Make Your Instructor-Led Training Interactive

Instructor-Led Training (ILT) seemed to have had lost its sheen and eLearning had caught up big time. As a part of an eLearning content development company and involved closely with proposals and customers, there weren’t many ILT related proposals we got to work on. But since last couple of years, ILT have again gained importance and are in demand than ever before. My guess is flipped classroom and virtual ILT helped in this change.

We had quite a few of our clients thinking of ILT development, but were concerned about it becoming stagnant very quickly if developed the traditional way. Their learners would expect ILT to be equally engaging and interactive as their eLearning courses. That got us thinking. Apart from the traditional ways of engaging a learner in an ILT, what are some interesting ways to make it engaging and interactive?Converting Boring ILTs to Interactive ILTs

An important point to note is that an ILT will require as much instructional design as an eLearning course development. Even though the PowerPoint presentation is the backbone of the ILT, just a good looking presentation with numerous bulleted lists and graphics thrown in will not be able to sustain the learner’s attention. There’s a lot an instructional designer can do to add value.

Here are few guidelines to follow while designing an ILT-

1. Design a theme for presentation and the guides– Design graphical theme of the presentation in line with the branding guidelines. Follow the theme for the Instructor/ Facilitator guide (FG) and Participant/Student guide (PG). Once familiar with the theme, it will then not serve as an attention diverter.

2. Use appropriate amount of graphics and multimedia elements – Have less text on your slides. Make use of graphics, infographics, multimedia elements such as animations and videos appropriately. Less text on screen will ensure learner to focus on the instructor rather than reading the slide.

3. Take benefit of learners being together by designing activities which encourage their participation.

Some techniques that can be used for increasing learner participation are listed below:

1. Ice breaker session is a must. Get people to know each other. Only then will they interact. Instead of having it as the first session, have it once the participants have settled down and are comfortable with the instructor.

2. Use training games– There are various training games that can be designed by the instructional designer in collaboration with the SME and instructor/facilitator. Some such games are Card or Board games, Puzzles, Show of hands etc. For one of our customer we designed similar games using YawnBuster (http://www.yawnbuster.com/). YawnBuster provides some interesting group activities and game templates.

Interactive ILT Activities  Interactive Instructor-Led Training

Raptivity (www.raptivity.com) is another such tool which can help create variety of interactions that can be embedded into PowerPoint.

3. Role plays– By assuming roles and acting out scenarios that might occur in a situation, learners learn how to handle them before they face them on the job. It’s an excellent training technique for many interpersonal skills and sales training.

4. Quizzes– Design small end of topic quizzes or ask the learners to design one for you by jotting down questions on the topic and use these questions to create quizzes on the go. Reward the best question! Yes you read it right 🙂

5. Case studies– Discuss and analyze job related real scenarios that would allow learners to handle similar situations.

6. Crowd-sourcing– Get people to interact with each other. Encourage learners to learn from each other by designing small group activities.

At Harbinger we believe that ILT should not be designed as standalone training. They work best if they are a part of a flipped classroom or blending learning program. The ‘need to know’ content should be covered in the ILT and the ‘good to know’ content can be developed into an eLearning course to supplement learning. eLearning also acts as a good refresher to the classroom sessions.

A blended learning program could follow below format.

Blended learning program designAdditional learning components such as online discussion forums, reference reading material etc. could be added at appropriate places.

Are you seeing similar demands for ILT? What are some ways you make them interactive? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Why does eLearning fail?

As an eLearning professional for the last 10 years, I have been a part of many successful eLearning courseware development projects. However, there have been many occasions when the eLearning solution does not live up to the expectations.

Undoubtedly, eLearning as a medium is very powerful. Then why do the eLearning initiatives fail? There can be numerous reasons why an eLearning project fails. Here are some reasons I have commonly seen.

 

  1. Ignored end users – When the idea, requirements and approach is driven by only the sponsors and not the end users of eLearning, there is a RED FLAG right at the start. You cannot ignore the end users. Here are some guidelines to refer to understand the end user requirement:
    1. What do the consumers want?
    2. What is their comfort zone?
    3. How do they enjoy learning?
    4. What motivates them?
    5. How can eLearning add value to their learning experience?
  1. When design takes over content – Not every eLearning course needs to be highly interactive or requires a lot of graphics and imagery. Sometimes content effectiveness is lost in the efforts of making the eLearning design heavy and visually attractive. Content is the KING and it should always get the first priority. Content presented in a simple style, properly chunked and with the right design can also make a great impact.
  1. Not creating a marketing buzz – Most of the time focus is on the development of the courseware, which is where it should be; however, similar efforts should go into creating a buzz around the release. It is important to attract the consumers and get them excited about the new courseware. Just putting the course on the LMS doesn’t help. It’s almost like releasing a new motion picture. Just a good story, some gripping acting and scenic locales is not enough. The audience needs to feel compelled to go to cinema halls. The release plan must include:
    1. Plan to create a buzz and attract consumers
    2. Plan to provide technical support during and after the release for a smooth experience
    3. Plan to update the content
    4. Plan to capture consumers’ feedback

There could be many more reasons for eLearning implementation failures like quality of content, technical limitation of the delivery environment, lack of alignment of content with the business goal.

Have you ever experienced such a situation of eLearning failure? How did you resolve it?

Please share your thoughts below.

Harbinger at the Training 2012 Conference & Expo

– An account by Mona Sharma, DGM – Projects, and Exhibitor at the Conference

Date: February 13-15, 2012

Venue: Atlanta, GA, at the Georgia World Congress Center

Visitor’s Profile: Professional trainers, consultants, and academics, HRD professionals and senior executives, Instructional designers & other related professionals.

Exhibitor’s Profile: Business Development Services, Training and Talent Development Services, Authoring and Publishing Platforms, Custom Content and Communication Services, Learning and Performance Services, Digital Literacy and Desktop Productivity Assessment Services, Train the Trainer Workshop and Consulting Services, Distance Learning, Employee Selection & Orientation, Ethics, Leadership Training, Motivation, Presentation Skills, Problem Solving, Project Management, Team Building & Performance, Videoconferencing, Writing Skills, Translation services, Training Documents Development Services.

The training 2012 conference & expo was an event designed for learning, training and performance professionals. It was a midsized conference with approximately 700 – 800 attendees. There were around 65-70 vendors exhibiting in the expo hall, a varied mix of vendors, providing content development services, transcription and translation services, technology solutions, train the trainer services, corporate training and corporate entertainment services too! It was very encouraging to witness that people worldwide were taking learning and training so seriously.

With the assurance that we were at the right place at the right time, we got busy with setting up the booth, the fun and creative part of the exhibition booth preparations, where we presented our eLearning Products and Custom Content Development Services.

We exhibited Raptivity, our interactivity building tool which allows you to quickly and easily create elearning interactions such as games, simulations, brainteasers etc. and embed them directly into your online courses. There are around 170+ interaction templates to choose from to make your elearning courses interactive.

Along with our products, Harbinger also presented its Custom Content services offerings. Visitors showed keen interest in experiencing our expertise in content development using Flash, HTML5, Lectora, Articulate, ToolBook and our own tools Elicitus and Raptivity. All our learning solutions got an overwhelming response.

 

Edumercials: One of our unique offerings was development of ‘Edumercials’- short for Educational Commercials, which are 5-6 minute self playing animations that are either story or scenario-based and put across a concept in an interactive way. Edumercials can be used as standalone just-in-time learning pieces or they can also be integrated within elearning courses to make the courses more engaging. Quite a few visitors signed up for the raffle to win a 5-minute free edumercial.

Single Source Solution for Mobile Learning: Our mobile learning conversations led us to discussions about the platform independent ‘Single Source’ solutions being offered for mobiles and laptops. The iPad demos and especially the interactive e-Book, was well appreciated by everyone. Many were surprised to see Flash based animations, video and audio integrated in an eBook developed in HTML5.

Interactive ILT: Some visitors who engaged in virtual classrooms or face to face training were interested in our Instructor Led Training services where in we offered to instructionally and visually enhance their presentations and develop facilitator and student notes for them.

We had an exclusive range of elearning samples for both desktop/laptop and mobile tablets ranging from Product, Process, Soft skill and Leadership and Management training to K-12 training. All these samples were also made available on our showcase so that they could be viewed at leisure. (https://showcase.harbingerknowledge.com/ ; Username: training2012-visitor; Password: password1!)

Visits by the Industry Expert: Well known speakers and thought leaders from the industry visited our booth and were impressed with our instructional approach and the apt use of interactivity in our courses.

The expo ended after two full days of meeting new people, interesting conversations and demos and assurances of exploring a new relationship with Harbinger! Through Harbinger I have attended other International Conferences in North America and visited customer sites for project discussions, however this was the first time I experienced being a presenter in the conference booth.

I would say I experienced a very different Valentine Day’s eve by connecting with many new people and prospects! I look forward to meet with them again in the next upcoming conferences!! Till then bye and enjoy the new ways of Learning!!!

Harbinger Makes an Impact with “Single Source” Mobile Learning Solution @ the Learning 3.0 Conference

In October 2011, Harbinger attended the Training Magazine’s Learning 3.0 conference in Chicago. Harbinger was a sponsor-partner in this event. Bijoy Banerjee, Associate Vice President – Business Development presented on Mobile Learning.

In a post conference debriefing, Deepali Tharkude, Associate Vice President – Content Development spoke with Bijoy about his take on the conference, state of Mobile Learning, trends, challenges and finally, how the audience perceived Harbinger’s emerging leadership role in Mobile Learning and its pioneering “single source” solution.

Here is an excerpt:

Deepali: So Bijoy, how was the conference and your sessions?

Bijoy: The conference was very good, Deepali. All got ample opportunity to exchange knowledge and network. I presented twice – 4th and 5th Oct. The session details can be viewed here.

On 4th Oct I spoke on: Single Source Content strategy – eliminating the eLearning / Mobile Learning divide.

On 5th Oct I presented: How to choose native app or browser based delivery for mobile learning – A hands on guide.

The audience turnaround in the sessions was highly encouraging on both days. In fact, combining both days, the turnaround was about 30% of the entire conference audience and that’s a lot!

Deepali: Wow! That’s a great turnaround, Bijoy. What were the reasons, you think?

Bijoy: I realized this high level of interest and turnaround for the sessions was due to the following reasons:

  1. Mobile Learning has grown from the exploratory phase to the actual implementation phase in many organizations. As a result, there is natural drive to learn ways, means and the innovations for successfully implementing mobile learning.
  2. There is a huge demand for the “right” knowledge about implementing mobile learning in the most efficient, scalable and risk-mitigated way. People are looking for expert guidance and support in the design and development of quality mobile learning solutions and delivery mechanisms.
  3. Solutions to: (1) running the same content across all mobile devices as well as desktop/laptop (i.e. platform agnostic content) and (2) decide when and how to go for WebApp or Native App.

Taking clue from the post-session followup chats, I realized that the sessions addressed these expectations.

Deepali: Excellent! Would you please share a bit on the “single source” topic you presented?

Bijoy: Yes, sure. With the exploding growth and acceptance of mobile devices for learning and education, new set of challenges have surfaced; most significantly, developing content to run on all mobile platforms, as well as desktop/laptop.

Creating content separately for each device, operating system and browser is not a viable option, as you can understand. Instead, the content should be developed once, and then push from the LMS, website or Apps, playable online or offline, should be track able, and finally, must be accessible by multiple devices and their browsers – a content that can meet all these is “single source”, also known as, platform agnostic content.

The audience was particularly impressed when I did a quick demo of an interactive on-boarding course we developed, purely in HTML5.

HTML5 content having visual richness and instructionally sound interactivities is not a very common knowledge, so the audience was pleasantly surprised to see example of a course that was seamlessly accessed from LMS and iPad, followed SCORM compliance and used variety of interactivities and multimedia assets.

Deepali: Yes, Bijoy. In fact, I hear the same ‘WOW’ from our customers! Now, for our reader’s benefit, would you please describe how Harbinger is positioned in single source?

Bijoy: Actually, Harbinger is one of the pioneers in the design and development services of single source content and today, Harbinger commands a leadership position in this domain.

Back in early 2010, when Flash-based development was still the de-facto trend, Harbinger envisioned rapid growth in platform agnostic content and the role HTML5 would play.

Though it was new back then, but Harbinger invested heavily in R&D and developed cutting edge competencies in HTML5 based content development. Soon pilot projects followed for various customers, and by the end of 2010, Harbinger had several success stories of HTML5 based interactive content that were accessible from the LMS, App, desktop, laptop, tablets, smart phones, online, offline and were track able as well.

Till date Harbinger has executed several large scale “single source” projects and continues to find great traction from customers. I realized that Harbinger stands distinctly differentiated in the single source domain due to the following:

  1. Early knowledge and R&D: Harbinger got on the boat much earlier and had spent considerable time in R&D and pilot process. As a result, Harbinger has passed through the learning curve, has first-hand knowledge of the challenges in HTML5 based content development and has found solutions.
  2. Demonstrated success: Success talks! After developing hundreds of courses as single source on variety of topics and interactivity levels, Harbinger has mastered the HTML5 technology and its effective use in interactive content development.
  3. Quality like Flash, but no Flash: Many a times you must have heard that HTML5 has limitations in creating the visual richness and interactivity compared to Flash; that’s not entirely wrong actually, but through rigorous R&D and project experiences, Harbinger has been able to explore HTML5 to the extent that unless you are told, you will not be able to make out whether the content is developed in Flash or HTML5!

So yes, Harbinger indeed has a great early mover advantage and has already acquired concrete experience in cutting edge HTML5 based single source / platform agnostic content development.

Deepali: Can our readers access your presentations and review the HTML5 examples? 

Bijoy: Absolutely! The presentations are available in the below links:

  1. Single Source Content Strategy: Eliminating eLearning / Mobile Learning Divide – http://tinyurl.com/Single-Source-Mobile-Learning
  2. Native App or Browser-Based Delivery for Mobile Learning – A hands-on Guide – http://tinyurl.com/Native-or-WebApp

And for examples, readers are welcome to reach me at bijoy@harbingergroup.com. I would also encourage readers to visit the mobile learning page in Harbinger website.

Deepali: Excellent, Bijoy! Thank you very much. Look forward to more on single source.

Bijoy: Thank you, Deepali. Yes, I will keep the readers posted.

How to Make Simulation Based Courses Engaging

It can be a real challenge to “engage” your learners in a simulation-based course. Traditional “Show me” and “Let me try” simulations, which are supposed to be guided learning methods are more like spoon-feeding rather than guidance. At the same time, you can’t really do away with the simulations, can you? So how do you make them more engaging and retain learners’ attention so they don’t just click-click-click through the course and get their completion certificates?

However I do believe that the same basics apply to all types of courses as far as “engagement” and “involvement” of the learners is concerned – and that is that one of the best ways to engage learners is to use context.

A typical simulation-based elearning course will have “show me” and “let me try” simulations with guidance at every step. However, once you have shown learners how to complete different tasks in the application, you could try including scenario based exercises instead of step-by-step ‘let me try’ simulations. Give the learner a scenario that they can relate to from their regular work-life, give them a task to complete and all the information they would need to complete that task in the application and then ask them to actually perform the steps to compete the task in the simulated environment. This will be much more engaging than giving them a step-list and asking them to perform the steps one by one!

Another way of engaging the learners is to have them do the “let me try” exercises within a game. So, once you present the learner with the information they need, and tasks they have to complete using that information, get them to use the “shortest possible route” within the application to complete the tasks. The more tasks they complete using the shortest route, the more the points!

For the “show me” demonstrations, try to use edumercials instead of just “Show me” simulations. Edumercials are 5-6 minute self playing animations that are either story or scenario-based and demonstrate the use of different features within an application. The demonstration is woven into the story or scenario to make it engaging.

So just a simple trick, like adding context to the simulations can make them more engaging. Does anyone have any more ideas on this?