Reminder: Last chance to register for Using Templates to Create your own eLearning Webinar

If you are registered for tomorrow’s free webinar, “Using Templates to Create your own eLearning”, fantastic – we will see you online then! If you haven’t yet registered, it’s happening at 12 noon BST and is a must for anyone interested in, or are responsible for delivering learning and training.

Hosted by Aurion’s Client Services Director, Gavin Woods, we will present an expert guide on using templates to help create your own eLearnng and give an insight into the best practices as well as some of the tricks of the trade.

During the free online event you will learn:

  • Types of eLearning templates
  • Importance of a content style guide
  • Instructional design techniques to designing courses
  • Best practices to use
  • How to make the most of resources available

Register now to join this informative session and share your views and ask questions by submitting them real-time during the webinar or on twitter using hashtag #DesignBuildDeliver

We look forward to seeing you all online tomorrow.

For more information and to register, visit http://www.aurionlearning.com/community/events/webinar-essentials-for-using-templates-to-build-your-own-elearning.aspx

Learning is Evolving: 10 Key E-Learning Trends for 2015

Image of a tablet computer, surrounded by educational icons and accompanied by the title "10 Key E-Learning Trends for 2015"

It’s that time of the year again, and no, we don’t mean office parties or writing our letters to Santa – I’m sure you are super organised and have that fun task completed already! It’s at this time of the year, when we take stock on what’s likely to be occurring for the coming year ahead and predict what the 10 biggest E-Learning trends of 2015 will be.

We think it’s pretty fair to assume that E-Learning is no longer a new concept!

The development of effective instructional design and online pedagogical practice as well as time and cost savings means that digital learning is here to stay. In fact, research company Global Industry Analysts estimate that the market value for E-Learning will reach a colossal $107 Billion in 2015.

So what’s in store for the coming year then? Some of the ‘trends’ you will find popping up also feature from previous years, so technically they may not be a new trend, but we’ve kept them on our list as some of them have been slow to adopt and still hold a solid presence and form the topic of many a conservation by the water cooler.

So, in no particular order, the top 10 E-Learning trends for 2015 are:

 

1. Mobile learning

Making it onto our list year again! Market Research firm Ambient Insight in their 2012-2017 Worldwide Mobile Learning Market Report predicted the five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the mLearning market to be 18.2% and estimated global revenues would be at $12.2 billion by 2017. A mobile consumer report by Google and Ipsos MediaCT found that 80% of users won’t leave home without their smartphone. This level of market penetration coupled with a global digitisation effort reinforcing the indispensibility of mobile devices necessitates the consideration of mobile learning in every L&D strategy.

 

2. The use of video

With the increase in popularity of mLearning and the startling statistic from Google and Ipsos MediaCT that 67% of smartphone users watch video, and 14% use video at least once a day, it comes as no surprise that the use of video in E-Learning is on the rise. Accompanied with an influx in the use of digital storytelling as an educational tool, videos are a fun approach to creating bite-sized and engaging E-Learning modules.

 

3. Tin Can API

Following on from an incredible year in 2014, Tin Can API is likely to continue to grow in popularity and adoption in 2015. Tin Can is a Learning Record Store (LRS) capable of tracking a learner’s progress as they engage in traditional, formal learning as well as informal, social learning. Tin Can is set to overtake SCORM as the go-to industry standard LRS.

 

4. Big data

Most L&D departments are required to quantitatively prove the worth of their learning strategies to stakeholders with accurate statistics and in-depth information. As well as demonstrating the effectiveness of digital learning, the increased adoption of big data will allow E-Learning administrators to personalise learning content, provide timely motivation and test the effectiveness of various learning theories and strategies.

 

5. Gamification

In the Ambient Insight 2013-2018 North America Mobile Edugame Market Report, it was estimated that with a CAGR of 12.5%, the revenue for game-based mobile learning products in North America alone will be $410.27 million by 2018. Growth in the use of game mechanics is fuelled by the expectations of digital age students to be entertained and have content delivered in interesting and attention-grabbing ways.

 

6. Augmented Reality

In the fast-paced world of technology, it can be easy to overlook the repercussions of individual technological advances. Augmented Reality’s (AR) ability to effortlessly overlay the real surroundings of a learner with virtual images that can be interacted with enables us to create E-Learning that is more interactive, engaging and entertaining than ever before. The emergence of affordable and therefore widely adoptable AR devices such as the Oculus Rift means that 2015 could be a landmark year for learning using AR.

 

7. In-house content authoring

Technical advances, cost savings and a wider selection of rapid authoring tools means that L&D practitioners at all levels of technical capability can create their own E-Learning content. An indicator of the growing potential of authoring tools lies in the release of Articulate Storyline 2 and the increased functionality that comes along with it. If you want to build in-house capability and take advantage of serious cost savings, read our recent blog ‘What are Authoring Tools and which one is right for me?

 

8. LMS

With organisations increasingly keen to monitor both formal and social learning, Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are set to be a big trend for 2015. Forecasts show that Learning Management Systems will grow at a rate of 25% for the next 5 years, reaching $7.8 billion in 2018.

 

9. Learning as a lifestyle

The L&D sector as a whole is shifting from thinking about organising individual learning events to creating learning campaigns. In 2015, organisations will be looking for new ways to connect with their learners through social, informal and creative methods that transform learning into a lifestyle rather than a compartmentalised activity.

 

10. Leadership training

In their Global Leadership Forecast for 2014-2015, talent management consultancy Development Dimensions International earmarked learning without practical application or relevance to the job as one of the main barriers to leadership development. With many business looking to invest a large proportion of their L&D budget in leadership, 2015 has the potential to be a year when online leadership training comes to full maturity.

 

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.

5 Learning Apps that are changing the world

Blog Title Image, "Five Learning Apps that are changing the world" accompanied by an image of a hand and other eco imagery. Join the conversation on Twitter with #EndPoverty

The theme for the United Nation’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty this year is to ‘think, decide and act together against extreme poverty’ so we’ve compiled a list of five learning apps that are working towards this purpose and making a positive impact on the world.

Mobile apps are increasingly popular because they allow learners to tap into on-demand, bite sized and just in time learning both wherever and whenever they want to.

The apps we want to highlight stick out because they deliver short, relevant pieces of information that either create awareness of the daily struggles faced by those in poverty or else provide users with the information they need to make informed decisions:

 

1.    My Life as a Refugee

This app is developed by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and allows learners to gain an insight into the dilemmas and difficulties faced by refugees. The learner adopts the role of either Amika, Paulo or Merita, gets to hear their story and has to make quick fire decisions on how to deal with unfolding events. Using gamification, storytelling and problem-based learning, this highly interactive app educates learners on the complex and dangerous situations faced by refugees and hopefully provokes them to take action.

 2.    DataFinder Apps

The World Bank have developed a series of apps packed with extensive and reputable data on world poverty, health, jobs, climate change and much more. These apps allow users access to a previously unimaginable repository of information that they can dip in and out of and use on an informal learning basis. Having such important information on such an accessible platform means that the global community is now able to be more informed and take more action on justice and inequality issues than ever before.

3.    One Today

In a world where there are an overwhelming amount of good causes and charities to support, One Today educates and connects its users with one good cause each day. By including an element of social sharing, One Today allows the philanthropically minded to quickly and easily share new knowledge and findings with their family and friends.

4.    instead

Many people would like to give more to charity but don’t know where to start or what their money could be used for. There is a disconnection between the money in people’s wallets and an understanding of the impact it could have on the world. The instead app provides learners with information on what their money is worth in terms of aid. For example, by cooking at home three times instead of eating out, it’s possible to save enough money to provide HIV medication for one person for three months. By equipping learners with this valuable information, this brilliant app allows them to make decisions and engage with issues that previously seemed distant or difficult to understand.

5.    Save the Children Earthquake Response

Save the Children have been working in disaster relief since 1919 and designed the Earthquake Response app to educate learners on what the priorities and objectives are when they respond to a disaster. The app allows the user to take the place of an aid worker in the aftermath of a disaster. By educating users on the practical and life-saving work they do, they are able to communicate better with sponsors and attract new donors.

 

According to Cisco’s 2013 global mobile data forecast, there are almost as many mobile devices (7 billion) as there are humans on the planet! Because of this, the potential for learning apps in global development is both exciting and potential filled.

Learning apps are now becoming widely adopted across every sector. However, in the charity and development sector where creating awareness and sharing information is intrinsic to receiving support and engaging with live issues, learning apps really are a practical and tangible way of addressing and overcoming global issues. Mobile learning apps present a promising opportunity to ‘think, decide and act together against extreme poverty’.

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.

Want to be top in the class when creating assessments?

Want to be top in the class when creating assessments?

There are few words that provoke as strong of a reaction amongst young and old alike as when an instructor says, “I’m going to test you on that.” However, the way that many students and instructors view assessments is flawed. By identifying these flaws, you can stand to take the stress out of assessments for you and your students.

There are two main types of assessments:

1. Formative Assessments

The aim of a formative assessment is to monitor student learning. It allows instructors to identify knowledge gaps and amend their teaching accordingly. Formative assessments benefit students because they are able to identify their weaknesses and compensate accordingly. By nature they don’t create pressure or stress for students or instructors as they are merely a way of measuring and communicating understanding.

2. Summative Assessments

Often taking place at the end of a period of learning or a learning event, summative assessments measure student learning against a specific benchmark. There is often pressure on both students and instructors as the result is generally a pass or fail.

Assessments are a fantastic way of evaluating competency and understanding so we’ve made a list of five principles to remember next time you’re including assessments in your E-Learning course:

1. Assessments are just another teaching tool.

Regular assessments throughout an extended period of learning act as a diagnostic or problem-shooting measure. To fully utilise this function, it is essential that students understand that the goal is not to appear as if they have learnt and understood. Instead, the assessment is a conversation between student and teacher allowing them to identify areas that need more work and attention.

2. Summative assessment results should be measured against previously decided and specific learning goals.

By setting specific goals defining what learners should know by the end of a period of learning and seeing how these compare to actual results, it’s possible to begin to identify shortcomings and rectify teaching practice for the next time.

3. Regular assessments with good feedback ensure learners’ engagement and success.

As the expert in your subject, your job is to connect your learners with the issues and talking points that will fascinate and intrigue them. Regular assessments encourage learners to dig deep and grapple with these issues themselves. By allowing students to take a back seat role in your class, there is a high chance of them becoming complacent and allowing you to do all of the work. Assessments can help to overcome this.

4. Remind your students that assessments are their best friend.

Learners need to understand that assessments are for their own good and there is therefore no point in hacks, shortcuts or cheating. Learners can attempt to perform and try to make it appear that they know more things than they really do. Last minute cramming for exams rarely equals long term knowledge retention. Typically, the more rushed we are when we take on knowledge is linked to how fast we forget it. By communicating with learners and letting them know that failure is sometimes a good thing, you can change the way they view assessments and learning generally.

5. Assessments should measure knowledge put into action.

Competency is not the amount of information students have in their heads but how they put that information into practice. By allowing learners to demonstrate their newfound abilities, they will be instilled with a sense of achievement.

What do you think is important when creating assessments for your digital learning campaign? We would love to hear what you think! To read more blogs like this, follow @aurionlearning on Twitter.

Best Practice UX Design for E-Learning

UX Design for E-Learning

By incorporating best practice UX design into your E-Learning, you can maximise information retention, learner engagement and learner enjoyment.

UX design specialists tend to know how people use technology but not necessarily how people learn. There are elements of UX design we’ll cover in this blog that are universal and some that apply specifically to E-Learning.

Why is UX design important?

Because of the clever way Apple’s user interfaces are designed, even a toddler who can’t yet read can pick up an iPad, find the game they want to play or take a photo. Apple do things in a way that just makes sense. From the way things are packed and unfold to how their products and software are designed, they create products which simplify processes for the end user and have their enjoyment in mind. That’s why they had a revenue of over 170 billion dollars in 2013. User experience matters.

We all want to create an E-Learning experience that is seamless and intuitive.

By applying our UX design for E-Learning tips, you can simplify processes and delight learners. They won’t have to ask questions about navigation and will be able to do what they want to do, when they want to do it.

To illustrate the importance of UX design in E-Learning, we will use the example of the Sensory Engagement Programme which we developed in partnership with four of the largest support and advocacy organisations for people with sight and hearing loss across the whole of Ireland. The resource aims to raise awareness among service providers of what it is like to be blind, partially sighted, deaf or hard of hearing and using every day services.

As the best designed user experiences are usually the easiest, it was imperative that the user experience on this project was as seamless as possible.

How do people read online?

The introductory page to the Sensory Engagement Programme.

The introductory page to the Sensory Engagement Programme.

  • Researchers from the Nielsen Norman Group undertook research tracking the eye movements of over 300 website users and discovered that people tend to read webpages in an F shape. The findings make an interesting read and the full report is available to download here.
  • In the above image, you can see the welcome page from the Sensory Engagement Programme. As you can see, we have taken the knowledge that online learners read in an F shape into consideration when laying out our content. This means that users are more likely to read the content and will understand what to expect from the rest of the E-Learning resource.
  • The commoditisation of written content in the digital age means that readers scan and spend less time reading than ever before. This means that content needs to make sense immediately, without further explanation. Clear headings, bullet points and concise, meaningful content will ensure that learners will read what you have to say.

UX Design and Flow

An example page from the Sensory Engagement Programme.

An example page from the Sensory Engagement Programme.

Have you considered what happens when learners don’t have a flow or pattern to follow? They simply stop reading.

When designing an E-Learning webpage, the following components are essential for a user interface that simplifies the learning process:

1)    A flow

2)    A call to action

3)    Very little text or else very scannable text

4)    Images that contribute to the information being presented

As you can see from this screenshot of the Sensory Engagement Programme mentioned earlier, we were able to create a flow by minimising the written content on the page and placing a focus on the video. By making the video and the call to action to watch it so prominent, it ensures that learners will prioritise this. The second most prominent flow happening on the page is the flow across the four tabs at the top which allow users to navigate their way through the E-Learning resource.

What happens when it all goes wrong?

As the folks at Icon Finder said, “A User Interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.”

Great UX design is not an additional bonus for an E-Learning programme. Without it, learners will get lost, frustrated, distracted and switch off.

When beginning to develop an E-Learning resource, we suggest sitting around a table with the web developers, designers and instructional designers involved. It’s important for everyone to understand what makes up the key learning content, the layout of content and plan how together you will be able to create an intuitive learner experience.

By incorporating wireframes and storyboarding into your development process and taking UX design into consideration, you can ensure from the get-go that the end user of your E-Learning programme has an experience that will achieve desired learning outcomes and keep them coming back for more.

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.

The Winter Olympics: A Russian Doll of Stories

Five Russian Dolls pegged up to a piece of string with the title, 'The Winter Olympics: A Russian Doll of Stories'Yesterday marked the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Since the beginning of February, the attention of the world has been firmly focused on Sochi.

Viewers were glued to their TV screens, not because they’ve been hiding their love of the luge and curling until this moment but because the Winter Games aren’t so much about sport as they are about storytelling.

Adopting the storytelling techniques used in the Winter Olympics will mean that you can achieve E-Learning gold every time.

Each of the sport events in the Winter Games is presented like a Russian doll of stories: a story inside a story inside a story:

  1. To begin, the presenter introduces the sport, giving a short explanation of its history and explaining why it is unique. The presenters have been picked for the role because they are passionate and well informed. Their enthusiasm is infectious. They are responsible for providing the information listeners need to navigate their way through the rest of the event. The presenter at this point is akin to a well-versed subject matter expert. Learners recognise authenticity so it is important that you utilise the people and passion around you to deliver real, meaningful wisdom and advice to learners.
  2. In a typical Winter Olympics event, the viewer then gets to learn about each of the competitors and is lent a lens with which to look into their world. This is both compelling and enlightening. Personal stories bring a depth and connection to the event for viewers. In the same way, personal stories will help learners to connect with learning content and remember important information much longer than they would have retained knowledge presented to them in the traditional ways.
  3. Stories should be enjoyable. This is achieved in the Winter Games with a combination of witty conversation from the commentator and through the use of music that helps to keep the pace of the event. The possibilities are endless when it comes to adopting these techniques for E-Learning. By combining aesthetically pleasing design, up-beat music and videos it’s possible to make your stories and therefore your E-Learning programme interactive and memorable.
  4. When the sports event is complete and the winners are announced, the presenter explains why winning is such a big milestone for the competitor, how much work has went in to this achievement and reaffirms how worthwhile their effort has been. On the same note, at the conclusion of a good E-Learning programme, it should be clear to the learner what new skills or knowledge they now possess and how this will impact their lives. By making each of your learners feel like a winner and helping them to recognise their achievements you will make them want to return for more.
  5. The Winter Games inspire and move their audience. We are reminded that seemingly impossible goals and dreams are indeed possible. This is a message that is relevant to every person at every stage in life. Stories that appeal to wide audiences and have the ability to evoke powerful emotions create an experience for viewers that is unforgettable. Learning is the same. When learners engage with not just their brains but their emotions and belief system too, they will not just store information away but wrestle with it and apply it to their lives. It was Aristotle who said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

At Aurion HQ, we are firm believers in Philip Pullman when he said, ‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.’

Stories can make learning fun, memorable and easy to understand. By harnessing the power of stories and the storytelling techniques used in the Winter Games, you can entertain your learners and keep them coming back for more.

We are putting the final touches to our new digital storytelling tool, storee. Why not get in on the beta launch and join the storytelling revolution by signing up for free to create your own digital story.

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

Tips for using stories in E-Learning

Illustration of six people connecting through stories in various digital interactionsIn keeping with the storytelling theme from our previous blog post; using storytelling for learning, we discussed how stories can be used for learning and what makes a good story. Often overlooked, stories are a great resource for learning. They are authentic, easy to remember and are a great way to describe an experience.

Storytelling itself is the oldest form of communication and for the majority it is the medium through which we can communicate meaningfully with one another. At Aurion HQ, we are avid fans of storytelling and in particular using stories for learning (not that you could tell!) We will soon be launching a new online tool called Storee that will change the way we tell and share stories.

It’s been proven that our brain organises information in story form, allowing us to connect and make sense of things. One of the first things we do upon meeting others is to share a story; indeed as humans, much of our communication is made up of stories.

What better way to ignite the learning spark than through storytelling?

5 Tips for using stories in E-Learning.

  1. Bin the lists and facts and transform them into stories. Many case study examples in learning, particularly those in the workplace often involve lists of do’s and don’ts. A better way of presenting this is to merge the learning content around a story. Be sure to include and utilise your subject matter experts as they are dab hands at creating stories from content due to their experience and expertise. The key to the success of stories in learning is to ensure that they are relevant and that the learner listening or watching the story can relate to it. In this way the lessons from the stories are more easily depicted.
  2. Dump the jargon. Within a storytelling context, ‘business-speak’ can sound a little trite. When we recall stories that we have heard, we remember stories that were told in a conversational tone, easy to understand and listen to.
    Studies have shown that the part of the brain that experiences emotions (known as the frontal cortex) does not react to overused phrases or figures of speech. Be sure to tell your story in a natural dialogue and one that doesn’t sound robotic.
  3. Introduce multimedia. With so many online applications available at our finger tips, it is easy to integrate your own videos, great images and audio into your story.  As the saying goes, a picture can be worth a 1000 words. The use of multimedia can really enhance learning and the story. If you don’t have a bank of your own images and would like to get creative and use free images, you can use the Creative Commons area on Flickr or stock.xchng. You can also use Compfight to help you search for photos that you can use. Remember to read the guidelines on proper attribution!
  4. Stimulate the brainResearch discovered by monitoring the brain activity of monkeys that whenever a researcher picked up a banana whilst being observed by a monkey, it had the same effect on the activation of neurons as when the monkey itself picked up a banana. Stories that are vivid and appeal to the various sensory cortices in the brain will increase neuro-engagement. This will have the knock on effect of making the story and the message behind it more memorable. Stories can be made more stimulating by creating dramatic plots, the use of music, expressive language and graphics.
  5. Appeal to universal feelings. Although the actual content and characters of a story may be from another universe all together, listeners get wrapped up in stories that appeal to basic social motivations and feelings.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the use of stories in learning or would like to be part of Storee Beta, please sign up.

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.

 

Using Storytelling for Learning

ipad-typewriterWe all love a story; it’s part of what we are as human beings. Although storytelling has been around for an age, stories are often not connected to learning activities. In fact, it’s been said that the original learning technologies were the story and the art of conversation.

In recent years, the art of storytelling has made resurgence as people realise the ability that storytelling has in connecting, engaging and informing us.

Storytelling is a powerful means of communication that is relevant across different cultures and communities. Stories have the ability to pull us into the storytellers’ journey, allowing us to bathe in their experiences and emotions.

When was the last time you couldn’t sleep at night because you couldn’t wait to read the next page of your company’s compliance training? Or you got goosebumps as the result of a particularly good training presentation about health and safety in the workplace? No…? We can’t remember the last time either. Research is showing that stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.

When used in the right context, stories are amongst the simplest tools that learning and development experts can use to encapsulate a piece of learning. We feel so engaged when we hear or read a story that the areas of our brain we would use when actually experiencing the events in the story are activated (as opposed to only some areas of our brain if we were listening to a PowerPoint presentation).

As learning and development professionals, we are attuned to stories and at Aurion HQ; we love nothing better than sharing! As part of the storytelling revolution, we are developing a new online tool called Storee that will change the way we tell, create and share stories. Launching in beta soon, the tool will provide a platform for users to share their stories online.

So what makes a good story then?

  • Realism and structure,
  • Authentic connection to the content or storyteller,
  • Reusability,
  • Measurability,
  • Connection to the organisational narrative,
  • Surprise (cognitive dissonance),
  • Hope (open loops) and
  • Correct focus or length.

Old-fashioned typewriter that has just printed the text, "What's your story?"Less is more.

When we think of stories, it is very often the simplest stories that are the most successful and resonate with us the most. When it comes to writing and structuring stories, not all of us have the natural gift of the gab, or the penmanship of the great authors such as Dickens. However, it is important to note that many proclaimed authors use simple vocabulary and their way of expression is what makes their writing style simple.

A combination of simple language and low complexity is the best way to activate the brain regions that make us truly relate to the happenings of a story. It is for similar reasons that multitasking is so hard for us. To increase the success of your storytelling, try for example to reduce the number of adjectives or complicated nouns in a presentation or article. If you come to a “bigger” word, try to think of a simpler one that can replace it.

Three reasons for using stories in learning:

  1. People are inundated with information. We are bombarded with information every time we leave the house, go on the internet or switch on the television. We try to digest so much information that it feels as if there is simply no more space. However, the same individuals who don’t have the time to read a one-sided compliance document will happily set aside half an hour of their busy day to listen to an interesting story.
  2. People love both telling and listening to stories. From your elderly relatives who share stories from their childhoods, to the prehistoric artists who have etched stories of animal hunts and tales of survival onto cave walls right through to teenage girls gossiping about celebrities in the corner of the school canteen.
  3. Stories are not just another method of knowledge transfer but contain the reasoning for learning. Great storytelling makes the learner feel like a discoverer. When used in an appropriate context, a good story creates the motivation to complete learning.

Whilst the power of storytelling is highly recognised in the business and marketing fields, we are only beginning to tap into the potential of stories in the learning and development field. Whilst we have incorporated personal stories into some of our recent E-Learning projects, we are incredibly excited about the potential of using more storytelling in learning at Aurion; indeed the possibilities are endless!

In our next blog article we will provide advice and tips on using stories in E-Learning 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.