4 Tips for Connecting with Learners Kinesthetically in eLearning

4 Tips for Connecting with Kinesthetic Learners in eLearning

I’m wrapping up this series on different sources of learning by offering tips for connecting with learners using kinesthetic elements. Kinesthetic learning may be the most difficult way to serve learners via eLearning. Those who enjoy kinesthetic learning enjoy being physically engaged, and prefer hands-on projects, labs, and fieldwork. They may dislike sitting still for long periods of time and need frequent breaks to move around. All of these preferences create a challenge for instructional designers, but with creativity, you can mold your course to engage your learners in this way.

Passive versus Active learning

  • Don’t Show Me, Let Me Do It– Subjecting your learners to endless audio, videos, or Flash may not always be the best way to engage them in the lesson. In fact, it may be the quickest way to lose your learners’ interest. Some learners may prefer to interact with the material rather than passively watch or listen. For these learners it’s a good idea to employ scenarios, drag and drops, and interactive flow charts to engage their interest and give them opportunities to practice the skills.

Allow for Breaks

  • Break it Down– Some learners like to understand the “big picture” before focusing on the details, so crowding the page with information is a sure way to lose their attention. To keep learners interested, break information down into easily digestible sections. Don’t overload the page with text or graphics. Breaking the information down into short sections will also give learners the opportunity to take frequent breaks, allowing them to recharge and renew their focus.
  • Can I Have That To Go?– If your learners enjoy movement, you might consider using mLearning for your content. Delivering a course via mobile device means that your learners can study away from their desks, on the go, or even at the gym. With today’s increasingly busy schedules, many of your learners will appreciate the flexibility of mLearning’s portable format.

Think outside the screen

  • Think Outside the Screen– Just because an eLearning course is on a computer doesn’t mean the course has to fit within the screen. Consider incorporating pen and paper activities or assignments that involve using the learner’s surrounding environment. This is easier in ILT, but it can be done in WBT. For example, learners taking a food safety class could investigate their own kitchens for possible hazards and report back, offering real-world skill application and a hands-on activity.

 

Do you have any tips for engaging learners kinesthetically?

6 Tips for Using Visuals to Connect with your Learners in Online Courses

 

Human eye.

Learners sometimes remember what they see better than what they hear. Some learners tend to prefer reading, writing, and art to listening to lectures or music. Fortunately, eLearning is by its nature a highly visual medium. The key is maximizing your tools to create a truly effective and engaging eLearning experience.

 

  • Use Metaphoric Visuals– Using graphics may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to use “filler” images, rather than meaningful ones that augment the material. Think about visually representing concepts. For instance, you might show the parts of an essay as the various cars of a train, having the learner click on each train car for additional information. Metaphoric images like this can stick in the learners’ mind, making it easier for them to recall the concepts later.

 

  • Use Concrete Visuals– Or you might use images that directly depict the subject matter, such as showing a form and highlighting the key points as you move through it. If you can use images to forge an emotional connection with your learners, it is even better. Images that make learners laugh, feel sympathy, or stimulate their curiosity will make your course more engaging and memorable.

Using Visuals to Connect with Learners

 

  • Break Up the Text– You can also use pictures to break up text-heavy pages, which can strain the eye. Inserting images throughout can give the eyes a rest, and allow the brain to connect the images with the text. Isolate the key information on the page and use images to direct the learners’ attention to that information.

 

  • Quality is Key– Don’t use generic photos, unimaginative graphics, or poor quality images. Use images that show real people, places, or things, and that connect the learners’ prior knowledge to the new information. Make sure the images are appropriately sized and laid out in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

 

  • Think Visually– It’s easy to fall prey to the dreaded bulleted list for page after page, especially if you’re a linear thinker. Instead, try to imagine the information visually. Can you make those bullet points a chart, mind map, timeline, flow chart, or graph?

 

  • Use Videos– Videos can be a great tool, especially for showing “how-to.” Many people enjoy watching others to learn a new skill. YouTube has plenty of tutorials where you can learn everything from knitting to bricklaying, attesting to the popularity of visual learning. If your budget allows, creating your own videos can be a great way to take your course to the next level.

 

  • 508 Requirements-Just keep in mind that as with all visual elements for courses that require access for people with disabilities that there are special steps required to make sure that images and videos can be properly accessed by the various screen reading technologies. More on this topic in a later blog.

 

Do you have any tips for using visuals to connect with your learners?

Tips for Using Animation in eLearning Courses

Life Science Demo Animation

Adding animation to your eLearning courses is an excellent way to emotionally connect with learners, break down difficult concepts, and enhance the learning experience. In this post I’ll review the benefits of using animation and offer tips for creating effective animations.

 

 

Why Use Animations?

Movement and Mood– Animations give your course personality and movement. Our eyes are naturally drawn to motion, and animation offers more visual interest than a static screen. You can also use animation to set the course’s mood. Do you want learners to feel relaxed or alert? Is this course going to be light-hearted or serious? The animation you use in your introductions can impact your learners’ mindset as they approach the material.

 

Information Accessibility– Animation is also a great tool for breaking down difficult concepts or multistep processes. For example, some courses use whiteboard animation, which is a popular and engaging method of depicting complex information as hand drawings on a whiteboard in sync with audio. Showing difficult concepts as bite-sized animated chunks makes them more accessible to learners and easier to retain. You can also animate static graphics like charts and graphs, making them more engaging. Further, animation gives learners the ability to learn at their own pace. They can replay the animations as many times as they need or even slow the animation down, making the information incredibly accessible.

 

Social Context– Lastly, animation can create social context for solo learners. Most learners are accustomed to instructor-led classroom or seminar settings, which include social interactions with peers and instructors. Including a social aspect in your eLearning course can boost learner motivation and interest. You can create animated characters that act as expert instructors, peer instructors, or co-learners, simulating a classroom experience.

Dos and Don’ts

While animation can be a great tool, when used incorrectly it can demotivate or even annoy learners. Here are a few tips to keep in mind so learners get the greatest benefit from your animations.

  • DO offer a mute or skip button: Give learners the opportunity to mute animations or skip introductions, especially if every section begins with the same animation sequence. Respect your learners and give them control over their eLearning experience.
  • DO use a well-written script and high quality audio recordings: Poor quality dialogue or audio that is too loud, busy, or poorly recorded will not engage learners.
  • DON’T use animation that’s inappropriate for the audience: Remember your learners are adults. Animation, while it can be funny, cute, or entertaining, should always suit the audience, subject matter, and mood of the course. Avoid anything juvenile or inappropriate.
  • DON’T use “filler” animation: Animation should always connect with and/or augment the material. Don’t use animation to fill space or add it just for entertainment’s sake. When in doubt ask yourself, “Is this relevant to the content?”

In a later blog, I’ll discuss how to ensure that learners with disabilities have an equivalent experience (section 508 compliance) when animated elements are presented in a course.

Check out our Life Sciences animated Demo by clicking this link.

How have you used animation in your learning development?

 

 

5 Things Crossfit Can Teach Us About eLearning

crossfit and elearning

Crossfit is hot. It started out as a training program in a garage and has turned into a Reebok-backed fitness phenomenon with over 10,000 affiliates worldwide.

 

Crossfit is, according to the official definition, “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” Basically it makes you eat awesome for breakfast and gives you the body of a superhero.

 

What’s Crossfit got to do with eLearning, you say?

 

Everything.

 

Crossfit is effective and engaging, everything you want your eLearning courses to be. Let’s take a look at what makes Crossfit so successful and how you can incorporate those elements into your eLearning.

 

1) Constantly Varied

Each day when you go to your gym you’ll see a workout that’s totally different from the one before. You might be rowing, rolling an enormous tire across the parking lot, or scaling a fifteen-foot rope to the ceiling. Your body (and your brain) never knows what to expect, and that keeps things interesting.

 

The same is true for eLearning. Don’t subject your learners to slide after slide of bullet points and dry narration. Find ways to present the information creatively. Appeal to your learners’ emotions with a compelling narrative. Or allow them to explore branching scenarios that show the consequences of their actions. Use interesting visuals, videos, and audio to keep your learners’ attention.

The human brain responds to novelty. Keep your eLearning interesting and varied.

 

2) Functional

The idea behind Crossfit is to make your body better at functioning in real life. This is why Crossfit has such a huge following among firefighters, law enforcement, elite martial artists, and military members, but it’s also attracted huge numbers of stay-at-home moms, retirees, and desk jockeys of all varieties.

 

Got to carry eight bags of groceries up eleven stories because your apartment elevator is out of order? No problem. Sprinting to catch the metro? Crossfit has you covered. The exercises you do in Crossfit will prepare your body for the challenges life throws at it.

 

Take this attitude and apply it to eLearning. Avoid data overload and stick only to information that will impact your learners’ functioning. What do they need to know in order to do their jobs? Any “extra” information should be provided as additional “Resources”.

 

Also, you want your course to provide opportunities for learners to practice the skills you’re teaching, which means engaging and relevant interactions. This will make sure your learners are exercising the mental “muscle memory” needed to perform the desired task.

 

3) High Intensity

In many Crossfit workouts you’re racing the clock. (How many pushups can you crank out in ten minutes?) Or you’re going for a one rep max. (How much can you deadlift?)

 

Use this same approach in eLearning. Have your learners race the clock to answer questions. Or put them under pressure in a simulation where they have to make quick decisions, just like in real life. Anything that gets adrenaline flowing will make your course much more engaging.

 

4) Competition

Humans are competitive animals, and we like to win. That winning euphoria is addictive, and keeps Crossfitters coming back to the sport. In Crossfit it’s all about beating the clock, beating your own personal record, or mastering a skill you never thought you could do. The high achievers want a spot on the coveted Leaderboard, which shows the top male and female scores.

 

You can infuse your eLearning with competition by using gamification principles. In gamification, you use techniques employed by video games such as experience points, leaderboards, and badges to raise the stakes and boost enthusiasm and competition.

 

5) Feedback

One of the best things about Crossfit is you’re joining a gigantic, knowledgeable, and supportive community. Your coaches and fellow athletes will correct your form, share strategies and tips, and cheer you on.

 

This kind of high quality feedback is important in eLearning. Make sure you’re giving consistent and helpful feedback throughout the course. You can also use branching scenarios to show learners the real-life consequences of their decisions. Lastly, consider using social media or message boards to create a collaborative community of learners who can work together to solve problems, complete activities, and share feedback with one another.

 

Put these elements in place and see your eLearning reach new levels of effectiveness.

Behavior Modification Through E-Learning: Avoid the Info Dump

No dumping sign and blue sky with copy space.

It’s no secret: Instructional Designers love information. We live in the Age of Information. Clients come to us with massive files of information. And it’s our job to turn that information into a course, right?

Wrong.

Our job as an instructional designer is to solve the problem.

 

Oh, the Problems

The clients who come to us have a problem.

(Sales are down! Form 9.5 hasn’t been filled out correctly! Sales reps need better phone manners!)

They need their problem solved. The best way to solve their organization’s problem is to better educate their employees. So they come to us with memos, technical manuals, and Powerpoints and ask us to turn it all into a course.

 

But there’s a problem with this. Dumping a huge amount of information onto learners isn’t an effective way to modify their behavior.

For example, let’s say Steven, a store manager, has a problem: customers routinely come to him complaining about unpleasant or unhelpful store employees. He realizes his employees need more training in customer service.

So in order to solve the problem Steven sits his employees down and delivers a lecture on the importance of treating customers with respect.

This strategy wouldn’t get his employees to change their behavior markedly because it doesn’t teach them HOW to treat customers.

If Steven wanted to effectively teach his employees how to handle customers he would:

  • Demonstrate the behavior and
  • Give them opportunities to practice the behavior

 

Research shows we can only hold information in our short-term memory for about 20 minutes. Have you ever had a client tell you their email address, and you think, “I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it,” only to get to your computer and find that you can’t remember if it ended in .com or .org? You’ve forgotten because that information wasn’t committed to your long-term memory.

What this means is if your learners don’t move the information into their long-term memory within those 20 minutes, that information is lost.

So dumping huge amounts of information on learners isn’t going to change their behavior because they can’t possibly retain it long enough to move it into long-term memory.

Business woman in stress

Ok, So What Do I Do?

We need to pare down the information, which means approaching course development with the end goal in mind. Think of this as having three steps:

1) Ask the client, “What do we want the employees to be able to do?”

2) Then determine with the client what activities will allow the employees to practice the desired behavior.

3) Finally, isolate the key information that the employees need to perform the required behavior.

 

For instance, Big-Box-Mart, the mega-retailer, is worried about potential data breaches caused by employee negligence. So it asks you to develop a course that instructs its employees on the history and legal ramifications of data breaches from the beginning of time.

“Hold on a moment, Big-Box-Mart,” you say. “What’s the end goal of this course? What do you want your employees to be able to do?”

Big-Box-Mart says; “To not compromise our customers’ and company’s privacy by causing a data breach.”

Now you work with Big-Box-Mart to decide what kinds of activities will give employees real-world experience navigating situations where they could potentially cause a data breach. These activities might include scenarios, case studies, hands-on demos, or learning games.

Lastly, have Big-Box-Mart select only the information that’s crucial to performing the desired behavior.

Remember

Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it meaningful.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Using Scenarios in eLearning

a handsome asian male call centre executive of indian origin

Sean is a Customer Support Specialist at Rapid Internet. He answers the phone to a customer who has been sitting on hold for over forty-five minutes. The customer is very unhappy. What should Sean say?

 

Scenarios like this are a great way for learners to practice and apply a course’s content in real-life situations. You could use this question as a starting point for a branching scenario, where each option opens up another series of choices, allowing learners to see the consequences of Sean’s actions.

 

Scenarios give learners the chance for trial and error in a low risk environment, allowing them to learn from their mistakes. They also offer an opportunity for you to assess the learner’s understanding without resorting to standard quizzes.

 

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you design scenarios for your eLearning courses.

 

Businessman Choosing

A Good Scenario Is…

 

 

  • A Story: At its heart a scenario is a story, which means it needs characters, setting, conflict, and plot. Spend some time outlining these elements before your start designing, to ensure you have a story that makes sense, appeals to learners, and has all of the necessary elements.

 

  • Sure of Itself: Your scenario needs a clear goal. That is, it must relate to the overall course objectives. Make sure your scenario clearly reflects the intended learning outcomes and models the problem-solving process your learners will have to use in real life. It should also build off of the skills your learners already have and reflect their level of expertise.

 

  • Realistic: Your learners won’t “buy in” to the scenario if it’s unrealistic or not relatable. Take some time to research your intended audience. Craft characters and situations that reflect your learners’ lives and work culture. Use industry-specific images and avatars to tailor the course to the audience.

 

  • Engaging: Your scenario should appeal to your learners’ emotions. Make them laugh or feel sympathetic. Use videos with actors or avatars to show, rather than tell, your story. Your scenario should be detailed, complex, and interesting. You need to keep your learners’ attention and make them care about your characters.

 

  • Straightforward: However, don’t get carried away with unnecessary details. Your learners don’t need to know the characters’ backstories, for instance. Stick to the information that learners need to make informed decisions. Lastly, make sure the information and events are presented in a logical order.

 

Do you have any tips for writing scenarios? Share in the comments below!

 

 

Where Are We Going? Determining Course Objectives

Determining Course Objectives

When you sit down to design a course you need a clear set of goals or objectives. Think of these objectives as your course’s roadmap. You wouldn’t set off on a road trip without map or GPS to guide the way. When your learners sit down at a course they expect a clear map of where they’re going, what they’re going to learn, and how they’ll know they’ve learned it.

An objective has three parts:

  • Performance
  • Conditions
  • Criterion

 

Performance is the behavior you expect the learner to perform. The behavior should be measurable and specific. Here are some bad examples.

  • Become familiar with US government regulations for the manufacture of medicines
  • Develop an awareness of uncommon drug side effects

The problem with these objectives is they’re neither measurable nor specific. How will you measure your learners’ familiarity with US government regulations, or their awareness of common drug side effects? You can’t. Plus, these are broad topics covering a tremendous scope of information. It’s far better to narrow your focus to a specific topic and objective. Here are some better examples.

  • Explain the FDA’s 21 Code of Federal Regulations Part 210
  • Identify nine uncommon side effects of Sertraline

These are better because they pinpoint specific behaviors. Notice the action verbs “explain” and “identify.” They’re much stronger and more specific than “become familiar” or “develop.” Explaining a specific code or identifying specific side effects is an observable, measurable behavior.

Conditions are the circumstances in which the learner will perform the behavior. There is a big difference between, “The learner will identify nine uncommon side effects of Sertraline from memory,” and “The learner will identify nine uncommon side effects of Sertraline using the AHFS DI from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.”

Will your learners be using study aides or working from memory? Will they be performing the behavior alone or in front of an audience? The more specific your conditions, the better your learners will understand what’s expected of them.

Criterion is a description of what constitutes an acceptable performance. This is the evaluation portion where you explain how learners will know they’ve mastered the skill. Criterion involves either speed or accuracy.  

Speed indicates a time limit. For example:

  • Explain the FDA’s 21 Code of Federal Regulations Part 210 in less than 10 minutes

Accuracy describes the range of acceptable performance. For example:

  • Correctly identify 8 out of 9 uncommon side effects of Sertraline

 

When you combine performance, conditions, and criterion, you get a clear course objective that:

  • Guides activities, instruction materials, and assessments
  • Tells your learners what’s expected of them and what they’ll learn
  • Keeps the course focused on specific skills and goals

Here are our examples with all three parts:

  • Learners will explain before a panel the FDA’s 21 Code of Federal Regulations Part 210 in less than 10 minutes
  • Learners will correctly identify from memory 8 out of 9 uncommon side effects of Sertraline

 

Before we part ways, here are some final tips for writing good course objectives.

  • Focus on the intended outcomes. What do you want your learners to be able to DO?
  • Stick to specific and measurable goals. Use concrete verbs like “solve” or “identify.” Avoid “fuzzy” verbs like “appreciate” or “understand.”
  • Say what the learner will do, not the course or instructor. Rather than, “This course will teach learners how to…” write, “After completing this course learners will be able to…”

Keep these tips in mind and your learners will soon be ready for the open road.

Businessman Using Digital Tablet

What You Need to Know About Using Avatars in eLearning

Sandy Avatar

 

 

 

 

This is an avatar that I have created, named Sandy. She is here to tell you some important information about using avatars in eLearning. Avatars are great for making a dense, content-heavy course more interactive and engaging for learners.

 

 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Use Avatars as Guides: An avatar usually speaks directly to learner, and can act as a helpful guide or instructor throughout the course. You can use an avatar to introduce a topic, offer tips throughout the course, ask quiz questions, and provide feedback.

 

  • Use Avatar Actors: Don’t think you’re stuck with one avatar. You can create multiple avatars for a course and use them to illustrate various scenarios. Also consider using avatars to reinforce key ideas with speech bubbles that reflect the audio. By visually reinforcing the content, you increase the likelihood the learner will retain the information.

 

  • Consider Your Audience: In order to appeal and engage your learners, your avatar should reflect your target audience. For example, an avatar for a corporate training course should look and sound different from an avatar for a 1st grade reading course. In both cases, you want your avatar to be appealing and credible.

 

Keep the avatar’s dialogue conversational to engage the learner. However, because your avatar is a virtual instructor, make sure you avoid slang or inappropriate humor that would undermine your avatar’s credibility.

 

  • Don’t Distract: There’s a line between engaging and distracting. Avoid having your avatar move around the screen excessively, or pop up at inopportune moments. An avatar shouldn’t be distracting or annoying to the learner. Above all, don’t make your avatar the star at the expense of content. The main focus of the course should be the material; the avatar is merely a tool to convey the information.

How do you use avatars in your eLearning?

Online Training or Face-to-Face Training: Which is Better?

Bing. You just got a message in your inbox. Your client needs you to design a course. It’s up to you how to present the material. Should the course be presented online or face-to-face (F2F)?

Google around and you’ll see there’s hot debate about whether online or F2F learning is more effective. While there are certainly pros and cons for each, it’s best to look at the audience, material, and intended outcome to determine whether online or F2F learning will best benefit your learners.

Digital Online Training Mentoring Learning Education Browsing Co

Favorable Factors for Online Learning

Large Audience– Online training is the most cost-effective way to reach a large, geographically dispersed audience, such as the employees of a multi-office corporation. Presenting the course F2F means paying for preparation, multiple instructors, travel expenses, accommodations, etc. For an extremely large audience, the cost per head expenses favor online learning.

Consistent Message– If you want to spread a consistent message through all levels of an organization, online learning is the way to go. Instructors vary, and even a course taught by the same instructor can vary depending on the audience. If you’re trying to establish consistent baseline awareness of policies, procedures, or values throughout an organization, online learning trumps F2F. In addition, it’s easier to monitor individual understanding with online learning. You can see who has completed required trainings and spot any knowledge gaps, ensuring consistent understanding at all levels.

Changing Material– Say the course you’re designing involves a rapidly changing field. If the information in the course frequently needs updating, you’re better off using online learning. It’s time-consuming and expensive to constantly retrain instructors and supply them with updated materials. With online learning you can easily change the material from one central point.

Face-to-face training

Favorable Factors for Face-to-Face Learning

Specialized Audience/Instructor – Courses directed at an expert audience such as specialists or senior managers are best taught F2F. An audience with a high degree of prior knowledge may want to focus on a particular subject. An F2F format easily allows the instructor to tailor the course to the audience’s interests. Additionally, courses taught by specialists should be presented F2F. If the CFO of a major corporation is leading the course, the participants will want to see and meet him/her in person.

Specialized or Confidential Material– Courses with hands-on components need to be taught F2F. True, a chemistry student could watch a video of chemical reaction, but that’s a poor substitute for actual lab experience.

If your training is highly dependent on monitoring social cues and body language, such as a counseling or conflict management course, you should present it F2F. Make sure you give learners the opportunity to apply their new knowledge in classroom activities. Kinesthetic learners will especially appreciate these sorts of exercises, but all learners will benefit from an opportunity to apply what they’re learning through role-playing, discussions, and F2F interactions.

In addition, if the course involves instructor-student confidentiality, it’s best to present it F2F. For example, in a conflict management course, learners may want to ask the instructor’s advice for how to handle a difficult employee or co-worker. In an instructor-led online course, learners can post questions or email the instructor directly, but most people would avoid putting confidential questions into writing. In a F2F situation, the learner can approach the instructor privately.

Networking– While synchronous learning offers learners opportunities to work together on online, you can’t beat F2F courses for networking. Courses that involve bringing people together from different companies or departments to collaborate should be taught F2F to give learners valuable opportunities to pool resources, network, and generally schmooze.

 

To wrap up, online courses are the most cost-effective way of disseminating a consistent message to a broad audience with a limited budget, while F2F courses are best suited to networking, and specialized audiences, instructors, and material. Take a hard look at the audience, material, and intended outcome to decide which method will best serve your learners.