Technical Designer - Instructional System Designer - Graphic Designer - E-Learning Specialist

Instructional System Designer & Content Developer /eLearning Specialist

Currently, I am the Director of eLearning & Business Development for Great LearningWorks founded by the largest direct to consumer company in the USA, Great HealthWorks. I have a strong background in eLearning Education and the design and development of both content and Learning Management System Platforms. I was the VP of Distance Learning for Safety Solutions as well as a Instructional designer, LMS platform developer and Public Safety Subject Matter Expert for SRG Technology, Fort Lauderdale. My research focuses on the sustainability and transfer ability of teaching and learning innovations in public safety education and training/higher education/adult education especially in hybrid based training, microlearning, gamification and eLearning/mlearning. I have served as project manager for multiple large-scale curriculum reform projects and software development for the Department of Health and the two Largest Public Safety Magazine Cygnus and Pennwell Publishing. I have consulted and collaborated with both public and private training centers on the redesign of their courses as well as transferring their courses to more current technology based on eLearning design & development levels. I have conducted workshops for Military and Public Safety/Medical personnel on problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, case-based/scenario based learning, and integrated design and assessment. I have been a free lance Graphic Designer/Web Developer/ and open source LMS developer using interfaces such as Word Press, Moodle, Totara and graphic designs in Adobe Master Suite. In 2010 I was a key role in the design and development of a proprietary LMS currently being used by healthcare, school board and local government agencies across the USA. This experience introduced me to the development of Open Source LMS systems for many institutions as well as a guest speaker for the SME's for Cygnus Publishing at the Public Safety Convention in Maryland in 2010 and Fire Department Training/Officers at FDIC 2015 and 2016. I introduced them to Distance Learning Education and how student retention can be met if the right tools are properly used. Prior to e-learning I spent over 10 years teaching Public Safety personnel and trained over 2000 Medical professionals. I received an Award in 2009 from the Florida Association of EMS Educators (FAEMSE) for the development of online continuing education learning modules and the online Instructor Course (Level A & B) to meet Florida Statue 401 which is currently being utilized by DOH Training and private institutions Florida State wide. In 2013 I took my expertise to the private sector and co-founded Great LearningWorks Inc. and became a "one stop" shop for all of your training needs.
Freddie Batista

FLIPPED LEARNING VS TRADITIONAL TRAINING MODEL IN THE CORPORATE TRAINING ENVIRONMENT

 contentimage2The flipped learning model enables facilitators to enhance the classroom experience with less lecturing and more hands-on activity.

 Flipped: The Facilitator guides the lesson via a virtual classroom, podcast, pre-course work or through the Learning Management System.

Flipped: The Learners work in the classroom environment with experiences that give a deeper understanding of the applications or concepts. The facilitator recognizes the true meaning of participation by the performance of the learner in their pre-course work assign- ments.

Traditional: The Trainer instructs while the Learner takes notes. The Learner follows the instructions. The Trainer gives assessments and homework. Once or twice week, the Trainer will provide a lab to address the hands-on applications.

Training has evolved drastically. Corporate training is still a decade behind the training evolution and what training is truly becoming. The workforce is changing and if training isn’t corrected or changed now, today’s companies will not exist in the future. One of the most debatable topics is the flipped learning model. How can educational class time and profes- sional training time be maximized to meet the demands of specialized instruction, difficult schedules, various learning styles, expensive travel costs, and constantly changing curriculum? The flipped learning concept helps address these concerns by delivering all low-order content before the face-to-face instructional time. This model gives the training department the ability to focus more on the hands-on that he traditional lecture.

Flipped learning is an instructional method pioneered in the educational and corporate sectors throughout the world. The basic prem- ise behind the method is that direct instruction and lecture are not effective teaching tools in the group learning space but is only effective when delivered to individuals. Direct instruction delivered to individuals would require a teaching staff much larger than most institutions or corporations could afford. So, direct instruc- tion is delivered using the power of eLearning technology.

As a corporate training firm, we had a problem. Our primary audience is Independent Business Owners in various parts of the world. We were trying to offer a uniformed training program in which all of the clients were able to attend. If a Business Owner missed a session, they missed critical content and either fell behind or met with facilitators after scheduled class time to be enhanced with the material they had missed.

In the fall of 2012 we launched our training program via our LMS and virtual propriety classroom called Xlearning. We had the Busi- ness Owners do pre-course work before log- ging into their scheduled class time within our virtual classroom. Once in the classroom we would verify that the student completed their pre-course work via our reporting feature. We would then summarize what they had watched and answer any questions they may have. Once we addressed this, we would go right into the hands-on process via screen sharing or joining the review in our enhancement Sandbox. When the course was complete, we would then put the recording of our sessions on the platform for the Business Owners to review as refreshers later on. The flipped learning model is now moving into several corporate sectors. For example, some experts in the Information Technology sector have changed how they train their workers.

Currently, training consists of classroom instructional time followed by hands-on training in the operation of the selective software. Once these groups and IT trainers move to a flipped learning model, they can replace the class instructional time with online instructional modules: eLearning and embedded videos to be viewed and completed before the training session. The trainers can then use the face-to-face time to have the students apply their learning to either using equipment, software or engaging in simula- tions. The LMS is used to track the training, and a robust assessment system is used to make sure the IT workers have mastered the content before practicing in the field. The flipped learning instructional model is growing in popularity throughout the world corporate trainers are beginning to consider and embrace this model. If a company is concerned about a new email system that will be rolled out and how they will be training so many of their employees, flipped training allowed the staff will be able to learn the new system on their own time, at their pace. This model does not diminish the need for expert teachers or trainers. In fact, experts are even more essential in a flipped learning setting because the learners require much more individualized attention. The role of the trainer changes from that of a presenter of content to a coach who is developing the talents of his or her learners. Many people, who hear about flipped learning, say that “it just makes sense.” Does it make sense in your setting? Do you see how imple- menting flipped learning could maximize training time in your organization? Do you see how you can be more efficient and your employees could learn more effectively? Consider the flipped learning model to help maximize the time trainers have with learners. One of the most common questions about flipped learning is “What do I do if my employees show up to class and have not viewed the assigned content?” An effective method to ensure that adult learners are prepared is to design a system that prevents the learner from attending the classroom session until after he or she has completed the pre-course work. In addition to preventing individuals from arriving for training unpre- pared, a system of filtering out unmotivated learners is established. This can be done by having the student print out hidden messages within the pre-course work or the use of an LMS that can track and report if the student spent the time in reviewing the content before attending face to face or virtual class time. So don’t fall behind in how training is evolving but take it in full force.

Freddie Batista

eLearning: Choosing the Right Learning Management System

 

FireEngineering-323x400eLearning in THE FIRE SERVICE INDUSTRY, Top 10 FACTORS TO CONSIDER before choosing THE RIGHT Learning Management system (LMS).

By Freddie Batista (WHITE PAPERS: CHOOSING THE RIGHT LMS FOR YOUR DEPARTMENT)

 As a 20+-year Fire and Emergency Medical Services instructor, and a pioneer in e-learning, I understand the financial challenges your department may be facing. The need for having 24-hour access to training material, or wanting the value of gaining additional training knowledge from experienced Fire Service instructors and Subject Matter Experts from the comfort of your living room/firehouse. Then, you have come to the right place! I will show you how to make your training both accessible and affordable though your very own online e-learning portal.

Fire Department training has evolved. With shortages in staffing, and the inability to send personnel to conferences or to out-of-state training, departments need to look at another avenue to help them facilitate their training. Several learning management systems (LMSs) exist, but which one is right for your department?

We’ve all been to trade shows and have seen what many companies have to offer, but is the training they are providing useful for your department? All of the platforms out there will make it easy to deliver and track the course material that you’re training bureau puts out there. There are over 500 LMSs now available to the Fire Service industry by subscription ($50 to $120 per member) including Jones and Bartlett’s Navigate 2, Target Solutions, CenterLearn and Great LearningWorks XLearning Management System. However, the content provided by these LMSs may not meet your department’s standards.

The bottom line is, at the end of the day, they all pretty much do the same thing. They all deliver, track, and report the delivery of your online content. So, what do you need to know before choosing your Learning Management System? An LMS is basically an electronic tracking system for managing your employees’ training. Running reports is an important requirement and it’s the #1 reason why people change their LMS, and change their vendors. With all of these choices, it’s hard to know where to start and what is the difference between them all.

The most Common problem an LMS can solve is tracking your employee training by running reports. If your training is still “old school”, the info is still tracked by hand.  An LMS allows you to run reports quickly showing who took the training, as well as deploying courses out automatically.  As an admin in many LMSs, reports can be run by sorting departments, shifts, rankings with just a few clicks of the mouse. If you are not on an LMS, it is very tedious to gather this information.  As you start to look for your LMS, you need to start to think about the training and content you will house within the platform. Who will be my authors? Who will be my Subject Matter Experts (SME)? Does my department have online content already that we can transfer into the system or does the system come already stored with a content library? The key point to remember is that training happens 24/7 365 from the comfort of your own home or firehouse. So if training needs to be delivered fast, then an LMS with the right eLearning content is right for you!

As you start to look at several vendors you may start to think that the costs may seem high, but you need to look at the balance online training has to offer. When you look at the price, you have to consider what you currently spend in your current training.  The cost is greatly reduced with an LMS.  It will not only give you uniformity to your current training, but it will dramatically reduce your training costs by not having to send your employees to out-of-state or city training by reducing travel times flights, cost etc.   You can eliminate the need to bring in outside trainers to facilitate your programs. as well as freeing up your current instructors to build an eLearning library.  This will keep the information fresh and updated for your department. Incorporating an LMS will give you better monitoring of your training, as well as giving you the ability to measure specific competencies. As an admin user, you will be able to see when members have logged into your training system, and how many times they have taken a course.  You will also have the ability to monitor grades received by the learners and the ability to monitor the learners’ activity and progress.

The first thing you need to do is establish a committee or team and come up with a list of training needs. Making sure that each member of the team plays an essential part when choosing the right LMS. Next, you will have to meet with your IT department and see if the computers you have in your stations can withhold the training that the LMS will deliver. Do you have good internet speed, sound card, memory, speakers and graphic cards? These are top 10 factors to consider before purchasing your Learning Management System:

Training Department’s Vision:

What’s the Fire Department going to look at after a successful implementation of the LMS? What do you hope to achieve? Can you easily run reports? Each person can throw in what they see and see if what they see is helpful. This can give you a full high level view of what you may be looking for. Not everything can accommodate you, but you need to look at your budget. It helps if you have an LMS, because you know what it does and what it doesn’t do and what you would like for it to do. Write down the pros and cons, and if you don’t have them it may seem difficult, but look at your neighboring agencies, network within the Fire Community via eLearning blogs such as www.eLearningFD.com or write down the things your existing training is currently lacking and what you would like the training stored in the LMS to actually do. Have a good starting point when you start to look at the different vendors.

Content Library:

Every fire department’s training division has several courses already tailor-made around the department’s Standard Operating Procedures.  This is especially true in an emergency medical services-type of fire department where your protocols differ from neighboring agencies. The same courses that now offer continuing education can be created and approved by your medical director and uploaded for online delivery. The content you may have within your training department may not be as designed and tailored for retention, but following the models instructional designers follow may help improve the retention and view for which your department is looking for. When a course is being created, the instructor/facilitator needs to remember that different generations may be taking this course. Keeping that in mind, the courses need to be tailored around different learning strategies and broken down into modules. Make sure that when you create your modules, you are keeping them simple but interactive enough that keeps the learner engaged. A rule a thumb is for every 4 minutes of online education some type of learner interaction is needed. When a class uses a “read only” document, five percent of course material is retained within 24 hours of taking the course. A course created with audio and visual material increases retention to 20 percent over the same period of time. And, a course built with a demonstration feature embedded in the class increases retention to 30 percent. So based on the findings what library of courses are you looking for? Do you require NFPA related courses, Standing Operating Procedures and EMS Protocols? What components are going to be instructor-led, and what components are going to be eLearning? Will you be housing both styles of training in the LMS? Is the training going to be a Flipped training model, also known as hybrid/blended learning?

In the fire service, some of the hands-on style courses must be created around the “Flipped”, “Hybrid” or “Blended” training model. In which a portion of the course can be done online and the remainder of the course in the classroom or virtually via an eLearning Virtual Classroom such as Adobe Connect or XL Virtual Classroom by Great LearningWorks. This is where retention increases dramatically. A course designed with social learning environment increases retention to 75 percent; it increases to 90 percent once a practice section is included! The classroom-based portion can be delivered online through computer-based training followed by a hands-on approach with the learner/firefighter; this will put more attention into the hands-on portion of the training program. Get people to think, always include open-ended type questions and scenarios, and get students to explore areas in which they may be unsure. The “what if” method is important because we all know anything can happen during real-life events. Will the system be able to track your traditional brick and mortar training? Will the LMS handle it? Can the system keep track of your training for ISO? Ask the vendor?  Are you going to buy or build your eLearning content? If you decide to buy them where will these courses be coming from? Who are the SMEs that helped design these courses? There are a few options that we consider in the in eLearning community as “off the shelf”. These topics are what we consider generic, basically teaching the basic functionalities or fundamentals that you learned while you were at the Fire Academy or EMT/Paramedic School. Companies such as Jones and Bartlett and Target Solutions have a robust library of courses that may fit your training department’s needs. Or, are you just going to build your own? There are several software solutions out there such Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and Zenler that can convert your existing PowerPoint training into online content; or, you can get with a content development company such as Great LearningWorks that has Instructional Designers and Content Developers on hand that can convert your existing training that you may have or they can create new courses by meeting with your Subject Matter Experts.  So who are your SMEs within your department? Subject Matter Experts basically are the ones that are currently delivering your existing content or are experts in various topics within your Fire Department. They are not designers, but they know the information well enough to help the designer build the course.  Instructional designers meet with the SME and they help them build the course by putting together a storyboard. This storyboard is considered the foundation of the content that is going to be created. Once the storyboard is complete and reviewed, the stakeholders will then sign off on it and the eLearning content developers will go to work and create the robust interactive eLearning course your SME helped to put together. These are all important things you need to keep in mind because content is important: you can have a great system but no courses! Make the most of the LMS…with good content that would want to keep your learners engaged by making them want to log into the LMS and take the courses/training your department will have to offer.

Return on Investment (ROI)

How do we recoup our investment and how do we measure ROI. We look at the training cost we have now within the department, instructors, out-of-state training, flights etc. Instead of spending the money to send them out to the training, you put money back into the department and develop your very own engaging content by utilizing your existing training.  Firefighters/Learners would then take the robust training and give the knowledge back for the benefit of the department. The key thing to keep in mind when measuring your ROI is balancing the cost of the LMS with the cost of the content. The last thing you would want to do is spend high on an LMS, tracking deployment system, and not have enough money in your budget to load it with content your department may actually need.

External or Internal Hosting

Is the LMS going to be hosted internal behind your firewall, or external? If the LMS is going to be hosted externally, you need to look at the servers’ down times. Is the external hosting configured with load balancers in which the system puts out another instance or a mirrored identical version of the LMS when the LMS reaches 70% CPU usage? Here is an example of an LMS hosted externally with load balancing configurations through AWS/Amazon. These are important things to consider when looking at the vendors and see what hosting services they may have to offer.

eLearning Training Department

Who will run the team? Is the Training Bureau going to take the lead on the LMS? Who will be the stakeholders that will signoff on courses that are going to be developed? Is the Medical Director going to be included? Is he going to have to look over the storyboards and approve EMS related content for development of CEU’s? The main thing to consider is to put together a team who will look over the LMS site and the content that is going to be housed and delivered. When configuring the permissions in the LMS you need to have a minimum of two high level administrators that will have the overall rights to delete, remove and control the training content that will be stored within the LMS. Once the admins are established, you will then need to layout the permissions by setting up a hierarchy on what levels each user in the LMS will have, e.g. Chief, Medical Director, Officer, Instructor and Firefighter/Learner. What permissions will they have? Can they add a course or delete a course? Can they remove or enroll a user from the site?  Have an idea on the structures and tell the vendors this is what system requires and this is what you are looking for.

Standards

Do we support SCORM? Tin Can API? SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model which was originally designed by the Department of Defense. SCORM is set of technical standards used in the eLearning world that can be shared across several Learning Management Systems. A better way to understand how SCORM works is an example analogy I always use. When you purchase a new DVD movie you don’t need to check if it will work on the brand of DVD player you may have at the house. A regular DVD movie will play on a Sony the same as it will on a Toshiba or Panasonic. That’s because DVD’ movies are created by a set of standards. If these standards are not produced when the DVD movie is created then the movie will not play on several DVD players. SCORM content is similar to how the DVD is originally produced, with SCORM you can load it on several different LMSs that support the universal language of eLearning content, which in today’s technology, 99% of them do…and if they don’t-STAY AWAY!  SCORM tracking makes the courses movable and easy to track and report specific data to the LMS. How long the user took to complete the module Did the learner skip slides or did he or she fail the knowledge check questions embedded within the content? TIN CAN is the newer version of a standard which has similar capabilities as SCORM and is sometimes referred to as the NEXT GENERATION OF SCORM because it collects a wide variety of data that the original SCORM standard cannot do. The main thing when comparing Tin Can to SCORM is Tin Can doesn’t just start at the LMS.  It starts whereever the learner or whatever device the learner chooses to use.  Do your research and find out if the LMS you are looking to purchase will require other standards in which your department may need to adhere by or comply.

Integration

Do you need to communicate with your Human Resources Department on integrating employees into the LMS’s database?  Do we need a developer to create an API to communicate with the integration with other software that the LMS needs to communicate with? Does the LMS support single sign-on; can we add it to the Active Directory, in which the usernames communicate with the department’s email software such as Microsoft Outlook?  Or, your incident reporting system and/or shift scheduling platforms? What data will the LMS need to feed to other applications both internal and external. These are some of the main things that get overlooked and down the line you end up paying for it before catching it in the early phases of actually establishing your LMS.

Reporting Features

As a training officer, what data will you need to analyze? How hard is it to produce? Will you need a separate plugin? Does the plugin need to be customized to fit your department’s needs? The reporting feature is what, 9 times out 10, will make or break the purchase of the LMS. Many of the platforms report data to different agencies depending on where they want the data needs to be reported. For example, Jones and Bartlett’s Navigate 2 compares your academies grades with other fire academies across the US, while Great LearningWorks XLearning Management System gives the instructor an analysis on the most missed questions in an actual exam which gives the instructor an accurate number on what he or she needs to focus on or even if additional training maybe required.

Will the content on the LMS need to satisfy a regulatory body? In my home State of Florida, some courses need to be reported to the Department of Health, CE Broker, and FCDICE for CEU’s to be acknowledged and recognized.  Can custom plugins be created? These are things you want to address before you commit to an LMS because some of these costs can be added and charged after the contract is has already been signed.

LMS Customizations

Does the LMS have the same look and feel as your department’s website? Or is the LMS basically an “off the shelf” platform? What if the LMS needs specific customizations that are not part of what the vendor calls the “standard” package?  The two main things to consider when looking for your LMS is: recognizing the customization needed sono additional costs can be added; and the Time this customization will actually take.  Because per every customization deliverable you may require, this will stretch the actual deadline of your system implementation/Install. Does the vendor let you customize the LMS to your liking?  Or, will you be limited on what items you can customize in your system, i.e. change headers, footers, logos etc. Depending on what you may be looking for, some vendors will tell you if the option is available or not but make sure the customization you are requiring is what we call a MUST HAVE and not a NICE TO HAVE option because at the end of the day how important is that customization? Is it important enough to affect the learning goals and objectives you want to deliver via the LMS?

Open Source or Vendor

Once you have gathered your list of questions and have spoken to your neighboring agencies, you need to decide which type of LMS will be right for you. Will the LMS be an Open Source System in which you can download it for FREE and hire the necessary employees who will have the programming knowledge and skill sets to support the platform? Or, will you look for a vendor that will offer you the platform and relieve you of any installs, upgrades and helpdesk support issues?  In case a problem occurs, that person has to be ready to fix the issues that come up, (in ample time) so learners are not affected. There are several open source platforms but the most widely used platform is MOODLE.  And, if you were to personally ask me which platform I loved the most, I would tell you the open source Moodle platform because the sky is the limit on the customization that your department maybe looking for.

Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a free, open-source LMS or e-learning platform that serves educators and learners across the globe. It is the most widely used LMS in the world, and currently has more than 68 million users worldwide supporting over 81 different languages. This is the very same platform that many of the vendors have used as the foundation of their platforms. LMSs such as Navigate 2 by Jones and Bartlett and XLearning Management System by Great LearningWorks are all created with the MOODLE system as their backbone where they have created several customized plugins and integrations taking this platform to another level. These types of vendors have turned this free open source platform into a robust powerful reporting Learning Management System.

When you finally decide on the LMS and the vendor has reviewed and answered your questions, the last question you need to ask them is:  how much will it cost? Is there an initial install fee? What does the maintenance fee consist of? Is the content library included? Is there a “per user” fee? Is the per user fee in increments 50, 100? Or is the user fee based on my department’s actual size? If I only want the LMS and not the content, do I still need to pay the user fee? Always get the cost upfront and make sure you have them send you an official document, including a detail of all of the items, customization and integrations you are requiring in the purchase of the LMS. If you have a few vendors in mind, ask them about your specific requests because some of these requests maybe initially included their original package price. In the end, select the platform that works for your Fire Department’s learning needs.

So Let’s Review your List:

  • One-hundred percent browser-based for the learner and the administrator—no plug-ins required!
  • Offers three types of user registration: open, approval, or manual.
  • Publishes SCORM courses.
  • Offers a multilevel course catalog/content library.
  • Launches and tracks courses via reporting features.
  • Keeps track of bookmarks, scores, and results of individual questions.
  • The ability to access online reports.
  • Fully supports SCORM and Tin Can API.
  • mLearning; will the system work on an iPad’s? Is the system html5 compatible? If the system is not html5, be weary and find out if there are plans or how it will function on an iPad or mobile device.
  • Places learners in groups or cohorts; or by shifts, making it easier to enroll in specific courses.
  • Look for any out-of-date appearance reflecting the company’s inability to adjust to changing needs.
  • Career path planning such as Fire Officer 1,  2 and 3 or Instructor 1, 2, and 3. These career path goals can be established when they get hired and they can follow the career path benefiting them for future promotions and upgrades.
  • Customizable PHP based or software integration, if needed
  • Exporting feature of data reported in csv format.
  • Automatic reminders to login and finish a course.
  • Provides immediate access to training.
  • Offer testing that allows you to build quizzes, as well as uploading questions into a question bank that are associated with a specific course or topic.
  • The ability to deliver new product trainings on time, memos, statements, etc.
  • Is the LMS going to be an ecommerce site to sell my courses, or will the online courses be for internal department use?
  • Get more value from the training budget by keeping the LMS purchase cost between 25-30% and the remainder of the cost on the content library.
  • Having a well-versed reporting system giving training personnel more time to create and add content to the LMS.
  • Printable Custom Certificates at the end of your courses.
  • Assigns courses to all members, specific personnel or assignments, and newly registered rookies.
  • Customization to match your department look and feel with logos, taglines, and other marketing identifiers.

Now, stop reading and make your way out to FDIC and visit some of these eLearning LMS Vendors!

If you would like more information on getting your eLearning and your online content up or you’re looking for more LMS advice, please contact me at www.FirefighterFreddieBatista.com or share your resources and design ideas by joining the eLearning Community in Fire Engineering at www.eLEarningFD.com

TEN STEPS TO CREATING A SUCCESSFUL E-LEARNING COURSE

By Freddie Diaz-Batista

In my previous article, I discussed several learning management systems (LMS) available for the fire rescue communitythat can store your online content. So, now you’ve installed the LMS that is right for your department. What’s the next step? The course! So let’s get started.

To make the design process easy, I broke it down into the following 10 easy steps to help you with the creation of your first e-Learning course:

1. Determine the course goal. As a fire service instructor, ask, Why are we creating this course, and what is the outcome we want? Why is this course/training needed?

2. Gather the content/information. Get with your officers, your subject matter experts, and do your homework on the following:

  • Do a needs analysis.
  • Identify the required knowledge.
  • Identify the problem at hand. What incident took us to the creation of this course? What brought the delivery of the specific course topic?

3. Define learning objectives. When designing your course, define your learning objectives. What will the student/firefighter learn at the completion of this course? You’re learning objectives will guide your development process. If you’re looking for a guide on how to start your objectives, do an internet search on Blooms Taxonomy; this will process will get you started.

4. Create assessment criteria. Align your objectives with the levels of Blooms Taxonomy to help create your knowledge checks or scenarios to assess your learners.

5. Use a storyboard template. Organize your content into a format that works for you. Consider using an e-Learning storyboard template. Locate these templates by searching online for “online storyboards” and find the one that works for your department. In my previous article, I gave an example on what a storyboard template can look like. The key thing to any storyboard is making sure the course content is approved before you start the actual course creation. So, make sure the person who has the last say (the chief) on any course content gives you the green light to start the development process.

6. Pick a design model/method. To deliver effective e-Learning content for your audience to easily apply, consider using these popular design theories:

  • ADDIE.
  • Knirk & Gustafson.
  • SAM.
  • The Action Mapping Process.
  • Gagne’s 9 Principles.

These models can found by searching online. I prefer the ADDIE model, but the latest model is the SAM model, which is replacing ADDIE within the instructional design community. The main thing you need to remember is to follow the method you choose and make sure you answer every question for which that the method asks.

7. Choose design elements. Compile the following design elements that will best achieve your learning objectives:

  • Images.
  • Videos.
  • Interactions.
  • Quizzes.

I use a variety of design elements to assist each generation of learners. In my previous article, I discussed the retention ratio based on the delivery of the content. Every learner retains their information differently so applying this content in the creation of your course will not only increase retention but will increase the variety of delivery methods in the course itself. I designed my course using the Show, Tell, Do in which the learner gets to see three different actions built within the actual course and then has the opportunity to actually demonstrate the action through an interactive element embedded within the module.

8. Select an authoring tool. Choose a tool that will best support your design elements. If you’re just getting started converting PowerPoint into online-based training can be easily used with Articulate Storyline or, if you ready to advance your skills, pick Adobe Captivate. The software is all different, but picking the right one for your project is the key. The great thing about Storyline is its user-friendly and basically replicates a lot of the features that you would normally see in PowerPoint.

9. Course Layout. For a course to be complete, the following items must be covered in your course creation. When you look through Fire Engineering magazines, each one looks different and covers different topics. Yet, each magazine edition follows a similar structure. It has an attention-getting cover, a title page, a table of contents, a chapter/article sections, and an index. So, although each monthly magazine may be different, the structure of the magazine is very similar. And so it is with eLearning course content. They may all look different and may cover different topics, but most courses have a similar structure. They include a title screen; a menu; instructions; objectives; and content, assessments, and exit instructions. Think of it as a fire station; there’s the front (welcome) and back (exit) entrances with a bunch of firefighters and recliners in-between.

10. Using course design templates. The best way to get started is by using and sharing templates; it is the best way is to align with other training departments/instructors. This can help you maintain a library of several unique templates geared around the fire department. I love using templates; they provide some structure to the design of your online training. But many times templates become so rigid that instead of helping the training design, they inhibit it.

In many cases, when using different templates, make sure the content is uniformed. As a designer, the content must stick out more than the graphic because the content is what the student is to what the student is supposed to be paying attention. Since the structure of most courses is similar, create an e-learning template that defines that common structure. Include all of the major parts of the course.

The main point is to identify the major parts of an e-learning course. From there, you’ll be able to build a good starter template that helps guide the course structure without defining the specific look. Once you create your first course, you can use that design for future courses, giving you a basis with which to work around. This allows you to have a default e-Learning template.

Each software application is going to be a bit different in how it works. But if you use PowerPoint or Articulate Storyline, you can follow a similar process, which is to create a master template that has a placeholder for each core element. By thinking through the main parts of a course, you’ll be able to design a good starter template. The template provides structure for the course design to make sure key parts are considered and are not falling through the cracks.

When you’re ready to build a course, start with the default template. At this point, you’re not trying to fit all of your content to match the template; that’s what causes some problems. Instead, you’re using the template to guide your initial development. Once the final course is created, make sure it goes through a question-and-answer process in case any points have been missed. Now, stop reading and get started!

 

Freddie Diaz-Batista is an 18+-year firefighter/paramedic in South Florida. He has an extensive background in e-learning and development and is considered a pioneer in e-learning. He has a master’s degree in executive management with a minor in instructional system design, specializing in e-learning design and customization of learning management platforms. His research focuses on the sustainability and transfer-ability of teaching and learning innovations in the public sector as well as training/higher education/adult education especially in hybrid based training/M Learning. He has served as project manager for multiple large-scale curriculum reform projects and software development for the Florida Department of Health and course development and design for the 28 FEMA Task Forces and subject matter experts in public safety. Batista has developed Open Source LMS systems for many institutions and was a guest speaker for the SMEs at the Public Safety Convention in Maryland in 2010. He received an Award in 2009 from the Florida Association of EMS Educators for his development of online learning modules and online instructor course to meet Florida Statue 401, which is currently being used by the Department of Health Training.

E-Learning and the Fire Service

By Freddie Diaz-Batista

 

As an 20-year fire and emergency medical services (EMS) instructor and a pioneer in e-learning, I understand the financial challenges your department may be going through. The need for 24-hour access to training material or the value of gaining additional knowledge from experienced fire service instructors and subject matter experts can easily be accessed from the comfort of your living room/firehouse. Indeed, you and I I can make your training both accessible and affordable though your very own online e-learning portal.

Fire department training has evolved. With shortages in staffing and the inability to send personnel to conferences or out-of-state training, departments need to look at another avenue to help them facilitate their training. Several learning management systems (LMSs) exist, but which one works right for your department?

We’ve all been to trade shows and have seen what many companies have to offer, but is the training they’re providing useful for your department? All of the platforms out there will make it easy to deliver and track the course material that you’re training bureau puts out there. The LMSs now available to the fire service by subscription ($50 to $120 per member) include Jones and Bartlett (Kaplan), Blender, TargetSolutions, Center Learn. However, the content provided by these LMSs may not meet your department’s standards.

The bottom line is that all of these LMSs are pretty much the same; they all store, track, and help facilitate the delivery of content. Every fire department’s training division has several courses already tailor-made around your department’s standard operating procedures; this is especially true in an emergency medical services-type of fire department where your protocols differ from neighboring agencies. The same courses that now offer continuing education can be created and approved by your medical director and uploaded for online delivery. The content you may have within your training department may not be as designed and tailored for retention, but following the models instructional designers follow may help improve the retention and view for which your department is looking.

When a course is being created, the instructor/facilitator needs to remember that different generations may be taking his course. The courses need to be tailored around different learning strategies and broken down into modules. No “chunking” or putting in all of the information at once; the learner/firefighter will freak out! Make sure that when you create your modules, you’re keeping them simple. When a class uses a “read only” document, five percent of course material is retained within 24 hours of taking the course. A course created with audio and visual material increases retention to 20 percent over the same period of time. And, a course built with a demonstration feature embedded in the class increases retention to 30 percent.

In the fire service, courses must be created around what we call a “hybrid” or “blended” training environment. This is where retention increases dramatically. A course designed with a social learning environment increases retention to 75 percent; it increases to 90 percent once a practice section is included. The classroom-based portion can be delivered online through computer-based training followed by a hands-on approach with the learner/firefighter; this will put more attention into the hands-on portion of the training program. Get people to think, always include open ended-type questions and scenarios, and get students to explore areas in which they may be unsure. The “what if” method is important because we all know anything can happen during real-life events.

The ADDIE/SAMM model must be first put in place before any course is designed. The ADDIE model acronym stands for the following:

  • Analysis. Identify the problem and task the audience.
  • Design. This is where learning objectives can be created. There are several resources out there to help you create powerful learning objectives. Blooms Taxonomy is an example of a theory to follow. A learning objective is an outcome statement that captures specifically what knowledge, skills, attitudes, and learners should be able to exhibit following instruction.
  • Development. This includes storyboards, graphics, constructions, and the lessons built to suit your needs.
  • Implementation. This is the final product/course design; the online video and interactive training.
  • Evaluation. This is the feedback you get from the learner which will help you create better courses in the future. Constructive criticism, just like learning objectives, are theories such as Kirkpatrick that can help you design your final evaluation to get the best out of your feedback.

Several programs exist to help you design the content. Every training department knows PowerPoint®, but there are several programs which allow you to enhance PowerPoint® and add interactivity to it such as Articulate Storyline, Captivate, and Zenler. They’re all different, but taking the time to learn them will make those plain PowerPoint® courses more interactive and just as powerful as those offered by other LMSs. The audio can either be imported through a sound recording (see attached item created to eliminate background noise) or text to speech at www.Naturalreader.com orwww.voices.com, where a script can be sent in and professionally created for your course design.

The enhancement in technology has made training more accessible. The LMS manages the delivery of self-paced, e-learning courses. It also lets you publish courses and place it in an online catalog and/or assign courses to learners/fire department personnel. Learners log into the LMS using a browser and launch courses. The LMS tracks the learners’ activities with the courses using SCORM, which is embedded in development of your courses or plugins within your LMS. The LMS provides online reports for each course and the learner, while the department can track who has completed it and who has watched and taken the course.

Prices vary for LMSs. However, there is a LMS out there that is FREE. The content is delivered and provided from your training department, and the LMS provides the essential features you need. FREE LMS features include the following:

  • One-hundred percent browser-based for the learner and the administrator—no plug-ins required!
  • Offers three types of user registration: open, approval, or manual.
  • Publishes SCORM courses.
  • Offers a multilevel course catalog.
  • Launches and tracks courses.
  • LMS keeps track of bookmarks, scores, and results of individual questions.
  • Online reports.
  • Fully supports SCORM.
  • Places learners in groups or cohorts or by shifts.
  • Assigns courses to all members, specific personnel or assignments, and newly registered rookies.
  • Assorted themes to match your department with logos, and so on.
  • Easy to install. Runs on Windows, IIS, and SQL servers.
  • Low-cost hosting if needed ($16 a month).
  • Customizable PHP based if needed.

LMS benefits include the following:

  • Provides immediate access to training.
    • No training lag time for new employees.
    • Deliver new product training on time, memos statement, and so on.
  • Reduces delivery costs per course.
    • Get more value from the training budget.
    • Provide training to more fire rescue personnel.
  • Gives personnel more time to do their job.
    • Reduce training-related travel and training.
    • Fit self-paced training into downtime.
  • Delivers training with greater consistency.

Hybrid training can be delivered in a way where a portion can be done online and another portion can be done hands-on. So, what is this LMS? It is called MOODLE.

Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a free, open-source LMS or e-learning platform that serves educators and learners across the globe. It is the most widely used LMS in the world and currently has more than 68 million users worldwide (and growing!). Many vendors such as Jones and Bartlett and Kaplan are using MOODLE as the back end of their LMS delivery, and it is the very same LMS many of these vendors are reselling at the trade shows.

Moodle was developed in 2002 by Martin Dougiamas to help educators create online courses with a focus on interaction and collaborative construction of content. Since then, the main development of Moodle is led by Martin and the core team at Moodle Headquarters as well as hundreds of other developers around the world who have helped fuel the growth of Moodle through contributing and testing code and being active participants in community forums.

Moodle makes it easy for you to provide online support for your course. It provides a central space on the Web where fire rescue personnel and staff can access a set of tools and resources anytime and anywhere. Department staff and students have found that the most valuable aspect of Moodle is the news forums that automatically e-mail messages to all employees and staff taking the course. Forums can also be used to answer commonly asked questions such as how to prevent repeats, how to provide a space for informal peer-to-peer student discussions and online tutorials.

 

Other great features and advantages of Moodle follow:

  • A quick way to share documents. Moodle provides a place where you can easily create Web pages with information about your course and provide links to word documents, slides, and other resources that your students will want to access. Department standard operating procedures, rules, and regulations can be stored and easily accessed through the Moodle platform.
  • Easy access to relevant and useful online resources. The department can provide a wealth of materials and resources, but catering to so many different types of fire rescue assignments can be hard for learners looking for those that are most relevant to them. You can use Moodle to provide links directly to the resources that will be most useful for your students, be them e-library resources; skills courses; or information about technical rescue, hazmat, and so on.
  • Save time and money. Making resources available online can save time and money in photocopying or actually ensuring that all personnel received the information.
  • Control access to different areas. Moodle can create a space for officers on other shifts to communicate with each other as well as students.
  • Use less paper. Keep a central copy of a course handbook (or other type of course publication) and handouts online so everyone can find the latest version and so personnel can only print out what they really need.
  • Easy to experiment with new ideas and tools. Moodle is a low-risk way to incorporate new tools and ideas into your teaching.
  • Manage your materials. Placing all your course information on Moodle makes for easy access year after year.
  • Course calendar. This will flag important events to everyone in your course.
  • Profiles and contact information. Help the learner/personnel get to know each other at the start of the course. Also, hold information about course team and students in one place.
  • Deliver content. Post slides, URL hyperlinks, PowerPoint® slides, PDF files, or even the content you created through the interactive software.
  • Video and audio tools. Many departments/institutions find it easy to record lectures as podcasts or even arrange for videos of lectures or special events, posting these online and making them available to THE learner. Many of these podcasts are featured in articles and trade shows. This can be a conference where videos can be shared or even a webinar that can be recorded for viewing.

And…Moodle is FREE. It can be downloaded at www.moodle.org. Set up a meeting with your information technology department and find out if Moodle can be installed within the fire departments hosting or hosted outside. The great thing about Moodle is that its open source so that means developers are always uploading plugins to make your Moodle platform as impressive as those that are out there for high dollars. If you would like more information on getting your Moodle site up and your online content up please contact me at www.FreddieDiazBatista.com orwww.FreddieBatistaFirefighter.com.

 

Freddie Diaz-Batista is an 18+-year firefighter/paramedic in South Florida. He has an extensive background in e-learning and development and is considered a pioneer in e-learning. He has a master’s degree in executive management with a minor in instructional system design, specializing in e-learning design and customization of learning management platforms. His research focuses on the sustainability and transfer-ability of teaching and learning innovations in the public sector as well as training/higher education/adult education especially in hybrid based training/M Learning. He has served as project manager for multiple large-scale curriculum reform projects and software development for the Florida Department of Health and course development and design for the 28 FEMA Task Forces and subject matter experts in public safety. Batista has developed Open Source LMS systems for many institutions and was a guest speaker for the SMEs at the Public Safety Convention in Maryland in 2010. He received an Award in 2009 from the Florida Association of EMS Educators for his development of online learning modules and online instructor course to meet Florida Statue 401, which is currently being used by the Department of Health Training.

Flipped Learning:

The flipped learning model enables instructors to enhance the classroom experience with less lecturing and more activity.

Flipped-Classroom-Comparison

In some ways, corporate training is leaps and bounds ahead of the education sector when it comes to the implementation of asynchronous instruction. But what can both groups learn from each other to better meet the individual learning needs of students? How can educational class time and professional training time be maximized to meet the demands of specialized instruction, difficult schedules, various learning styles, expensive travel costs, and constantly changing curriculum?

The flipped learning concept helps address these concerns by delivering all low-order content prior to the face-to-face instructional time.

Background

Flipped learning is an instructional method being pioneered in schools throughout the world. The basic premise behind the method is that direct instruction and lecture is not an effective teaching tool in the group learning space, but is effective when delivered to individuals. However, direct instruction delivered to individuals would require a teaching staff much larger than most institutions or corporations could afford, so the direct instruction is delivered using the power of easy-to-make instructional videos.

As high school teachers, we had a problem. Our students were missing too much class time due to the long travel times it took students to attend school events such as basketball games and speech tournaments. When students missed class, they missed critical content and either fell behind or came in after school to be taught the material they had missed.

During the spring of 2007 we started recording our lectures using screencasting software and putting them online for our students to watch. And then during a lunchtime conversation we began to question the necessity of us delivering direct instruction during class time. At that point we committed to prerecord all of our direct instruction and use class time for richer activities and to help our students with difficult concepts.

The most critical question when using the flipped learning model is “What is the best use of face-to-face class time?” As high school science teachers, we answered the question by allowing more time for individualized assistance on hard problems and for hands-on activities.

This question is answered differently by educators in a variety of content areas. For example, physical education teachers have used class time to have their students move more instead of telling them how to move. Cooking teachers have created videos that show students how to prepare a food so that in-class time is spent preparing the foods. Art teachers have created videos about how to sculpt so that class time is used sculpting. The key is to rethink and reimagine what class time should look like.

Corporate training

The flipped learning model is now moving into the corporate sector. We have had the opportunity to work with several organizations that are rethinking corporate training and how to spend class time.

For example, some experts in the nuclear power industry are reconsidering how they train nuclear plant operators. Currently, training consists of classroom instructional time followed by hands-on training in the operation of equipment.

If these nuclear trainers move to a flipped learning model, they can replace the class instructional time with online instructional modules—with embedded video—to be viewed and completed prior to showing up for the training session. The trainers can then use the face-to-face time to have the students apply their learning by either using equipment or engaging in simulations.

If this industry moves forward with this model, there will be a need for them to bring in a professional video production company to prepare highly specific, high-quality videos for their training programs. There is a need for a robust assessment system to make sure the operators have mastered the content before practicing in the field.

Another interesting group exploring the flipped learning model is in the hair-care products field. One company is now rethinking how it trains salon stylists.

Historically, this company has conducted one-day workshops for stylists when a new product is rolled out. Currently, the morning is spent in a classroom with a trainer presenting a slide deck about the product, followed by a demonstration of how to apply the product to a model. The stylists practice applying the new product to a model in the afternoon. This company believes that having time for the stylists to work with additional models would be extremely helpful, but time restrictions prevent them from doing so.

The first time the stylists apply a new product, they are learning, and make many valuable mistakes. If the stylists had an opportunity to work on a second model, they could grow even more in their learning while still under the supervision of an expert.

Thus this company tentatively plans to create instructional videos that the stylists view prior to the training event. The session would then start with a brief question-and-answer period, after which the stylists would get right to working on the models with the expert trainers there to help.

This does not diminish the need for expert teachers or trainers. In fact, experts are even more essential in a flipped learning setting because so much individualized attention is given to the learners. However, the role of the trainer changes from that of a presenter of content to a coach who is developing the talents of her pupils.

A third group considering the flipped approach is the Professional Convention Management Association, a professional organization for conference planners. During conference sessions, too many presenters just stand up, show a slide deck, and talk at their audience. These sessions could be much more engaging and interesting.

One problem is that many conference attendees decide which session to attend just prior to the session. So if there is neither time for, nor expectation of, any preteaching to occur, could a conference presenter expect participants to do any previewing of session content?

The organization determined that it would be helpful for conference session presenters to make a short, one-minute video that explained what would be presented during the session. That would help conference participants make better decisions about which sessions they should or should not attend.

Another conclusion from the group was that one of the best uses of face-to-face time at conferences is having more time for networking, which typically is a major benefit of attending these events. Many of these convention planners plan to build in more time with the express intention of curating opportunities for convention attendees to network with one another.

Technology training

All organizations use some form of technology that requires training employees on its use. A nurse recently relocated and went through orientation at a hospital to learn its digital charting systems. The training session consisted of an instructor who stood up at a lectern and showed the new nurses how to access the resources. The nurse concluded that this time of direct instruction could have been done asynchronously through a flipped learning model, and more time could have been devoted to using the system.

Schools and organizations have used the flipped learning method when training staff on how to use new software tools that a school is using. If a staff is concerned about a new email system that will be rolled out, flip the training and the staff will be able to learn the new system on their own time, at their own pace.

A new trend

The flipped learning instructional model is growing in popularity throughout the world. It has especially taken root in kindergarten through college classrooms, but corporate trainers are beginning to consider and embrace this model.

Many people who hear about flipped learning, say that “it just makes sense.” Does it make sense in your setting? Do you see how implementing flipped learning could maximize training time in your organization? Do you see how you can be more efficient and your employees could learn more effectively? Consider the flipped learning model to help maximize the time trainers have with learners.


Challenges

One of the most common questions about flipped learning is “What do I do if my students show up to class and have not viewed the assigned content?” An effective method to ensure that adult learners are prepared is to design a system that prevents the learner from scheduling the face-to-face session until after he has completed the pretraining session. In addition to preventing individuals from arriving for training unprepared, a system of filtering out unmotivated learners is established.

Learning Materials

We often talk about the use of video as an instructional tool, but realize that much of the dialogue about flipped learning has been about videos. One of the big mistakes we made when we pioneered this model is that we focused too much on video. We now like to use the term “learning object” when we talk about the flipped classroom. A learning object can include videos, but it also can be resources such as online simulations, books, and periodicals.

E-Learning Designing the “How to Navigate” Module to your Course

big-buttons

In a recent post, I discussed some issues that organizational branding introduces to course design. In today’s post we’ll review a few of the visual design issues I often see in some of the elearning courses I review.

Below is a demo course slide that represents a few common design issues. Look over the interactive slide and we’ll review it below.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example course for elearning

Click here to view the interactive example.

Following are a few things that stood out to me and some ideas on how to fix them.

Elements Should Follow a Consistent Design

The first thing you’ll notice about this example is that the course has a flat visual design. However, the buttons I added use the default gradient and shadowing that comes out of the box. Normally, contrast is a great way to draw attention to the onscreen information. Having a contrasting button is good. But in this case, it probably makes sense to go with the flat design of the course rather than the default buttons.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - buttons should match the course design

My fix would be to drop the default button settings and create a flat button that matches the course design. Also use a matching color scheme. Rounding the button works since it is a button and you do want it to stand out. I’d go with a softer rounded edge rather than the pill shape.

Not All Onscreen Objects Are Equal

You’ll notice that the two buttons are equal in prominence. However, which button do you want the learner to click? My guess is that it’s not the “Instructions” button.

Seems to me that “Getting Started” is key. That’s what I want the person to do. The instruction button is important and exists for a reason, but give it less prominence.

An easy solution is to add the instructions to the top tool bar. That makes them available to the person who needs them, but doesn’t make them prominent.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - add course instructions to the player bar

Or you can replace the button with a simple text link in the instructions to get started.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - get rid of less prominent buttons

Either way, you give less prominence to the “Instructions” button and place more focus on the “Get Started” button.

How are You Revealing More Information?

Hover effects are great for elearning courses. They expand the screen’s real estate since the information is not available until the person activates the hover. Thus you don’t need to reserve space for that information on the main screen.

In this demo there are a few issues with the hover effect:

  • Do you need instructions when the instructions are so obvious? If the button says “Get Started” I probably don’t need an additional box that states that the button is for getting started. It’s redundant and seems like a waste of time and effort.
  • Assuming the call outs are necessary, don’t use the defaults. Instead, have them match the course’s visual design.
  • The call outs are different sizes, the tails are different, and the alignment is off. That needs to be fixed. They’ll look better and more polished if the alignment and sizing is consistent.
  • One of the callouts overlaps one of the other buttons. This is probably fine. But as a general rule, I try not to block other interactive objects on the screen if I don’t have to. Just something to consider.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - create consistent design elements in course design

A simple solution to some of these hover elements is to create a hover dock. This is a place on the slide, where all of the mouseover information is revealed. This way you ensure consistency and don’t have to deal with the box size, colors, or shapes.

In the image above, the space between the buttons could be used as an area to reveal information. Since this is a clean space, you could get rid of the call out boxes altogether. This lightens the design and offers more white space.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - create white space in e-learning course design

If you did want to have a call out, then do something like the image below were the call out is a bit more subtle, matches the design, and is connected to the button.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - make callouts more subtle

Here’s a made over demo, where I show a few different ways to modify the slides.

These types of issues are common to many of the courses I review. The good thing is that they’re really simple to fix. The key is that your design is intentional and that by fixing these simple issues you present something more polished and professional. This is really important if you have limited graphic design experience and have to do all that work by yourself.

The other point I’ll make is that a lot of this is subjective. Do what you feel works best, but be consistent in what you do.

How would approach some of these design issues?

 

BLOG CREDITS : Post written by Tom Kuhlmann

How to Make an Awesome eLearning Storyboard

Here is an eLearning infographic for Instructional Designers that uses eight steps for an Awesome eLearning Storyboard. With these eight steps you will have a the tools you need for awesome eLearning Storyboards.

info_storyboard_inpost

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Know the Course Goal

Ask yourself and the client… Why are we creating this course and what is the outcome we want?

2. Gather Content

Work with your client, your SMEs, and do your homework:

•Analyze Needs •Identify required knowledge •Identify constraints

3. Define Learning Objectives

Define your learning objectives. Your learning objectives will guide your development process.

4. Create Assessment Criteria

Each learning objective needs to align with the levels of Blooms Taxonomy. This will help you create your knowledge checks or scenarios to assess your learners.

5. Use a Storyboard Template

Organize your content into chunks in a way that works for you. Consider using an eLearning storyboard template. Preferably one that is free.

6. Pick a Design Model/Method

To deliver effective eLearning content for your audience to easily apply, consider using these popular design theories:

ADDIE  •Knirk and Gustafson  •SAM  •The Action Mapping Process  •Gagne’s 9 Principles

7. Choose Design Elements

Compile the design elements that will best achieve your learning objectives:

•Images •Videos •Interactions •Quizzes

8. Select an Authoring Tool

Choose a tool that will best support your design elements:

info_storyboard_p_big (1)

Five Sure-Fire Ways to Get Rid of Bullet Points – The Rapid eLearning Blog

Five Sure-Fire Ways to Get Rid of Bullet Points – The Rapid eLearning Blog.

5 Applications for Analogies in eLearning

Analogies in eLearning
Early in my training career, I became frustrated. I was designing and teaching technical support training. The typical process involved taking 25 people “off the street” and training them to be technical support representatives in two weeks. As the classes rolled on, I noticed a consistent pattern—there were always 1-3 people in every class who couldn’t catch on and would ultimately be let go (if not in training, then shortly after they reached production). As a trainer, I was completely frustrated by this. My job was to help people become successful—not to see them let go.

analogies_b-575x575
One day, after listening to a local ASTD session from Dennis R. Rader (co-author of the book Living Toad Free), I decided to stay after the session and pose my dilemma to him. What he told me not only made complete sense, but also changed the way I designed training and has stayed with me for 15 years. “It’s simple,” he said. “The people who can’t catch on are those who don’t have an existing web of understanding about the concept you are trying to teach. You’re throwing concepts their way, but those concepts don’t stick because there is nothing for them to stick to. Most of your learners who are failing are probably those with little background in computers, am I right?”
He was right—it was simple. My learners didn’t have existing schemas. As the years have gone by, I have learned that one of the most effective ways to help learners without frames of reference for a topic is to use an analogy. In this way, they can borrow from something they already know and use that to build on. ELearning provides a unique environment to take the use of analogies to the next level. Consider the five benefits of using analogies in eLearning:
1. Analogies Speed Up Comprehension & Reduce Learner Frustration
You don’t have to teach everything to the learner from the ground up, despite how tempting it may be. Evaluate the concept you are trying to teach and ask yourself, “Is this similar to something that most of my learners would already understand?” Identifying a strong comparison between your concept and something they may have a pre-existing understanding of means they can transfer that knowledge over to the new concept. Then, you both get a head start before you even begin. This success helps reduce the chances of the learner becoming frustrated when they can’t catch on, which can be detrimental to their overall comprehension. Once the comparison has been made and a conceptual foundation has been set, you can spend your course time explaining the portion of this concept that is different from the comparison object you have used. This differential approach appeals to the brain, it naturally likes comparisons. Analogies have been shown to speed comprehension, improve the quality of retention, and reduce misunderstanding.
2. Analogies Provide Visualization That Boosts Retention
In many cases, analogies can be used to create a linkage between an intangible concept and a concrete visual.
Example: In one course I designed we wanted to encourage learners to reflect upon the importance of doing the right thing in the workplace. The learners were resistant to doing the right thing for others because often it came at a personal financial loss due to job context. However, through analysis and employee interviews we discovered that those employees who chose to do the right thing for a co-worker, despite immediate financial loss, often enjoyed reciprocity from that co-worker for years to come – more than making up for that initial financial loss. To emphasize this discovery in the training, we compared doing the right thing to throwing a boomerang. When you first throw one, it feels like you are throwing something away. But if you give it a little time you will see that benefits do come back to you, just like the boomerang. As we introduced this concept, the boomerang was “thrown” into the distance, and the learner watched it return as we talked about the things that would come back to them when they chose to do the right thing for someone else.

3. Analogies Can Easily Become Interactions
Visual information has been proven to provide stronger retention, but that’s not the only advantage you gain with analogies. In eLearning, visual concepts are only a few steps away from becoming interactions.
Example 1: In the example of the boomerang, we moved from introducing the concept and its visual right into an activity that allowed the learner to interact with that same visual using a case study from his environment. The learner could click the boomerang to demonstrate his desire to do the right thing, which would “throw it”. He could then watch it progress away from him. The case study returned realistic data about what could happen or what it could feel like to take a short-term loss in order to do the right thing. Then, as the boomerang started to circle, the information began to change. The learner could continue to nudge the boomerang back towards him as he saw long-term benefits starting to materialize. Eventually, the activity has the boomerang land back in his hand and summarizes the net effect of doing the right thing.
Example 2: In a course about communication, we discuss how people communicate to us on many different levels simultaneously. We compare this to a radio, which is receiving data on many different channels at the same time – but in order to hear them, we have to be tuned to the right station. The same is true for communication: we have to tune into the frequencies the other person is broadcasting on if we want to hear what message they are sending. To reinforce the concept, the learner can virtually “tune” this radio to change the listening frequency (e.g., Emotional, Factual, Visual). Then, when the customer speaks, he can see what message is being received on the Emotional station, for instance. After practicing this several times, the learner is much more likely to recall this concept the next time he speaks with a customer, and to listen to more than one channel of communication.

4. Analogies Can Change Perception
In many communication and personality style courses, we emphasize to learners that they should adapt their communication style to fit the communication style of the person they are speaking to. The reality, however, is that most people choose to communicate in the same way. A way they are comfortable with, regardless of whom they are talking to. In cases like these, an analogy can help to affect the learner’s reluctance to adapt and do so in a relatively short amount of time.
Example: We first set the stage by asking learners to imagine themselves on the wrong side of a closed door. Then, we make these comparisons:
The Door: The other person can be thought of as a door. If that person is open, the learner can access results or new opportunities. If that person or door is closed, the learner is shut off from those results or opportunities.
A Lock: The lock on the other person’s door represents the unique set of requirements this person has in order to open (i.e., their communication style).
A Key: The key in this analogy represents the communication style the learner is attempting to use with the other person. This key often has unique markings, size, and shape. That may or may not work for the door in question.
A Knob: The doorknob represents the learner’s attempt to ask the other person for something (assistance with a project, for example). If it turns, it’s a reflection that the right key has been inserted into the lock. If it doesn’t turn, you are using the wrong key—no matter how many times you jiggle the knob.
Once the stage has been set for this concept, we are now able to change the learner’s belief that their default communication style is good enough. We equate refusing to adapt your style to using the same key for every door. This image seems ridiculous to the learner because it makes them picture something they already know doesn’t work: trying the same key with every door you come across. They can see how it doesn’t make sense to communicate in the same way to every person.
This is one example of how analogies can drive home perception changes faster than lectures about why something “is important.” Of course, combined with the right visuals and activities, the point can be driven home even more strongly.
5. Analogies Can Provide Role Reversal That Produces Empathy
One of the toughest things instructional designers are asked to do is to “affect the affective domain” or in other words, influence the learner’s desire to do something. Many stakeholders want us to cover “why something is important” in hopes that the learner will choose to behave in a way they’re already capable of. I have found analogies to be particularly effective in this area because they can oftentimes provide a role reversal that helps the learner appreciate the other side of an issue. This view helps them be more intrinsically motivated to change behavior.
Example: In a customer service course, we wanted to drive home the importance of each representative’s actions on the reputation of the store. To accomplish this, we displayed a beautiful stained glass mosaic. We told some stories from the company’s history where customers had been won over by outstanding service, empathy, and the company choosing to do the right thing by the customer. As each story was told, a reinforcing visual from the story was superimposed over the piece of glass. We concluded with a quote from the company’s CEO about how reputations are built over time (like they had just seen with historical stories from the past 50 years building the mosaic) but that those reputations can be destroyed with one misdeed. As we made this point, we displayed the visual of a hammer to break the glass.
Imagine the learner’s reaction as the hammer comes out to break the glass, especially when they have just watched it be built piece by piece. In this way, they are put in the position of the company management when they receive a damaging customer complaint. This visual puts the learner in a position to more fully appreciate the fragility of a company’s hard-earned reputation. It also provides them an opportunity to reflect upon their role in build or destroying it through carelessness.
As a side note, these types of activities can often duplicate as immersion activities that work well for kicking off a course. It works through creating interest and an emotional connection, which can then open them up to receiving the learning points and activities that are about to come.
Final Cautions
Now that you are all revved up to take flight with analogies, let me encourage you to perform some pre-flight checks for safety:
Your Analogy Must Make Sense: Test your analogy from several angles. If you use the wrong concept, you could confuse the learner more than you are helping them or create a false picture that leads to confusion.
Your Analogy Should Fit Within a Context: The perfect analogy for your concept may not always work for the context of the training or the culture of the business.
Your Analogy Should be Easy to Understand: Just like with anything else we do instructionally, you need to use analogies that are universally understood by your learner base, which could be a wide spread of ages, genders, cultures, and backgrounds.
Use Sparingly: Like a great spice, analogies can enhance the natural “flavor” of your existing message but when overused, can spoil the whole plate and leave people running for a glass of water. Use analogies as appropriate and in the right quantity throughout your course.

Here’s How to Create Your Own E-Learning Template in PowerPoint – The Rapid eLearning Blog

Here’s How to Create Your Own E-Learning Template in PowerPoint – The Rapid eLearning Blog.

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