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Enhancing Learning Experiences

At a recent L&D Meetup, we were talking to each other about what we’d been working on since we last caught up. A couple of friends were discussing changes to the Privacy Act and the e-learning courses that have been developed to communicate these changes to the employees in their respective workforces.

The industries I’m talking about here are finance and insurance so I’ve no doubt each of the Legal Departments have been frantically enforcing the necessary amendments to the systems/policies/procedures across each organisation. It also sounded like the e-learning modules contain everything there is to know about the privacy legislation! They were saying that there hadn’t been too much direct focus on privacy for a while but these changes had breathed some life back into the area and now it was more urgent to make people ‘aware’.

I was reflecting on this on the weekend (actually, I was vacuuming my place at the time and I was thinking about the night before) and I know these legislative/compliance type topics are generally quite dry – although it’s no excuse to blame your content  – and normally compliance means that employees will be ‘forced’ to complete the learning. So, we’re already on the back-foot because most employees won’t really want to do it to begin with. This highlighted to me two important and often neglected areas of learning design – motivating people and sustaining the learning afterwards.

Motivation

Motivation

I’ve written a couple of posts about motivation and Ryan and Dec’s self-determination theory (SDT) of motivation before. At this point feel free to do one or more of the following:

  1. Click here and here to read the previous posts.
  2. Keep reading this post for a summarised version of the previous posts and some strategies for improving motivation in e-learning.
  3. Scroll down to the Sustaining the Learning section.

Essentially, the SDT focuses on the degree in which behaviour is self-motivated and self-determined. We all have three basic psychological needs:

  • Autonomy (a sense of being in control and having freedom)
  • Competence (a sense of being able to do something), and
  • Relatedness (a desire to be associated or connected to others).

Contexts that satisfy these needs will result in more sustained motivation over time. If we apply this theory to e-learning and we use strategies to support these needs in the design of the course, we can improve learner motivation even if they are required to complete a course by their organisation.

How can this be achieved in practice?

Here are five examples, with some practical applications that I came up with:

1. Give people some control as they work through the module or course.

  • Let them choose how they navigate through the course
  • Give the option to skip parts that they already know
  • Provide opportunities to explore different parts of the course.

2. Allow people to make meaningful choices and pursue challenging goals

  • Use branching scenarios that have consequences for decisions made
  • Increase the difficulty of challenges as the person works through a topic
  • Offer rewards based on challenges completed rather than screens visited.

3. Provide opportunities for collaboration between learners

  • Get people working together on tasks/activities that help develop competence
  • Provide topic discussion areas and space to share resources or to ask questions.

4. Keep the stakes low and allow practice

  • Provide multiple opportunities to apply the material they are learning to context specific situations
  • Give them time to repeat practice activities until they succeed
  • Provide tools and aids that can be used during the course and then back on the job.

5. Provide regular, meaningful feedback throughout the learning experience

  • Let people know how they are going and where they are up to

Motivation is important in any learning experience. If we can help satisfy the psychological needs of our people, we can improve their motivation towards the course they are completing even if they have to complete it.

Sustain

Sustaining the Learning

Often when we complete an e-learning course (or classroom course, for that matter) it’s confined to a defined period of time. There may be a build up to the course but then once learners complete it, and are deemed ‘competent’ it’s back to work. Move on. They’ve been trained. The box has been ticked.

Sustaining the learning after an event, be it online or classroom, presents a real opportunity for us in L&D. All too often, in my experience, after people complete a learning event they go back to work and it’s business as usual. Surely we can do more to sustain what has been delivered and bring about some meaningful change? If we just do things once in a course, it will be forgotten if the information is not reinforced.

Last year, I read some interesting blog posts by Craig Taylor who implemented a campaign approach to compliance training in an organisation he worked for. I thought this was a wonderful idea so I floated doing something similar with our compliance program to our risk and compliance officer. It hasn’t been done before in my organisation and the good news is that I’m getting support from others and things are building (I’ll write a dedicated post about it in the next month or so).

Using social tools and creating opportunities for networking and sharing knowledge are other powerful ways that can sustain learning over the longer term. Maybe if we did this, we wouldn’t need so many courses?

How do you motivate your people towards learning and sustain it afterwards in your organisation?

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From Virtual to Physical Connections

On Wednesday the 4th of December 2013, the first Newcastle Meetup group of learning professionals took place in a local pub. It was a new experience for me because, as someone down the introvert end of the scale, I’m usually an attendee at gatherings or events but on that night I was the organiser. Even now a few days after, I remember sitting in the pub with nervous anticipation before the others arrived thinking, will they come? I hope they come, what if they don’t? It felt a bit like going on a blind date.

The group I’m talking about is called Third Place which was founded by Helen Blunden in Melbourne. Earlier this year Helen travelled to England where she met some UK members of her Personal Learning Network (PLN). This gave her the idea to start a face-to-face meet up group in the area where she lives and works.

The group is called Third Place because:

“There is much to learn from your peers – but why connect only online through social media when you can also meet in person and have a true exchange of ideas and conversations?

The Third Place is our own social space separate for our work and our home.

It is where we get together to chat and foster new connections, new networks and interactions in a social and informal setting in cafes, libraries, bars, pubs and restaurants.

It’s a chance to meet each other face-to-face after connecting online through social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yammer or others and to bring your personal learning networks to life.”

I thought this was a wonderful idea and as I live outside a capital city I figured would be a great way to forge some new local connections as well as an opportunity to meet some of my local PLN. That’s when I thought that if Third Place is going to happen here in Newy, I must do something. Helen set me up as an organiser and shortly after our first Newcastle event was arranged.

I haven’t had the privilege of meeting Helen in person (well, not yet anyway!) we met and interact mostly via twitter. Even though the distance between Melbourne and Newcastle is over 1,000km it goes to show that distance isn’t a barrier how powerful social media can be in bringing people together.

Melb to New

Anyway, thankfully some people came to the Meetup! There were three of us, Kerry an Organisational Development Manager who works for a health insurance company (and who I’ve known personally for some time), Brendon who works in the finance industry in Learning and Development and me. I’ve only known Brendon via twitter so for me it was great to finally meet him in person. Our experience on the night was similar to the Melbourne meetups, we talked about our backgrounds, our workplaces and experiences, how we started using twitter to connect with other learning people, MOOC’s, e-learning authoring tools and plenty of general stuff too. It turns out that Brendon’s wife and Kerry know each other as they work for the same organisation! The time just flew by as we chatted and it was just as I’d hoped it would be – sharing and learning about each other.

When you meet someone in person it really does add a depth that you just don’t get from a virtual relationship. While you do have a sense of knowing someone through your interactions with them on social media, in person you get to see what someone is really like beyond their virtual persona and connect with them in a more meaningful way. As someone who works in the learning field I have an enthusiasm and need for my own learning, development and growth. A PLN is a practical way to satisfy this need as well as becoming part of a much larger – and I’m talking global – network of learning professionals. I look forward to meeting more of my PLN in the future especially those from overseas!

To find out more about Third Place click here. Feel free to sign up and if you are in or near Melbourne or Newcastle keep an eye out for upcoming events.

Our next Newcastle event is pencilled in for after work on Friday, January 17th 2014. Details to follow soon. It would be great if you could come and we can continue to expand the group!

Do you have something like Third Place where you live?

Third Place

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in Personal Learning Network

 

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Becoming an eLearning Professional

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Christopher Pappas via e-mail and he asked if I would be interested in contributing to an eBook he was putting together. I’ve been fortunate that Christopher’s eLearning Industry website has published a few articles that I’ve submitted over the past few months. At the time I didn’t know who else had been asked to contribute but I was thrilled that he asked me and of course I said yes!

I’d never been asked to do anything like this before so I put some time into thinking about the question, which was:

What are the most effective uses/tips to become an eLearning pro?

My tips are based on my experiences and what I’ve learned during my career to date as well as advice that I’ve been given that has served me well. I was also really pleased to see another Aussie, Ryan Tracey the E-Learning Provocateur giving some great advice in his post. In fact, all of the contributors have something to offer and while I didn’t know all of them there were several who I look up too and it was an honour to be included in this eBook with them.

I realise I still have lots more to learn but it’s good to know that through my blog and being involved with projects like this, I can share what I know, learn from others in the field and also assist new designers who are keen to improve their own practice.

To find out what I submitted, click on the image below which will take you to the eBook:

How to Become an eLearning Pro

Here are the links to my other posts published on the eLearning Industry website:

5 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in eLearning

15 Tips to Improve Learners’ Motivation for eLearning Courses

20 Resources for New eLearning Professionals

25 Tips for Successful Online Course Facilitation

I hope you find some value in the eBook and the posts.

I’d also like to thank Christopher for asking me to participate in the eBook and for publishing my posts, I appreciate the support.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Resources

 

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Exploring Personal Learning Networks: O Week

Earlier this week, the Exploring Personal Learning Networks open online seminar that I’ve enrolled in began. This will be my second MOOC experience and I’m looking forward to growing my PLN and strengthening relationships with other members of my network who are also participating. I wrote a post a few weeks ago where I started to think generally about PLN’s. I’m sure this seminar will provide an opportunity for me to connect, explore, think, reflect, and engage with others about this interesting and emerging area.

One of the things to do this week was to try something new. For me it was using Google+ which something quite new to me – hangouts, circles, posting to different sections. While a little frustrating at times, I’m finding that Google+ is pretty cool and I’m getting used to it with a little help from my friends.

It’s been terrific to start making connections with other participants by reading their backgrounds and getting to know them a little bit. In some posts that I’ve read, people have created a visual for their PLN. My version looks like this:

My PLN

There’s me at the centre of the network. I’ve put the Twitter and WordPress logos next as they have been the main two tools that have connected me to others in what I now know is my PLN. The surrounding circles represent different levels of contact and interaction between me and other people. The closer they are to the centre, the stronger the connection. The network itself isn’t fixed, people move in and out, some stay close for a long time and others for a shorter period. In a way it reflects relationships we have in our everyday lives. Each person within my PLN would probably have their own diagram similar to above which increases the interconnectedness between everyone. The thing about PLN’s is that some people might be aware they are part of your network and other my not even know. After all, you don’t send out a welcome pack and issue membership cards!

The rapid expansion of my PLN has come via the use of twitter. About a year ago, I started using twitter as an experiment to see how it works. At the time, I followed Cathy Moore and Ryan Tracey as I knew they were in the learning field and I was a reader of their blogs (I also followed friends and a few celebrity types). Back then I was an infrequent user. It pretty much stayed that way for a long time and then I found a few more learning practitioners and I started looking at articles and retweets they posted which led to discovering more people. I noticed some people were quite active and others not so much. It was the links from one to another that have led to the growth of my PLN. I’ve since ditched the celebrities and I’d say that about 95% of the people I follow on twitter working in the learning and related fields. I’m learning much more via informal channels now. On the downside, the larger your PLN the more information is coming through and as a result, I’m sure I miss stuff coming through but that’s ok because chances someone else may pick up on it and share again.

One of the themes that we’ll be working towards during the next few weeks is the use of PLN’s in an organisational context. At this early stage, I’m a little uncomfortable with this. I think this is because for me, my PLN is separate from my organisation and I’m in control of it. My organisation, still benefits from what I’m learning but its informal and I engage with my network in my own time. My concern is that if organisations become involved things could change and I’ll lose that level of control and it won’t be the same – my world’s could collide! (maybe watch the clip if you don’t know what happens when world’s collide).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this learning experience and where it takes us.

learn-network-op1-crop

 
 

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Thoughts on Personal Learning Networks

I started developing a personal learning network (PLN) before I knew it was called a PLN. As someone who wanted to learn more about instructional design, I started reading books and then commenting on blogs and then started following others in the L&D space on twitter. One thing lead to another and I find my PLN keeps growing! In my last blog post I shared a lot of people who I would classify as being part of my personal learning network (PLN). The list isn’t exhaustive but everyone on it has contributed in some way to my development and helped me learn more.

Originally I thought a PLN was a new  term for a Community of Practice (CoP) but a blog post by Lisa Chamberlin has helped to clarify the difference between the terms for me.

Jeff Merrell put a great blog post together that provides resources for more info into PLNs. I’ve also enrolled in Jeff’s online seminar called Exploring PLNs: Practical Issues for Organisations on the 7th of October. It will explore the question “How might it be possible for organizations and individuals alike to benefit if individuals develop personal learning networks within and outside the enterprise–namely, their employers?”  Sounds really interesting and it will also be a way help grow my own PLN via interaction with other partcipants.

What makes a PLN?

Personal: It means something to you. You choose who is part of it. You choose your level of participation and involvement.

Learning: Some form of learning takes place. It could be via a sharing information or in response to a question or from an alternate point of view or from a discussion or from working towards a common goal/interest. You could even provide the learning for someone else.

Network: A group of interconnected people spread out all over the world. Having this kind of network is much different to ‘networking’ and I think it’s because of the personal nature of it. Networking tends to have connotations of connecting with people because you might want to do business with them in the future. PLNs are more about learning and sharing.

I’ve blogged before about self-determination theory and motivation. Here’s how I think  PLN’s satisfy our basic psychological needs:

Autonomy: I can engage with anyone as much as I want, whenever I want. You choose who to surround yourself with. It’s your network to create.

Competence: your PLN can develop your competence by being involved with them, by learning from the experience others or from providing feedback to you if you put something out there.

Relatedness: you are interacting and connecting with people from all over the world who work in the same industry/area as you.

Maybe that’s why PLNs help contribute towards our motivation for learning?

It’s also possible that you may not have met ‘members’ of your PLN in person. I read a recent blog post by Helen Blunden who was able to meet people in her PLN. That’s something I’d like to do over time. So far, I’ve been able to meet a couple (Ryan and Con) and it was really cool to chat with them and get to know them a little on a personal level.

A great benefit of a PLN is that it makes you feel part of something and this quote sums it up nicely:

untitledWhat do you think about Personal Learning Networks?

Image quote by Kathy Kaldenburg

 
11 Comments

Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Personal Learning Network

 

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Shout-out to my Personal Learning Network

When I started working as an Instructional Designer a few years ago, I didn’t have much ID experience. In fact, I didn’t even realise that it was a career path! I’d been working as a classroom trainer up until that point and enjoying it but I wanted a change. Since becoming and ID I’ve had the opportunity to design for eLearning and classroom environments. Apart from a 2-day workshop, much of what I’ve learned along the way has come from my own experiences and from the experiences of others. From early on in my career I have wanted know more about instructional design and how to design to improve performance – two things that still drive me today.

A few weeks ago I posted a list of what I called 20 Resources for New eLearning Professionals on the eLearning Industry website. It was my way of both acknowledging and sharing with others who are maybe in a similar place as I was and are looking for sources of practical and thought-provoking ideas in the fields of learning and design. I limited it to 20 just to keep it concise but now that it’s on my blog I thought I’d expand on it a bit. It would be great if you could add a couple in the comments area too. In just a couple of years, I have come across many of great practitioners in the learning field from trainers to instructional designers to those who specialise in a particular area and those who are more generalist L&D/OD in what they talk about. The one thing they have is common is a passion for what they do.

My personal learning network has grown steadily and continues to grow and I wanted to share with you a few of the people who have had an impact on me in some way. The following people and resources provide excellent, relevant and useful information on a variety of e-learning areas and most also provide a means for you to connect with the other learning professionals, helping you to grow your own personal learning network (more about PLN’s in my next post).

Books icon

Books

When I first started looking for information on instructional design, I started with books. Even in this digital age, I still love reading an actual book. A colleague recommended Ruth Colvin Clark and as such I’ve read several of her books. I find her books provide a straightforward, evidence-based approach and I’ve learned a lot from them. All these books are terrific resources as they provide in-depth coverage that is easy to read and apply to your professional and personal life.

  1. Efficiency in Learning by Ruth Clark, Frank Nguyen and John Sweller
  2. Developing Technical Training by Ruth Colvin Clark
  3. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction by Karl Kapp
  4. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte
  5. Graphics for Learning by Ruth Colvin Clark and Chopeta Lyons
  6. Telling Ain’t Training by Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps
  7. Evidence-based Training Methods by Ruth Colvin Clark
  8. Cognitive Load Theory edited by Jan L. Plass, Roxana Moreno and Roland Brunken
  9. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  10. Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential by Carol Dweck
  11. Out of Our Minds: Learning to be creative by Ken Robinson

(I’ve also got Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They can Change the World by Jane McGonigal and Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging e-learning with PowerPoint by Jane Bozarth on order).

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Blogs

I didn’t start reading blogs until I started my own blog earlier this year. I figured that the best way to learn about writing a blog is to start by looking at how others do it. What I discovered was a wonderful source of information, opinions and reflections (even writing styles) on a variety of areas within the learning field. I find blogs to be a great way to not only learn about what’s happening in the learning profession but to get some alternative viewpoints that may challenge your own ideas. I’ve listed a few that I read below and there are some more under the ‘Blogs I follow’ label to the right of the screen. Regardless of whose blog you read, if you find a post that interests you, chances are it will be interesting to someone else so why not share it by clicking on one or more of the share options at the end of the post.

  1. Ryan Tracey: Ryan is an Australian E-Learning manager, blogger, writer, advisor & reviewer who writes about a variety of learning topics –  http://ryan2point0.wordpress.com/ (also on twitter @ryantracey)
  2. Cathy Moore: Cathy is on a mission to save the world from boring corporate elearning. Creator of the action mapping ID process and the Elearning Blueprint –  http://blog.cathy-moore.com/ (also on twitter @CatMoore)
  3. Connie Malamed: Connie writes as The elearning Coach and provides tips and reviews for success with online and mobile learning – http://theelearningcoach.com/about/ (also on twitter @elearningcoach)
  4. Will Thalheimer: Will writes a research based commentary on learning, performance and the industry thereof – http://www.willatworklearning.com/ (also on twitter @WillWorkLearn)
  5. Clark Quinn: Clark is a learning experience architect & strategist taking it to the ‘next level’ via a deep cognitive and broad technology background – http://blog.learnlets.com/ (also on twitter @Quinnovator)
  6. Jane Hart: Jane is the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT). She is an independent advisor, writer and speaker – http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/blog/ (also on twitter @C4LPT)
  7. Allison Rossett: Alison has taught in EDTEC at SDSU for 30+ years, writing books, running projects, working with students and clients – http://www.allisonrossett.com/ (also on twitter @arossett)
  8. Craig Weiss: Craig writes the E-Learning 24/7 blog and has been identified as a thought leader and expert – http://elearninfo247.com/ (also on twitter @diegoinstudio)

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Websites

The following websites have a huge range of learning articles, case studies, opinions, research, best practice and resources that may help you with your next e-learning project:

  1. eLearning Industry: http://elearningindustry.com/ (also on twitter @elearnindustry)
  2. The eLearning Guildhttp://www.elearningguild.com/ (also on twitter @eLearningGuild)
  3. Learning Solutions Magazine: http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/ (also on twitter @learningsolmag)
  4. eLearning Learning: http://www.elearninglearning.com/ (also on twitter @trainmagnetwork)
  5. eLearning Brothers: provide a great range of templates and resources for Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and Lectora http://elearningbrothers.com/
  6. Instructional Design Org: Good place for new e-learning professionals that contains information on learning theories, design models and terminology  http://www.instructionaldesign.org/
  7. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication that aims to promote scholarship in the use of the Internet and web-based multimedia resources in higher education – http://jolt.merlot.org/

Twitter icon

Twitter

Twitter is a tool that I didn’t use much at all until recently. I’ve found it to be a great way to connect with other eLearning professionals. As well as the one’s already mentioned here’s a few more people that I follow: @lrnchat – a weekly twitter chat covering a variety of interesting learning related topics. I’ve connected with a lot of learning people via lrnchat. @chat2lrn is another good weekly chat too. Learning and Development professionals from around the world (many of them write blogs too):

  • Helen Blunden @ActivateLearn
  • Costas @LearnKotch
  • Christopher Pappas @cpappas
  • Jane Bozarth @JaneBozarth  (Jane writes some great articles on the Learning Solutions Mag website too)
  • Charles Jennings @charlesjennings and @702010Forum
  • Tracy L. Bissett @TLBissett
  • Craig Taylor @CraigTaylor74
  • Mark Britz @britz
  • Kevin Thorn @LearnNuggets
  • Tracy Parish @Tracy_Parish
  • Tom Spiglanin @tomspiglanin
  • Bianca Woods @eGeeking
  • Mayra Aixa Villar @MayraAixaVillar
  • David Kelly @LnDDave
  • Lesley Price @lesleyprice
  • Colin Steed @ColinSteed
  • Nancy Duarte @nancyduarte

I’m using Articulate Storyline at work, so here are some Articulate people that I follow:

  • Tom Kuhlmann @tomkuhlmann – Tom writes the Rapid Elearning Blog where he shares great practical tips & tricks for building elearning courses.
  • Articulate @Articulate
  • David Anderson @elearning
  • Nicole Legault @nicole_legault
  • Christine Hendrickson @CHendrickson82

If you’re interested in gamification (as I am) check out these people:

  • Karl Kapp @kkapp
  • Jane McGonigal @avantgame
  • Alicia Sanchez @gamesczar
  • Amy Jo Kim @amyjokim
  • Scott Nicholson @snicholson
  • Gabe Zichermann @GabeZicherman
  • The Knowledge Guru @thekguru
  • Gamification Co @gamificationco

I realise that there’s a lot of names listed in this post but I believe they are worth checking out if you want to learn more about eLearning, instructional design, performance improvement and the role of L&D. Maybe not all at once but when or if you need to. They have helped me along the way and might help you too. It would be great if you could add a couple of (or more) resources that you have in the comments area below and also share this post. That way we can create a living blog post that will reach a wide audience.

Finally, a huge THANK-YOU to everyone who has and continues to help me, challenge me, inspire me and share their knowledge; it’s very much appreciated.

 

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