Archive Page 2

The Future of computing…and perhaps online learning.

tedtalks_splash.jpgEach year, Technology Entertainment Design (TED) hosts a series of fascinating seminars. Thankfully, the TED team has decided to stream these presentations to a wider audience off their website.  The cast of speakers over the past three years is amazing and their presentations are full of ideas to spark your thinking about learning and development. 

Highly recommended is Jeff Han, a research scientist for New York
University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. In this talk, he demonstrates his intuitive, “interface-free” touch-driven computer screen, which can be manipulated intuitively with the fingertips.

This is the learning interface we all dream about.  

And while you’re on site, check out Bono discussing our moral obligation (and economic incentive) to help lift Africa out of poverty. Powerful and passionate as ever.

TED Talks 

Web Quests – an old idea still proving its worth.

istock_000000172111small.jpgDeveloped in 1995, before the internet ‘took off’ in popularity (and when we enjoyed 14.4 dial up modems!), the Web Quest was designed as an enquiry-oriented learning activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the internet.   Web Quests are designed to focus learners on using information rather than looking for it, and to support their thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  

We recently created an e-learning program with a Web Quest component where the learner had to review a range of collated sites to complete a range of activities. It proved very popular and a great way of encouraging learners to continue their knowledge development through accessing a range of carefully selected sites. Its worthwhile considering the idea if you’re looking for a way of extending your program’s reach.

The model was developed in early 1995 at San Diego State University. The key elements to consider and include in a Web Quest are listed below:

  1. An introduction that sets the stage and provides some background information and sets out the required task.

  2.  A set of information sources needed to complete the task. These can be embedded in the WebQuest document. The sources can include internet sites, pod casts, wikis and databases.

  3. A description of the process the learners should do to accomplish the task. Some guidance on how to organise the information acquired. This can be through questions or directions to complete frameworks such as timelines, concept maps, or SWOT analysis.

  4. A conclusion that brings closure to the quest, reminds the learners about what they’ve learned, and encourages them to continue their experience.

For more background on the concept and some examples, head over to the San Diego Web Quest site.


The art of visualization – in 100 ways

table.jpgNever again will I be stuck for an approach to visually represent a concept or idea in an e-learning program.  

This remarkable ‘periodic table’ of visualization methods can be used to spark ideas on how you can depict information in a way that is conducive to helping learners to acquire insights, develop understanding or communicate experience.  Point all instructional designs this way. 

What lies ahead on the e-learning journey?

j0401286.jpgWhile e-learning has its origins in being a new and efficient channel to deliver training, that framework can no longer support all the learning needs of individuals and organisations by itself. We need to recharge e-learning’s format and purpose and move toward informational and collaborative approaches that focus on the specific jobs people do. It must move beyond courseware, modules, simulations and into work itself. 

Marc Rosenberg’s “What Lies Beyond E-Learning?” report focuses on this theme and convincingly argues that:

 E-learning will become more than “e-training.” E-learning will move to the workplace. Blended learning will be redefined. E-learning will be less course-centric and more knowledge-centric. E-learning will adapt differently to different levels of mastery. Technology will become a secondary issue.

Check out his article.


Don’t click it!

istock_000000287531small.jpgTry to break a habit of a digital lifetime and work through this fascinating interface design without ever clicking your mouse. It’s learn by un-doing and a terrific way of shifting your mindset about how a learning interface can work.

Take on last click at dontclick it….

Learning in the digital age

Learning has changed significantly over the past decade with our learning environment shifting towards a more informal, networked and technology-supported arena.  While workshops and formal study will always have their place, the growth of e-learning and online collaboration has illustrated the need to research and define a new learning model to support us in developing effective e-learning experiences. We’ve been closely following the development of the Connectivism model (pioneered by George Siemens) and its application to content development. 

Connectivism is gaining support due to the significant trends occurring in learning. These include: 

  •  Informal learning is now a significant aspect of our learning experience. Learning occurs in a variety of ways – through personal networks, online communities and through completion of project-based tasks.
  • Learning is a lifelong process where learning and work related activities are no longer as separate as they once were. 
  •  Technology is influencing and shaping our thinking and approach to learning new tasks.
  •   Know-how and know-what are being overtaken by the need for know-where (ie the understanding of where to find key knowledge).

So what are the key principles for connectivism and what do they mean for your e-learning development projects? Here’s three key ones we think should be top-of-mind when approaching any design. 

 1. Learning has an end goal – namely the increased ability to “do something”.  

This might be in a practical sense or in the ability to function more effectively in a knowledge era. Content design must include strategies that motivate the learner to apply the knowledge and make decisions as part of the learning experience.

 2. Learning is about connecting to a range of information sources.  

A learner can significantly improve their own learning by plugging into an existing network. Content design must incorporate links to other resources such as: blogs, wikis, websites, reference libraries, to allow the learner to go ‘deeper’ into the topic area as required.  

3. Knowing where to find information is more important than knowing all the actual information.    Content design must include pathways and navigation trees to show learners how to access the stuff they need, when they really need it, and in the format they require.  In future posts on Evolve we’ll explore effective content design strategies that use connective techniques. 

Trend Watch

istock_000000915694small.jpgWhat are the hot topics in e-learning strategy and what does it mean for us? In this edition we cover five key e-learning trends we’ve seen in recent studies and which were also hot topics at the Chief Learning Officer Symposium, held in California last month.

Broadly, we’re hearing plenty of discussion on five interesting trends:


The scope of learning is changing significantly. From being predominantly focussed on employee learning, organisations are now reaching out to provide learning resources for their extended enterprise of suppliers, customers and, in some cases, even shareholders. CLOs are being asked to align their efforts to a broader supply chain model.


That old chestnut of ‘speed to competence’ remains a key trend. Many report that e-learning continues to drive efforts to bring new hires and existing employees to competency much faster, and to do that with fewer hours off the job.


Tactical outsourcing is back on the table, with many companies looking at carefully outsourcing components of their learning function, predominantly logistics, premises and some aspects of development. The ‘all or nothing’ outsource approach first seen during the late 1990s is no more, with companies taking a considered view of their learning capability, specifically around what creates value for them and what processes are transactional and can be handled by an external partner.

LMS buzz

The buzz on buying an LMS or LCMS is over. We’ve noticed that the current focus is not on buying or picking a system, but rather on extending the capabilities of learning systems already in place in many organisations. The past five years in the Australian market has been an incredibly busy time for LMS vendors. Most companies who required an LMS now have it in place and are keenly pursuing ways of getting maximum value from the investment.

Generational appeal

Many CLOs at the recent forum were very focussed on competency management, talent management and the need for the learning function to remain relevant to both the current and next generation of employees. “Generational appeal” (as in learning that appeals to all ages) seems a focus for many L&D practitioners. As we see up to four generations in the workplace, e-learning developers face some fascinating challenges in delivering learning that engages, inspires and motivates people of all ages and styles.