Designing a “Dual-Mode” Course!

When dealing with K12 providers, one of the common issues we need to address is the need to have teaching aids in the course. Most of the time, we create two versions of the course – one for the learner, without the teaching aids, and one with the aids, for the teacher. We recently completed a course for a K12 provider who needed to teach kids a chapter of history using World War II photographs as a medium.

We used a neat trick in this course that helped us to identify exactly what features needed to be stripped off for the student version of the course – We simply created a dual-mode course! All the teaching aids for the course were accessible through a button, so the student version simply had that button disabled!

We didn’t need to create the same course twice, and we could easily identify what information needed to be given as teaching aids. This also allowed the teacher to concentrate on going through the course using the teaching aids alone, while the students focused on the content that was being taught. You may ask, how can the teacher ignore the content being taught? They don’t!

Curious to learn more? Write to info@harbingergroup.com.

Using Course Interface as an Engagement Tool!

Course interfaces tend to become a bit monotonous these days. This has become even more common with the use of rapid interaction authoring tools, where the Graphical User Interface (GUI) is only customizable as far as their colors. The form, the shape, and method of interaction are all features that still need to be individually programmed and created from the ground up when they are needed.

We recently completed a course for a K12 provider who wanted to teach kids a chapter of history through the use of World War 2 photographs. Most of the solutions available had interfaces featuring Back and Next buttons, maybe fancy page number panels, or perhaps a spin-wheel with the various pages on them. There was nothing that could be used to blend into a story and give a more environmental connection to the content that was to be taught in the course.

Then it hit me! I remembered the old View-Masters we used to have and how we used to spend so much time as kids looking at various places or photographs through them, and thought to myself “Why can’t kids today experience the same thing?” Right there was the interface we were looking for! What better way to have attention focused on the photographs that were to be used as a medium for teaching this chapter on history? We created the course with this vision, if you’ll pardon the pun, and needless to say, the kids loved it!

We created a GUI that made it look like the learner was viewing the photographs on a View-Master, with the tip of the circular view-disk peeking out from the top. Clicking buttons on either side of the disk allowed the learner to move ahead. The content to be taught is accessed through push-buttons built onto the View-Master frame, allowing the learner to view the story behind the photograph as well as the things to be discussed regarding the photograph.

Want to share any such “WOW” moment in your course design? Post your comment here or write to info@harbingerknowledge.com.

Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum – Session #1: The Best and The Worst of Educational Outsourcing

As we had mentioned in our previous post, Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum, in its first edition, has taken up a topic that’s very relevant to all of us in the educational outsourcing business – What to do and what NOT to do in the educational outsourcing business.

And sharing with us decades of knowledge and experience on this subject is Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.

In a freewheeling chat with Kim, we learnt many interesting facts about educational outsourcing. She strongly emphasized the need for quality, transparency, trust, consistency, domain knowledge and creativity. Educational Outsourcing in not a factory business and should not be termed as a BPO [Business Process Outsourcing].

Given below is the link to the audio recording of the interview by Bijoy Banerjee, AVP – Business Development. We look forward to reading your comments on this post or you can also write to us at info@harbingerknowledge.com.

Session #1 | Aug 2012
Topic: The Best and The Worst of Educational Outsourcing
Expert: Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.
Podcast duration: 12.5 minutes

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum – A Series of Podcasts With Leading Industry Professionals

Harbinger is proud to announce the launch of Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum, an unique place where learning and industry experts come together to talk about thought leadership, trends, challenges and solutions in the learning outsourcing business.

This forum is meant for all of us in the learning business. You can access blogs, case studies, white papers and podcast of interviews with the learning experts. It’s going to be an exciting place for knowledge sharing and thought leadership in the learning domain. We welcome you to connect with this forum.

In its first edition, the forum has taken up a topic that’s very relevant to all of us in the educational outsourcing business – What to do and what NOT to do in the educational outsourcing business. And sharing with us decades of knowledge and experience on this subject is Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.

Watch out for this first podcast in the series starting next week where you can listen to Kim Sullivan sharing her experiences with Bijoy Banerjee, AVP, Business Development.

Instructional Design for Mobile Learning

Ever since it made its presence felt, instructional designers have been coming up with innovative ideas to create effective mobile learning. Is it sufficient to just convert existing online courseware to a mobile platform or does the real challenge lie in designing courseware from scratch for the mobile platform? With smart phones and tablet PCs also entering the mobile learning foray, and thanks to the new possibilities that come with these gadgets, these questions have risen anew: what makes for good design when developing mobile learning courseware? How do we use the mobile platform so that it plays a meatier role in mobile learning than just a display device?

Let’s take a look at some strategies that are being used in mobile learning:

1. Keep it short and just in time: One of the catch phrases going around eLearning vendor workplaces especially is ‘just-in-time learning’, which involves learning modules that you can access just when you want them. For example, viewing important information on new product updates while you’re on your way to an important sales meeting; receiving the right information at just the right time can help you clinch that deal! Does that mean learners are willing to spend an hour going through a course on their smart phones? Not necessarily! Learners prefer accessing courseware over their mobiles in short bursts. Shorter learning modules that deliver key messages in a short time span work better for consumers of mobile learning. So, tell your learners exactly what they need to know and give them only important information they can use.

2. The mobile’s part in learning: When planning the high level design for a mobile learning venture, think about how you would want your learners to use their mobile devices. Do you just want them passively browsing through your course pages or could their mobile devices be used more interactively? For example, your learners could click photographs or shoot short video clips or audio interviews, which could then be used as part of responses to online group discussions or even to initiate discussions with other participants. Essentially, get your participants to do more with their mobile devices than just viewing text on the screens.

3. Make interactivity more meaningful: To make interactivity more fun and meaningful, it should leverage the inherent features of the mobile medium. I recently came across this TED talk, wherein Mike Matas demonstrates an interactive eBook created for the iPad and iPhone. Not to come across as biased toward the iPhone and iPad, but what really grabbed me during this talk were the different possibilities for making content interactive. At one point Mike Matas interacts with a conceptual animation of how a windmill works by blowing across the screen of the iPad to make the windmill turn! That’s interactivity at its engaging best!

4. Apps for Learning: Apps are becoming an increasingly important part of the learning experience on tablets and smart phones. This is especially true of a growing number of iPad owners who define their iPad experience by the apps they use. An example here is the app created by the American Museum of Natural History, which provides visitors with additional information on over 140 displays in the museum. And this is in addition to offering visitors customizable tours, directions to different exhibitions, theaters, restaurants, shops, and restrooms in the building! Another example is NASA’s Visualization Explorer app, which is available for the iPad. This app provides users with high-resolution movies and stills and written stories about advanced space-based research.
When designing mobile learning courseware, instructional designers could look at how best to weave apps into the design strategy. Rather than designing courseware to be deployed in the traditional course interface, the design strategy could revolve around using apps that give learners more opportunity to learn through practice.

5. Mobile and Social Learning: Needless to say, mobile learning and social collaboration go well together! I experienced this first hand at a blended learning program conducted for mid-level management in Harbinger. The blended learning design included twitter feeds that participants could access over their mobiles. These feeds played an important role in the learning design because they contained information that the participants would need to successfully complete a mobile assessment at the end of the session. If you hadn’t been accessing these tweets, not only would you miss out on an important modality in the blended learning program but you would also find it difficult to get a good score on your assessment.

Both the apps described in point 4 (the American Museum of Natural History and NASA’s Visualization Explorer) allow users to connect to and share information on social networking websites.

These are just five different ways of ensuring engaging and effective learning design in mobile learning courseware. I’m sure there are a lot more out there, but these five should get instructional designers thinking and looking out for more creative ways to make learning mobile.