What keeps CLOs awake at night?

Every new financial year brings on audits for the last year. Measuring the ROI for eLearning / training programs implemented throughout the year is a daunting task for CLOs.

There iLearning Effectivenesss enough literature available to read about how companies conduct ROI and audits. Recently, an interesting discussion with a friend gave me an insightful thought. What better way to share it, so writing about it, and solicit your experiences too. Here it goes.

“How did eLearning come into picture?” One of my friends wanted to know during an interesting discussion. Like any other elearning professional, my answer to him was “due to technology growth where things could be accessed independently online”. To this, his reply was spot on; I realized it on hind sight. “NO! eLearning came into the picture because of compliance training.” Measuring compliance of processes, legal aspects was a very compelling need of many businesses. So it turned out that eLearning assisted to measure if a certain course was taken by everyone and if they completed it successfully or not. And SCORM tracking complimented these eLearning needs well where it gave CLOs exactly the required information.

With time, the compliance angle of training has reduced in many businesses. CLOs increasingly have to answer questions on effectiveness and ROI. These questions have to be answered tactfully as there is no standard like SCORM where one can find easy answers to these questions. Additionally, measuring effectiveness gets further complex when different businesses want to measure divergent parameters based on the results they are trying to achieve.

For example, in a sales training program, the number of sales closed with a handy just-in-time learning guide is more important vis-a-vis whether the sales person has gone through the product training program. Similarly, for an enterprise software, how much time does a person take to successfully fill a long form using just-in-time video help is more important compared to a software training program. In these situations the metrics to track the success of training programs should be the number of orders closed or time taken to fill the form successfully.

Such metrics should be thought of at the design stage. It always helps to have a healthy brainstorming discussion with the internal stakeholders and the team working on developing the program. Only post this discussion should the program be designed using the right learning technologies like LMS, xAPI, plug-ins like Google analytics, tools which can provide flexibility of tracking custom variables and so on.

What metrics do you use to measure learning effectiveness of your training programs? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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.

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.

Presenting Boring Content…

We often talk about “making” a course interactive or engaging, but how can we approach content that is not engaging in itself? “Converting” flat and uninspired page-turners into something that actually engages and retains the learner’s interest is not as easy as it seems, and we learned this the hard way. This would be best demonstrated by explaining how we worked on one of our courses.

The job seemed simple enough when it first came to us – a course explaining company policies. A drab page-turner made in Powerpoint, the content was capable of putting even the Instructional Designers to sleep! The content was vital and important information, to be sure, but if it failed to interest the teacher, how would it ever engage the learner?

The content that came already used some interactivities created in Articulate Engage, and was published using Presenter. But those interactivities were as engaging as pressing a “Next” button that appeared in different places on the screen. Let’s face it – Tabs and Process interactivities are still page-turners of sorts. Do we add more of these interactivities? Maybe turn some of the content into interactive diagrams or a “click-and-reveal”? That would only serve to reduce the number of screens in the course, not make it any more interesting than it was. The solution had to be much more radical.

We were eager to try out some branching scenarios, but the scenarios given didn’t leave room for much engagement, and neither did the final seat-time of the course permit us to use some creative stories or building up and elaborate atmosphere. Using Articulate Storyline, we managed to hit on a solution that gave a most beautifully interactive way of navigating through the course. Since we couldn’t use branching scenarios with what we were given, we decided to turn the entire course into one big scenario!

We used a scenario where it’s the learner’s first day at the company (which it very well might have been in real life), and they are being given a tour of the office. This allowed us to place each module in a separate virtual location, each one in a different “room” in the office. Just like an office, the learner is free to move between the various rooms, creating a non-linear navigation for the course.

We often use mentors or guides to better engage the learner, but with the scenario of several rooms, we managed to get closer to creating the office environment – we had no less than 5 different mentors in our course! Each mentor guided the learner through a different set of rooms, creating an effect of that person having expertise in that area, just like a real office!

The content itself was presented as a visual treat. The various “rooms” allowed to us have different backgrounds for each module, and have the content appear in styles that was similar to what you would find in that “room”. We created “click-and-reveal” interactivities on non-Engage screens, with various visual effects, giving some more interactive opportunities for the learner.

Where the original course was interactive with “sit-and-stare” Powerpoint screens in between, the new course tied them together into a beautiful bundle that was engaging and interactive even on non-Engage screens.

The crowning glory of this whole project – it was done in less than a month!

Interested to learn more? Write to info@harbingerknowledge.com.