As you know, designing and developing e-learning is full of challenges and opportunities. A while back, we enlisted our blog subscribers to share their biggest e-learning challenges they face on a daily basis. That Top 10 list is below and we want to know what you think! Are there other critical challenges you often face when designing and developing e-learning?
Quick! Answer this: how long will it take you to make dinner tonight? Without too much effort, you can probably form a quick answer. Thirty-five minutes. An hour. Or are you microwaving leftovers tonight, which means you set the microwave timer to 3:33 and wait until you see cheese explode through the glass door before you yank it out.
If you’re like me, you have a basic understanding of the technical side of what we do. You try to follow along when developers speak their language, but when the conversation turns to closing loops, debugging code, or programming arrays, your eyes sort of glaze over. At that point, I might as well be at the market in a faraway land, and I kind of wish I was. Even though it’s tempting to leave the tech talk to the techies (note: you’re not a techie if you use the word), we just can’t ignore that side of our business. Instructional designers need to be able to communicate the technical design aspects of our courses to developers, LMS Administrators, and other IT Professionals. Also, technical specifications almost always surface in stakeholder meetings and, while we don’t require a high level of technical expertise, IDs do need to be able to speak intelligently about the business side of technology. So here are some FAQs that will help you in discussions related to SCORM, an important technical consideration in e-learning:Read More
by Steve Lee, strategic relationship manager
Over the past 20 years, Allen Interactions has been deeply committed to designing and developing meaningful, memorable, and motivational learning experiences with our many contributions in books, tradeshows, webinars, and training… not to mention our newly redesigned e-Learning Instructional Design Certificate Program available through ATD (formerly ASTD). But despite our mark in the industry, we still hear the question:
Since Allen Interactions is in the business of creating award winning, results driven “Serious Learning” we have learned the tips and tricks that have gained the interest and support of executives in all industries.
We know that getting the approval of stakeholders on board is one of the biggest hurdles to any project! But luckily, we are here to help. Paul Howe, VP of sales at Allen Interactions will joing me in offering a free webinar, on Wednesday, July 16th, to share our best practices and past experiences with our clients. This webinar will include how to “frame” learning needs with business drivers, discuss measurable results and proven return on investment (ROI), and focus on how to maximize learning and productivity for both the student and the development teams. A the end of the webinar we will offer all attendees a pre-built presentation template that you can share with your boss to get the buy-in you want for your e-learning needs.
By Michelle Kenoyer, quality assurance specialist
To the right is an approximately 70-year-old photo of my grandmother when she was in her early twenties. During World War II, she served in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps as a quality-assurance inspector. Based on her stories and recollections, her role required that she examine and recommend improvements for the safety and working conditions of U.S. Army facilities stateside. From time to time, she used a special tool to measure and test the safety and efficacy of hand grenades. It was important for inspectors like her to ensure that not only were the grenades safe for Army soldiers to transport, but also that they deployed properly when the pin was pulled.
I suppose this attention to quality runs in the family. While I cannot possibly compare the relative ease and comfort of working as a quality assurance (QA) specialist in the e-learning and training field to my grandmother’s more dangerous responsibilities during wartime, I do believe the role of QA in developing training materials, including e-learning, is critical.
e-Learning professionals like me likely do not put ourselves in dangerous situations like my grandmother and her fellow Corps inspectors did during World War II, but the quality and soundness of the e-learning courseware we produce can be life-saving. At Allen Interactions, our teams have delivered custom e-learning for a client whose goal is to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings. We’ve also developed sophisticated simulation-based courseware to prepare law-enforcement professionals to identify and respond to terrorism and gang violence in their cities. Truly, the responsibility of creating accurate, engaging, and interactive training materials for audiences whose vocations center on life-or-death situations underscores our company’s fundamental philosophy of developing e-learning that is meaningful, memorable, and motivational.
e-Learning QA is somewhat different from―or rather an extension of—traditional Web-based QA. Quality assurance for e-learning involves the usual hunt for defects in functionality, layout, media, content, usability, accessibility/508 compliance issues, and platform, but also a unique learnability component. Learnability in an e-learning context means something different. Effective e-learning QA specialists will also evaluate courseware from the intended learning audience’s perspective. As Dr. Michael Allen observes in his book, Successful e-Learning Interface, do the activities provide an optimal interface that maximizes the impact of the learning experience? Specifically, he points out (and I’m paraphrasing), do the e-learning activities have enough challenge to instill a sense of confidence and accomplishment without being “too easy”? Are the activities themselves engaging and appealing? Is feedback given appropriate for both the learning context and the actions the learner chooses during the activities? Moreover, does any component of the e-learning present any obstacles that prevent learners from achieving their performance goals?
Learner Acceptance Testing (LAT) taking place on a sample of actual learners from the target audience can uncover many of these learnability issues, as well as other quality assurance issues that may have been (unintentionally!) overlooked during the rigorous iterations of in-house QA. However, QA specialists need to be learner advocates on the frontlines to proactively lessen these issues. This allows the learners participating in the LAT sessions to get the most out of the experience, with fewer distractions and obstacles in their way. In fact, QA analysts who specialize in e-learning must be advocates for all learners, LAT and beyond, who engage in your organization’s e-learning activities and (hopefully!) reap the benefits from them.
by Hannah von Bank, relationship management assistant
In the past, employers had their pick of often hundreds of qualified applicants for a limited number of positions – but that is set to change. Ten thousand American workers reached the age of 65 today and about 10,000 more will reach retirement age everyday for the next 17 years. Baby boomers are retiring in droves and are taking their knowledge and experience with them. To quote this month’s issue of Chief Learning Officer Magazine: “The forecast suggests the talent, skills and knowledge needed will no longer be available via thousands of applicants.”
Is your organization struggling with how to internally develop and retain the skilled leaders necessary for keeping your business successful for years to come? While developing a leadership development curriculum may be daunting task, here are some tips for starting out.
What would your ideal leadership team look like? How would they work together to support your organization? What talent and competencies should they possess? Compare your vision to the current state of your team―can you identify any skill gaps or efficiencies you want to preserve and pass on? Industry and position-specific skills are sure to vary between companies, but some leadership skills are universal, such as:
By identifying the skills you need to focus on, you are well on your way to building your curriculum.