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e-Learning, e-Learning Software, eLearning Software

Creating eLearning Content around Learning Objectives with Simple and User-friendly Authoring Tools

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The research was conducted and analyzed by our marketing colleague Rayna Topalska.

In March 2014, easygenerator conducted a survey to identify trends in the eLearning arena. Research results indicated how eLearning professionals perceive the latest developments in the field, what challenges they face and what demands and requirements they have.
60 participants from 16 nationalities spread over 5 continents took part in the survey. Most respondents are experienced in the field of eLearning. They are mainly employed as instructional designers (32%), consultants (23%), or teachers (13%) mostly in the education and IT sector. The study relies on a combination of quantitative and qualitative research perspectives. The major outcomes are presented in the following sections. More detailed information about the research can be found in the PDF document attached under ‘Useful links’ at the end of the article.

5 eLearning Trends

In a recent article, Kasper Spiro outlined five eLearning trends that he thinks will lead to the end of the Learning Management System (LMS). The article was well received and stimulated a lot of discussions on the topic. This wide response was one of the main drivers to conduct this survey.
As Figure 1 demonstrates, the survey results align to Spiro’s expressed opinion in the article. Participants highlighted the importance of personalized (adaptive) learning that is based on the outcomes of previous activities, or on creating smarter personalized courses based on learning objectives. Furthermore, the survey showed that eLearning is moving toward mobile learning. Specifically, respondents identified that eLearning materials should be available anywhere, anytime, and on any device. As learners can find courses and content almost everywhere, this creates the need for more specialized content. Additionally, according to survey respondents, massive open online courses (MOOC) do not add value to the learner. The participants also agreed that curation is an important factor affecting the learning process. As learning becomes more self-directed and learner controlled, the job of learning professionals will shift from creating courses and scheduling events, to collecting information and learner generated content. The survey outcomes emphasized that learners will be taking more and more control of the learning process, including deciding for themselves where, when and how to complete courses to gain new skills or knowledge.

Figure 1: 5 eLearning trends (answers reported on a Likert scale ranged from 1=‘strongly disagree’ to 7=‘strongly agree’)

Figure 1: 5 eLearning trends (answers reported on a Likert scale ranged from 1=‘strongly disagree’ to 7=‘strongly agree’)

Creating eLearning Courses around Learning Objectives

Further important outcome of the survey relates to the eLearning course development process. For 60% of respondents, the most important first step in developing eLearning is creating learning objectives. This is followed by designing course structure, selecting content materials, and formulating questions. The final step is developing a timeline for the course. Figure 2 provides detailed information about the individual steps in the authoring process.

Figure 2: Steps in the process of creating eLearning courses

Figure 2: Steps in the process of creating eLearning courses

When developing learning objectives, it is important to use Bloom’s taxonomy. The theory is a classification of different levels of cognitive learning. It is used as a guide when developing curriculum or learning assessments. Of all survey respondents, 81% indicated they are familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy, and for 77%, it is helpful in the process of creating learning content. “Bloom’s taxonomy is essential as the basis for good instructional design”, commented one respondent. Although Bloom’s taxonomy is widely used, several participants indicated that it is not truly understood and at times, even misused.

Tin Can API

The survey results shed light on the popularity and usage of Tin Can (Api) technology. Tin Can is a new specification for learning technology that facilitates data collection on a wide range of learning experiences an individual completes, both online and offline. These learning experiences are recorded in a Learning Record Store (LRS) that can exist within traditional Learning Management Systems (LMSs) or on their own. Despite the value and advantages Tin Can provides, 56% of survey respondents have no familiarity with the Tin Can technology. Moreover, the majority of professionals who are familiar with the technology have only researched, read, heard, or discussed it, but do not use it in their work. Mostly because they are bound to their LMS that also records learning experiences.

Simplicity and Usability

eLearning professionals use a variety of tools to develop courses, that are mostly PC-based and web-based authoring tools. However, usability and simplicity are the leading factors in their choice of an authoring tool. Other important factors are the design and technical features, as well as the opportunity for creating personalized and responsive publications. Additionally, due to shrinking budgets, price is another important factor. Moreover, survey respondents the importance of tool compatibility and portability with other systems and eLearning platforms. Surprisingly, the established reputation of the tool is the least relevant factor, which demonstrates the market is open to new tools that would meet customer demands.

Figure 3: Challenges while creating eLearning content

Figure 3: Challenges while creating eLearning content

As Figure 3 demonstrates, the biggest challenge for eLearning professionals is the complexity of current eLearning authoring tools in combination with the fast changing eLearning environment. Therefore, respondents find it difficult to choose the most suitable tool to meet their needs. Further issues include the lack of human resources and time. And finally, shrinking budgets should not be underestimated as a current industry challenge.

Conclusion

This relatively small survey highlights several important factors currently impacting eLearning development. Looking to the future, personalized and specialized eLearning content that is accessible everywhere and anytime will continue to become more important. Also, there is a need for more user-friendly and simple tools which support the development of eLearning courses around learning objectives.

Survey Results

Useful Links:


  • Adaptive learning, e-Learning, e-Learning Software, Uncategorized

    Improved adaptive courses with easygenerator’s Plus edition

    By |

    Easygenerator and its partner, Inbrain, together have collaborated to create a completely new adaptive master page (template) for the Windows based Plus Edition of easygenerator. The adaptive template integrates easygenerator’s unique approach to aligning course learning objectives, questions and content pages. It will provide the learner with an at-a-glance view of the course, including location in the course and what additional pages and activities the learner must complete to reach their identified goal. Read more »


    Content, Easygenerator, Instructional Design, Learning Objectives

    How to create proper learning objectives

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    When you want to create a really bad learning experience, this is the way to do it:

    1. Don’t think about your learners
    2. Dump a body of information in a course as if it was a PowerPoint
    3. Add a few images (has to look good)
    4. Add a few questions (for scoring)
    5. Upload it into your LMS

    Everybody knows (or should know) that learning development starts with defining clear learning objectives. In the new web edition of easygenerator you can’t create any content or questions without creating a learning objective first. The idea is that we help people in this way to create better courses. Easygenerator is the only e-Learning authoring software that works this way. However there is a catch: If you create bad learning objectives, you will get equally bad courses. To solve this problem, easygenerator is developing an eLearning course that will instruct you on how to create great learning objectives. Additionally, easygenerator will build a tool within easygenerator that will support authors to develop proper learning objectives. But as a start I will write a series of post covering the foundation of instructional design. First step is of course Learning objectives and Blooms taxonomy.
    Because this is of wider interest than the readers of this blog I decided to publish the article in the eLearningindustry.com. Click on the image below to read the complete article.Objectives post


    Easygenerator, Internship, marketing

    Easygenerator is looking for an online marketing intern

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    Easygenerator is a young, rapidly growing Internet business. Easygenerator provides cloud-based eLearning authoring software. It enables instructional designers and subject matter experts to create learning materials with a high learning impact. The software is used by over 5,000 users in more than 120 countries, in corporations, not-for-profits, government agencies, and educational institutions.

    What do we offer?
    An exciting internship in a high growth company. You will be a critical part of the team with your own assigned tasks and responsibilities. You will be paid an internship salary and compensation for expenses. Easygenerator has its offices in Rotterdam and Utrecht.

    What are you going to do?
    As the marketing intern, you will be involved in various forms of marketing and communications, with a strong focus on online promotion. You will be responsible for executing the content strategy of easygenerator (blogs, press releases and social media). You will coordinate the creation of new articles, write new blog articles or press releases, and manage the social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook). Read more »


    e-Learning, LSCon

    #LSCon review: 70:20:10, agile, mobile, serious, performance and ecosystems vs “my clients want 1990 eLearning”

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    My recap of the whole conference is summarized in the title. I attended great presentations on 70:20:10, agile development, mobile (TinCan), serious elearning, performance support and learning ecosystems, but the gap with the audience was huge. When we were just talking before the start of a session, someone said: “I get all this and I want to do it, but I’m also getting frustrated because my clients want 1990 eLearning”. That really says it for me. We do have to move away from courses and into performance support, we have to grow ecosystems and the the formal learning that we create must be of a higher quality (applying the 22 rules of the serious eLearning manifesto). Read more »


    eLearning Guild, eLearning Software, Events, Learning eco system, LSCon

    My recap of day 2 at #LSCon Big data, tools and the learning eco system

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    I was not able to attend a lot of the sessions I wanted because I had a lot of one-on-one appointments today.  I did catch a few sessions for you:

    Big data demystified

    The first session was today’s keynote, by Douglass Merrill. He is the author of “Getting organized in the Google era”. He didn’t do it for me. His main message was that Big data is not real and that you can not trust  the outcome of Big Data queries very often. We collect the wrong data, apply the wrong math and end up with wrong results. He did had a cool story about someone collecting log books on a new trade route because he was wondering why these ships had very different sailing times but took (more or less) the same route. he ended up with discovering the trade wind, based on the data he analyzed. For me that was the highlight of the presentation, although I read on the internet that Columbus discovered them.

    When to switch eLearning tools by Joe Ganci.
    I love Joe, his knowledge on authoring tools is unique. He knows them all. He started out by saying that it should not be the tool that determines the elearning, but the learner, the context and the goal. Based on that analysis you can design an eLearning solution and then you select the appropriate tool. He went over all the major tools and compared them for us, the pro’s  and con’s and he demonstrated a view of them. He even allowed me to show the coolest of all elearning software: Easygenerator’s new web edition! Thanks Joe, I appreciate this.

    Learning performance analysis. Aligning the eco system with the business.
    By far the best presentation so far of the whole conference by Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson. You probably have heard of the 70:20:10 (70 experience, 20 Coaching & feedback, 10 formal learning). It has become a sort of a buzzword, but until know I never heard a story that describes a framework and a methodology to implement an environment that supports this in a good way. They have it. They passed on a lot of information, with a lot of images and I could not capture it all. They run a community (www.applysynergies.com) based on their approach. I will give you the highlights. I will research this more in-depth and write about it later in more detail.

    The why?
    “It is the only way an organization can enable peak performance at every changing moment”

    How?

    CompetencyGraph(20140318)

    Image from http://www.applysynergies.com/

    This image is one of the key elements of their approach. The first green peak is the formal learning (10%). Than you have the transfer to competence and the continuous improvement after that. The last two phases are the 70 and 20, or in fact the 90 because the will merge very often. During the sustain phase you have the 5 moments of learning needs:

    1. When you need to learn something new
    2. When you need to know more
    3. When things change
    4. And when you have to solve something
    5. And last but not least, when you have to apply all this

    They had a lot more on the ecosystem, but I will keep that for later.  I will end this session description with: You have to cultivate dynamic learners that can learn at the speed of change. Love that.

    More on this topic later in this blog and more on LSCon tomorrow.

     


    e-Learning, eLearning Guild, Events, LSCon

    Learning solutions conference #LSCon Day 1 recap by Kasper Spiro

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    Here is my recap of LSCon day 1.

    I kicked the day and the conference of with a morning buzz session. These sessions are not presentations but an opportunity to talk/discuss/share experiences on a certain topic. We talked about agile development under the guidance of Don Bolen. We had a very good attendance (about 25 people) and had a nice conversation. My best recap is:

    1. All the attendees do see the problems and limitations of the current working methodology (ADDIE or other waterfall models)
    2. They have heard of agile (thanks to Michael Allen)
    3. They know they have to change
    4. And they took their first sniff at agile.

    Leapfrogging
    After this we had the formal opening (1500 attendees, 30% up from last year) by David Kelly and the Keynote from Soren Kaplan about Leapfrogging to learning breakthroughs and innovation. The essence of his story is that good breakthrough business ideas always have a form of surprise in them. He had an example of a café in Paris that is regarded the number one place (from 30,000 competitors) to be. He found to his surprise that is was a café, that the owner bought all her beans directly from the farmers. That she had made a whole business of selling these beans and that she had an academy where she was training people from all over the world to learn her concept. Not something you would expect in a café. This sparked the idea of surprise that he investigated more. Other examples are a clothing shop that sells cloth by the pound, a cinema that sells monthly subscriptions et cetera. His conclusion ‘Surprise is essential for all breakthroughs. And you will find that surprise outside your normal comfort zone. He gave a number of nice tips:

    1. Fall in love with problems not solutions
    2. People love innovation but they hate surprises
    3. Rethink your role (what is your added value)
    4. Learn to live with uncertainty
    5. Look outside your own culture
    6. Get your customers inside your processes
    7. What is your business really about?

    For more check his presentation, you can download it from his website. Interesting reading and he is an entertaining presenter.

    Keynote form Soren Kaplan

    for 90%
    Next was a presentation from Marty Rosenheck. He jumped the 70:20:10 bandwagon. Core message the formal learning (10) is served by the LMS what do you do with the 90%? He is really big on apprenticeships and has a nice vision of that (learning in the real world without the bog claim on experienced people so you can make it scalable).

    He has created a solution (Trek) based on TinCan that supports this kind of learning.

    Serious
    I attended the serious elearning manifesto session. As expected it was a recap of the launch from last week. I really do support this initiative and I do thing that we should do a better job. At the ame time you hear more and more critical sounds: that the initiative brings nothing new to the table. They made it very clear that their goal is the raise the general level of eLearning in order to make it more effective, it is not about innovation, but about applying the stuff we already know (or should know).

    Ecosystem
    This year there is a second conference next to Learning solutions: Ecosystems 2014. It is more on a strategic level. You have to have a special upgrade in order to attend the sessions, build the guild was kind enough to allow me to party crash a session. The session I attended was about ecosystems and was presented by Lance Dublin. For him the term ecosystem was also new, so he took us on a journey to discover it with him. I got from it that an ecosystem is a living and ever changing thing that enables and facilitates learning. It should contain four elements: Process, people, Technology and content. So it is not an architecture (that is part of the ecosystem) but the whole thing. The reason we have to thing about this is the increasing speed of things, our old ways (LMS learning with courses) do not work anymore. We need something that delivers Performance at the speed of need. He gave s an impressive list of opportunities/changes, developments that should be part of an ecosystem: Mobile, Moocs, Cloud, social learning, serious games, Big data, personalization and much more. He also defined the goal of an ecosystem: Performance. He promised to share his presentation, but is is not available now. I will share it with you when I can.

    Lean
    This was a really nice session although it didn’t bring me what I expected from it. It was presented by Megane Torrance. I did expect her to make the connection between agile and lean. I do know about agile, I wrote a whole bunch of post on it. I know a bit about lean and was curious about the connection. Instead she took us through the eight wastes of lean (Transport, Over-processing, Time & Intelligence, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Inventory, Defects) and she challenged us to come up with waste on these topics and solutions for them. Based on the info she gathered she will create an article for the learning solutions magazine. So we sort of crowd sourced an article in an hour. Really inventive and informing.

    So this leads up to the conclusion of day 1. As I wrote in the beginning of this post. I have the feeling that change is reaching eLearning. But I see only the first signs of it. People are aware that they need to change and that raises more interest in topics like TinCan, Agile, innovation. But most of them are just investigating, it will take a while before they can act on it.


    e-Learning

    The LMS is from the Past – The web is the future

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    A Learning Management System (LMS) offers tons of functionality. At the same time it sets strict boundaries for learning, often requiring a substantial investment in time and money which is hard to maintain.

    We are proud to offer a modern alternative to the LMS: a flexible best of breed, fully web-based (SaaS) solution created by a unique collaboration of three organizations:

    • Aim 4 You
    • Saltbox
    • Easygenerator

    What do we expect from a LMS?

    1. To deliver content to the learner.
    2. To track and trace learner results and.
    3. To create courses and learning content.

    Web LMS Alternative

    Let’s start with authoring courses. Easygenerator offers a completely web-based authoring environment that can be used for free or with a subscription ($19 per month). It allows you to create instructionally sound eLearning courses based on learning objectives. The courses are responsive (they will run one very device) and can be published to the web or an LMS.

    The second function is displaying and delivering content to the learner. Aim 4 You offers an unique global eLearning catalog that aggregates learning from all over the world. It allows developers, designers, IDs or anyone to showcase content or courses, invite people to follow it, provide more information and / or sell it directly. Aim 4 You takes care of the back office, so no implementation is required, and you get the benefits. And if you don’t want your learning displayed globally, with one simple click you can secure your content to only invitees. It’s as simple as that. Try our service free of charge.

    Saltbox offers tracking and tracing Based on Tin Can (Xapi). It offers a hosted solution for the LRS (the Tin Can database) and it adds reporting to it.

    So what did we do?

    Each of these three companies is a best in class company in their own field; together we simply joined forces to create a complete and flexible solution: we connected our solutions for you.

    How does it work?

    It’s easy. When you create a course in easygenerator, include the Saltbox (Tin Can) settings and credentials. Then when the course is used, it will report automatically to the Saltbox LRS. Next, you can publish the course into the eLearning catalog from Aim 4 You, with a few simple clicks. Done – that’s all there is to do. No installation, no IT, no coding. This can all be set-up on your own in a few minutes.

    Try it for free!

    Go to www.easygenerator.com and sign up for easygenerator. From easygenerator you can activate accounts at both Aim 4 You and Saltbox. You can also signup directly with Saltbox or Aim4you.


    Uncategorized

    Getting ready for LSCON

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    Next week is the Learning Solution Conference in Orlando. I will go there for the fourth year in a row. It is probably my most favorite conference (at my least favorite place).

    LSCON

    This year it will be extra fun, easygenerator does’t have a booth there (we moved all our marketing online), so I will be able to attend a lot of sessions and blog on them. As part of my preparation I always go through the conference app, and I check out all the sessions and add all possibly interesting sessions to my schedule, I have selected over 30 sessions in the first run! A lot of them will be at the same time slots, so I will not attend all them all. But it is interesting to see what is there, I’m always looking for trends.

    As keynotes we have:

    1. Soren Kaplan – Redefining innovation
    2. Douglas Merrill - Redefining Data
    3. Cathy Davidson - Redefining the Mind

    Innovation, big data and our mind. Interesting topics and the LSCON has a great record of booking keynote speakers from outside the world of learning that give you new insights. I’m looking forward to all three. Redefining is also interesting. It looks like eLearning has come at a turning point. A lot of things are going on: mobile, TinCan, workplace learning, informal learning, agile development and more. And not at least the initiative about serious eLearning from a number of our thought leaders urging us to do a better job (and they are right, check it out).

    If I categorize the sessions I have selected I come to this list:

    Topic

    # sessions

    Agile development

    5

    Future of learning (including elearning manifesto)

    5

    Learner in Control

    1

    Tools development

    5

    TinCan

    5

    Connect to the real world (workplace)

    6

    Big data

    1

    Innovation

    3

    Interesting. Last year there were hardly any session on TinCan and Agile. Now I have 5 on topics. The topic with the most sessions is about connecting learning to the workplace (or the real world) also an interesting development. I will check them out for you and will report each day from the conference (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) and will finish with a recap of the conference. I will post these reports both on easygenerator and on kasperspiro.com.

    And a tip I have to give to you all, if you want to follow the conference, check the conference back channel moderated by David Kelly, who is also is the organizer of the conference. There are already interesting posts there! It is the best way to follow LSCON from a distance!

    Kasper Spiro


    Easygenerator

    Easy Generator Starter Plan – Release Notes

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    Today easygenerator launches the first web-based subscription plan of its eLearning authoring tool. The easygenerator Starter Plan is available for $19 (15 Euro) a month per user. The new Starter Plan offers an eLearning alternative to PowerPoint. Easygenerator CEO Kasper Spiro explains:

    “PowerPoint was never designed for eLearning. We have all experienced “death by PowerPoint” presentations. More importantly, learning retention from PowerPoint is low. Easygenerator Starter Plan allows authors to create measurable, personalized and high quality eLearning courses at a fraction of the typical cost. Best of all, no technical or instructional design skills are needed .

    The Starter Plan comes with many new features that simplify eLearning design to help authors create high quality, and engaging learning experiences for learners. The new enhancements are detailed in the sections below.

    Compatibility with Learning Management Systems (LMS)

    The new version allows authors to publish responsive courses on the web (using Tin Can for tracking and tracing), and to any LMS using the SCORM 1.2 export.

    Image Library

    An interactive image library allows authors to easily manage uploaded image files. Also, all templates can be customized with your logo.

    External Review

    One of the most used features of easygenerator’s Windows Edition – the external review – has also been incorporated in the Web Edition. The external review feature allows authors to invite anyone to review courses without the need for additional licenses. The process is simple and user-friendly. The course author invites a reviewer via e-mail with a link to the course. A reviewer accesses the course using any browser to open a fully functional course that includes a “comments page” for each page in the course. Reviewers add comments directly in the authoring environment, so changes can be easily made based on the feedback given.

    Templates

    In managing and designing courses authors can set the order of learning objectives and questions. Also, using templates for a quiz or a simple course makes it even easier to create interactive personalized eLearning courses with assessments. And, the preview function allows authors to see the course before publishing it, as it will look to the learner.

    The Starter Edition is an extension of the Free Web Edition, launched by easygenerator in October 2013. Based on user feedback, many improvements have been made in addition to new and improved features. These improvements have also been made to the free edition.

    The launch of the web-based Starter Edition is the first milestone in rolling out easygenerator’s complete suite of authoring tools for the web. A new Plus Edition, targeting instructional designers is planned for release this summer, bringing easygenerator’s full authoring capabilities to the web.

    Easygenerator is driven by constant improvement. The next update of the Starter Edition is planned for April 1st 2014.

    Download full release notes here

    Try the new Starter Plan for 30 days