Category: Tools & Technologies

Social Tools
February 19th, 2015 by Arunima Majumdar

Social Tools

As more and more organizations break out of the traditional set up, the number of employees spread out across the globe has increased.  Training new recruits in this scenario has to take into account varying schedules and skyrocketing costs of travelling. Technology comes in handy when reaching out to a large group of learners, spread out geographically. While induction trainings can be created and accessed by learners across the various offices as per their convenience, what most new inductees miss is social interactions and shared knowledge – which is an integral part of learning in the early days.

Social learning is part of the organizational atmosphere – with the aid of technology, it can bring about closer interactions, which can be recorded and further utilized by learners and instructors alike. There are various ways that social learning technology is consumed by modern learners within the organizational structure.  Utilizing them, new recruits can be brought up to speed quicker. In addition to formal training sessions or online induction courses, social learning can help re-enforce the impact of training and most importantly – make the new recruit at ease with his or her role in the organization.

  • Social platforms can help new recruits build connections across the organization. With the help of technology, people who are not directly involved with induction trainings can also be brought-in to inspire or teach the new learners. For instance, senior management can share an inspirational audio or video clip that can be viewed on the LMS – at the beginning or end of the induction course. This proves to be an extra push for learners to perform and show results.
  • Social learning platforms like wikis or blogs can be utilized as a platform of discussing and reflecting on new knowledge or skills gained. New recruits can be assigned topics to write on and then the entries discussed. For larger groups, however, these exercises can prove to be long winded and extensive. For them, a ‘reading list’ can be prepared on the blog or wiki to read up. A discussion can be undertaken on the assigned topic – in the classroom or on the social platform itself through chat or audio-video conferencing.
  • Older employees who have a huge worth of experience in the same area of work can be a part of the social learning circle of the new recruits. They can be encouraged to share their experiences, tips and accomplishments on the social platform. Most modern LMS nowadays have built-in social platforms, making sure that the information shared is safe and secure. Moreover, LMSs also support various formats – word documents, excel sheets, PDF, PPTs and so on. They also have built in media players to play audio or video files. This makes sure that the veteran experts can share the knowledge in a variety of ways – as per their ease within the secure perimeter of the LMS.
  • One of the main concerns for a majority of new recruits is ‘Who is going to answer my queries?’ Even the most accomplished trainers are not able to take in the queries of the entire learner group. Also, within the corporate structure, time spent on induction training is far too less for new recruits to ponder and come up with queries right away. Many queries and doubts come up while the new recruit is taking the first few steps into work and requires a lot of hand-holding at that stage. Social tools like discussion boards can be dedicated to address the queries of new inductees for the first few months. Live chat sessions can be conducted with experts or trainers that the learners can join in for an interactive session to thrash out difficult concepts. Alternatively, a dedicated ID can be created within the LMS to which all queries can be directed. A trainer or a team of experts can be assigned to address these queries within a stipulated time – ensuring that all queries are answered and fruitfully utilized by the learner.

The impact of good induction training is reflected in the quality of work exhibited by the new recruits. With social learning, its impact is heightened and can be sustained for a longer period of time. For more of our experiences with social learning, write to info@gc-solutions.net

arunimam@gc-solutions.net'

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

Posted in Tools & Technologies

video based elearning
September 4th, 2014 by Arunima Majumdar

video-based online learningIt is a well-known and accepted fact that videos improve the effectiveness of online learning. Videos engage the cognitive processes of learners and promote constructivist learning – where the learners make sense of the learning material by creating a coherent mental representation of the same in their minds. The knowledge gained thus stays with the learner for a longer time. The learner is also better equipped to apply it in the sphere of practical work.

There are many ways of creating a video-based learning module. Here are three strategies that have shown exceptionally positive response from our cauldron of online learning experience.

  • Short video-based learning nuggets

One of our clients, a leading training organization, believes that the approach to acquiring good communication skills must include more than assimilation of knowledge. This client’s chosen training medium had always been the classroom environment, which is definitely a strong platform to impart communication skills because it provides opportunities for close social and inter-personal interactions. However, it also has some definite shortcomings – primarily low retention rates and lesser reach.

To overcome these limitations and provide the learners with a continuous learning experience, we created an online/on-demand library of modules that extends and expands learning beyond the walls of the classroom.

    • To create the videos quickly and efficiently, we studied the classroom learning material and extracted the moot points from each module, which will become the base content for online learning course.
    • We then suitably arranged and packaged these points to create visual appeal. With bulleted format and soothing background as well as colored text, the content was easy to read.
    • Keeping in mind the need for quick re-enforcements, each module was kept short – providing relevant tips on presentation and business communication to help the learner retain and apply more.
    •  Graphics were kept to the bare minimum –to make sure that the attention of the learners did not waver. Also, this helped in keeping the videos light, so that they could be accessed on all devices and with varying internet speeds.
    • Audio accompaniment made sure that the learner could choose to just ‘hear’ the module and learn instantly – without the need to look at a screen.
    • Multi-device delivery enabled learners to access the videos through a desktop or a laptop, at home or at the office, and even while travelling through smart-phones and other handhelds. The classroom training was thus re-iterated, enhanced, and re-enforced to create an online learning experience that best benefited the learner.
  • Incorporating real-life images and videos

For another client, a leading automobiles manufacturer, we created a series of video-based online learning courses to imparttraining on the technical processes involved in the manufacture and maintenance of cars. Considering the budgetary constraints and the limited timelines to develop the courses, we created the courses with the help of real-life videos and images.

    • We interacted closely with the client and the SMEs to gain clear understanding of the industry and its working. We extracted the  content for the e-courses directly from the SMEs through verbal dialogs with them and through photographs and video as well as audio recordings.
    • The photographs and videos were also utilized as part of the online learning courses.
    • To keep the videos simple, we shot them at actual locations – like the factory floors – showing the learners the nitty-gritty of the various processes.
    • Audio accompaniment was added later and synched with the videos to make the delivery more impactful.
    • The real-life videos made sure that the learners find an instant connection with the online learning material. It also provided practical know-how on the actual workings of many machines. So, even if the learner was entering the factory floor for the first time, the e-courses made sure that the setting, machines and various processes where familiar. This increased the learners’ confidence – and it boosted productivity.
  • Animated videos

A popular grouse against videos is that they are not easy to create – at least not the ones that have a lasting effect on the learners. You need good actors, appropriate settings, lighting, and so on. It also takes considerable time to shoot and prepare an impactful video. But these problems can be tackled using the new technologies in graphics and animation, and hard-hitting animated videos can be created on a variety of subjects.

video based elearningWe used these technologies to create a whiteboard animation video for a client, a leading serious games company. The subject of the video is ‘how to avoid bribery.’ The video was incorporated as a part of an online learning game. It provided information to the learner to perform better – both in the game as well as in their professional roles. This made the whole learning initiative stronger and increased its scope as well. The learner not only gained experience by playing the game but also learnt something useful.

    • Three distinct chunks of information were delivered through the animation video: a background on anti-bribery law, the offences covered in the law, and the ways in which an organization can protect itself from prosecution under the law.
    • In a bid to forge a connection with the learners, G-Cube created a character called Dave – a young employee, who lacks confidence in the face of new responsibilities and sometimes gets overwhelmed by them. By creating such a character and a scenario, we were able to create a certain amount of empathy in the learners.
    •  The content was infused with humor and light-hearted camaraderie that often exists in working relations between employees. The humor also helped to make the characters real – with real fears and real lives. This provides relief for the learners as well as ‘humanizes’ the characters, so that the learners can further identify with them and thus learn more.
    •  The whiteboard animation helped to explain a serious concept like ‘bribery’ and illustrate the ways of dealing with it. The animated characters make sure that any racial or other biases do not creep, and so the video is suitable for a variety of audiences.

These three examples are only a few of the many ways to build videos into an online learning & training program. The sky is the limit where videos are concerned – even after adhering to budgetary allowances and development timelines. To know more about our experiences of creating video-based training solutions, write to info@gc-solutions.net or fill the form below:

arunimam@gc-solutions.net'

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

workplace-e-learning
March 24th, 2014 by Arunima Majumdar

Workplace-LearningIn the corporate scenario, Knowledge is what equips an employee to do his or her job better. Not only training managers, but employees themselves are fast realizing this and are open to the concept of ‘perennial learning’ in the workplace. There are many learning practices that are prevalent in the modern workplace and each one comes with its associated ‘knowledge behavior’. The most prominent knowledge behaviors within a corporate learning environment are Connect, Consume, Create and Contribute (Source: Collective Learning in the Workplace: By Allison Littlejohn, Colin Milligan and Anoush Margaryan). For a learner-centric approach to corporate training, the behavior that you want to promote should ascertain the learning practice to be adopted. We explore some learning practices to demystify workplace learning, and identify the knowledge behaviors they promote.

  • Classroom or Blended Learning: Providing the opportunity to meet and interact with like-minded peers within and outside the organization, Classroom trainings are quite popular among corporate learners.
    • Classroom trainings provide the opportunity to both consume knowledge and connect with knowledge resources.
    • Instructor and peer interactions are the greatest strength of this type of learning.
    • On the flipside, classroom trainings are time and cost consuming. For a global learning audience, classroom trainings cannot be the only ongoing mode of learning – for all practical purposes.
    • Blended learning models are thus more preferred, where classroom sessions are supplemented with additional material (text, audio or video) both prior and post the learning event.
    • This creates a more impactful delivery of learning, as it provides the opportunity for learners to connect from time to time and provides them ready references to re-enforce learning as per their needs.
  • Self-paced Learning: This type of learning aligns very well with the developing web and knowledge management technologies. Add to that the increasing need for constant learning, technology-aided learning has truly come of age in the corporate scenario.
    • Self-paced learning used to mean reading up on lengthy literature, with little or no opportunity for interaction with the content. E-learning has changed that to great extent by employing learning strategies that engage the learner.
    • Strategies like virtual mentors, scenario-based learning and built-in learner interactions can make e-content come alive for the learners.
    • Adding sensory supplements like infographics, videos and audio-slips to the learning content also makes the content attractive and increases learner retention.
    • There is a prominent shift that is re-defining this type of learning. More and more instances of self-paced learning are learner-led, where a variety of learning content is provided to the learner. The learners decide their own learning path – often requisitioning courses that they perceive as beneficial to their role in the organization. This creates a rich knowledge repository within an organization, which is created as per the needs of the learners. So in addition to connecting with the knowledge, learners can contribute to building knowledge as well. Encouraging this behavior with self-paced learning can increase the impact of learning greatly.
  • Experiential Learning: Experiential learning is the only form of workplace learning that makes all knowledge experiences converge.
    • There different instances of learning through experience in the corporate scenario.  Some employees are trained on certain skills through formal or self-paced learning. This learning event is followed by real work-based projects that involve application of the knowledge gathered.
    •  In addition to consuming knowledge, the live projects give the opportunity to connect with peers as well and make collaborative efforts to hone their skills. Through documenting and archiving the experiences, the knowledge base of future learners can be suitably enhanced. Thus through experiential learning, the learners also contribute and create learning.
    • Live project-based workshops are however an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Logistically too, such an experience is difficult to arrange – especially for a larger number of learners.
    • Employing gaming technology is becoming an increasingly successful way of providing experiential learning in virtual environments for a large learner-base.  These environments present a life-like scenario to the learner, where he or she can learn, apply and practice at the same time. Comparing progress through different built-in levels and scores can bring in the competitive spirit that aids learning to a great extent.
    • With the onset of superior technology, the experience for the learner can be made more life-like. A modern trend is to use motion-sensing technology – of Kinect in Xbox 360, Leap Motion and Tobii, to make learning motion-based. The experience is thus just not on a mental level but impart physical skills for learners as well.
  • Learning through discussions with others: Interactions are at the core of informal learning in the workplace and occur all through the organization.
    • Informal chats and discussions are great ways to learn but to bring it under the umbrella of corporate learning, you have to create suitable platforms for interactions to happen and extract learning out of them.
    • Workshops and conferences are the common old-school ways of bringing a group of learners together to connect, consume, contribute and create learning.
    • Apart from the time and moneys spent on these events, more and more organizations are realizing the need to have such meets on a constant basis to create a sustainable source of knowledge.
    • Virtual discussion boards, communities and chat-rooms are now created with the aim of bringing together experts as well as novice learners.
    • Learners can ask questions pertaining to a specific topic and all responses can be flagged under a single thread. This creates a library of sorts for information on that topic and all further discussions on the topic can feed in to make the library richer.
    • Experts can also pose questions that bring out different responses and views that can then be trashed out to attain a deeper understanding of the topic.
    • Facilitators can keep the community alive by making sure that pertinent topics are discussed and experts as well as learners are active participants in contributing to the knowledge collated.
  • Mentoring and Coaching: A great way to encourage positive interactions that promote organizational learning is through Mentoring and Coaching.
    • This is often the most preferred way to learn for novice learners, who are unsure of their capabilities and seek one-to-one guidance from others.
    • For coaches, it is an opportunity to hone their knowledge and refresh what they know.
    • This way of corporate learning also gives opportunities to connect, consume, create and contribute.
    • The drawback is that in bigger organizations, these connections are difficult to come by as experts cannot take out time from their busy schedules. On the other hand, learners are expected to get rained fast and start showing results. By utilizing technology, e-mentoring is a solution that makes sense for a lot of organizations.
    • Mentors or coaches interact with learners over the organization intranet or the internet. In addition to online chats, offline interactions are also made possible – where learners can send their questions and queries and the mentor can reply within a stipulated time.
    • In addition to imparting practical knowledge, the mentors can also guide the learners to suitable learning content that resides within the organization training structure. This allows the learners to get access to the right content and acquire proper certifications often required for doing a job well.

By combining different learning practices and knowledge sharing behavior within an organization, training and development can be given a desired turn. To know more about successful learning practices in the workplace, write to info@gc-solutions.net

arunimam@gc-solutions.net'

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

Learning Solutions
March 19th, 2014 by Gireesh Sharma

learning culture in the organization One of my recent discussions with a business leader triggered a debate – Is it the individual employee’s responsibility to develop his or her talent? Or is it the organization’s responsibility to nurture the hidden potential of its employees by providing external training, if necessary, to educate them and develop a culture of learning within the organization. This dilemma made me do some serious reading.

Experts’ views

“The most successful businesses don’t recruit leaders, they grow their own,” says Morgan McCall, Professor of Management & Organization at the University of South California. (http://news.usc.edu/#!/article/54098/in-successful-business-great-leaders-nurture-talent-from-the-inside/)

The recent promotion of Satya Nadella as Microsoft CEO is strong evidence in support of McCall view. Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 and, in 20 years, he climbed the corporate ladder to be its CEO.

My fellow blogger Sharlyn Lauby@ HR Bartender points out that for an organization, developing its existing talent costs less than hiring – and it is less risky too. (www.hrbartender.com/2014/recruiting/developing-your-talent-costs-less-than-hiring/)

Matthew Bidwell, an assistant professor at Wharton who focuses on patterns of work and employment, also supports this. He says that managers should know that there is a cost to bringing in talent from the outside and that it pays to nurture and promote from within.

(www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/04/05/why-promoting-from-within-usually-beats-hiring-from-outside/)

Overall, the case for developing internal talent always proves stronger because this carries with itself a priceless element of loyalty.

“Talent is not only critical in today’s knowledge economy, it’s scarce. Many executives say finding and retaining talent is a top priority,” says John Hagel, co-chairman, Center for the Edge, Deloitte LLP.

In this era – where investment capital, machines and infrastructure are available to all –the only differentiator between profitable businesses and others is the quality of people sitting at the helm and those in the rowing bays.  And if we ponder what differentiates one man from the rest of the crowd, it is the quality of thought, the amount of motivation, and the willingness to exceed the limits set by their fellow business leaders.  And the only thing which can create this differentiation is the quality of education one receives and the quality of training one gets.

The Loopholes

Unfortunately, the exponential increase in the rate of development and implementation of new technology, as well as our enhanced business acumen and fierce competition for profit is putting enormous pressure on the sector that provides formal academic education: it is simply unable to meet the requirement of the industry.

“A four-year liberal arts education doesn’t prepare kids for work and it never has,” said Alec R. Levenson, a senior research scientist for the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California. (www.nytimes.com/2013/06/29/your-money/a-quest-to-make-college-graduates-employable.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)

What this is leading to is a war for grabbing experienced and capable talent.  Even as un-employment soars to new heights in the difficult economic situation, the attrition rate at key positions is high; there is immense pressure on top performers in all organizations.

The gurus and subject-matter experts who can train and nurture the new–age workers and leaders are scarce. Even if they are available, not every organization can afford them as well as the infrastructure required for training.

Here technology can come to the rescue–with Learning Management Systems and e-learning that can fill the huge knowledge gap between the required skills and the available skill set.  LMS and e-learning makes trainings cost-effective, affordable, reachable and repeatable.

learning technology And who should be at the helm of knowledge initiatives?

Simply, anyone who benefits directly from it – including the CEO and the top management; that is, the ones who are responsible for leading the business.

Unfortunately, the trend shows that LMS and e-learning are primarily babies of the Learning & Development Manager. When it comes to procurement for and implementation of technology-based learning, all we find across the table are L&D and Training managers struggling hard. Let’s have a look at the profiles of the professionals attending shows about Learning &Development Technologies –the majority comes from L&D &training domains.

What can learning technology do for a CEO?

An LMS can help the leaders to map the brain of their organization. It can tell how much the employees know about their work and what else is needed to fill the knowledge gaps. LMS, combined with the course can repository of knowledge, can be effectively used for talent development. The learning reports can help CEOs to see how the organization accepts and consumes knowledge, and their personal interest in it can fuel the zeal to learn.

If businesses are to succeed, questions about knowledge must be asked in the boardroom. Learning & Development shows must be flocked by key executives, as much as by L&D managers, trainers and gurus.

What else?

One will not be able to nurture the leaders and the workforce of the future merely by having a good LMS loaded with e-learning courses. The next step is to create a culture of learning – where most members of the organization realize that learning is important for their professional growth as well as the growth of the organization.  Their goals should include how much knowledge they gain and upgrade each year.

The development of such a culture can happen only when it flows from the top. When the Board questions the CEO about the knowledge initiatives of the organization, the CEO questions the business heads, and so on and so forth.

Key managers can dig deep into learning tools to find out how much learning has been consumed, how many people have attended classroom training, and whether everyone attempted the assessments.

When questions about knowledge will take the front seat, the organization will be able to leap forward in future.

Want more ideas?

If you want more ideas on how you can improve your department’s performance, feel free to contact us with your questions at info@gc-solutions.net

gireesh.sharma@gmail.com'

Gireesh Sharma

Gireesh is Marketing Manager with G-Cube.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

E-learning Webinars
February 28th, 2014 by Arunima Majumdar

E-learning WebinarsWith advancements in technology, there are increasingly a lot of different modes of delivery of information that can be utilized in e-learning. Added to that, there is a pressing need to deliver technology-enabled learning which the learners can consume, wherever and whenever they want – all within tight budgets. In this scenario, webinars are a powerful medium of learning delivery across varied learner groups – small or large. Easy to access as well as convenient, webinars are an effective mode of learning for professionals who can fit in the short bursts of learning into their schedules.

Though technological advances have made the delivery of webinars possible in real time, there is a lot of human effort that goes into creating and delivering an impactful webinar.

Creating a Virtual Presentation

  • The first step into creating a virtual presentation for a webinar is to create a suitable blueprint, which details the flow that the presentation is going to take. As per the flow, start creating content.
  • Textual content for a virtual presentation should be crisp and to-the-point. Like a classroom presentation, the text should not just mimic what the speaker will eventually say. Keywords and not sentences should be used.
  • But unlike a classroom presentation, where the presenter can talk and explain a slide for at least 2-3 minutes, a virtual presentation has to have a slide movement every 20-40 seconds to keep the audience interested. This can include slide transitions, annotations or section highlights – all relevant to what the learner needs to know.
  • Graphics are a big part of a virtual presentation and cut down textual matter by lot. Use them liberally to provide suitable context or ideas to the learner.
  • Graphics that need to be explained like graphs or charts should to be explained only to the suitable point of detail. Going into too many details will cause the learner’s attention to flounder. Visual clues like one-word descriptors, figures or percentages can be provided to help learners understand the graph or chart quickly.
  • Audio is the backbone of a virtual presentation and instrumental in its success. With minimalistic on-screen text, audio can successfully explain and detail out concepts and ideas presented. But keeping in mind the limited time-span of a webinar, audio should also not go into unnecessary details.
  • Provide interactivity within the presentation through questions or polls that invite learner participation. An audience poll early on can provide an insight on what the learner already knows about the topic. Questions can be asked to excite the learner into thinking about new ideas or concepts. Other interactivities like open-ended discussions can be conducted at the end of a session to invite new ideas and suggestions.
  • Collaboration tools like Whiteboards can be utilized within webinars to share documents or images and explain them using annotation tools.

Presenting an impactful webinar

  • For a strong webinar delivery, it is important to take into account that a webinar allows very little time to explain a multitude of ideas and concepts. The speaker should be ready with concise notes to deliver most within the stipulated time-frame.
  • The speaker notes should take into account various interactivities like slide transitions, animations or videos that are included in the presentation and time the audio piece accordingly.
  • When talking to a global audience, it is necessary to keep cultural references in mind. Use of colloquial terms and jargon should be minimized.
  • Allowing discussions or question in the middle of a classroom session is commonplace. But when talking to an unseen audience in the virtual space, the speaker in the webinar needs to take charge of the flow that the session needs to take. So it is important to assign time slots within the webinar for questions and discussions and proceed according to plan.
  • For two-way question-answer sessions, the speaker needs to take charge of the conversation – much like an instructor in a classroom. Questions have to be answered in short and to the point. Discussions have to stay within the parameters of the topic and cannot diversify.
  • Unlike a classroom instructor, the speaker in a webinar cannot ‘see’ the audience. So he or she may need help in terms of creating a successful two-way flow of information. A dedicated Q&A facilitator can help the speaker in this matter and take charge of keeping track of all questions and queries asked as well as the order that they are asked in. This helps the speaker answer the most questions within the stipulated time.

Webinars are a powerful mode of knowledge delivery, if done right. Here is a webinar developed by G-Cube. If you like what you see, write to info@gc-solutions.com

Suggested further reading: www.trainingindustry.com/media/3217793/mandel%20%20best%20practices%20for%20excellent%20virtual%20presentations.pdf

arunimam@gc-solutions.net'

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

Mobile-learning-tools
February 19th, 2014 by J.P Medved

Mobile-Learning- toolsAccording to a 2012 survey of mobile learners, 99% believed the mobile format and presentation enhanced their learning, and it was found that 45% actually spent less time in training than their (non-mobile trained) peers, with no loss of comprehension.

If you’re not getting into the mobile game with your training and eLearning initiatives, you’re falling behind.

That said, it’s daunting to figure out just how to do mobile eLearning right, and building mobile training apps is not necessarily the easiest thing in the world.

To help you out, I’ve aggregated 11 of the top development tools to help you easily put together either native, or web-based mobile LMS software apps for your workforce

Tools for Web-Based eLearning Apps

  • Adobe Captivate 7: This is a big one that just about everyone should be aware of.  Captivate lets you build eLearning courses and then publish them as web-apps using HTML5. It’s got integration with a bunch of existing LMSs, and a catalog of HTML5 animations as well.
  • Claro: Similar to Adobe Captivate, Claro is a tool for building eLearning courses that also lets you publish those courses as HTML5-using web-apps.  It comes pre-loaded with mobile layout templates to help speed mobile course development.
  • iUI: Bank of America’s mobile site is built on the iUI framework. iUI supports most smartphones and tablets (including Palm, Android and iOS devices). Coding is done in HTML, so no knowledge of JavaScript or another language is required. Additionally, it supports lots of themes and plugins for added functionality.
  • iWebkit: This tool is only for use with iOS devices like iPhones.  It is a framework to build professional looking mobile websites easily.  It uses simple HTML to edit and comes loaded with icons, extensions and different styles.
  • jQT: This is a Zepto/jQuery plugin to allow you to develop mobile websites for iOS and Android devices. jQT has native webkit animations, flexible themes and a bunch of extensions.
  • Lectora Inspire: This one actually could fit under both web-based and native eLearning apps.  While Inspire, Like Adobe Captivate and Claro above, lets you author courses and then publish them using HTML5 as web-based apps, accessible on mobile browsers, Lectora also offers Lectora Mobile.  This product is a native app for all iPhone, iPad and Android devices that allows you to provide your content to mobile devices both on and offline.
  • Articulate Storyline: Articulate’s popular course authoring program allows you to publish training content as wither a native iOS app for iPads, or, using HTML5, as a web-app as well.  It also integrates with Tin-Can API enabled LMSs.

Tools for Native eLearning Apps

  • GoMo Learning: This mobile course authoring tool from Epic allows for HTML5 mobile apps, but also can package eLearning content as a native app for iOS and Android phones and tablets, and selected Blackberry phones as well. It’s SCORM compliant and also comes with a large collection of bespoke mobile themes.
  • Phonegap: This tool is a framework that lets you build native apps by “wrapping” an app built in HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript so that it works on all the major mobile platforms (iOS, Android etc.). It’s extremely popular and has been used to build native mobile apps by the BBC (for the London Olympics) and Hacker News.
  • Rhodes by Motorola: Rhodes (which is a subset of RhoElements) is open source and allows for the development of native apps that work on all the major smartphone OSs (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 8).  It also has a good selection of tutorials and helpful reference info to get started.
  • Titanium: You can download Titanium for free and use it to create native apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry. It’s been used to build over 50,000 mobile apps, like Legoland California’s and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s.

More?
What other cool mobile learning tools are out there?

gireesh.sharma@gc-solutions.net'

J.P Medved

J.P. currently works as a Content Editor at Capterra, a privately held technology and online media company focused on bringing together buyers and sellers of business software. He is a graduate of Georgetown University where he founded The Georgetown Federalist. Follow him on Twitter at @rizzleJPizzle. J.P. is a guest blogger on G-Cube blog.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

videos in learning
January 21st, 2014 by Rachna Kaura

With the popularity of technology-aided learning, videos in learning have been gaining a steady acceptance for varied audiences and different learning objectives. Video-based learning is effective because of several reasons. Fighting the ‘glazing-over’ phenomenon which occurs often among learners, it successfully increases student engagement. It communicates information in a simple and direct manner. By communicating information without beating around the bush and coming straight to the point, it promotes knowledge retention. Accommodating multiple learning styles, it also improves acquisition of abstract and complex concepts.

With advancement in technology, videos have raised the ranks in terms of visual appeal and effectiveness. Gone are the days when a swanky video ensued budgetary strains and prolonged production timelines. There is a lot that can be done to transform a regular plain-vanilla video into an effective learning tool. Here are some innovative ways that can be employed to create effective and hard-hitting learning videos.

  • Videos in e-learningAnnotations in Learning Videos: For learning videos, short is powerful. If the video is long-winded, the learner tends to lose focus. The solution is to create small packets of information within the video to emphasize the important or relevant sections. This can be successfully done by creating annotations. Annotations are clippings within a video that are selected and named. This helps the learner to identify the important information in the video and the emphasis helps him or her to retain the information better. Annotations also help the learner learn bit-by-bit, making complex processes or information simpler to understand. This strategy is applicable for conceptual, procedural and soft skills training.
  • Navigation in Learning Videos: Videos can be long, with several sections explaining different topics. A simple solution to making such videos more palatable is to differentiate separate topics within a video and create a table of content that the learners can navigate to get to their desired section directly. This saves considerable time and effort for the learners – a big benefit for corporate learners who are always pressed for time and look for ways to learn quickly yet effectively.
  • Search within the Video: Another way to help learners access the desired portions within a video is to introduce the key-word search feature within the video. Selected portions of the video can be tagged using keywords. When the learner searches for those keywords within the video, he is directed to the appropriate section of the video. This makes sure that the content within the video is accessible fast and easy. This also provides the necessary confidence to the learner to take control over learning by knowing what he wants and getting access to it quickly within the learning video.
  • Assessments in Learning Videos: Videos can also include re-enforcements to test the knowledge retained by the learners. There are multiple ways to create suitable assessment tools within a video. A few examples:
    • At the end of a procedural video you can ask the learner to identify the key points in the video followed by a feedback to ascertain if the learner has answered correctly or not.
    • Procedural videos can also be broken down into sections and the learner can be asked to put them in the correct sequence.
    • Recorded sessions can be put across to learners to comprehend or critique. They can be asked to comment on specific parts of it, interpret it in their own words or ask pertinent questions related to it.
    • Simple assessments like adding a question layer after a concept has been taught in a video followed by diagnostic feedback can be effective.
    • You can also introduce interactive elements like filling up the empty labels in a video or identifying missing parts.

Just introducing a video element in your learning might not cut through with the expectations of the modern-day learner. A learning video needs to align to the learning objectives and suitably employ technology-enabled ways of achieving them. We have listed four ways of doing so, but there are many more. And with emerging technologies, the list is expected to grow further. We hope to keep sharing more of our experiences in creating effective videos for learning. To know more, write to info@gc-solutions.net

 

rachnak@gc-solutions.net'

Rachna Kaura

Rachna is associated with e-Learning industry for the past 10 years. In the capacity of a Delivery Manager at G-Cube, she always strive to provide the most effective solution for G-Cube's clients.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

Whiteboard Animations in e-Learning
January 8th, 2014 by Arunima Majumdar

Whiteboard Animations in e-LearningWith advancement in technology, e-learning developers are on a constant mission to make e-content suitable for the tech-savvy learners of today. Especially in the corporate world, learners can access e-courses through a variety of devices – laptops, mobiles, tablets or smartphones. They also have easy and constant internet connectivity – which opens the avenue to deliver media-rich content that has a strong impact on the learner.

There is a lot that can be done in terms of a suitable media strategy for your e-course. A popular and affordable option is that of Whiteboard Animation. It is a known fact that videos are a powerful tool in training as they can grab the learners’ attention instantly. On the downside, videos are not easy to create – at least the ones that have a lasting effect on the learners. You need good actors, appropriate settings, lighting – the works. When you need to create a video that illustrates an idea or concept in an innovative manner, whiteboard animations are the quick fix!

Whiteboard animations are videos that ‘show’ the learner an idea or concept through a series of live drawings. There is often a ‘hand’ that draws inside a screen that is the ‘whiteboard’. The familiar image of the teacher’s hand writing or drawing on the whiteboard finds instant connect with learners of all ages.

So what goes into creating an impactful whiteboard animation?

  • A solid script: That’s where you begin. Yout script must identify the core learning that you wish to share – and also put it in crisp, succulent terms. Keep in mind that the animation should ideally have minimal text, so use words judicially. Your script should also define how long your video will be, and it should set the pace of image-transitions on the video.
  • A suitable flow: Ideally, a whiteboard animation should have a distinct beginning, middle and end – like in a story. This flow works wonders in helping the learners understand the issue or concept being taught and how it affects their work lives. Typically, whiteboard animations are short (anywhere from 60 seconds to 5 minutes) and the flow needs to be smooth.
  • Powerful imagery: Illustrations and images are the backbone of a whiteboard animation video. Creating suitable images and illustrations might take time, but it is time well-spent. In the absence of words, your powerful imagery will be able to make an instant connect with the audience. Illustrations should be developed keeping the audience profile and their cultural or social predispositions in mind. Since the illustrations are either hand drawn or computer generated, they can be tweaked and reworked upon as per the need.
  • Accompanying audio: Audio is an important accompaniment to the illustrations in a whiteboard animation. In the absence of on-screen text, voice -over describes the ideas and concept in detail. The voice over is developed as per the nature of the animation video and is successful in ‘humanizing’ the e-content.
  • Background music: Music and sound effects are powerful tools to jazz up the video and create greater impact. They help in creating realistic scenarios even when the scene presented before the learner is an illustration. For instance, even if it is an animated illustration of a door opening – the accompanying ‘creak’ will help the learner perceive it as real.

 A few years ago, the process of creating a whiteboard animation was long-drawn and tedious. The popular way was to actually take a video of a hand drawing on a whiteboard and then fast-pace it to make it look ‘animated’. Nowadays the process is much simpler and easier. Using popular graphics software like Flash, Photoshop or Illustrator, it is possible to draw illustrations. Animation software like VideoScribe can then create a hand-animation effect and produce the video in MP4 format. This can then be uploaded on a video-sharing platform like YouTube, your company website – or even the organization LMS – for learners to view.

Whiteboard animations have a number of benefits, especially in corporate training and learning.

  • They can be a great marketing tool for your organization. If you are introducing a new process in the organization, your greatest worry is change management. Whiteboard animations can generate interest in a new process or tool within the organization. They are short and crisp – taking up very little time of the viewer. They are also informal, encouraging the viewers to ‘try and see’.
  • They can also provide suitable refreshers to accompany text-heavy courses. Encapsulating the crux of the course, they can help the learner revise and refresh as per need. This makes the information more palatable and easier to consume as well as retain.
  • Complex processes (like the working of machinery, assembling of parts, and so on) can be broken down and illustrated with the help of whiteboard animations. Unlike static images, these ‘how-to’ videos help the learners ‘see’ how things work and understand the processes better.
  • For products that are being built, whiteboard animations can be utilized to create impactful demos. When real pictures are difficult to get, illustrations or drawings can suitably represent the products to the learners through animation.
  • Whiteboard animations are ‘in’ and quite the flavor of the times! So they also help in differentiating your course from the run-of-the- mill variety. A short animation video before the beginning of a course can instill curiosity for the learner to know more. A crisp animation on your website may get you more hits than all the impactful text you can create.
  • With an informal approach, these animations can help boost the morale of a team by highlighting organizational beliefs, goals and achievements. The animated illustrations dispel the usual seriousness that often accompanies such discourses.

Whiteboard animations are fast gaining popularity as an impactful tool for learning delivery in technology-aided learning. Being short and crisp, they align very well to the needs of the modern corporate learner. Of course, for certain learning needs, they can never be as effective as videos with real people and actual settings – for instance, when you need to show actual people doing a particular job, or when you need more depth in your video.

Here is a glimpse of what we are talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-ucn2JgXdk. If you like what you see – then Whiteboard Animation is definitely the solution for you!

arunimam@gc-solutions.net'

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

Simulations in e-learning
December 10th, 2013 by Arunima Majumdar

With evolving technologies, the need for high-end e-learning is also on a continuous rise. The corporate world has seen and experienced the success of traditional e-learning and now want more. Not just in terms of delivering knowledge but the inclusion of the elements of interactivity and motivation for learners. Simulation-based e-learning is one such mode of training which is being extensively utilized in the corporate training.

We gather and process information using our senses but it is through ‘doing’ that we actually learn. Leading learning theorist David Kolb describes learning as a four step process of watching, thinking, feeling and doing. Active experimentation allows learners to utilize what they have learned in different situations and scenarios. This is the all important step of ‘doing’. In most training courses, this step is either skipped altogether or done within a restrictive environment where experimentation fails to be ‘active’. Simulations allow the learner experimentations to be close to real-life situations, thus opening up the vast expanse of ‘doing and learning’.  In a previous post titled Business Simulations – Learning through experience, we had talked about the benefits of simulations in e-learning. We follow that up with a few examples of the types of simulations that can be created and the ways that they can be utilized.

There are many ways of differentiating simulations – and one popular way is to categorize them as per the level of complex interactions they offer the learners. (Source: William Horton, 2000). They are:

  • One-shot simulations
  • Learn by example simulations
  • Microworlds

One-shot Simulations: As the name suggests, one-shot simulations can be utilized for courses that offer one-time learning. Software or process trainings can be built based on this type of simulations. Learners can learn about different features of the software or process. They are also given the opportunity to try out the workings and change or tweak responses if they get it wrong. This provides the opportunity to understand complex processes or concepts with ample room for ‘doing’.

At G-Cube, we created an e-training which utilized one-shot simulations for learners. The learner group was the management staff of a large chain of hotels. The course was built to train them to work efficiently on a sourcing website to buy utilities for their hotels.

  • The course was designed to mimic the look of the website – including color schemes and layout, to strike a familiar chord with the learners.Simulations in e-learning
  • Three levels of interactivity were built in. The first was a series of click-able links, explaining the various functionalities built into the website. When the user clicked a link, a pop-up text would appear and explain to the user what that particular link does.
  • The next level allowed the user to view a demo of a particular functionality, including the details filled to demonstrate an actual purchase being made through the website.
  • At the third level, the user could try and fill sample forms with the required details – finally reinforcing learning by a providing an action-based experience.

Learn by example simulations: These simulations provide the learners with a number of situations and encourage them to intervene to determine the further course of action. Each decision is crucial for getting to the final outcome and through multiple tries the learners observe the consequences of their actions. This type of simulation encourages learners to think logically and cognitively.

  • Learners listen, view or read about a scenario, often describing a conflict among individuals.
  • At every juncture, the learner is presented with choices as to how to proceed.
  • Different choices offer different outcomes.
  • No outcome is ‘wrong’ but the consequences are clearly laid out and the learner is free to judge what route he or she should take in real life.

An excellent example of this is a course designed for war-soldiers, which teaches them survival skills and diplomacy. (www.worldwarfighter.com/hajikamal/activity/)

Microworlds: These are simulations which present the learners with a virtual representation of a real environment. The learners can physically interact with the elements of this virtual microworld and learn from their experiences.

We have had many interesting experiences in creating virtual microworlds but a particular case stands out for the unique learner-group and how we addressed their needs. We created a 3D modern-trade environment for a leading FMCG company. The training module was different from others as the target audience was ground-level sales personnel – a group which was not computer proficient to begin with and spent very little time in the confines of an office.

  • The structure of the environment was created as per the layout of shops or stores that the learners often frequented.
  • The interactivities were simple and did not intimidate the learners.
  • Through the 3D environment, the learners were first given the opportunity to practice simple interactivities like ‘click and drop’ the right product, ‘place’ the products to acquire fair share of shelf space and so on.

Simulations in e-learning   Simulations in e-learning

  • Multiple tries were allowed to build the confidence of the learners.
  • The learners could also take print-outs of layouts that they mastered and refer to them as per need.
  • In spite of the unfamiliar platform of delivery, the learners quickly adapted to the training as they realized the worth of practical expertise it provided, something they could not try at an actual shop or store floor.

At the core of the success of simulations in learning is the fact that learners – children and adults alike, learn best by experience. For kinder-gardeners it is the weekly show-and-tell. For the corporate learner it is simulation-based learning.

Suggested further reading: www.lbfdtraining.com/resources/Exercises/Simulation-Based%20e-learning.doc

arunimam@gc-solutions.net'

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is an e-learning blogger and likes discussing innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

Motion based learning
November 12th, 2013 by Manish Gupta

Motion based learningGame–based learning has slowly but surely been making an impact on the learning industry over past few years. This new way of learning has been successful across a variety of learners – from high-school and college students to corporate learners. Yes, the types of games that are being developed vary as per the audience profile. But as a mode of learning – game-based learning has been ubiquitously successful.

We, as e-learning developers, keep questioning ourselves on the effectiveness of various learning methodologies that come into play in technology-enabled learning. There are many strategies that can be adopted when developing game-based learning, as we have discussed in a previous post titled “Creating Games for Learning: Strategies for Learning in a ‘Different’ Way“. Motion-based learning is one of the new ways that increases the effectiveness of games in learning.

With the help of motion-sensing technology, like that of Kinect in Xbox 360, Leap Motion, Tobii etc, learning can be made ‘motion-aware’ or ‘motion-based’. Here are a few ways of accomplishing this:

  • While the learning is in progress, the motion of the learner can be studied and inferences can be made accordingly.
  • For instance, using the Eye-Tracking feature it can be deduced if the learner has enough focus or is getting distracted frequently.
  • Similarly, Facial expressions and Head positions can also be studied and a true measure of learner engagement can be formed. This will enable us to modify learning environment or learning content and suit it according to the preferences of the learner.
  • Physical activities can be inserted into the learning activity to provide the learners an opportunity to practice physical skills or nuances needed in their line of work.
  • This may include a set of physical movements for achieving the optimum speed, force or pressure required for a particular task, e.g. while learning a sport.
  • The learning environments can suitably change or adapt as per the motions of the learner, to benefit the learner and provide a life-like learning experience.
  • The learning environment can mimic real-life responses as per the learners’ progress through the course and provide authentic experiences in a simulated environment.
  • The level of difficulty or the context can also be adjusted as per the learner’s response.
  • Special needs of different trainees can also be understood by motion-sensing through gestures or voice recognition. The learning environment can then align to the needs of the learner for increased effectiveness.

The benefits of motion-based learning can be implemented in a corporate scenario for a multitude of training’s, catering to different learning needs and individual learners.

Motion-based learning for the Sales Function: While knowledge about a particular skill, say Presentation Skills can be passed on via a instructor lead session or via an elearning course, motion based trainings can help organizations setup an environment where their employees can come and practice the skills they learned. These include communication skills, body language, posture, facial expressions, finesse in presentation and so on. With real-time feedback, these trainings can provide the learners multiple tries to perfect the skill. They can also create a simulated environment with real-life scenarios to practice the skills as well.

Motion-based learning for the Operations Function: Functioning and operating machines can be learnt through motion-based learning – providing the learner a life-like experience in a stress-free simulated platform. Complex procedures like medical surgeries can also be practiced and perfected using the technology. Safety operations training that require long hours in the field can be learnt in the simulated environment and can be revised whenever and wherever the learner feels the need.

Motion-based learning for Human Resources: While many organizations conduct paper based Psychometric tests to evaluate a recruits personality trait, motion-based psychometric tests can take these tests a step further by providing life-like immersive scenarios and judging the prospective employees by their response. This would provide a true evaluation of the capabilities of the prospective employee and help the HR team to align him or her to the best suited role in the organization. Induction programs could also benefit from motion-based learning through a virtual exploration of the organization or orientation for a foreign location.

Motion-based learning for Special Needs within an organization: Training courses for differently-abled employees could also be developed with motion-sensing technology where the course would align itself to suit the special needs of the learner. For instance, motion-based trainings can recognize hand-gestures to align a particular course to a sign-language interface to suit a differently-abled learner. Employee wellness programs that include physical activities and competitive events can also be motion-based.

As for any new way of learning, there is a positive as well as a negative side to the adoption of motion-based learning. The biggest gain is the opportunity to provide experiential learning which involves the learners physically to increase effectiveness by leaps and bounds. Another benefit is the ability to study and understand the physical activities of the learner and utilize them to create better learning content or environment. This new way of learning also creates learning environments that can align and adapt as per the needs of the learner – thus creating an avenue for personalizing learning.

On the negative side, motion-sensing technology is still evolving and can be expensive to implement. Also no one can refute the fact that no technology can yet simulate real-world complexities entirely – so there needs to be some room for training on the field. Another concern is the ethical nature of some implementations that can evade the personal space of learners.

Motion-based learning is an emerging way of learning that is sure to develop monumentally in the coming years. Adopting it to suit your learning needs would warrant a close inspection of the pros and cons. We at G-Cube are enthused by the emerging possibilities of motion-based learning and are aggressively investing in R&D in this space. Keep watching this space for more on our experiences with motion-based learning – and write to us at info@gc-solutions.net to know more.

manishg@gc-solutions.net'

Manish Gupta

Manish is CEO, G-Cube. Over last 13 years Manish has led G-Cube from a startup stage to its current stature as one of India's and the world's leading e-learning organization.

Posted in Tools & Technologies Tagged with:

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