What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is “A short piece of learning, that addresses a specific practical skill, that is just ‘long enough’”.

So what’s the big deal about microlearning? Why are organisations investing time and resources into it? What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned workshop or eLearning module? There’s nothing inherently wrong with a workshop or a self-directed online learning module, they both serve a purpose. Whether you utilise one or the other depends on a whole number of things which is a debate for another time. We’re just interested in the ‘why’ of microlearning. The simplest answer is: we have terrible memories.

Back in 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus did some research on what he called ‘the forgetting curve’. The forgetting curve indicated that without some form of reinforcement over time, we forget a large percentage of what we have learned. For example, you attend a day’s learning workshop and after 4-5 days you have forgotten 80% of what you covered. That’s a pretty big loss of new information!

To combat this, researchers have proposed that learners should use the ‘spacing effect’ to assist them in remembering what they have learnt. The spacing effect is the phenomenon whereby learning is greater when studying is spread out over time, as opposed to studying the same amount of content in a single session. That is, it is better to use spaced presentation rather than massed presentation.

Researchers such as Will Thalheimer have taken this concept a step further and proposed a learning technique called spaced repetition that incorporates increasing intervals of time between subsequent review of previously learned material, in order to exploit the spacing effect. By having a spaced review of something we have learnt over time – less of the learnt content is forgotten.

So, does microlearning fit into this idea of spaced repetition? Yes, it does. Microlearning allows us to provide short review pieces that allow a learner to embed what they have learnt over a period of time.

Best practice microlearning in the workplace:

What has best practice shown regarding corporate learning that might gives us more information about why we could use microlearning?

  1. Microlearning is no good if it’s too short. People can’t and won’t engage fully. That’s why it’s impossible to give a time limit to microlearning, and part of the reason why our definition says that the learning should be ‘long enough’. That may be 3 minutes or it might be 10. The learning still needs to grab the learner’s attention. What’s in it for them? Why should they care?
  2. Content must be able to ‘stand alone’ It’s not just breaking an existing program into smaller units. This turns the training into a ‘start/stop’ process. The learning becomes inconsistent and fragmented, and there is the added effort on the learner to remember “where am I up to?” and “what did I review last time?”
  3. Workers have limited patience – they want to be able to finish a task and move on to the next one in a reasonable time frame. If they feel something is bogging them down and preventing them from getting on with their day, they will get frustrated and negative towards it fairly quickly.
  4. Even if they have more time for a task – it generally won’t happen – interruptions continue in the workplace because they have their ‘real jobs’ to do! Projects, customers, clients, meetings, communications etc. all are clamouring for their attention.

When microlearning keeps these practices in mind it can be effective and not add any additional burden on the learner. Heck they may even enjoy it!

What is and what is NOT microlearning?

Microlearning is NOT:

  • Chunking, breaking down, and ‘to be continued’ – Microlearning has to stand alone. If you’ve just chunked down a full program into smaller pieces with a ‘too be continued’, it’s too fragmented and too much of a cognitive demand for a learner to remember where they left off. Chunking down a 20-minute video into ten 2-minute videos just provides an increased annoyance factor of ‘what did I watch before?’ and ‘which video am I up to?’ Both questions eat into their small window of patience.
  • Video only – It could also be a job aid, a scenario, a couple of quick questions, a podcast, a mini module etc.
  • Less than 5 minutes – It could be if you discover that 5 minutes is ‘just long enough’, but time should not be the deciding factor.

Microlearning IS:

  • Just in time (not ‘just in case’)
  • Short and specific
  • A single focus – One idea/objective/concept/behaviour.
  • Immediately applicable – no theory/no extensive history/no backstories.
  • Available for the learner to access on their In other words, accessible on any platform – phone, desktop or even tablet, available at work and at home – what suits them?
  • Easy to find – not buried in the depths of your LMS/Intranet.
  • Great for review, practice or extension, all of which fit into spaced repetition well.

Check back soon to read my other posts on how to build microlearning with Articulate tools and how to use Birch Learning Platform for microlearning.

eLearning Tools Empower Your L&D Experts

One of the biggest concerns for organisations adopting an eLearning approach is that it will devalue the learning experience and overwhelm learners with poor quality programs. But we believe the exact opposite is true.

Instead, eLearning tools get your subject experts back on the front foot and delivering their expertise directly to those who need it. It removes complex, overly technical and long winded development from the equation. It allows your specialists to easily develop programs which are tailored specifically to their learners’ needs. Being directly engaged in the course development and design is great motivation and leads to a better quality course and better results.

Here are some benefits of having your L&D team take the in-house eLearning approach:

  • They know your audience and they know what works. On aggregate this leads to better outcomes.
  • Ease of use for those who don’t have a sound knowledge of IT. (although they still need to know how to structure a good learning experience!)
  • By making minor updates themselves, their courses can stay current whilst keeping costs down.
  • Speed of development means fewer resources are required both in terms of time and expertise.

Training courses like our Certified Articulate Training allow teams to trial and evaluate authoring tools. Here, teams can play around with these tools without paying for them first, and learn how to structure a course so that it’s both meaningful and engaging. Additionally, course participants will:

  • See more clearly and from the learner’s perspective having attended a course themselves, they will get a much better feel for what works.
  • Be exposed to a wide variety of approaches. Methods and techniques are changing so fast.

What are your views on eLearning tools? What benefits have you seen? What concerns do you have?

Introducing the Key Components of Birch

Sydney, Australia – One of the most frequent things I’ve heard over the years is, “Why do I do so much training just to learn how to use my new Learning Management System (LMS)?” As frustrating as that question sounds, it really is accurate to how many administrators feel when they are just getting started with a new business tool that is supposed to be making their life easier. In reality, an organisation’s decision on an LMS is largely driven by the usability for the end user rather than for the lowly administrator(s). Being aware of this ever-present frustration, we set out to create something that focuses just as much on the administrator’s experience as it does on the learner’s. We want to keep the hard working and passionate learning administrator as happy and productive as possible. This is why, we’ve launched Birch to the world – a brand new digital learning experience for everyone – administrators, learners, managers and more.

Key Components.

  • GOALS are made up of elements which a user completes to maintain compliance or achieve completion. Use goals to easily control the flow from one element to another.
  • ELEMENTS are learning activities such as SCORM, reading a file, watching a video, attending a workshop/class, taking an assessment, assessor checklists, manager signoff, completing surveys with various types of results (certificates, CPD points).
  • CONNECTIONS remove the limits of traditional user and course structure. Connect things together the way that works for you. Create dynamic target audiences, automate compliance, group users, make teams, build workflows, and even enhance reporting.
  • TAGS amplify reporting and integration capabilities. Simplify searching, showcase featured learning activities and enhance reports.  Tags can be added to Users, Goals, Elements and Connections.

Keeping in line with making an administrator’s life easier and more productive, a simple combination of these Key Components is all you need to build and design learning programs for your organisation. This configuration can be as simple as a single activity that needs to be completed by a learner or as complex as a compliance workflow with multiple elements that renews each year. Either way, the setup and configuration is the same and very easy and intuitive to setup. Here’s an example of what a simple goal (such as a new employee program) could look like:

If you have any questions about this or just want to learn more about B Online Learning, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to connect with you!

B Online Learning Launches Birch, A New Learning Platform

Las Vegas, USA B Online Learning, an experienced learning company, today released their Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) learning platform, Birch at DevLearn.

Birch is a unique, holistic learning platform that adapts to your organisation’s needs. With unmatched flexibility, simple management, and an intuitive user experience, Birch will bring out your people’s natural talent for learning.

Like the tree it’s named after, Birch is adaptable, pioneering and promises growth and renewal.

“Thanks to our long experience in learning, we’ve had the chance to learn from our clients, too.” says Rebecca Hall, CEO & Joint Founder, B Online Learning: “About valuing the administrator’s experience as well as the learners. About the role of flexibility and scalability for long-term value. About what works (and what doesn’t) when you truly want to excite people to learn. That’s why Birch is different. Birch is designed for everyone – learners, administrators, managers and trainers.”

Bronwyn Stell, Product Director & Joint Founder, B Online Learning says “Our end-to-end solution is built from the ground up, with flexibility at its core.  Our innovative, agile framework, allows you to choose how you work with Birch, selecting what you need and enjoying the ongoing value of a system that evolves with you.  That means no cumbersome add-ons and no legacy challenges.” Birch leverages one of the world’s largest cloud networks. This not only provides our clients with the security and scalability they need, but also the ability to store their data in the geographic location that makes the most sense for their business.

The launch coincides with B Online Learning expanding into North America.

About B Online Learning

B Online Learning has more than 20 years’ experience in delivering award-winning learning solutions, content and professional development for some of Australia’s most respected companies, across a wide range of industry sectors. With our wealth of knowledge and highly collaborative approach, we design, develop and deploy unique learning solutions that are flexible, intuitive and easy to use and manage. Learn more at bonlinelearning.com

Contact:
Bryan York, Business Development Director
bryan(at)bonlinelearning(dot)com
bonlinelearning.com
Australia +61 2 9571 6888
North America +1 705 230 8620

Articulate Rise is a Rising Star

One of the challenges faced by e-learning developers is being able to develop learning for multiple devices and platforms. How your module would look on a desktop was the known factor, because that is what most people used to access it. However, with the increased proliferation of mobile devices like phones, tablets and phablets, your hard design and development work could end up not only looking horrid, but also completely unusable on any platform that wasn’t a desktop PC.

Articulate rose to the challenge of responsive authoring with their program RISE, part of their Articulate 360 subscription based authoring platform.

Articulate believe that a designer should only have to build their course once, and then let the tool do the heavy lifting for other devices. That’s right, design an e-learning lesson once, publish, and no matter what device is used to view it, it will look fantastic, with usability second to none.

That belief is what gave birth to RISE. One of the greatest features of Rise is that because it is an online authoring tool, completely accessible via your browser, it requires no installations or downloads to function.

What’s even better though is (can it get better? Yes, it can!) because of that, whenever Articulate offers a new feature, you have access to it straight away, without any updates, downloads or installations. How easy is that!
So, what has changed since Rise has been released? Heaps! Been a while since you looked at it? Here’s your excuse to return! Click on each of the animated gifs below to learn more.

Share/collaborate

When Rise was launched in November 2016, one of the first comments that was made about modules built in it, was that the raw files were locked to the developer’s articulate account. Unlike a Storyline file, they couldn’t be given to the client/customer/stakeholder once the project was completed. Any additional changes would have to come back to the original developer for action. And if the original developer left your organisation, chances are you would lose access to the raw files as well. Not anymore! In RISE you can now not only transfer ownership of the raw RISE files to your client or colleague, you can also now invite additional people to collaborate on a RISE module build.

 

Translations

Need to localise the language of your RISE course? Translations are also now available, with a complete step by step guide included within the software to make it happen for you!

 

Publish to Review

Have you been using Review to collect stakeholder and SME feedback on your Storyline 360 projects? Guess what? You can now use Review to collect feedback on your RISE courses as well!

Accessibility

Need to produce accessible eLearning content as a requirement of your organisation? RISE has now got you covered as well. Alt tags for images, and a publish to PDF option for those times when a hard copy of the module is required.

 

What about in the development of a course itself? What’s changed there? In the last 18 months, a tonne of stuff!

RISE courses are still beautifully responsive and look great no matter what kind of PC, Tablet or smartphone is being used to access it. With the following additions, it has made RISE more customisable, and able to provide a wider range of learning activities for your learners.

Enhanced Quizzing

When RISE first launched, you could test your learner’s knowledge via multiple choice question quizzes only and pass those results back to your LMS as required. That was great, but a little repetitive as it was the only type of question you could access to test knowledge. Now you can use Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, Fill in the blank and Matching questions to mix things up a bit and test knowledge using a variety of questions.

Knowledge Check Block

Want to get your learners to reflect on what they have just seen, but don’t require to use those responses for an assessment. The new Knowledge block is perfect for you! You can ask your learners a Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, Fill in the blank or Matching question to assist them in consolidating their knowledge before they move on to the next lesson.

Content Library

The content library has been available within Storyline 360 and Studio 360 since the launch of Articulate 360, but back then accessing it for use in RISE was not available. Now it’s a different story. Need a high-resolution photo or top-quality illustration for your RISE lesson? You’re now covered by being able to access any one of the millions of photos or illustrations available via the content library.

Prebuilt lessons now available as separate blocks

There were a number of pre-built lessons launched with RISE. The only drawback was that they took up an entire lesson in your RISE project, and didn’t let you customise them with further text, or multimedia blocks as you would have liked. Not anymore! You can still use the pre-built lessons based on need, but now you can also include the Labelled graphic, Process and Timeline pre-built lessons as blocks within your other lessons, giving you increased customisability and helping you set up your RISE course exactly how you want it.

 

Downloadable Resources

Have you got a ‘cheat sheet’ or a ‘just in time’ resource you want to have available for learners to download from within the RISE course? Articulate’s got you covered with the downloadable resource block to add reference materials directly to your lesson, without missing a beat!

Continue Button

Need to ensure a learner has accessed all blocks in a lesson? You can now use the Continue button block to stop them from advancing to the next lesson until they have completed all of the interactions in their current lesson.

Custom Fonts

When RISE first launched, you were restricted to using a number of built in fonts for both your heading and Body text. If you had a decorative font or a corporate font you wanted to use, you were unable to do so. Now however you certainly can! You can upload your own custom font to RISE, and use it throughout your module. Again, the team at Articulate have provided an easy step by step guide to assist you in making it happen. Hello again corporate font! Your marketing team will be very happy!

And now, the BIG WIN! Drumroll please…

Storyline Block

You can now embed a Storyline 360 course within RISE for your learners to access!

Want a more robust interaction than what RISE offers? Got some great content you built previously in Storyline 360 that you want to reuse in your RISE course? Want to use freeform questions to assess learning as opposed to RISE’s built in form-based questions? Publish your Storyline 360 course to Review, embed it within your RISE course and you can! Your learners will get the best of both worlds! Great looking responsive content from RISE, and the additional engagement and interaction of Storyline.

What’s not to love!

Suggested Links

Here are some handy links about all of the changes RISE has had since it launched.
https://articulate.com/support/article/System-Requirements-for-Rise
https://articulate.com/support/article/Rise-Version-History

Want to see what’s possible with RISE? Check these out:
https://community.articulate.com/articles/see-how-you-can-create-responsive-learning-with-rise-in-these-5-examples
https://community.articulate.com/e-learning-examples/
https://community.articulate.com/articles/elearning-challenges

Keen to get hold of RISE or would like to learn more about using it? Need someone to build a RISE course for you? Check out the following links:
https://bonlinelearning.com/contact/
https://bonlinelearning.com/certified-articulate-training/
https://bonlinelearning.com/content-development/

Static to Fantastic: Animation in Articulate Storyline

Have you ever been bogged down building slide after slide and went to preview the story to find it’s just a slideshow? Or have you looked at an older module or course you’ve created and thought to yourself “This look boring!”.

Then look no further! Here are some quick and handy tips to breathe new life into otherwise monotonous screens. Check out the link to follow through the tips to see the changes for yourself! Example 1

Tip 1 – Use your slide master.

Your slide master is an incredibly versatile tool which can be vastly under used. Not only is it key to uniformity and the gateway to keeping your branding team happy, it is also a brilliant way to tweak some of those static graphical elements and add some movement to add interest to your slide without having to change anything on the base slide itself. (See Slide Step 1 on Example 1)

In the Example slide, you can see that the three circles in the corner fly in staggered from the left and the title animates in. This is just an example of what you can do to change the slide without editting anything on the base slide itself, all you have to do is apply the layout.

Tip 2 – Entrance and Exit animations can be triggered.

Sometimes you need to trigger in an animation when the user has completed something or to show more information. This can be done simply by having an object, such as a text box or a shape starting at “State: Hidden” and having an entrance animation. Next all that you have to do is to build a trigger which can change the state of the object to “State: Normal”. The trigger example below will change the state of our textbox called “Closing” to the “State: Normal” when the buttons are equal to visited.

What does that mean practically? (See Slide Step 2 on Example 1) Here you can see the instruction to click the next button appears when the user has visited all of the layers with information.

Tip 3 – Use your transitions

Transitions are often neglected or used in the wrong way. They can be an elegant way of adding flow to your courses. Here you can see the push animation has been used in conjunction with an animation on the slide master title text box to give a feeling of momentum when moving between the slides.

My top 3 recommended transitions are; Push (as you can change the direction in effect options to a whole variety of effects), Cover/Uncover, (for that feeling of cards) and finally, Fade, as it is versatile and softens the transition between slides.

Tip 4 – Use your timeline to loop animations of visited layers.

How, you ask? Just follow the steps below and you will be able to build a looping layer in no time! (See Slide Step 3 and Final slide on Example 1)

Once you have your slide and information on your layers you can follow the steps below:

Step 1: Group your layer objects together.
Step 2: Set your entrance and exit animations, check the length of your animations and take note of the length, in the example we have 0.5s entrance and a 0.5s exit.


Step 3: Select an option under Effect Options to achieve different effects e.g. entrance: from right exit: to right.
Step 4: Add up your entrance and animation times 0.5s+0.5s = 1.0s.
Step 5: Set your timeline to 1.0s.


Step 6: Build your triggers:

  • Trigger 1: pause timeline when timeline reaches 0.5s (length of entrance animation)
  • Trigger 2: resume timeline when user clicks (close button) or you could say when user clicks outside Group 1 (for example when they go to click another button)
  • Trigger 3: hide layer when timeline ends – this is very important, the interaction will not work correctly unless this has been specified. This is because storyline will think the layer is still open even though the timeline has ended which will make the user unable to click anything else on the slide.

Step 7: Finally lets change the layer settings to show other layers so we have an overlapping effect AND reset to initial state.

There you have it, that’s how you can build a looping layer just like in our Example 1, slides Step 3 and Final Slide.

If you would like to see some of these tips in action check out Example 2. The Welcome slide uses animation to move objects into the screen as well as a Transition to the next slide which uses a gif background to add movement as well as the looping layers for the information. (The gif is from a giveaway from eLearning Heroes) The other slide is a basic slide with animation added from the slide master layer and the final slide uses a variety of animations to display the information.

Before you go here’s a quick recap of what we have learned:

  • Use your slide master to add interest without touching the base slide.
  • Use triggers to animate in objects from hidden or do the reverse and hide an object.
  • Use your transitions to add flow and movement to the course.
  • The power of the timeline in using entrance and exit animations to loop animations in layers.

Finally, keep experimenting! Storyline is a simple but incredibly powerful tool, the only real limit is how you use it!

Thank you for reading and I hope you have enjoyed this quick look at animation!

If you have any questions about our content development or would like to see more blog posts about animation feel free to contact us here mail@bonlinelearning.com

Ten Ways to Design eLearning That Makes Sense

When I tell people that I make my living as an eLearning Designer, some people have a blank look on their face. So I usually ask ‘Have you ever done an online training course at work?’. And the response is usually ‘Oh yes, you write those courses do you?’. This inevitably leads to a discussion about what it was like learning online and whether it was a worthwhile and interesting experience. But more and more, I have been asking ‘Did the course make sense?’. It is a simple question, but it is ultimately one of the most fundamental questions to ask when measuring the effectiveness of an online course.

In the classroom setting, teachers and trainers have the advantage of asking the learners questions like:

  • Is that clear?
  • Does everyone understand that?
  • Are there any questions?
  • Would you like me to explain that again?

In other words, when we are training face-to-face we can check that the learners are keeping up and understanding the learning material.

How can we do a similar thing in eLearning? If we use a blended approach, learners can complete an online course or module, then meet face to face or in a webinar to check understanding and engage in discussion. This is probably the ideal situation for many learners.

But here I would like to focus on those courses that are designed purely for online delivery. In this case, the onus really is on the eLearning Designer/Instructional Designer to create a course that makes sense. We need to make sure the learning experience is meaningful and that learning objectives are met.

It may help to imagine that you are the teacher or trainer standing up in front of the class. What instructions do the learners need? What is the most logical way to present the learners with information? How can you explain something as clearly as possible? These are all useful questions to bear in mind.

Here are ten ways to design courses that make sense to learners.

  1. Always include a navigation screen at the start, even if you think the learners have done eLearning before. The navigation screen should have clear and simple instructions so any learner can easily progress through the course. By making navigation easy, learners can focus on the course content.
  2. Free up navigation. Make sure learners can easily go back to previous screens if they need to revise any material for a better understanding.
  3. Pay attention to the layout of each and every screen. Avoid cluttering screens with too much information. The screen should be pleasing to the eye and designed to draw the learner’s eye to the most important information.
  4. Draw on the experience of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Many of them have experience teaching the material face to face, and so you can ask them questions like ‘What did the learners struggle to understand the most in this section?’
  5. Include a glossary. Never assume that the learners will understand jargon, technical terms or acronyms. The glossary should be comprehensive and explain key terms in plain English. I like Articulate’s Engage Interaction Glossary because it places it at the top of every screen for easy access.
  6. Include regular quizzes or case studies to check the learners’ understanding of the content. Instead of having one huge test at the end of a course, it is better to have shorter tests at regular intervals throughout the course. Regular tests and quizzes are a good way for learners to measure their own understanding and build their confidence.
  7. Give learners the option of finding out more information if they need to. You could include a box on some screens saying “Want to know more? Click on this link to learn more about …..”
  8. Provide a contact person for questions. If the learners do have questions, is there someone they can contact? For example you could include the email address of the training manager within the organisation.
  9. Ask another person to check the course to see if it makes sense. If you have access to proofreaders or quality controllers, they can point out any content that is unclear. Alternatively you can ask a pilot group of learners to go through the course. Ask them specific questions such as ‘Was there any content that didn’t make sense?’
  10. Engage in continuous improvement. Even when you have published and released your course to learners, there is still the opportunity to gather feedback and make improvements to the course. You could include a survey asking learners if there was anything they found unclear. This is a great way for you to keep learning about the learners’ perspective and to remind yourself that you are designing courses for real people.

Looking for more ideas to design your eLearning courses, check out our Certified Articulate Training and eLearning Design Essentials workshops.

colour digital learning

Using Colour to Communicate in Digital Learning

Colour is important to the visual experience. It’s a powerful tool because it can change our mood. Think about a recent advertisement that grabbed your attention. It may have motivated you through the bold red colours it used, or it may have calmed you by using cool blue shades. Alternatively, you may have perceived the red as aggressive and perhaps the overuse of blue as cold. This also applies in digital learning.

Colour creates an environment that fosters learning as it plays a significant role in memory performance by enhancing the absorption of information and facilitating the thinking process. Using the right colours can influence the attention, attitude and feelings of people as they learn.

When designing your next course, this Colour Wheel of Emotions might come in handy as you choose your colour palette.

digital learningSource: https://www.aalabels.com

Blue for thought

Cool colours such as blue tend to have a calming effect. Blue is good for promoting high levels of thought as it calms learners as they’re presented with complicated or overwhelming information. Although blue is essentially a soothing colour, it can be perceived as cold and unfriendly if you use too much in your design. Try balancing it with other colours.

Green for concentration

Green is refreshing and easy on the eye. Being at the centre of the colour spectrum, it’s the colour of balance and is an ideal choice for maintaining learner concentration. Studies have found that consumers spend more time shopping in stores that are painted green. If you want to enhance your learners’ concentration levels, then go green!

Red for attention

If you want to direct your learners’ attention to a specific point or boost their motivation, then go with red. Red evokes a sense of urgency. According to a study on the effects of colours, red makes us vigilant and helps us to perform tasks where careful attention is required. Although red is attention grabbing, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive, so consider when and how you place it in your course.

Orange for stimulation

Since orange is a combination of red and yellow, it’s a warm colour, great for activating thinking and memory and, also preventing boredom. Try using orange particularly with content that can be perceived as dry and dull. It can be used to highlight key information and communicate activity. However, when using orange consider the brightness and saturation. Too bright, and you’ll give your audience a headache!

Tips for using colour

  1. Combine colours cleverly – don’t go overboard with colour. You’ll lose the effect of the colour palette if you use too many colours and your learner won’t know where to focus.
  2. Be consistent with the colours you use – this will help the learner to navigate the course.
  3. Select legible colour combinations – pay attention to the contrast between the text and background as it’s vital to the legibility of your content.
  4. Have a purpose for your colour palette – consider what mood you’re trying to achieve in your content. If you’re presenting your learners with complicated information, use blue and if you’re working with dry subject matter, consider using orange to engage.

I can hear you now asking about colours and company branding. When we design our courses, yes, more often than not we do face some limitations because of company branding guidelines. However, understanding how colours are perceived should make it easier for you as you choose the colour palette or accent colours as you work with the branding guidelines.

References

Adams FM, Osgood CE. A cross-cultural study of the affective meaning of color. J Cross Cult Psychol. 1973;4(2):135–156. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743993/

Colour Affects. 2017. Colour Affects. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/how-it-works. [Accessed 31 July 2017].

Nicole Eberhard. 2017. The psychology of colour and its role in e-learning. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hubblestudios.com/psychology-of-colour-role-in-e-learning/. [Accessed 31 July 2017].

Karla Gutierrez. 2017. The psychology of colour: How do colours influence learning? [ONLINE] Available at: http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/how-do-colors-influence-learning. [Accessed 31 July 2017].

HumanNHealth. 2013. Effect of different colours on human mind and body. [ONLINE] Available at: https://humannhealth.com/effect-of-different-colors-on-human-mind-and-body/243/8/. [Accessed 31 July 2017].

Enhance Digital Learning Experiences with Video

I love a good vid. In this age of Netflix, Stan, Foxtel Now and YouTube, you can be pretty much guaranteed to find something you want to watch that is engaging and entertaining. Pretty much any interest you have can be ‘googled’ and located not only for entertainment purposes but also for learning. Want to learn how to build a deck? There’s a vid for that. Want to learn how to cross-stitch? There’s a vid for that. Want to learn how to use photoshop? There’s literally millions of videos on how to do that! How about how to take a better picture? Yep you guessed it. There’s a vid for that.

Practically anything you want to learn these days can be located in a 3-5-minute video or series of videos. So why would you want to sit through an eLearning module that goes for an hour and a half? If you had the option to complete a 1 hour eLearning module on building a timber deck, compared to a 5-minute video which would you choose? I know which one I would choose.

Unlike a traditional presentation of information where you read about a procedure, view some diagrams or pictures about it, and then trying to apply it in a real situation, video enables you to see, listen and review application all in the one package. I can see how someone is holding the hammer while nailing the decking timbers, or how they are checking everything is level with their spirit level, or how they are marking out their measurements.

Video is an extremely powerful learning medium, because it gets a lot of information across in a short period of time, and the viewer is engaged through sight, sound and a ‘real life’ situation. The success of websites like YouTube are a testament to the popularity of video and show how this medium can be used effectively in a learning environment. So, what about our eLearning modules? As developers, what are some ways we can use video in our modules to capitalise on the learning power of the medium and provide an engaging experience?

Provide a personal touch
You can add a short video to an induction module welcoming new starters by the CEO, Executive team, HR team, direct manager etc. Great to put a face to a name! Also makes it easier for the new starter to know who they are looking for if they need to find a particular person. An induction module we created for APG & Co. included a personal greeting from the company’s CEO, welcoming the new starter to the organisation.

Observe a Process
The process might be an interpersonal one, showing an example discussion around a customer service encounter, or a performance management session etc, or even how to use a product.
For example, a module we put together for the Department of Primary Industries around how to put on and take off Personal Protective Equipment when doing a site inspection.

Another example is one we created for NSW Health Get Healthy Program which allowed learners to observe a process and then answer questions about what was done well, and what could have been done better. Check out the 15 minute brief health check demonstration topic.

Case Studies
Another great way to use videos is to play out a case study. Rather then the learner read through a document describing the situation, the learner is able to watch it ‘live’ as the situation unfurls, and how the situation should be dealt with as best practice. For example the team I worked with created a series of videos for a financial institution to cover of the best practice way of completing a personal loan for a customer. This included all of the must ask questions required to process the loan as efficiently as possible, and showed the learner all of the expected legal obligations they needed to cover off while completing the transaction. The feedback was it was invaluable for the learners to see the required behaviour modelled, and it assisted them in understanding the various requirements.

Another example from our APG & Co induction video around ladder usage and safety. What was quite a graphic video allowed the learner to see the consequences of falling from height, and what sort of safety precautions should have been in place to avoid it. The module then went on to discuss how APG & Co. manage ladder safety.

Scenarios
What about a ‘choose your own adventure’ branching video scenario? The learner watches a situation occurring, and in various places the video pauses and they need to make a decision. When they make a decision, the next video shows them the consequences of their decision, and may prompt them to make further choices with other consequences. It is those choices and consequences that provide the learning experience, and assist the learner in gaining the new knowledge required.

Video can be as simple or complex as you like
It all comes down to your experience and the resources you have available. Start small and build to bigger and better engaging scenarios as you get more comfortable with producing video and as resources become available.
Have fun with it! You don’t need to be Hollywood to create great learning videos, with good instructional design you can create video on the cheap that is effective, and has the learning impact you are after.

Watch this video. It’s more involved with more professional production values, but both are used effectively to engage the learner and get them involved in the story. When you are starting out with video keep in short and sweet but visually exciting for its 2-3 minutes, don’t just use a talking head – boring! Get your visual design hat on. A great example of this is the videos produced by Commoncraft – short and visually engaging while explaining quite involved concepts.

To learn more about enhancing your digital learning with video watch my recent webinar here.

Now take a look at some ways we can use video in Articulate Storyline to create interactive and engaging learning experiences.

The Importance of Good UI in Digital Learning

I’m a huge fan of cooking shows such as MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules and one of the expressions they use when judging dishes on these programs is that people eat with their eyes. What they mean is that the presentation is the first thing people see which creates an impression even before they’ve tasted the food. This analogy is much the same in the world of digital learning, as people can be turned off just by the look of an eLearning module or LMS interface.

The User Interface or UI refers to both the look-and-feel and functionality of the eLearning module or LMS menu. This means that your colour palate, navigation, images, icons and layout are all contribute to the overall UI. A well-designed website is easy to use and requires no instruction thereby minimising the amount of extraneous cognitive load on users. The same should apply to digital learning because if people are frustrated due to a lack of intuitiveness, it will take away from the objectives of the piece. The UI is not just making the screen looking pretty, it’s a tool to guide people through the learning experience.

Here’s some tips for improved UI design:

Make the Navigation Clear
Make sure it’s obvious what people need to do next. How to they move forward? If they need to click on all objects before moving ahead, let them know otherwise they may think there’s a problem if the module won’t advance. Also, remove any items that are not needed. One of my pet peeves is when I see a previous button on the first slide of a module. If something isn’t needed or doesn’t do anything remove it!

Make it Familiar
Many people who complete eLearning modules use the internet at work and home so are used to certain elements that are used in website design such as a ‘X’ used to close a window or blue, underline text for a hyperlink. Use these same standards in your eLearning as people are already familiar with them.

Consistency is Key
My colleague Matt Blackstock has written some great posts about making your visual design C.R.A.P. otherwise known as using Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity. Applying these principles will also improve you UI design. Some examples of consistency include keeping navigation elements in the same place across your module and making clickable objects (such as buttons) the same style, so one colour if the button is active and another colour if it’s inactive or been clicked on.

Don’t forget Mobile
If your eLearning will be viewed or your LMS accessed via mobile devices, it changes things when it comes to UI. Screens are smaller, and interactions are performed using fingers so keep the design free from too many elements and make sure all items can be operated via mobile devices.

Test, Test and Test
It’s always good practice to test your work both as you build it and at the end to ensure everything works the way you intended. When testing, you should always do the opposite or try a different way than you intended and see if everything still works. If you can, organise a pilot group of testers watch them as they use your module. Don’t forget to test in different browsers and devices too.

One final point is that it’s best to apply good UI design during the build phase as it is much easier than trying to go back re-design at the end.

What are your tips for good UI design?

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