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.

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!!!

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.

eLearning Effectiveness Enhanced Through Social Learning

I was recently reviewing some eLearning conferences planned for 2011; Learning Technologies, ASTD International, Masie’s Learning, Learning Solutions Conference & Expo and a few others, and the one thing that kept popping out at me was “Social Learning”. There were several tracks in each conference that addressed the “What, Why, How, Who” of social learning.

It looks like social learning has been claimed to be one of the two top focuses of learning today (the other being mobile learning, which I’ll cover in another blog).

So let’s look at learning in general and the three main modalities through which it can be imparted. There’s the traditional classroom training, online elearning and now social learning. We all know the advantages of elearning over classroom training, but most students of elearning courses find that even with the best courses, there is a missing element that could have further enhanced the learning effectiveness. What they miss in elearning courses is social interaction with other students and the teacher. Hence the key to enhancing learning effectiveness is to blend social interaction with elearning.

From eLearning to social interaction enabled elearning
Enhancing eLearning Effectivess Through Social Interaction

And now, with the latest technologies, social interaction within elearning courseware is easily achievable. Elearning can now include online discussions, polls and debates through blogs and other online forums. The Course Administrator can use Twitter feeds for course updates. The course itself can have links to various podcasts, videos and even online multiplayer games to enhance learning. However, like with elearning in general, the key rule for creating meaningful social interaction within a course is setting the learning “context”. Without the context being set, it is difficult to keep the interaction focused on the topic. Some other tips to keep in mind when integrating social interaction with elearning are:

  1. Ensure that the social interaction is moderated – The role of the Course Administrator is critical so that the interactions are supplemented with more information, answers and clarifications.
  2. Keep debates and discussion simple and don’t link them with further learning topics in your elearning course.
  3. Encourage blogs, comments on blogs, RSS feeds from the blog.
  4. Keep the instructor’s blog posts short and ask students to comment on them.
  5. Link to podcasts, videos, articles or other online reading material from the blog post as well as from the course.
  6. Avoid integrating chat with social interaction – like I said, social learning can be effective only when it is in context with the learning material and online chats will only take learners away from the context and thus away from learning.
  7. Try to use only free social interaction tools – Blogs, networking sites and other forums where learners don’t have to “download” or “install” anything. They can just log on and start interacting!

So go ahead, fill in the missing element in your elearning courses and tell me what your learners say!