I love e-learning, it has many advantages:
Advantages for the learners
- Learners can pick when they do their course
- Learners can pick where they do their course
- Learners can pick the pace at which they do their course
- It’s easy for learners to collaborate and learn from each other
- Accessibility features can (and should) be built into your course
Gone are the days of the sage on the stage, lecturing to bored students.
Advantages for teachers
There are also advantages for the teacher – if the course is well designed:
- Differentiation is easy. Knowledge can be tested in the early stages, and weaker students be given extra support, and stronger learners more challenging materials
- It’s very easy to check the knowledge of learners, and view their progression
- It’s very easy to incorporate good materials from others.
- There’s a lot of free software out there, to help you produce professional materials
Why do so many learning providers get it wrong?
Having read the above, you might think that everyone has embraced e-learning! Sadly this isn’t the case. Sadly many senior managers regard e-learning as just another box to be ticked – and many have little experience of e-learning themselves. They fail to give their staff the proper training and support, and more importantly the time to develop attractive and engaging materials.
There’s so much more to e-learning than putting your presentations on your Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)!
How to design a good e-learning course
It’s worth spending a bit of time planning your course, before you start writing it. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want it to achieve?
- What are the needs of your learners?
- How can you make it more engaging?
All of this of course would also apply to a classroom lesson – but you need to try harder with e-learning. It’s very easy for your learners to get distracted when they’re offsite, and start doing something else.
Engaging your learners
You can learn a lot from some of the better TV programmes. Watch CountryFile and they do the classic:
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them
- Tell them
- Tell them what you’ve told them
In other words whet their appetite, teach them what they need to know, and consolidate their learning.
Most people can’t resist a good detective story (think Sherlock Holmes, Mid-Summer Murders, Miss Marple, Morse, Lewis, Poirot). In most we start by finding out about a scenario, and then we’re all with our hero/heroine trying to solve the mystery. That’s exactly how your e-learning should be!
Sadly many of our learners are not good readers – so why do we face them with a wall of words? Happily there are some easy solutions to this, and some use software that you may already have, and know how to use.
It’s also worth adding audio commentaries. If you don’t like the sound of your own voice, TechDis Voices let you generate high-quality, youthful and modern voices.
Some programs to get you started
It’s relatively easy to create self-guided e-learning objects using PowerPoint.
There’s an example I’ve made for you here.
However whilst you can give learners feedback, you can’t make SCORM compliant quizzes.
Articulate Storyline is based on PowerPoint, so if you’re already familiar with PowerPoint it’s relatively easy to pick up. You may be able to get a free trial of this software:
Adobe Captivate is probably harder to learn, compared with Articulate Storyline. However it’s particularly useful when you want to prepare screen capture demonstrations (for example showing people how to use a new piece of software.
Xerte Toolkits were originally developed by the University of Nottingham, in conjunction with JISC. I like Xerte toolkits:
- They have good accessibility features
- They’re SCORM compliant (so you can easily import them into VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) like Moodle, and monitor student progress
- It’s quite easy to create engaging interactive materials which can make learning fun!
- The output can be generated as HTML5 – which means it’s compatible with most modern web browsing devices.
I’ve made a small Xerte e-learning package here to show some of the features.
Do you need help?
If you need help creating e-learning objects, or training staff how to do this, I can assist.
Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org