Navigation and Instructions in eLearning

What are your thoughts on activity and navigation instructions in eLearning?

I see it as a balance where enough instructions are given (or good user interface design) so energy isn’t wasted on figuring out how something works or how to progress … ? ? ?

Are you treating your new hires or people who do your online learning like they don’t have a brain?

Often I see instructional text for activities and navigation through eLearning content is done in a way that treat staff or the eLearning audience as though they’re thick.

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Here are some ways I’ve seen eLearning navigation and instructions treat its audience like idiots.

State the obvious, obviously

Push next to continue… repeat, repeat, repeat, did you get that, do you know how to push next?

 

Only ever give instructions in text and make sure it includes lots of detail, okay now you can read the next sentence.

 

Always put instructions in for the lowest common denominator, okay now you can read the next sentence.

 

Never take into account previous experiences with technology, websites and adult learning – assume everyone is a blank slate.

 

Ensure no content can be skipped (I mean missed). The assumption is if you didn’t read it, see it or hear it here then you won’t know or learn it. Never mind how disengaged you are if navigation’s locked then you must have learnt it.

 

To save you getting lost you can move forwards (next button) or backwards (back button) only.

 

Blatantly state when it is the end of the module and give precise instructions on how to exit it – after all you don’t want them stuck in your eLearning course forever!! They’ve got work to do.

 

Give pointless instructions – if you wish to read these points you can scroll back to the top of the page 😉

 

I know I’ve focused on the negative on this post, I’m still getting surprised as I keep seeing the above techniques again and again. Company set eLearning templates are the biggest culprit for continuing these bad navigation and instructional practices, most allow for very little creativity room.

In my next blog I’ll give some examples of making navigation and instructions more natural and interesting to change the tone of the eLearning being delivered.

Have you seen any other navigation and instructional techniques that didn’t work or treated the audience like idiots? Please share and comment below.

If you made it to the here, let me know by liking this post.

Thank you. The end.

Is it OK to take a blogging break?

Blog Share Follow us Concept

You may have noticed I’ve been quiet for some time on my blog – well silent for 6 months to be exact.

I’ve had an unplanned blogging break. For the past 6 months I’ve needed to switch my focus into other areas of my life – my family, work and personal life. The last 6 months have been both challenging and rewarding. Career wise I’ve transitioned to become a digital nomad based mainly in Vietnam. It’s been an exciting and interesting time.

I have been fortunate to be able to work full-time whilst exploring life as a digital nomad. Thank you to my wonderful clients (you know who you are),  for giving me great remote working opportunities. My young family and I have enjoyed exploring and learning how to live and work globally so much we’ve decided to stay on for a while.

…so I’ve not been writing as much and feel a bit guilty.

This led me to the question – is it ok to take a blogging break?

And I believe the answer to this depends on what your intentions are with blogging?

For me I find blogging incredibly useful for personal learning, reflecting and improving my practice. I’ve still been reflecting in the last 6 months don’t get me wrong, it’s just when I blog my reflecting and thinking becomes deeper and more purposeful. Also as I look into the future I find it easy to forget about my past learnings and achievements, my blog acts as a reminder. Sometimes I even go back and use my past learnings to help me solve current challenges.

I feel blogging makes me more visible which makes me more accountable and driven for my professional development. This has in turn created more opportunities.

To be honest though it does take a lot of time and energy to maintain. And the last 6 months I chose to use my energy elsewhere.

I want to put content on here that is not only useful to my own development but also hopefully useful and interesting for you. So here I am back for 2018 and ready to blog about interactive videos, tools, techniques, curated content strategies, learning strategies and more. I look forward to learning more, and sharing more. Thank you to all those who took the time to read, and especially to those who commented on or liked a post to let me know you’re out there 🙂 Happy New Year!

Using audio in digital learning and stories

Retro old microphone. Radio show or audio podcast concept. Vinta

I’ve been puzzled and frustrated by the use of audio in rapid elearning products for a long time. It’s not that I dislike all audio, it’s just a lot of time it doesn’t seem to have a lot of purpose or value.

I don’t want to hear the words being read out – even if it is with good emotion and balance from a professional voiceover.

Explanations in audio can come across as being told or even worse – condescending.

And sometimes I’m left downright confused as to why most of a narrative is in text and then it switches to audio in places to ‘mix it up’ or ‘provide variety’ – or worse still cater for ‘auditory learners’. Uggg get rid of those false learning theories!!

Other times there is audio in the background like elevator music. But how do you pick a track that everyone likes and it’s at the right volume level? How can you stop it from being distracting or annoying? Unless there is some other purpose or way it adds value to the atmosphere a generic background track often backfires and you can end up doing edits on reviewer preferences.

It’s not all bad news though. There are ways using audio to add value to a story or scenario.

Audio – to create a realistic environment or set a scene

Background audio can add value to a scene by making the story or interactivity more believable. For example, if you have a branching scenario set in a café, restaurant, office, hospital, why not provide realistic background audio of that setting to help create the environment.

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Audio for actions or feedback

Audio to give feedback on an action is so common that we often don’t really notice it until it’s missing.

An example of this is product design. Imagine using a camera with the digital screen off, how do you know when you’ve taken a photo? Using a washing machine how do you know when you’ve changed the wash settings? Typing on a keyboard how do you know you’ve successfully pushed the letter key down hard enough? All of these products could be designed without sound but what problems would that silence cause?

Digital game design is also interesting to look at for audio feedback. Why not play a digital game and record the audio. Replay it back to listen how the audio communicates about different actions. Or even play an audio game to listen to the power of audio.

How can you add audio feedback into rapid elearning design? Where would it add value?

Audio where it’s logical for the activity

There are some activities where it seems logical to have audio and scripting. An example of this is a phone conversation or scenario.

Why build a text based phone scenario? In the real world phone conversations are about listening not reading. Much better to include audio. You can make it more realistic by adding phone noises such as rings before scripting the conversation or scenario.

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Audio for conveying emotion

Poignant audio sounds and tracks can be used to create emotion and tension. Professional voice artists can also be very effective in conveying emotion in conversations.

Listening to movies with your eyes closed is a great way to sense how audio can create emotion.

Listen to this famous track for creating emotion. Do you recognise it?

 

In my opinion use audio and use it to create depth!

Make audio have a purpose. Use it to make a story or environment more believable. Don’t use it just because you can. Audio needs to be thought about just as carefully as the words, videos, or images in a rapid elearning product.

What are your thoughts on audio, what are some ways you’ve used it? I’d love to hear some examples. What has and hasn’t worked for you?

 

Becoming a digital nomad

My last post explained that I’m experimenting with working remotely from another country – Digital nomad technology. Well now I’ve arrived, got settled, and have already completed a few weeks of work. Here’s how it’s all going:

If there’s anything you would like to ask about my learning journey as a digital nomad please ask.

Digital nomad technology

On my learning plan for this year I’m experimenting with becoming a digital nomad and will be vlogging my experience. Here I am preparing and deciding what technology to take with me.

I’ll also be taking my Voip headset for international and Skype calls.

Wish me luck on my journey and I’ll share what happens on the other side in Vietnam.

Learning, design, and curated resources

Design Curated Studio Contemporary Creative

Content curation to me is not just one thing or one methodology. I see content curation as different techniques for using (and sometimes modifying) already existing resources rather than creating from new. From this perspective there are a lot of different ways curated resources can be used for learning. Here are some ways content curation techniques can be implemented into learning and learning design.

Pure resource curation

 

“The hunter gatherer of content curation”

 

What does this look like?

This is gathering existing resources/information/artefacts on a topic and putting it in one place to grab at your will. You’ve hunted (or used a tool to hunt) for the content and now its gathered in one place. Although you’ve filtered and selected the best content there is no rearrangement of it. It is simply made available in it’s raw form.

Here’s a personal example; at the moment I’m learning about interactive video and 360 video as a learning solution. To research this area I’m using a content curation tool http://www.anderspink.com. I have kept all my curated content in one area:

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When content curation is mentioned it is this usually this method that is being referred to. Where information is hunted and gathered into one place and then utilised and/or shared.

Ideas of when you could use pure content curation:

  • Researching a specific topic
  • Watching trends in an industry
  • Gathering resources to support Special Interest Groups or learning communities

Don’t stop here though, this is only one method. There are more ways to use curated resources, such as, story based curation.

Story based resource curation

 

“Using existing resources and arranging them to create a different point of view”

 

What does this look like?

This is where resources are collected to make a new idea or story that is separate and different from the individual resources. They are arranged together to tell a story. The resources could be organised into a timeline or simply tell a story from comparing their similarities and differences. Good curation means you won’t need to overtly tell the story as the resources will do this for you.

“The whole is greater, than the sum of it’s parts” – Gesalt Psychology

Many museums are particularly good at this type of curation. Look for examples of this method at your local museum.

 Ideas of when you can use story based resource curation:

  • Showing changes over time
  • Using similarities or differences to tell a story

 Audience based resource curation

 

“Crowd sourcing and sharing curated resources based around a topic or task”

 

What does this look like?

The key difference here is who is finding and sharing the resources. Instead of resources being shared out from a central point like a Learning and Development department, they are instead being sourced by those who will use them and then shared into a central point. It is more active as it involves the audience in curating resources themselves.

An example of when I’ve used audience based curation are the research and share activities I designed in a university level course. Students were asked to search for relevant examples of the topic being studied and then share those onto Twitter with a set hashtag so others could view. Read more about this example here

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Ideas of when you can use audience based curation:

  • Great for micro search, find and share activities
  • When you want the audience to find examples of content that are relevant to their own experiences
  • Good for audiences with a wide range of different backgrounds or experience levels
  • Good for when the content or topic is rapidly changing and developing – a technique to keep the content current

These aren’t the only ways you can use curated resources for learning. How do you use content curation for learning? I’d love to hear your examples or thoughts.

 

Development and learning plan 2017

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As promised in my previous post Taking charge of your own learning I’ve drafted my development plan for the next 6 months or so.

This year I’m completing a career experiment so a lot of my development plan centres around this. I will be basing myself remotely for half the year in Vietnam. I figure I’m frequently designing and developing learning solutions for people who are working and learning remotely, so why not put myself in their shoes by experiencing working totally remotely too! That and I like a challenge and to be scared out of my comfort zone!

Some things that are important to me whilst working overseas are to maintain regular easy contact with my clients and social network, to avoid getting professionally isolated, and further develop my technical skills.

You will see from my development plan that a lot of my learning will be supported by research, curated content, social networks, reflecting and putting what I learn into practice. Most of it’s free and accessible, learning does not need to rely on a professional development budget or attending face-to-face courses. These are the sort of things you can do to develop without needing permission from your manager. I will be  working out loud as I develop these skills and work through my development plan.

This plan is a map for my intended development and there could be diversions as opportunities come up. I am open to your suggestions if you see anything that may be useful. Also if you have skills in the areas I’m looking to develop and are willing to share your experience please contact me.

Lorraine Minister’s Development Plan

Do you have a professional development plan? How do you take charge of your own learning?

Taking charge of your own learning

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Working as an independent contractor and freelancer I am responsible for my own professional development. I do not have a boss sitting me down and asking me how I would like to develop professionally and I do not have bi-annual performance meetings. No-one is pushing, or encouraging me to achieve or develop my career. It is my responsibility alone. I have complete freedom with no accountability.

This is a double edged sword. On one hand I can develop skills I am interested in, I can chose what, where, when and how I learn. And oh how I love that freedom! On the other hand I need to finance my own professional development and I have no accountability to anyone but myself. It could be easy to let the day to day work demands overtake learning and professional development, after all it’s nice to relax at night time right! But then future opportunities might start to dwindle and if I’m not learning and improving then I’m not maintaining my edge.

This year I have set myself a goal of doing bi-annual learning plans. In these I will plan what skills I will learn and practice, how I will do this, and when I will achieve it. Being self-employed I’ve decided I can be more accountable by sharing my plans with you! And you’re more than welcome to give me feedback too. If you think there’s something better I could do or something else you think I should check out.

I will publically post my learning plan next week to be accountable. I will share with you my successes and my failures in my professional development along the way. I’ll be open to conversations, feedback, and suggestions.

This is how I’m taking charge of my professional development this year. How will you take charge of yours?

Subscribe or follow me to see my plan in my next post.

Social Media to supercharge your professional development

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Social media is a fantastic way to super charge professional development. I’ve been on a 5 month extended work (and professional development) break. Two weeks before starting my first assignment I decided to super charge my learning through Social Media.

Switching on and tuning in

By spending at least 30 minutes a day on social media both consuming information and interacting with others on social media, I was able to dust off the cobwebs and switch my mind back into work mode. Being a new mum I have little time to read professional development books. I also work remotely from home and therefore don’t often see colleagues in the same learning and development space. Social media is the perfect solution for me as I can get overviews from thought leaders fast through their blogs and posts and I can also bounce ideas of others without the logistics of meeting in person. It helps me stay connected and relevant.

Keeping up to date

Social Media is essential for keeping up to date with the latest news, developments and trends in learning and development. For example, this week just happened to be international Working Out Loud week #WOLweek and there were heaps of gems being shared about this. This week Articulate also released their new version of Storyline 360 and very soon after the announcement tweets and blogs were out on social media sharing what the new tools can do.

Professional development plans

This year I plan to be more active on Social Media as I’ve found it so valuable to get back up to speed. It would be useful to refresh after Christmas break too. As part of my professional development I plan to spend time each day on social media (15-30 minutes) with both consuming information and also to interact and comment on at least one post/conversation per day. I also plan to get more active with blogging again with at least one post per month.

What are your plans with social media? Do you consider it necessary for your professional development? If you’re reading this post I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts.

A few gems

And here are some social media gems I found this week:

 

Monthly inspiration – Clive Sheppard

Clive Sheppard’s more than blended learning model

Clive Sheppards more than blended learning model

As part of Bloom’s International Learning Leaders webinar series I attended a webinar last month from Clive Sheppard about blended learning.

Here are some takeaways and reflections I got from this webinar:

Learning occurs over time and that’s why blended approaches are needed
In learning solutions build in plenty of opportunities for practice, feedback and reflection. Most learning solutions in organisations do not do this well and operate on delivering events (online or facilitated) rather than a complete learning journey.  Learning occurs over time and with practice.

Clive explained if no opportunities for practice and reinforcement are given then performance and confidence can even be damaged by one off training events. In the below slide, Clive shows how a typical corporate blend wouldn’t move staff beyond the conscious incompetence stage to improved performance:

Clive Sheppard unconscious incompetence


There is no specific formula for blends and they must include lots of practice
The blended solution will depend on the content and the environment. There is no one particular blend that is better than others. You can and should go beyond traditional blends such as an elearning course followed by a facilitated session. Remember to use simple solutions as part of your blends as well, such as, job aids, manager discussions, on the job assignments, peer sharing.

I’ve built myself a job aid that has a multitude of learning solutions that could be used during different phases of learning. This reminds me of how many different options there are to practice and reinforce learning. Why not build yourself something similar so you can see the huge variety in blends open to you and you could add to it from time to time with new solutions you’ve utilised.


Look at blends from different angles e.g. delivery and social blends

I particularly like that Clive encourages looking at blends from different angles. Often it’s easy to think of blended learning in terms of the delivery method only. Clive’s model and approach to blended learning encourages us to look at different parts of blends, such as, what will happen on the learning journey and when. The type of media that will be used. And importantly the type of social interaction that will occur during different parts of the learning journey.

In the slide below Clive shared a hypothetical blend for learning how to salsa dance. Notice how the blend is made up from different angles and not just delivery methods:

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Want to know more about Clive Sheppard’s blended learning approach:

Clive Sheppard’s blended learning model – http://www.bloomlearningsolutions.co.nz/design-engaging-blended-learning/

Clive on learning – http://clive-shepherd.blogspot.co.nz/

Want to know about more professional development opportunities like this:

Bloom Learning Solutions regularly puts on professional development events for the Learning and Development community. Keep an eye on their events and blogs and I’m sure you’ll find something of interest. The next webinar I’m attending is Augmented Reality (25th May 2016) and then one of my favourite International Learning Leaders Nigel Paine is taking a webinar on Leadership development and why it doesn’t work.