforehand.

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3. Test knowledge of the subject matter, not reading comprehension

Assessment questions need to be written clearly and succinctly. Learners shouldn’t have to spend unnecessary time worrying about what the question means or what type of answer they are supposed to provide. Keep the questions as short and simple as possible and try to limit each question to one task. If there are multiple tasks involved in a question, then separate out each step so it is easy for the learner to follow e.g. Task 1A, 1B, 1C.

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4. Don’t go above and beyond

Assessments should not be designed to cause more stress than is necessary. Make sure that the assessment is only as long and complex as it needs to be in order to cover the essential material. If you are writing an assessment to a set of criteria, for example an NZQA unit standard, then make sure your assessment sticks to that criteria. There’s no need to test learners above and beyond the required standard.

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5. Give learners the best chance of succeeding

Make sure to include any reference documents or information that the learner will need to complete the assessment. For example, provide a copy of an Act if the questions refer to a certain piece of legislation, or create a glossary with key terms to help the learner. This way, learners can concentrate on the task at hand, rather than worrying about finding information that they could easily access outside of the assessment context.

What is instructional design?

What is instructional design?

Not sure what instructional design is?

Another title that sounds impressive but tells you little about what the work actually involves? Well it’s becoming increasingly important due to the changing nature of our workforce, so let’s look a bit deeper.

In the past, it was quite common for people to embark on a career path that could take them through to retirement. Perhaps after learning one set of skills, they had the base knowledge to see them through for the rest of their working lives (of course, developing experience and expertise along the way).

However, we keep hearing that this isn’t the case anymore. Young people entering the workforce now are unlikely to stick with just one career for the entirety of their working lives. Instead, they will zig zag through jobs and industries and be expected to pick up a range of new skills or completely re-train along the way. Even more experienced workers are expected to be constantly learning; familiarising themselves with new technologies, software, and processes.

This is where instructional design comes in. Instructional designers create learning programmes and courses that help people get the skills and knowledge that they need, when they need it, and in the most effective way.

Sometimes this can be in the form of an entire qualification that takes years to complete (think university or trade qualifications). But increasingly it is in the form of short courses that quickly fill knowledge gaps and enable people to get on with their jobs.

Instructional designers sit in the middle of education, psychology, communications and design. They are problem solvers and creatives. They spend time thinking about the knowledge and skills gaps that a certain organisation or group of people need, and then they get to work creating the best way to fill those gaps.

Practically, instructional designers use their expertise to figure out how to simplify tricky concepts so they are easy for learners to understand, how to design learning material so that it is easy to use and gets the main points across, and how to ensure that learners will continue using what they have learnt in their daily work.

The results of all this thinking could include learning products like:

  • Short online learning courses that are professionally designed to be user friendly and applicable to real life situations. This way learners can complete the course when and where is convenient for them (handy in our new flexible working world).
  • Course or class outlines that include teaching materials and content, interactive learning activities and scenarios, and confirmation tests or assignments. One example of this type of instructional design is our Redshirts in Community Project – which you can read about here.
  • Entire qualifications, including learning and teaching guides as well as formal assessments. These could be paper based resources, completely online or a mix of both.

By creating these types of learning courses and materials, instructional design is a field that is adapting to the changing nature of the workforce; making sure that people get the skills that they need for their jobs (whether young or old, new or experienced) when they need them.

Top five tips for creating learning material

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1. Guide the learner to think for themselves

Learners are more likely to retain information if they have engaged with the material and thought about the key ideas for themselves. You can help to encourage learners to think about the material in a range of different ways. If creating online learning material, it can be a good idea to ask the learner questions before giving them all the information. This way, they are forced to do some thinking about the topic for themselves. If using paper-based learning material, you can create activities, questions or short quizzes to help the learner engage with what they have read.

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2. Keep it short and simple

Learning material does not need to be lengthy to be informative. When writing learning material, the goal should be to get the main points across to the learner as clearly and succinctly as possible. This means keeping sentences and paragraphs short and only including information that is essential for the learner. If the learning material is very long and cannot be condensed, then key points boxes or summary sections are essential.

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3. Find a way to make it interesting

Learning doesn’t need to be serious, dry and boring (even if the topic is of that nature). In fact, it would be terrible if it were. Luckily with technology, there are so many opportunities to make learning interesting and enjoyable for the learner now. With new learning software, it’s possible to gamify learning material and enable learners to interact with each other. Even with the most basic paper-based learning though, using interesting examples, positive encouragement and perhaps a bit of humour can help keep your learner’s minds on track.

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4. Put it into context

Learners are learning for a reason, whether to start out in a new career or develop new skills that will enable them to perform better. Either way, it is not just learning for learning’s sake. Rather, there is a need for the learners to take what they have learnt and apply it to real life situations. For this reason, it is important for learning material to clearly demonstrate how it relates to a real-life context. If learners understand why they are learning something and how it is going to benefit them when they finish the online module or leave the classroom, then they are more likely to engage with the content.

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5. Mix it up

Learners are all different and it would be impossible to create material that suits every learner perfectly. However, you can use a range of different strategies to help your learners and give them the best chance of succeeding. For example, offering podcasts or recordings in addition to written information, or providing short summaries or reference pages to complement e-learning packages. This way, learners can pick and choose what works best for them.