Edumercials—tasty titbits to strengthen your eLearning diet

Edumercial or infomercial—have you heard any of these terms before? If yes, most probably you would have heard them in the context of marketing, where edumercial stands for ‘education + commercial”.  Generally, it is a commercial advertisement that offers education to its audience with a hidden objective of promotion. In this blog, I will be talking about using edumercials in eLearning, which is one of Harbinger Interactive Learning’s unique and pioneering offerings.

So what is an edumercial in the eLearning context? It’s an innovative instructional approach that brings the benefits of television commercials (TVCs) into the learning experience. These are bite-sized micro-learning nuggets that put across a concept in a captivating way.

Like for commercials, the critical element in these 5 to 6 minute videos is to grab learner’s attention in first 3 to 10 seconds. This is done through compelling audio, imagery and animation. One can also add interactivity to enhance learner engagement. The concept or the piece of information is often woven into a story or a scenario to let learners relate to it and be interested to learn more. Edumercials usually do not have knowledge checks or assessments.

You must be curious to know why are edumercials required and when should one use them? Basically, edumercials can be used as standalone ‘just-in-time’ learning pieces or they can also be integrated within an eLearning course to make it more engaging. They can be used for a variety of purposes such as:

  • Introduction to a course
  • Product demonstration
  • ‘Show Me’ simulation
  • Rapid recall exercise
  • Quick synopsis
  • Job aids

As edumercials are quick and to the point, they go a long way in grabbing and mainlining learners’ focus. They can be quickly recalled and align well with the Cognitive Load Theory. According to this theory, our short term or working memory has a small capacity to retain 4-5 bits of information at a time. Edumercials help reduce the amount of load that is being placed upon the learners’ working memory and help to effectively integrate the information into his/her long-term memory.

Using edumercials in the right way is a systematic instructional approach that delivers the message or information across learners efficiently. They certainly motivate distracted or stressed learners or learners who struggle to manage their time to learn. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Putting Augmented Reality to Use with an Interactive Brochure

You probably have heard a lot about Augmented Reality (AR) and how it helps to create highly engaging, interactive and meaningful learning experiences for users. If you haven’t, you can go through my earlier blog – Augmented Reality for Learning – Digging Deeper. This is something that will interest you especially if you are related to learning, development or education in any way. The blog also lists some use cases and interesting examples of using AR for learning.

In this blog, I am going to share niceties about an innovative brochure created by our team at Harbinger, using AR technology. This brochure gives readers information, demos and deeper insight into Harbinger’s learning solutions and competencies, in a stunningly interactive way.

Why a brochure in the first place?

Conventionally, chances of grabbing reader’s attention with a short and visually appealing printed material are higher than an email or a web link. Our team at Harbinger follows a culture for innovation. Hence, instead of creating a plain brochure, we thought of bringing it alive using AR. The idea was to create an immersive experience for readers, who can explore different sections of the brochure in a stimulating way.

Like to see how this brochure works?

Anyone with access to Harbinger AR app and the brochure can experience the unique AR interactivities. You can also watch this short video that demonstrates how the brochure works.

How did we do it?

We developed this interactive brochure with a modular framework called Metaio SDK. The broad process we followed was:

  1. Conceptualizing the brochure
  2. Developing AR image marker with Metaio SDK
  3. Printing the brochure with AR marker image
  4. Integrating interactive assets with the Harbinger AR app
  5. Publishing the app on the App Store

And the outcome?

With this brochure, we have been demonstrating our pioneering capabilities of AR based learning solutions at client meetings and conferences. It has proved to be an icebreaker for conversations, and centerpiece to maintaining reader’s attention.

As a next step, we worked on couple of more AR projects for our clients. These clients have had very encouraging feedback from their customers and learners. 

What are your thoughts on this brochure and experiences of using AR for learning?

I would love to hear from you!

Approaches to Adaptive eLearning Design

Adaptive e-learning Design

In my last blog, I introduced you to the concept of Adaptive eLearning Design (AED). Today, I’ll talk about a few approaches we follow at Harbinger to create AED based courses for our healthcare and pharmaceutical customers.

These approaches are easy to follow and implement and designed to ensure great ROI.

1.    Design Models

The most commonly preferred approach is incorporating the AED strategies while designing the course.

It could either be implemented through Strategic Chunking of the software simulations or through a Flipped Classroom model. In Strategic Chunking, the design is instructionally chunked into several self-contained small units so that it becomes easy to implement changes across the required unit rather than disturbing the whole system.

In the flipped approach, you could design the system in a way that there are multiple short instructional videos for people to see. The training content doesn’t include many activities or interactions. This part is handled in the training room. So, the amount of changes to be done in the content reduces.

2.    Show Me, Try Me, Test Me

An interesting paradigm that could be followed for creating AED is by carefully modifying the typical Show Me, Try Me and Test Me model. These three steps should ideally be followed in a sequence for a perfect AED enabled system. On a higher level, it involves showing something to the learner and then letting them try it themselves and finally, testing them on what was shown and tried.

 Here are some tips for designing Show Me – Try Me – Test Me:

In Show Me, the system needs to be designed in such a way that it incorporates multiple closely knit images that give the illusion of a video. It is adaptive in the sense that you could simply change the image when required without recreating the complete video.

Try Me can be considered an analogy to ‘Learning by Doing’. In this particular model, the course is heavy on instructions. This approach performs best when the instructions are textual and not audio/video based. That enables you to just replace the instruction text quickly when demanded and need not get into the cumbersome process of re-recording audio/video.

 3.    Training Instructor Guide

Another approach that you could choose for AED is, opting for training with your eLearning partner. In this approach, partner provides you with an Instructional Guide Manual of the system and also trains you at the end of the project delivery. The training would be on the package design as well as maintenance. In such cases, strategically selecting a rapid authoring tool that is not complex and can be easily operated by your team is the key. We have been designing such instructor guides for our customers which they have found useful once they own the responsibility of maintaining the content.

Apart from the above options, if companies have limited resources and budgets, they may even ask for an annual maintenance contract (AMC) with their eLearning partner. AMC works best when there are constant changes planned.

These changes could be at an instructional design level or simply at screen level. They key to a successful AMC is a partner who is willing to go an extra mile to understand the changes you are anticipating in future as maintenance. The partner team should be able work out a strategy for a cost effective AMC based on your needs.

Many of our clients prefer going the AMC way due to the complimentary instructional and authoring skills we bring in.

Each approach has its own benefits and limitations. The best suited approach can be decided after a thorough analysis of client requirements and expectations. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. I would love to know your thoughts. Do share your comments below.

Harbinger’s specialization in Video & Simulation in Medical Education

Harbinger has been seriously involved in applying videos and simulation in medical education for sometime.

Medical education is a field that has long remained at the cutting edge of technology – both in terms of adopting technology as well as teaching technology. With the advent of e-learning technology, medical education has changed radically and rapidly. One of the newest techniques in e-learning is simulation, and medical education is definitely not lagging behind in the use of this technique to improve efficacy. However, the use of videos and simulation in medical education is quite different from the way it is used in other fields.

For one thing, with medical education, the stakes are much, much higher. Human lives are directly at risk. True, something going wrong with a mechanical product does put human lives at risk, but in the medical field, human mistakes can have lifelong effects on people, not to mention the direct risk of death of the patient. As such, medical education is serious business and simulation has begun making inroads in this field only through bluntly proving its benefits.

Medical students have long had a tradition of learning by watching and assisting star surgeons in the field. Many say that an internship is the most effective and important education that a medical student receives. However, the number of medical students has increased dramatically along with the number of operations being performed. As such, it becomes difficult for many students to watch a star surgeon in action. This is where videos have become indispensible.
Videos of surgeons performing operations allow these valuable lessons to be viewed by hundreds of students world-wide, regardless of time and place. No longer do they need to wait for a procedure to be performed, or pray that they get a chance to view their idolized surgeon at work. Videos are also being successfully used in patient education and continuing education in the medical industry, and are one of the first successful applications of e-learning technology to this field.

Simulation allowed interactivity and opened up the dimension that was missing in videos. With videos, students could watch and learn, but were entirely at the mercy of the camera angle and quality of the video. With simulation, it became possible for the student to interact and even attempt performing the procedure themselves, resulting in superior understanding and retention of the content. They could make mistakes and learn without having to face the risk and consequences that would be associated with making a mistake during a real procedure. That’s not to say that videos are no longer useful – the best results have been observed by using an effective combination of videos and simulation techniques. An example would be having the student watch a star surgeon perform a procedure and then attempt it themselves to reinforce the learning.

In medical education, practice makes perfect, and the blended method of videos and simulation is one of the best reinforcements of this adage. Many institutions are successfully using simulation in their teaching methodology, and it has found widespread appreciation in basic education such as first aid training.

To learn more about how Harbinger could help you, write to info@harbingerknowledge.com.

eLearning for Medical Education

The Medical Industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with new research, technologies, and techniques being developed almost daily. However, along with the development of new medical technology, the industry of medical education is being hard-pressed to keep up. Traditionally, medical education has relied on experienced faculty training, student-patient interactions, and internships. However, considering the pace of development of medical technology, it’s only a matter of time before direct physical learning and interaction may become prohibitively difficult to employ.This isn’t exactly comforting for the patients, or even for the students themselves. However, interactive clinical case studies and surgical simulations in eLearning, are quickly gaining popularity as an efficient and cost-effective means of imparting education on new medical technologies.

As a matter of fact, medical students are themselves more interested in virtual systems and interactive case studies than in traditional methods of medical education. Case in point, systems such as the Dental Anatomy Software allow a dental student to explore accurate tooth anatomy and detail at their own pace of understanding, instead of having to look at 2-dimensional drawings and imagine it in 3 dimensions! This saves a lot of time and energy for both the student and the teacher, and also results in the student gaining a much more solid base of fundamental understanding. Virtual surgery simulations and virtual patients are helping to provide the same understanding-through-experience at a more advanced level of medical education as well.

That isn’t to say that medical technology is best learned through virtual experimentation alone. Hardly! The importance of watching a star surgeon performing a difficult operation is invaluable. However, with eLearning, the student can watch a video of the surgery being performed anytime they want to rather than having to depend upon the luck of the draw to be picked as an assistant for that surgery in real life. Every student gets an equal opportunity to watch the operation, learn from it, and if needed, watch again – as opposed to waiting for an almost exactly similar surgery to be performed again!

Watching videos of a surgery can only help so much, and cannot match the experience of performing the procedure yourself. Let’s face it – nobody’s that perfect! Like most humans, even medical students sometimes have to learn from mistakes. However, medical students have no margin for error in real life. With interactive virtual patients and virtual surgeries come the inevitable new trend of the eLearning industry – gamification! The instructional technique may be called ‘gamification’, but don’t be fooled! It has been proven that with the proper controls and environment, this technique results in an exponentially higher assimilation of content and performance as against application of the instruction learned through traditional methods.

To summarize, the medical industry is one of the few industries in the world with many bleeding-edge technologies being developed. Instructing students about these technologies needs to be done in a bleeding-edge manner as well – and that is what eLearning and ‘gamification’ accomplishes with ease!

Many medical schools and healthcare centers are now more than willing to adopt these modern educational techniques. Some of these early adopters of eLearning are now refurbishing themselves by moving the learning modules on mobiles devices like tablets and smart-phones. Harbinger has been working with several medical centers to transform conventional medical courses into interactive online modules.

Please mail us to setup an online meeting with Harbinger and experience the advances in medical education.