Posted tagged ‘virtual classes’

The classroom option you should not ignore

19 November 2012

I’m sure you know the feeling. You’re sitting in a classroom watching a presentation – which started late to allow the “stragglers” to show up – when about 10 minutes in it dawns on you…

What am I doing here?

Either you’re already familiar with what’s being presented, or it’s so straight-forward it didn’t require 30 or 60 minutes of your time. But whether it be due to politeness, shyness, peer pressure, or a sense of obligation, you remained bolted to your seat until the bitter end.

It’s such a waste of time – both for you and for the presenter.

Attendees sleeping in a seminar

Despite my obvious predilection for e-learning, I am actually a fan of the traditional classroom.

I appreciate that sometimes it is more efficient for someone who knows more than you to teach you something. As a novice, you don’t know what you don’t know. But the expert does, and he or she can get you up to speed.

Also, away from your desk you’re free from those universal distractions such the phone, email and uninvited guests. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to ask questions and receive immediate feedback from the human standing right before you.

However the traditional classroom has plenty of downsides too. For example, you typically can’t influence the content that is being delivered, you’re beholden to the pace of the presenter, and there’s always that f@#king idiot who hasn’t bothered with the pre-work yet is happy to prolong the misery for everyone else by asking inane, redundant questions.

Woman attending a virtual classA modernised version of the traditional classroom is the virtual classroom.

Delivering the content over the internet allows people to attend wherever they are geographically located, without incurring travel costs and losing time in transit. A virtual class also allows people to attend to other tasks if need be, and to slip away on the sly if it becomes clear the session isn’t adding any value.

Of course, the virtual classroom also has its fair share of downsides too. From technical glitches to the challenges of e-moderation, it is common knowledge that virtual presenters fantasise about the good ol’ days when everyone was in the same room at the same time.

Flipped classroom

A postmodern twist on the classroom delivery model is the flipped classroom.

Taking root in the school and university environments where regular classroom sessions are mandated and homework is the norm, the “flipped” concept posits the content delivery as the homework (typically in the form of a video clip) which frees up the in-person session for value-added instruction such as discussion, Q&A, worked examples, role plays etc.

I truly believe the flipped classroom is on the cusp of revolutionising the education sector.

Empty classroom

Notwithstanding the advantages of the three aforementioned classroom options, there is yet another option that is often ignored by educators: no classroom.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with my obsession passion for informal learning environments, but in this instance I’m not referring to the constructivist approach.

Still true to the instructivist paradigm, I maintain the “no classroom” option can work.

It’s so simple: record your class on video. Then deploy it to your audience, so they are empowered to watch it when convenient, pause, fast-forward, rewind, and even play it again later.

The model is similar to a flipped classroom, but there is no in-person follow-up. And you know what? Frequently that’s all that’s needed. When the content is so straight-forward that it doesn’t require a classroom session, why on earth would you waste everyone’s time with one?

In cases where the content is more complex and follow-up is necessary, why not combine the video with formative exercises? An online discussion forum? A buddy program? Again, you probably don’t need to drag everyone into a classroom.

Woman using computer

My point is, under the right circumstances, video can provide effective instruction.

But don’t just take my word for it. Why not get a second opinion from Ted, Lynda, Salman or David.

Pearls of wisdom from LearnX 2010

10 June 2010

This week I attended the 2010 LearnX Asia Pacific Conference in Sydney.

While I jotted down reams of notes, I’m a big fan of one liners.

So here are some single-sentence pearls of wisdom that I gleaned from the sessions I attended…

Pearls

Jane Bozarth – Pre- or post-questioning your learners via Twitter stops them from rambling.

Philip Roy – Massey University uses pre-recorded presentations and realtime web conferencing to reduce the transactional distance among their geographically separated students and instructors.

Roger Courville – Twitter can support informal learning outside of formal training sessions.

Miriam Scurrah – Technologies like iClone can make safety training enjoyable.

Ruth McElhone – Rapid authoring tools make in-house development a feasible option.

Chad Outten – Moodle is the #1 LMS among eLearning Guild members.

Tania Tytherleigh – The connection you make with your learners is more important than your experience or your expertise.

Rhys Moult – A little bit of HTML goes a long way.

Helena Popovic – Excitement is food for your brain.

Ramesh Nava – The fundamentals of assessment are validity, reliability and fairness.

Dawid Falck – User generated content is really powerful.

Anne Moore – Don’t think a degree will get you a job; it might get you an interview.

Eric Shepherd – Identity impersonation during e-assessment can be combated by invigilation and microcertification.

I can’t wait for the next one!
 

Reflections of LearnX 2009 – Day 2

5 April 2009

LearnX 2009 Expo
Following on from my previous article, below I share some of the key messages that I drew from Day 2 at the LearnX Asia Pacific conference held recently in Sydney…

 
Personal Professional Development: I expected the keynote by Stephen Downes to be the standout session of the event, and I was not disappointed. Instead of focusing on supporting the learning of others, Stephen shifted his focus to how e‑learning professionals can support their own learning. His premise is, bluntly, if you don’t take care of your own career, you risk losing it. One of Stephen’s key principles for personal professional development is interaction, which he defines as participation in a learning community (or CoP). In fact, Stephen considers it so important, he elegantly expresses it as: “Interaction is breathing for the brain”. His point is: if you aren’t interacting with other people through media such as mailing lists, blogs, Twitter, discussion forums etc, then you are not developing professionally and you will eventually stagnate. Stephen offers the following tips: place yourself (not the content) at the centre of your own learning network; organise your knowledge (eg build your own CMS with Drupal); simplify your learning by summarising it; and accept the fact that you can’t read it all, so choose what you need now and let the rest of it go – if you need it again in the future, it will be on the Web somewhere. Stephen has kindly made the slides and audio from his session available on Stephen’s Web.

Teamwork 2, courtesy of svilen001, stock.xchng.Connecting Many Voices to Make a Difference: Anne Walsh and Brendan Revell from Fraynework Multimedia provided an overview of the e-learning support they are providing to The Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters are a religious order working to alleviate poverty in 47 countries around the world. They use web conferencing to facilitate large group meetings and also 1-to-1 meetings across geographical boundaries. Each Sister has the power to set up a web conference via their organisational CMS platform, which also provides access to their email, e-newsletters etc. Anne and Brendan are clearly proud of their work, given that the average age of the Sisterhood is over 65. The implementation of web conferencing has not only reduced travel costs significantly for the order, but has also given each member a voice that they otherwise would not have had. A practical tip that Anne and Brendan share for introducing web conferencing to those who are unfamiliar with it: facilitate several group conferences first to allow the audience to grow comfortable with the concept. As their confidence grows, they will start to set up their own meetings at their own pace without feeling like they are being railroaded into it.

computer 1, courtesy of tome213, stock.xchng.Training Remote Workers and Their Managers – Getting the People & Technology Right: Margaret Aspin, Director of Aspin Online Consulting, explored the challenges of managing and training teleworkers and virtual teams. Key drivers in our changing environment (eg tightening labour market, climate change, terrorism, work/life balance) are increasingly pushing workers to the virtual workplace. Margaret maintains that it takes about 6 months for office-based workers to feel comfortable transitioning into a fully virtual team space. This new paradigm demands proactive, transformational leadership from people managers. Margaret offers them the following tips: always be mindful of the remote worker/learner; train them to chunk their days into productive periods free from interruption; avoid information overload; and build social capital through social networking. Margaret also recommends the resources at Telework Australia and Knowledge Ability.

3d elevation bar graph, courtesy of wmagni, stock.xchng.Fusing eLearning and eMarketing Best Practices to Achieve Your Business Objectives: By applying principles of e-marketing, Faith Legendre, Senior Global Consultant at Cisco WebEx, explains how you can optimise the success of your online training. Faith umbrellas these principles under 7 steps: determine the goals of your training program; smooth out the technologies and systems you will use; plan who does what during delivery; promote the event; execute the training; follow-up the training after delivery; measure and report. Faith also offers practical tips to maximise attendance: survey your learners to identify the most appropriate delivery day and time for them (avoid Mondays and after 3pm); employ champions throughout the organisation to raise the profile the event; send out an engaging video clip to prospective attendees prior to delivery, and send out another video clip to the actual attendees post delivery as a “gift” for attending.

Raptivity screenshotThriving in the midst of a slowing economy: Invest in powerful rapid eLearning tools: Nachiket Khare, Sales Manager at Harbinger Knowledge Products, reminds us that while one of the consequences of cost-cutting during the GFC will be less interactivity in our e‑learningware, it’s an important aspect of learning. Nachiket used this concept as a segue to introduce his company’s tool, Raptivity, as a low-cost, yet powerful, rapid and easy-to-use interactivity builder. Caryl Oliver was on hand to demonstrate her use of Raptivity in building engaging, self-paced e-learning for the hospitality and transportation sectors. Despite the commercial overtones of this session, I happen to think that Raptivity is a wonderful product, and it certainly won plenty of awards at this year’s LearnX.

Imaginary city 1 3, courtesy of chrisjewis, stock.xchng.Animating E-Learning: Robb Reiner, CLO at Evolve Studios, informed us that static graphics are typically more effective than animations for conveying general information to learners. However, animations are superior when illustrating complex structural, functional and procedural relationships between objects and events. Robb demonstrated a few of the impressive works that his company has produced for various clients, including a mind-blowing 3D animation of the inner workings of a glock pistol for the Australian Police. Unfortunately I think that during the GFC, amazing resources like these are going to be beyond most non-government budgets.

Palmtop Series 1, courtesy of bizior, stock.xchng.Is m-learning just learning hype? Carolyn Barker, Managing Director of TheCyberInstitute, finalised the conference with a keynote about m-learning. Carolyn exploded the myth that m-learning is a passing fad; however, she maintains that it must be done right. In particular she recommends: restricting m-learning to “nanobites” of no more than 3 minutes in duration; covering only 1 or 2 key concepts per nanobite; using rich media where appropriate; and providing opportunities for collaboration (eg discussing photos uploaded to Flickr). Carolyn also made the point that m-learning should support other forms of learning. She maintains that “blended learning is king” – m-learning is just one of its inputs.

I hope you have learned something from my synopses of the conference, or at the very least they have provoked some creative ideas.

See you at LearnX 2010!

Reflections of LearnX 2009 – Day 1

3 April 2009

I attended the annual LearnX Asia Pacific conference this week at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour on a dreary April morning.

While the weather was dreary, I found the sessions topical and thought provoking. Below I’ve shared some of the key messages that I drew from Day 1…

5 pm 3, courtesy of getwired, stock.xchng.The Magic of Speed Thinking: Ken Hudson, Director of The Speed Thinking Zone, kicked off proceedings with a keynote address about working smarter, not harder. Ken’s central theme is that being able to think faster and better can help us unlock ideas and improve our productivity. Maintaining that “our brain works better when our bodies are moving”, Ken got everyone in the room to participate in a few ice-breaker activities involving coin catching and brainstorming answers to pop questions. I must admit, it lifted the energy of the room. Ken then introduced a 9-circle template with the question “In these tough economic times, why should we invest more into training?” – and asked us to list 9 possibilities in 2 minutes. The idea isn’t necessarily to achieve a full gamut of answers, but to get the party started quickly. I think Ken’s ideas have real potential for expediting meetings and stimulating brainstorming sessions, but I still think that careful thought and deep reflection are necessary follow-ups. For more information about speed thinking, visit Ken’s website and refer to his book The Idea Generator.

Teamwork 2, courtesy of svilen001, stock.xchng.Bringing Generations Together through Collaboration and Informal Learning: Faith Legendre, Senior Global Consultant at Cisco WebEx, provided the audience with a synopsis of our 4 major generations today (Generation Vet, Boomers, Gen Y & Gen X), and an overview of their changing learning styles over time (push to pull, formal to informal, comprehensive to nibblets, and physical classes to online). While Faith recognised that generational attributes are widely disputed (eg online habits are not defined by age but by exposure to emerging technology), her key message is that people across all generations are using technology today to bridge gaps and collaborate. Faith also highlighted the technology collaboration community at Cisco Community Central.

Business or education, courtesy of lockstockb, stock.xchng.How to capture evaluation data to prevent costly e-learning deployment failures: Susan Pepper, Managing Director of the ROI Institute of Australia, reinforced the need for rigorous evaluation to ensure the success of e‑learning. Susan adheres to 5 levels of feedback, comprising Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation, plus the calculation of return on investment (ROI). Susan also recommends that evaluation data be collected not only post implementation, but also during implementation to remedy any problems as they arise. Another key message is that e-learning programs require thorough planning, particularly to determine the organisation’s need, which in turn should inform the objectives of the solution.

Palmtop Series 1, courtesy of bizior, stock.xchng.Learning without boundaries: Ben Saunders, Business Analyst Consultant at HCS, provided us with a comprehensive overview of m‑learning. While pointing out that m-learning started as far back as 3000BC when the Sumerians carved out text onto portable stone tablets, Ben recognises that the increasing sophistication and decreasing cost of mobile devices (eg smart phones) are making m-learning more relevant today. Ben categorises the limitations of m‑learning under three major banners: hardware (screen size, usability, information security), software (multiple operating systems, unsupported file formats, SCORM compliance) and culture (work/life balance and the digital divide). However, he also notes that learners are already using mobile technologies in their general day-to-day activities, leading them to expect to do likewise for education.

Talking2, courtesy of len-k-a, stock.xchng.Extending your reach: Learning at a distance: Glen Hansen, National L&D Manager at Employment Plus, shared his organisation’s experience of using web conferencing to transition from traditional face-to-face learning delivery to a blended model. While the transition period was challenging (learning curve, lost skills through staff turnover), Glen cites significant benefits, such as: enhanced collaboration, enablement of JIT learning, consistency of message and reduced single point sensitivity. Glen also shares some practical tips for webconferencing, such as: conduct a needs analysis before launching web conferencing, trial potential software prior to selection, enquire whether the provider includes training in their package, appoint a moderator to support the facilitator during sessions, freeze the webcam to save bandwidth, use plenty of graphics, and provide opportunities for the learners to interact with one another. Glen also recommends The eLearning Guild’s Handbook on Synchronous e‑Learning.

Shaking hands, courtesy of acerin, stock.xchng.Selling e-learning to your clients: A culture change approach: I must admit that I felt like I had walked into the wrong session, as Ingrid Karlaftis, National Account Executive at Catapult E-Learning, adopted the vendor’s perspective of selling an e-learning solution to an organisation. However, I think Ingrid’s key messages can help e-learning practitioners within organisations, especially when implementing a project or major initiative. For example: never over promise and under deliver, work hand-in-hand with your clients along the journey, identify the needs of each team across the business (they will be different!), promote the notion of “one community”, train the trainer, maintain your transparency, provide constant support, measure and report.

Singer 4, courtesy of scottsnyde, stock.xchng.Professional Audio – The Key to Effective E-Learning: This was a shameless sales pitch, but to be fair, the presenters didn’t pretend otherwise. Adam Morgan and his crew promoted the advantages of employing professional actors (rather than “Tim from Accounts”) to produce the voiceovers in your e-learning courseware. Why? Because actors are better skilled at engaging your audience. Adam has a point in that an outfit like Voiceoversonthenet can cater for different audiences through variables such as accent, tone, gender and pace. So should you use an actor? Well that’s up to you.

Learning Leaders Panel: The final session on Day 1 was a facilitated discussion about building talent and learning anytime, anywhere, at any pace. Among the topics discussed: Bob Spence observed that informal learning relies on trust that the material being learned is worthwhile; Rob Wilkins shared his view that the feudal management system of a typical corporation inhibits its use of social media for learning; Anne Moore suggested that organisations need to become more like Gen-Y’s to support the next generation of employees who will lead us beyond the GFC; John Clifford informed us that every Telstra field technician has a laptop and a mobile device to enable e-learning on the road; Ann Quach recommended that we focus on content, then its mode of delivery (avoid using a blog or wiki just because it’s the latest fad); and Wendy John reminded us to empower staff to learn when they need to, otherwise engagement will be low and the experience will be a waste of time.

Stay tuned for an overview of Day 2…!

Workplace learning in 10 years

24 March 2009

The Learning Circuits Big QuestionThe Learning Circuits Big Question for this month is:

If you peer inside an organization in 10 years time and you look at how workplace learning is being supported by that organization, what will you see?

To answer this question, I’ve organised my own two cents’ worth under six major banners…

1. The responsibility for e-learning development will decentralise across the organisation.

In 10 years’ time, I believe organisations will rely less on external development houses to produce e-learning solutions, and instead bring more – if not all – of it in-house.

Of course this is already happening; however, it’s usually associated with the appointment of a specialist “E-Learning Team”. While such a team may fill a gap in the short term, it’s akin to appointing a Photocopier Operating Team, a Word Document Authoring Team, a Google Searching Team and an Email Sending Team. While all of these technologies were novel at one time or another, everyone has since learned to integrate them into their day-to-day activities.

E-Learning development should be no different. My view is that it’s unsustainable for a specialised E-Learning Team to remain responsible, in the long term, for developing all of the e-learning solutions for everyone in the organisation. Soon enough they’ll get swamped, their turn-around times will lag, and their colleagues will start to say silly things like “e-learning doesn’t work”.

It makes more sense to me to train the organisation’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in rapid e-learning authoring. Then, whenever a learning need arises, the SME has both the knowledge and the skills to develop their own e-learning solution, quickly and effectively.

Hand Work 1, courtesy of jmark, stock.xchng.

Sure, the interactivity of the e-learning that is produced by the SMEs will take a short-term hit. However, that should change over time as their confidence and experience grows with using these tools. I’m sure you’re better with Word now than when you first started?

Of course, the support and guidance of qualified e-learning coaches will be crucial during this transition period.

2. E-Learning will shift from instructivism towards constructivism and connectivism.

In a previous article, I said that workplace learning has thankfully become more constructivist and even connectivist over time. I think in 10 years’ time it will be even more so.

A driver of this shift will be people power. As staff familiarise themselves with blogs, wikis, RSS, YouTube and Twitter, and as more tech-savvy Gen-Y’s & Z’s join the organisation, the demand for self-paced, self-directed learning will accelerate.

Conquer the world 1, courtesy of Mart1n, stock.xchng.

Couple that with the increasing demand for e-learning more generally across the organisation, and no one will be able to afford the time and effort to prepare perfectly pre-defined, pre-packaged content for all occasions. Something’s gotta give; open it up to Web 2.0.

I still maintain that instructivism will remain relevant in the digital age. However, with less hand holding from a “teacher”, meta‑learning (or learning how to learn) will become an increasingly important skill set.

3. Staff will collaborate and share knowledge.

The shift towards constructivism and connectivism will demand organisation-wide collaboration and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, facilitated by blogs, wikis, discussion forums and other online media.

Toplaps, courtesy of ugaldew, stock.xchng.

Single-point sensitive gurus are a liability; everyone has the obligation to share their knowledge with everyone else. This might seem a lofty or even altruistic notion, but the principles of Wikinomics tell us that the organisations whose staff don’t do this won’t be able to compete effectively in the marketplace.

This shift will be accompanied by formal acknowledgements of informal learning. Sure, you can learn something anywhere, but the organisation still needs to be confident of your capability. Insert summative online assessments here.

4. Learning will be fully networked.

As the virtual workplace gains in popularity, more and more people will be working from home, in different cities and different countries.

Virtual classrooms will be the norm for centralising everyone in the one space, while emerging technologies such as virtual worlds and holograms will also bridge the geographical divide.

5. M-Learning will be popular.

Ragan reported recently that only 10% of Americans use their cell phones to access the web daily. My gut tells me this statistic is reflected right across the corporate sector.

Palmtop Series 1, courtesy of bizior, stock.xchng.

However, advances in mobile technology and connectivity, coupled with the business world’s shift towards cloud computing, will eventually render the cell phone an indispensable learning and working tool.

Why? Because everything will be online. Why wouldn’t you use your phone to get it if you needed it?!

6. E-Learning will be smart.

Finally, while many technological advances will continue to improve knowledge distribution, it’s on another plane to personalise it so that it’s relevant to the individual learner. I think we’re just seeing the beginnings of artificial intelligence and the dawn of the semantic web.

So, do you agree with my predictions?

How do you see workplace learning in 10 years’ time?

?4u

14 October 2008

With virtual classrooms and e-meetings becoming more popular in the corporate sector, netiquette (or “network etiquette”) is becoming increasingly important in our working day.

Similarly, as the myriad of acronyms and abbreviations used in text-based chat become de rigueur for the tech-savvy, the rest of us are left scratching our heads.

To shed some light on the situation for both myself and my colleagues, I have found the following sites on the web:

Internetiquette

Top 10 Internet Etiquette Rules to Survive Online

Internet Etiquette Tips for a Safe and Fun Online Experience

Chat, Usenet, and Text Message Acronyms and Abbreviations

The List of Chat Acronyms & Text Message Shorthand

What are your favourite netiquette and chat acronym websites?

tia :)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 498 other followers