Thursday, October 29, 2015

DevLearn Reflections

Just back from DevLearn and still reeling under its effect, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my experience with everyone. Though team Raptivity has been a known face at DevLearn, it was my first visit, and my maiden chance to experience it live, and I must admit, I was bowled over.

I was there with two other team members, for all three days of the conference. I attended visitors at our booth, participated in DemoFest and attended speaker sessions whenever I could grab a chance.

Raptivity Team with me in the center.

Harbinger, Raptivity’s parent company, completed its 25 years of operations on October 1 this year. DevLearn gave us a perfect chance to celebrate this occasion by giving us a chance to talk with many of our customers at the booth. Infact, I also got to meet some customers who have been using Raptivity since 2006, when it was launched. I was overwhelmed and so were they. Loyal customers are a real asset. Apart from these joyous meets, most of the visitors at the booth loved the idea of using Raptivity interactions seamlessly with various authoring tools and LMS.

Talking about speaker sessions, overall, I liked the depth and breadth of topics covered across DevLearn. It touched upon all facets of eLearning development process; whilst also catering to all levels of eLearning professionals, from novices to CLOs. Through dedicated tracks on gamification, videos and BYOLs, one could aim to become an expert in one thing or attend various different sessions to get an overall understanding of what was happening in the eLearning fraternity at a high level.

Coming to DemoFest, it took place on the last day of the conference, and for me, it was the best part of DevLearn. I loved the thrill of real world examples being showcased live. There were over 90 projects being showcased and ours was one of them. There were moments when I could actually relate a project to some of the sessions I had attended, and it was quite exciting to realize that connect. 
DemoFest where Janhavi, Raptivity team discussing with Joe Ganci

On the whole, DevLearn was a fascinating experience for me, wherein I could learn different things, seek validation on different ideas, network with eLearning professionals from across the globe, and even meet some old customers.

If I have to segregate my learning experiences in different buckets, here are some of my key takeaways:
  • There is a lot of excitement about mobile learning. An important aspect while creating mobile based designs is to focus more on user experience and simplicity rather than jazzy animations and interactions. Although, people are open to try out smart-phone based learning, not many have actually implemented it. I personally feel, this is probably due to the lack of tools to support seamless development for smart-phones, tablets and desktops alike.
  • Performance support based designs are something to watch out for, where the role of an eLearning professional goes above and beyond ID and multimedia designer, infact, it becomes comparable to that of a technology professional. It allows us to think beyond LMS and courses, traverses a whole new world of systems and processes where learning happens through various encounters people have with them.
  • One strong message which came out loud and clear was the strategic shift of thinking beyond just tools and focusing on end results. People now consider that tools are just a way to support and complement end results. So, rather than thinking what tool to buy and what can be done with it, many speakers insisted that course creators think about the end goal for their learners and then use various mediums to deliver it such as infographics, videos, mini-modules, courses, discussions over facebook, etc.
  • Agile project management technique was a highlight across various sessions. Since I come from a software product development background, I was very happy to see people’s openness to this technique. People are still trying to figure out how to use Agile in their individual organizations. This is one area where our organization can definitely participate and share more based on our earlier experiences.
  • Natalie’s session on ‘Learning without Boundaries’ was a big motivator. It forced me to think about my foundations for success, which could be described as:
    • Ready to fail and try again
    • Being open to say “I don’t know but can try"
    • Teamwork
    • Ability to understand other’s view point rather than criticizing them
I would end this write-up on the last note I shared from Natalie’s session. As she pointed, I should be ‘open to share what I have learnt with others’, I shared everything that I learnt at this conference. I hope it will be useful for the readers. Looking forward to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dealing with the Top 10 Challenges in Storyboarding — Infographic

Team Raptivity recently explored the topic—‘Difficulties faced by beginners in eLearning storyboard creation’. We collected responses from hundreds of novice instructional designers, course creators and some of our InteractiveLearning Thought Leaders.

Here is an infographic on the top 10 storyboarding challenges derived from our study. It also includes some suggestions to work through them. With biggest challenges coming first, this list follows a descending order.

Dealing with the Top 10 Challenges in Storyboarding - Infographic

Do you face any other challenges related to storyboarding? What tips have you learned along the way? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Guide to Good Online Learning

Good online learning is deceptively simple but very engaging with a depth of knowledge that is delivered almost without the learner realising they are absorbing it.  It takes time and skill to build and embed the level of knowledge and feedback required behind any interactivity, an infographic, a cartoon or other seemingly light-hearted devices.

Here are some cues to take reference from when starting off with your course:

Set the goal
Define the end objective first and test every element against it as you create each unit.

Boring content makes boring online learning
Look critically at what you want to deliver before you start creating online content.  Get the content right before you start working out the delivery details.  Online learners are not excited by our factoids, stock photos and effects. They want to do something, to try something.

Step away from the information dump
Find creative ways to place the course content in a context that is relevant to the learner. Knowledge needs to be provided before it can be learnt and it cannot be tested until it has been learnt - but it can be provided and learnt creatively.

Make it visually appealing
People are attracted to things that look interesting.  Craft a visual theme that is interesting, relevant to the content, and immerses the learner in the course.

Don’t Push – Let the Learner Pull
Create an environment where the learner has to pull information in.  Instead of a series of click-and-read screens, give the learner a problem to solve.  Then provide all of the information that you would normally have pushed by creating access to additional, just-in-time resources.  As the learner attempts to solve the problem, they will pull the information they need.

Less can be more
Online learning units are most effective in a form that takes no more 15-20 minutes for the learner to complete.  Online learners will work at their own pace and in their own order.  Anything that takes longer than 15 seconds to download is likely to be dismissed.

Vary the content
Too much of any one thing is just as boring as too much text. Breaking-up content into smaller combined chunks will allow for a better learning experience.  Give learners challenges and tasks but make sure there are clues and answers readily available.

Engage early and hold on
Online learners must be engaged quickly with information that talks directly to them – not always the same as what we want to tell them first.  There is a fine line between being too simple (one question wonders – no revisits) and too complex (making one activity do too much – lose the thread).  Online learners will revisit engaging material regularly to refresh and ‘play again’.

It’s OK to have fun
By virtue of the medium, online learning tends to work best when it comes across more playfully and with humour - where the learner is in on the joke through being engaged and involved.

There is a place for novelty
What might seem novel the first time can quickly become annoying.  Don’t overdo the use of transitions, text effects and other visual or aural distractions.

All these tips come from my experience in online teaching and learning. I hope they will come in handy for you. I would love to know of any different guidelines/best practices that you follow for good online learning. Comments welcome.

About Caryl Oliver
Caryl Oliver has been a leading voice in online and mobile learning for 12 years and is a founding director of the International Association for Mobile Learning. Caryl speaks regularly at conferences, seminars and workshop on using technology to deliver training and online learning at all levels. By passion, Caryl is an interactive learning enthusiast. Check out her detailed profile here.