The Six Golden Rules for Using Graphics in E-Learning

We are all forced daily to trundle through reams of written content to get to the information we want. We have learned to quickly scan text, pick out the points of interest and ignore the rest. Today we’ll tell you how you can use graphics to highlight which information is most important for your learners and to help them to memorise it.

Why are graphics so great?

Graphics are amazing because they can easily summarise huge amounts of written information in a small space, not to mention in a memorable and aesthetically pleasing way! The rise of the infographic and the popularity of memes are just small indicators of the potential in graphics to capture learners’ attention and act as a platform for our bright ideas and learning materials.

It would be a shame for the instructional designer to put together killer learning content, for the web development team to create a robust and multi-functional platform to deliver the content on and then to fail to think through how the content will appear to users visually. Without great UX design and appealing graphics, learners will simply switch off. So we’ve created six golden rules for using graphics in E-Learning:

Six Golden Rules for Using Graphics in E-Learning

This infographic is available to download here.

1)    Graphics should simplify learning content, not complicate it.

2)    Choose graphics that will be memorable and make learning content memorable.

3)    Consistency in style is key to creating beautifully designed E-Learning.

4)    If graphics aren’t self-explanatory, be sure to include a caption or explanation.

5)    Avoid including graphics just for the sake of it – they should add to the learning, not distract from it.

6)    Always use high quality graphics.

 

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

 

Loud and Clear: Best Practice Use of Audio in E-Learning

Loud and Clear: Best Practice Use of Audio in E-Learning

So you read our last blog, 4 Questions to ask before using audio in your E-Learning and decided that it’s for you – great! In this blog, we’ll explore the different ways you can incorporate audio into your E-Learning to help you achieve higher learner engagement and enjoyment.

There are 5 main approaches to using audio in your programme:

  1. The audio and onscreen text are exactly the same.
  2. Part of the onscreen text is read aloud.
  3. The audio summarises the onscreen text.
  4. The audio elaborates on the onscreen text.
  5. The audio replaces the need for onscreen text.

 

We’ll explore the pros and cons of using each approach and recommend which one suits each type of content. It is often not a case of choosing one or the other, but rather using a combination across your programme, depending on your content.

1. The audio and onscreen text are exactly the same.

This approach involves the narrator reading aloud each word onscreen verbatim. It is often the first approach most people think of when they consider adding audio, but it is often the approach that frustrates the learner the most.

According to a survey conducted by Don Bair and Mike Dickinson from Learning Solutions Magazine, employees almost unanimously agreed that:

  1. They do not want the entire course to be narrated, and
  2. They do not want text on the screen read to them word for word.

From a practical point of view, extensive audio content adds to the file size of your programme and therefore places a major burden on loading times. This is particularly frustrating for learners with low bandwidth.

This approach is particularly difficult to manage and maintain. Any time you update your content, you need to update the audio to match, and the transcript!

The only upside to this approach is that it accommodates learners who prefer to listen to large amounts of text rather than read it, but these types of learners are few and far between, and you may prefer to explore the use of screen readers for such learners.

 

2. Part of the onscreen text is read aloud.

This approach involves the narrator reading aloud key text such as introductory text and onscreen instructions.

It is minimal text but it is enough to guide the learner through the programme and encourage them to read on and learn more. We prefer this approach because it doesn’t burden the learner with too much audio but instead gives them autonomy over their own learning and to go at their own speed.

From a practical point of view, it results in a smaller file size and is much easier to update.

There aren’t really any downsides to this approach, except it might be difficult (at times) to identify which text to include in the audio and which to leave out, and it may sound formal reading aloud onscreen instructions.

 

3. The audio summarises the onscreen text.

This approach involves the narrator providing a summary or gist of the onscreen text.

If done badly or excessively, this approach may actually confuse the learner. While they are trying to read onscreen text, they may get distracted and confused by a different voice over.

If done well and minimally, this can guide learners through the programme – setting the context in a much more conversational and informal way than reading aloud all or part of the onscreen text. This is where audio really comes into its own – when the narrator talks directly to the learner in a much more casual and friendly tone.

If you decide on this approach, be aware that you need to create and update two different scripts – one for the onscreen text and one for the audio.

 

4. The audio elaborates on the onscreen text.

This approach involves the narrator elaborating upon onscreen text such as bullet points and key words. It means that you can have minimal text onscreen and full audio over the top.

This is quite a traditional approach since it emulates the standard teacher-led or PowerPoint approach of explaining key concepts and ideas. Learners are familiar and often comfortable with this approach.

Although this type of approach exists (and is often requested), we do not recommend it – good E-Learning is more interactive than this! Why not instead provide learners with a series of engaging scenarios to spark their interest and get them actively involved instead of passively listening to a voice over actor talking at them? You can always provide pre-reading materials or supporting information explaining the concepts and ideas that you want to get across, which learners can read at their own pace.

If you choose this approach, you must heavily rely on the use of quality audio and ensure that it syncs up precisely with onscreen text. When amending your programme in the future, it can be timely and difficult.

 

5. The audio replaces the need for onscreen text.

This approach involves the narrator reading aloud from an audio script that the learner cannot see onscreen. It is often used to explain complex concepts or processes, while showing visuals or animations onscreen.

This approach is best if you have suitable visuals to represent the subject matter. However, it is more expensive and time consuming to create visuals so you may want to use this approach sparingly or in combination with another approach.

 

We hope that you have a good idea by now of how you’d like to deliver your audio content, but we’ve created a nifty table to help summarise which approach we would take with different types of screens:

Type of Screen: Use Audio:
  • Interactive scenario screens (with introductory text or instructions).

 

  • Introduction.

 

  • Summary.
Approach 2: Part of the onscreen text is read aloud;or:Approach 3: The audio summarises the onscreen text.
Highly visual (explaining complex concepts or processes). Approach 5: The audio elaborates on the onscreen text.

 

About Maresa

Maresa Molloy, Instructional Designer at Aurion Learning

 

Maresa is an Instructional Designer at Aurion Learning. She is also an avid fan of hill-walking and would love to be stuck in a lift with Andy Murray!

In her role as Instructional Designer, Maresa is responsible for working closely with Aurion client Subject Matter Experts and the in-house e-learning development team in the design and production of online and work-based learning materials for a range of programmes.

 

We would love to hear your experience with using audio in E-Learning – both successes and failures. Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

 

 

 

Loud and Clear – Four Questions to ask before using audio in your E-Learning

'Loud and Clear - Four Questions to ask before using audio in your E-Learning' and a picture of a speaker

Not all E-Learning programmes need to have audio, but it can help learners and create interest, if used well. This blog forms the first of a two part series which will highlight the different questions you should ask before using audio in your E-Learning and the different ways to incorporate it.

There are a number of practical questions you can ask yourself before you think about using audio. These will not only help you decide if you need audio but also how you might manage the recording and updating of it.

1. What technology do your target audience use?

 Is it likely that your target audience:

    • Have speakers or headphones in which to hear the audio?

 You can of course add audio transcripts for those that don’t have speakers or headphones, but it would be unnecessary providing audio if the majority of your learners don’t have them.

    • Have sufficient bandwidth to cope with a larger file size?

 Audio increases the file size of your E-Learning and it can significantly slow down loading times.

 

2.    What are your budget limitations and timescales?

Consider if you are willing to:

    • Invest in good quality audio.

This can be as simple as investing in a good quality microphone, and investing some more on soundproofing equipment. But don’t compromise on your audio. According to Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass at Stanford University, audio quality matters a lot so online learners are unforgiving when it’s recorded badly. If you are in doubt about the quality of your audio, have it recorded professionally.

    • Take the time to add audio to your programme and sync it up with onscreen text.

 This can take some time, especially if your text builds onscreen. Be prepared to add your audio at the end once all of your text is finalised and agreed, otherwise your audio will be out of date very quickly.

    • Provide and update an audio transcript.

 An audio transcript will help users with hearing difficulties read the audio at their own pace. If you add audio, make sure you are prepared to add this and update it when you make any changes to your content.

 

3.    Will your programme require any updates and if so, how often?

If you anticipate that you will make a lot of updates to your content over time, consider if you are willing to record new audio each time you make the changes. This is why deciding on the approach to audio is especially important from the onset – if you choose to record all of your onscreen text, are you prepared to record all of this content if you make even minor updates to your content?

 

4.    What is the nature of your content?

The subject(s) you will be covering will of course help you decide how much audio you will use in your programme. We’ll cover this in our next blog where we’ll explore the different approaches for the use of audio.

 

About Maresa

Maresa Molloy, Instructional Designer at Aurion Learning

 

Maresa is an Instructional Designer at Aurion Learning. She is also an avid fan of hill-walking and would love to be stuck in a lift with Andy Murray!

In her role as Instructional Designer, Maresa is responsible for working closely with Aurion client Subject Matter Experts and the in-house e-learning development team in the design and production of online and work-based learning materials for a range of programmes.

 

 

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

 

How does Tin Can API work in the real world?

How does Tin Can API work in the real world?

I’m sure that by now many of you will already have come across the biggest buzzword to hit E-Learning town since the second coming of SCORM in 2004.

Yes folks, a new standard has landed on our shores and it’s called Tin Can API (AKA Experience API).

So what is Tin Can? What does it do? What does it look like? And what can it do for your organisation? Well let’s have a look.

To fully understand Tin Can it’s necessary to appreciate the history and indeed the limitations of our old friend SCORM. SCORM has been the leading industry standard since 2001 for the tracking and recording of many a learner’s online training history. Quite simply SCORM will record the following details of a learner’s achievements:

  • Has the learner begun their course?
  • Is the course complete or incomplete?
  • Did the learner pass or fail?
  • What score was achieved?

There are a few extra functions that never became common practice, so in essence that’s really all that SCORM does.

“But what’s so wrong with that?” you may ask. No doubt much of SCORM’s success has been down to the simplicity it offers, both for content designers, LMS developers and administrators. But since those bygone days of 2001 the world, and indeed technology, have progressed to now offer us a much more comprehensive means of recording our learning experiences.

So how does this work in the real world? Well gather round and I’ll tell you a tale….

Once upon a time, in a business far far down the road, a young accountant called Alice decided she would like to further her knowledge and skills by learning more about accountancy law. She spoke with her colleagues from learning and development who enrolled her on an online course. “Woohoo!” she said when she completed her online course with a pass mark of 95%, before going on to read 2 accountancy law books, several journals, and learned from many discussions with colleagues and online peers.

Not long afterwards, Alice seen an opportunity for promotion to a job in which accountancy law was a big factor. Feeling enthused she asked her learning and development team to provide a report on her training so far. But when she received the report all it said was that she once did an online course and achieved a 95% pass mark.

“Awww” thought Alice. “It’s just a pity our L&D team were not able to record all the other studying, research and practice I got after I did my online course. If only there was another way…”

Well folks, dry your eyes and put your hankies away, because the answer is here and it’s called Tin Can API.

You see, the main benefit of Tin Can is that it is designed with the simplicity to make it easily adoptable, whilst remaining dynamic enough to record much more of the everyday life experiences that are fundamental to our learning and development.

So here it is in a nutshell…

Tin Can works by recording just 3 simple variables, those being a noun (Object), a verb (action), and another noun. Quite simply, this can be translated into the following:

[Person X] [Had] [This particular learning experience]

Here are some examples:

Noun

Verb

Noun

Alice

Read

The fundamentals of accountancy law (a book)

Alice

Visited

www.Accountacylaw.com
(a website)

Alice

Watched

A presentation on YouTube of accountancy law

Alice

Commented

In an online discussion on accountancy law

 

Simple, eh? The truth is that Tin Can API is the first standard that strives to embrace what we learn in the ‘University of Life’. And with the progress of modern technology (Smartphones, Tablet PCs, Cloud computing etc.) we now for the first time have the means to record much of the informal learning that plays such a big part in our professional and personal development.

And there’s more! Tin Can is independent from specific LMS’s, so no need to remember your username and request a password reset. Mobile and desktop apps are now becoming available that can record your learning activity at literally the touch of a button.

Here’s an example:

Alice is sitting at home surfing the net. She comes across a website all about accountancy law which she finds very informative. Once finished, instead of just moving on, Alice hits a ‘Tin Can’ link on her browser which automatically records the website she was on. Alice can also add comments which will aid her with reflective learning, or she can even share it with colleagues or with peers from a social learning group. All at the touch of a button.

On another day, Alice reads a book. The book doesn’t have a link (as most books don’t!). But Alice can use the Tin Can API App on her smartphone to take a photo of the book, or even to scan the book’s barcode, before sending the precious data off to be stored online. Again, all at the touch of a button.

In essence, we are only beginning to realise the potential that Tin Can API can offer. The simplicity of the ‘Noun, Verb, and Noun’ approach means data can easily be shared across systems and with other learners. It also means that our offline learning can now be captured, reflected upon and reported with ease.

So there you have it. Now that you’ve seen how it works and how it can be applied, maybe now is the time to begin thinking about how you too can implement Tin Can into your organisation to give a richer, more fulfilling learning experience to your learners.

About Ciarán

Ciaran Friel - Instructional Designer

 

Ciarán joined the Aurion Learning team as an Instructional Designer in 2014 and has held a number of positions within the educational and training sector over the past 12 years.

In his role as Instructional Designer, Ciarán is responsible for working closely with Aurion client Subject Matter Experts and the in-house e-learning development team in the design and production of online and work-based learning materials for a range of programmes.

 

 

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Gamification of E-Learning in 2015

Image of a trophy and gamification icons, accompanied by the name of the blog article.

The use of game mechanics to increase learners’ motivation is not a new concept, but this year gamification is set to come of age, moving away from being viewed as a gimmick to becoming a real contender as one of the key techniques used to motivate and engage learners. We can all expect to see gamification become more practical, more integrated, more fun and more common so we want to share why it’s so exciting!

In our predictions of the top digital learning trends for 2015, we noted an influx in the use of gamification in E-Learning and we were far from the only ones. A report by Ambient Insight placed the annual global growth rate for game-based learning at 8.3% and predicted that revenues would amount to a massive $2.3 billion by 2017.

Why is gamification so effective?

Keller’s Model of Motivational Design outlines four strategies for motivating learners:

  1. Attention
  2. Relevance
  3. Confidence
  4. Satisfaction

Gamification is brilliant because it incorporates all four of these tactics to draw in and engross learners. The use of gaming narratives, mechanics and graphics will draw the attention of learners whilst the application of knowledge will reinforce the relevance of learning materials. Learners will have their confidence boosted by the progress they witness during their learning adventures and E-Learning which incorporates rewards and recognition will create a great sense of learner satisfaction.

In the digital age, learners have various forms of information and entertainment competing for their attention. The challenge of the educator is to deliver their information in the most relevant and gripping way.

What will be different in 2015?

Gamification will be:

  • More practical – digital learning creators have often confused gamification with the introduction of badges and reward systems. These superficial styles of gamifying E-Learning can complement more sophisticated game mechanics but most learners are not placated by trivial rewards. Instead, in 2015, we predict the employment of gamification techniques that really motivate learners. Expect to see more simulation, animations and narrative based games.

 

  • More integrated – it isn’t necessary to create a whole new virtual world to gamify your E-Learning and motivate learners. The most successful gamification efforts are those that create interactivity for learners in simple and effective ways. If you want to adopt gamification without having to invest huge amounts of time and resources, consider using puzzles, scenarios and short, fun games regularly throughout your E-Learning.

 

  • More fun – the exciting emergence of new technologies and innovations within the gaming industry is spilling over into the gamification of E-Learning. New technologies that create the potential for virtual and augmented reality mean that games have become more realistic and life like. Whilst few organisations will immediately be able to implement these technologies in 2015, the adoption of sharper graphics and high definition displays will bring games to life for learners and create more fun!

 

  • More common – as we noted before, gamification is growing. Mike Liebhold,  senior researcher and distinguished fellow at The Institute for the Future captures the driving force behind this growth perfectly when he says, “The development of ‘serious games’ applied productively to a wide scope of human activities will accelerate simply because playing is more fun than working.”

 

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

What are authoring tools and which one is right for me?

Image containing title of the blog and a person using an authoring tool

Authoring tools are software applications used to create E-Learning programmes and content. There is a massive selection of authoring tools available on the E-Learning market and we aim to highlight some of our favourite products and outline considerations you should take into account when deciding which authoring tool is right for your E-Learning needs.

There are many types of authoring tools available:

Nine logos for various authoring tools. Including Articulate tools, Composica, gomo, Snap! and more.

 

These can be divided into three main groups of authoring tools:

1. Standalone tools

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Storyline

Tools that do not require any other software to be installed.

 

2. PowerPoint based plug-ins

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Snap!

Tools which extend the functionality of PowerPoint.

 

3. Online tools

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Composica

Web-browser based tools, platform independent.

 

A good authoring tool allows E-Learning creators to use rich media; audio, flash animations, videos and games and to build interactions around the rich media.

Generally content created by authoring tools can be published for use on websites, CDs or Learning Management Systems for consumption by your learners at a time and place that suits them best.

At our recent masterclass series, we gave an overview of the benefits of building internal capability by developing your own E-Learning using authoring tools. You can view and download the presentation here. We’ll also have the recoding of this presentation online soon. During this session, Gavin Woods, our Business Development Manager gave an overview of:

An overview of Articulate Studio. Why? +Based on familiar tools (PowerPoint), + Easy to use, + Good for beginners. Why not? - Some limits on functionality, - Plug-in architecture creates some issues.

 

An Overview of Articulate Storyline: Why? + Most powerful authoring environment, + Unlimited authoring capability, + Work remotely (desktop based). Why not? -Steeper learning curve, - Needs some training, - Appropriate licensing can be an issue.

 

An Overview of Adobe Captivate: Why? + Broad range of features, + Part of a wider Adobe E-Learning Suite, + You may have a license already. Why not? - Not as user friendly, - Weaker set of interactions, - Some minor issues with uploading images.

 

Overview of Camtasia. Used for: Screencasting, Talk to cam, Slides plus video, Slides plus voice over.

In a non-rapid environment (think E-Learning companies developing in Flash) there are at least three people in the development team plus the subject matter expert (SME) and the client. In a rapid environment, there is normally just the DIY E-Learning developer along with the SME. It is very often the case though the DIY E-Learning developer is also the SME, Instructional Designer and client all rolled into one. It’s lovely up to a point…but is also feels pretty lonely. As time and resources are often limited, it’s imperative that you are selecting the right authoring tool.

What factors are important when choosing an authoring tool?

  • Multi-device publishing;
  • The ability to incorporate rich media;
  • The ease of creation of interactivity;
  • Cost;
  • Compatibility; and
  • Skill level in-house.

It’s important to select an authoring tool that allows you to create engaging, aesthetically pleasing and interactive E-Learning content without requiring the technical know-how of a computer genius.

At Aurion, depending on our client’s specific E-Learning project requirements, we select the right authoring tool that best fits the brief. Articulate Storyline has the most powerful authoring environment and now that Articulate have launched a new, improved version; Articulate Storyline 2, it’s worth taking a closer look at this formidable tool.

Our team of E-Learning designers love the features of Articulate Storyline 1 because it is effortless to use, has a strong tracking and reporting functionality, simple integration of interactivity and rich media and content means that it is immediately publishable across a wide range of devices.

So what’s different about Storyline 2?

Whilst maintaining a similar look and feel, Storyline 2 offers the same functionality as Storyline 1 and more. On a practical note, the introduction of auto recovery means that you needn’t worry that you’ll lose any of your hard work if you experience technical difficulties with your device. The new dockable panel functionality enables you to work effectively across multiple screens and the fact it is no longer necessary to compress videos ensures that you can maintain high quality graphics and animations.

Both appearance and interactivity in Storyline 2 are better than ever before with the new motion paths, animation painter and a range of new transitions and animations. Our favourite new feature is the slider interactions which allow learners to play around with data and discover causal relationships in a highly visual and interactive format.

Storyline 2 allows you to both import questions and attribute negative scores, thus allowing you to change how tests are created and assessed.

If we’ve managed to tempt you to give Storyline 2 a go, you can try it out for free here.

Although we’re big fans of Articulate Storyline and have used it as a solution for a wide range of E-Learning needs, we know that there is no one size fits all in digital learning. For more advice on choosing the right authoring tool for you, we recommend watching our webinar: Choosing the Right Tools to Create Your Own E-Learning.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

 

8 Ideas for Exceptional E-Learning Interactivity

An image of a man's mind with a light bulb in the middle and ideas flowing from it, accompanied by the title, "8 Ideas for Exceptional E-Learning Interactivity"

Interactivity is what differentiates dull and drab E-Learning from learning that provokes questions, draws in learners and captures information in a memorable way. If you want to create E-Learning that strikes a chord with learners and transforms learning from being a chore into something enjoyable, we’ve gathered eight ideas for exceptional E-Learning interactivity:

1.    Gamify your learning content

The gamification of learning is a trend that is on the rise. By introducing game mechanics to your E-Learning content, you can increase learner engagement and motivation.

2.    Tell a story

Storytelling has been a learning style long before the introduction of technology. By sharing either illustrative or real life stories with learners, it’s possible to relate your E-Learning to everyday life as well as entertain learners. You can create and share your own digital story for free using our own storytelling tool storee.

3.    Pose questions that require more than yes or no answers

Although they make great tools for assessing knowledge and understanding, it can be tempting for learners to race through multiple choice questionnaires. By incorporating open ended questions learners will receive the opportunity to consider what they have learnt and put it into their own words.

4.    Create discussion spaces for learners to interact

The emergence and widespread adoption of social media means that people are generally more willing to connect and search for meaning using online communities. Social learning offers learners the opportunity to extend learning outside the walls of the classroom and your E-Learning module.

5.    Include beautiful multimedia

Modern, well designed pictures, videos, interactive charts and quizzes will suggest to learners that the content you’re teaching them is up-to-date and topical.

6.    Translate your E-Learning into real world exercises

To successfully motivate learners, it’s vital to link the new information you’re providing them with to their day-to-day life. Real world exercises will prompt learners to consider the legitimacy and relevancy of your E-Learning.

7.    Build problem based scenarios as part of your assessments

Problem based scenarios present a perfect opportunity to encourage learners to grapple with difficult issues and to raise questions about the application of their new knowledge.

8.    Personalise modules by including learners’ names

Small gestures can go a long way. By using learners’ names and other personalised information you can put learners at ease and make them feel like the content was created uniquely for them.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Top 5 Features of Articulate Storyline

Here at Aurion HQ, Articulate Storyline is our E-Learning authoring tool of choice. We like it because it produces fantastic learning content that hits the target both in terms of visual appeal and learning outcomes. Find out five reasons we think Articulate Storyline is fantastic:

Infographic displaying the information contained in the blog below.

This infographic is available to download here.

 

1. Ease of use

The PowerPoint style interface will put new users at ease instantly. Storyline is designed as simplistically as possible with the option to build your own slide or use one of the Articulate templates as a starting point. Storyline is great for instructional designers and learning professionals at any level of technical expertise.

 

2. Tracking and Reporting

Storyline content is Tin Can, SCORM and AICC compliant so any data tracking and reporting is an integrated part of the content development process. Learner progress and outcomes can easily be recorded and measured using your learning management system (LMS) or using Articulate Online.

 

3.    Interactivity

Great E-Learning contains high levels of interactivity. Storyline allows you to quickly create:

  1. Screen Recordings
  2. Quizzes and Assessments
  3. Slide Layers
  4. Triggers
  5. States

 

4.    Characters and Templates

Storyline contains a number of templates and character packs which mean you don’t have to spend hours building your E-Learning design from scratch. For those developing or following brand guidelines, it is possible to create a template and share it with colleagues to ensure there is consistency in the E-Learning that you produce.

 

5.    HTML 5, Flash and Mobile devices

E-Learning created on Storyline is publishable in HTML5, Flash and the Articulate Mobile Player, meaning it is available to learners on a wide range of devices. Users can tap into learning content whenever, wherever with whatever device they prefer.

Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

10 Apps all E-Learning Professionals need to have

In the constantly evolving field of E-Learning, it’s essential to keep up-to-date with all of the latest technologies, to be surrounded by enthusiastic people and keep on top of your task list. To help you stay on top of your game, in no particular order, we’ve compiled a list of apps that will help you stay connected, current and enthusiastic about E-Learning:

10-apps-v4

You can download this infographic here.

1.  MindNode MindNode
£6.99
iTunes App Store
MindNode is a brilliant mind-mapping tool that will allow you to record and organise your ideas into an intuitive visual format. As you input information, it will begin to arrange itself so that you can focus on the content instead of the layout. Featured by Apple as an “App Store Best”, it is well worth the price.For those on an Android device, check out Mindjet.
2.  GotoMeeting GoToMeeting
Free to install, In-App Purchases     
iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store
The GoToMeeting app means that you can attend meetings and connect with your colleagues or clients wherever you are. It is easy, convenient and reliable, with screen-sharing capabilities that enable you to view your colleagues’ presentations and reports.
3.  Trello Trello
Free
iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store
Trello is an organisational tool that will allow you to easily manage your to-do list, break down bulky projects into simple steps and most importantly serve as a focal point for organising the division and completion of tasks on a group project.Trello makes it easy to share pictures and links as well as communicate obstacles and progress between team members. Because everything is instantly synced and saved to the cloud, all of your devices will be kept up to date.
4.  Instruction Design Guru Instruction Design Guru
£1.83 on Google Play, £1.99 on iTunes
iTunes App Store, Google Play
Instructional Design Guru is a reference and performance support app designed by E-Learning Guru Connie Malamad. It is great for both Junior Instructional Designers and for those who have been in the complex and constantly evolving field of Instructional Design for much longer. Connie has defined over 470 terms from the areas of Instructional Design, Cognitive Psychology, Social Media, Multimedia, Technology and Law and shares great tips from her many years of experience.
5.  Reeder 2 Reeder 2
£2.99
iTunes App Store
Reeder 2 is the must-have app for viewing RSS feeds from all of your favourite websites in one place. Reeder 2 is simple and easy to use, making it perfect for RSS newbies and pros alike. For Android users, gReader has been referred to as “Hands down the incomparable king of RSS readers for Android” by AndroidPolice.
6.  Learnist Learnist
Free    
iTunes App Store, Google Play
The Learnist app is a lively knowledge network. Learnist enables you to follow experts, tags and topics which interest you, making it perfect for sharing and finding out new information.Learnist allows you to pose burning questions to specialists and to access and share a range of information related to E-Learning in an interactive multimedia format.
7.  Evernote Evernote
Free    
iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Blackberry World
Evernote is the ideal app for helping you to remember all of the big and small things from your day to day life. It can store entire webpages, notes, files, images, audio and much more so that it can be accessed by you whenever and wherever you need it.
8.  TED TED
Free
iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store
The TED app delivers over 1700 talks and videos recorded at TED conferences worldwide. These talks feature some of the most innovative movers and shakers in the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design.The TED app presents a great opportunity to tap into the knowledge of some of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. The ‘My Talks’ section will allow you to download talks so you can tap into informal learning and new ideas even when you have no connection to the internet. As a learning and development professional, If you’re not learning yourself, then you’ve missed the point.
9.  Scoop it Scoop.it
Free
iTunes App Store, Google Play
Scoop.it is a handy content curation tool that will enable you to keep up to date with industry trends and insights. With this app, you can select, edit and publish content curated from suggested posts, other curators and from all over the web. You can then share interesting content on a variety of social media platforms.
10.  Fruit Ninja Fruit Ninja
Free    
iTunes App Store, Google Play
There are few better ways to wind down after a day of hard work than to slice some virtual fruit with a ninja sword. You deserve to have some fun!

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

A Day in the Life of an Instructional Designer.

Maresa Malloy IDMaresa Molloy is an Instructional Designer at Aurion Learning. Maresa is also an avid fan of hill-walking and would love to be stuck in a lift with Andy Murray! But mainly she is an Instructional Designer who loves providing people the best learning experiences.  If you have ever wondered what an Instructional Designer is or what they do, then you are in luck! After some persuasion, Maresa has agreed to reveal all about how a typical day at Aurion Learning shapes up.


Describe your job:

My job as an Instructional Designer involves helping clients to identify the knowledge, skill and attitude gaps of its staff, and designing learning materials to help close those gaps, based on learning theories and best practices used in my field.

Sometimes the knowledge, skill and attitude gaps may seem fairly obvious. For example, a client may to provide all new staff with a staff induction programme or they may want to introduce completely new Fire Safety procedures.

For other projects, the knowledge, skills and attitude gaps are not so obvious. For example, a client may ask us to develop a leadership portal for a multi-disciplinary team – where the knowledge, skill and attitude gaps vary greatly amongst learners. For the most part – we present completely new learning content.

However, as an Instructional Designer you can’t assume to really know the gaps until a training needs analysis is completed that defines our target audience. Part of our training needs analysis involves what we call a ‘DIF analysis’, this involves sitting down with the client – and often with the learners themselves – to identify three things:

1. What is difficult for the target audience to understand?
2. What is important for the target audience to know or be able to do?
3. What questions are frequently asked about his content?

Only then can we target the areas which staff need the most help with, and design training materials that help them to perform better in their jobs.

The training materials can be delivered in a variety of online formats, but I specialise in the design of e-learning programmes.


Describe your typical working day?

A typical day usually starts off with a cup of freshly ground coffee – one of the many perks of working at Aurion and then onto our daily team ‘scrum’ where we discuss project progress, some design and programming details and release schedules. I’ll then throw on my headphones for some “work mode” music and get on with projects. Personally, I enjoy what I do, life at Aurion is fast paced, and we are usually working to tight deadlines and have several projects on the go at any one time. As part of this, I typically work with my team to produce e-learning programmes and other training materials on time. So in any one day, I could be:

  • liaising with the client and meeting Subject Matter Experts to assess project requirements, assess learner needs and discuss learning strategies
  • meeting with the learner to gauge any difficulties or challenges they may have with the subject area
  • designing and writing the content using storyboards
  • writing supplementary content such as help sheets and job aids
  • producing online training videos
  • learning new tools and techniques in Instructional Design.

For the most part I take a proper lunch break, we are actually encouraged to do so as it is really beneficial to step away from the computer. There are a good few team lunches at Aurion and we are regularly treated to the curry, pizza and sandwich houses that the Ormeau Road has to offer! Aurion also hosts monthly Lunch and Learn sessions for the team, it’s a great way to find out what’s going on in other parts of the company and find out what exciting e-learning and digital media projects that we will be working on!

My afternoons usually comprise of talking directly to clients, team meetings, discussing a project and trying to get the best solution for it. A good thing about my role is that I get to talk to the entire team about a project – there is little hierarchy or chain of command – all team members are included in the decision-making process, from how we will design a client solution, to how projects will be managed.


What qualifications or special qualities do you need for your job?

It is beneficial to have an Instructional Design related degree. I did a Masters in Technical Communication and e-learning, and learned a lot about learning theories and methodologies from this course. However, if you don’t have a degree, it is still possible to get a job in Instructional Design if you have the skills to design and write content.

I also think you need to have the ability to write creatively and to have a passion for how people learn. It also helps to have skills in technology as you get to work with various software tools.


What do you find most challenging about your job?

The most challenging aspect of my job is getting the client to agree to the creative delivery of the learning content. It is usually the case that I am given pages and pages of content that the client wants the learner to read and ‘understand’. My job involves convincing them that we only need to use the content that helps the learner to perform better. All of the other content can be placed on the Learning Management System (LMS) or sent out in an email. We then need to do something creative with the content to ensure that the learner wants and is motivated to read your material.


What aspect of your job do you enjoy most?

I love the actual writing of the content. By the time you get to this stage, you usually have all of the source material and it’s a case of taking pages of content and trying to do something creative with it. I enjoy the challenge and also the pressure to work towards deadlines.


What advice would you offer any Instructional Designers who are interested in joining the Aurion team?

At Aurion, there is a growing focus on continuous improvement and pushing the perception of what learning is and where it can happen. If you’re an Instructional Designer who is looking for a new challenge then be sure to get in touch. As a growing team, we’re always on the lookout for talented people, you can view our jobs at http://www.aurionlearning.com/who.aspx#jobs

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.