E-Learning Motivation Made Easy: How To Keep Learners Engaged

E-Learning Motivation Made Easy: How To Keep Learners Engaged

We think E-Learning is great. It’s cost-effective, time-efficient and ideal for delivering standardised training to huge groups of learners spanning even greater geographical areas. However, it does not come without its challenges. One of the key issues with E-Learning lies in its struggle to retain, engage and motivate learners. Today, we’ll tackle the topic of motivation, giving you sound advice and simple ideas to help you excite and motivate learners.

At some point in our education, we’ve all sat in a classroom or lecture hall, tuned out the voice of our teacher and let our thoughts drift off to other things. Many traditional classroom trainers find it difficult to recognise when students are there in person but not in mind. Often it is not until assessments are introduced that they discover whether learning has occurred or whether all of the knowledge they have so painstakingly put together and delivered has went in one ear and out the other.

With online learning, however, the difference is often much clearer. Learners who are not engaged or enthusiastic can be recognised easily because they simply close their browser and fail to complete their learning. A key worry faced by many E-Learning practitioners is whether or not E-Learners will be motivated enough to complete their programmes and have a greater understanding at the end.

Luckily for us, we are not the first people to face the challenge of E-Learner motivation. Today we’ll explore some tried and tested techniques for learner motivation and give you some advice to help you avoid common pitfalls. The ARCS model of Motivational Design by John Keller is a useful starting point for the basics of motivational theory in learning and can be applied to E-Learning. The model outlines four ways of motivating learners; Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. We’ll cover each element in more detail now:

Attention: In order to motivate learners, it is important firstly to gain their attention. Keller proposes two main ideas for achieving this; through perceptual arousal or inquiry arousal. In other words, attracting learners’ attention by doing something out of the ordinary or else by appealing to their inquisitive nature.

Relevance: If learners are to deem content worthy of their attention and the application of their motivation, then the learning must be grounded in real life applicability. This can be achieved by giving examples of the learning’s relevance or even by profiling individuals who have already used the learning for their own betterment.

Confidence: By instilling a sense of achievability and by ensuring learners are aware that the work they put into learning will reap merit, it will give them reason to fully apply themselves. It’s important to map out the learning journey they are about to set out on, give guidance on how much work will be involved and directly link this to potential success.

Satisfaction: Each of us needs to feel like the efforts we are making are worthwhile if we are to continue to replicate them. If you are able to develop a meaningful rewards system for your learners, it will reinforce the relevance of their learning and recognise that their hard work has paid off, thus creating motivation for further learning.

Keller’s theory is easy to understand and for many L&D practitioners components of it may seem fairly obvious. However, often in practice many people deviate from these principles in favour of more superficial or gimmick-filled learning solutions. It is important both when planning your next E-Learning programme and also when assessing its success to consider whether it meets Keller’s four principles of motivation.

How can you avoid gimmicks and inspire real motivation?

In pursuit of the latest trend, it can be easy to get carried away and forget about the simple and effective ways of motivating learners. By adopting a range of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational techniques, you can expect to see more leaners completing your courses and applying the learning within your organisation. We’ve identified three areas where you should be particularly cautious:

1. Gamification

Like many others in the industry, we’re excited about the rise of gamification in E-Learning. In our blog about the gamification of E-Learning in 2015, we predicted that it is to become more practical, more integrated, more fun and more common. Because of the hype created around gamification, however, many have raced to embrace it without fully understanding how to utilise it in a learning context. When we adopt superficial games with low relevance to learning content, we distract from learning instead of encouraging it. Our advice is to carefully consider how you can use game mechanics and gaming narratives to motivate your learners.

 

2. Badges and Reward Systems

A potentially useful way of motivating learners is through awarding badges or by developing a rewards system. It can serve as a form of intrinsic motivation by appealing to the learner’s sense of achievement and is useful as a type of extrinsic motivation because it can give the learner status amongst their peers or qualify them for a reward or promotion. The counterfeit cousin of a good reward system is one which recognises trivial achievements with meaningless rewards. In order to use badges and reward systems to truly motivate learners, it is essential that the achievements are tangible and worthy of recognition and that the rewards are meaningful and roughly equivalent to the amount of work the learner has put in.

 

3. Graphics

The rapid advances within graphic design and constantly growing industry of web-design means that people are increasingly used to highly-stylised web-content with high-quality images and beautifully presented content. This is exciting because it means that we can produce digital learning that is easy on the eye and attention-grabbing. However, in order to maintain learners’ engagement and motivation, ensure that the instructional designer holds the reins in decisions about layout and that content design is not decided by graphic designers. The work of graphic designers should complement the aims of the instructional designer. For more advice on using graphics in E-Learning, download our recent infographic, The Six Golden Rules for Using Graphics in 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.

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.

 

The difference between chimpanzees and us: Social Learning?

The difference between chimpanzees and us: Social Learning?

Our ability to learn from one another and build upon each other’s wisdom (known as social learning) means that we can find new, quicker and more effective ways of doing everyday tasks. In this blog, we’ll explore why social learning is one of the things that makes us unique as humans and discuss why it is so exciting.

We recently watched biologist, Mark Pagel’s TED talk, How language transformed humanity and were blown away by the things he had to say. There are few better ways as a learning and development enthusiast that you could spend your next 20 minutes, so watch the talk now:

It’s difficult to sum it up more succinctly, so we’ll have to quote Pagel:

“Each of you possesses the most powerful, dangerous and subversive trait that natural selection has ever devised. It’s a piece of neural audio technology for rewiring other people’s minds. I’m talking about your language, of course, because it allows you to implant a thought from your mind directly into someone else’s mind, and they can attempt to do the same to you, without either of you having to perform surgery.”

Our capacity to communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings through language means that we can connect with others and work together to achieve mutually beneficial goals. In his talk, Pagel explains how chimpanzees can use simple tools to feed themselves but lack the ability to learn from each other and to innovate. This prevents them from building the social and physical structures (such as supermarkets, for example) which would allow them to feed themselves more easily and efficiently. Our ability to innovate and grow through social learning is a remarkable gift which allows us to achieve things which our monkey counterparts could simply never realise.

Social learning allows us not only to pick up good habits and useful knowledge from others but it also allows us to form close-knit groups of people who we can bounce ideas off and pursue innovation with.

We often talk about learning as if it were an individual pursuit to be undergone at a lonely study desk or whilst sitting by ourselves in front of a computer screen. Academics Lave and Wenger speak about learning in a different way. They talk about communities of practice which are “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

According to Wenger, there are three distinguishing features of a community of practice:

 

1. A shared domain

Members share a discipline or sphere of interest.

2. An active community

Members interact, assist one another and impart information to one another.

3.    A shared practice

Members form a way of functioning. Through past experiences, they decide how to deal with future challenges.

 

Without realising it, many of us already belong to communities of practice; in our work units, sports teams and even our social circles. Social learning can often feel a lot more natural and appealing than formalised, traditional learning so it’s helpful as E-Learning practitioners to find ways to incorporate it into our teaching. Fortunately, there are limitless possibilities to introduce social learning online, including forums, group assignments and blended learning approaches.

The inclusion of social learning in E-Learning is exciting because if we are able to form communities of practice free from geographical boundaries and limitations, we can equip people to learn at any time of day, gaining knowledge from any number of sources so that they can use it immediately within our organisations. Social learning is interactive, attention-grabbing, inexpensive and potential filled.

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.

 

 

 

Two heads are better than one: Five ideas for E-Learning team collaboration

This infographic is available to download here.

The E-Learning profession is a high-paced and demanding industry. Many E-Learning professionals feel they are constantly racing to the next goal or to finish their next project. We’ve come up with five tips that will help your team to communicate with one another, enjoy their work and use their time efficiently.

1.    Use the best tools

As learning technologists, we know that using the right technology can transform a process or task. By spending time researching the best project management tool for your team, you will save time, money and the sanity of your team. We recommend checking out Basecamp and Trello.

2.    Be clear about who is responsible for what

A common frustration for team members is the feeling that they are undertaking work which is not necessarily under their remit. To overcome this, set out clear roles and responsibilities at the beginning and remember to reinforce these when they go astray.

3.    Make a clear and concrete plan at the beginning

Be sure to have a project kick-off meeting where all team members are present either virtually or in person. A kick off meeting should communicate the vision for the project, the limits in terms of resources and map out a pathway to be followed. If you can pull this off, it will ensure buy-in from your team and make it easier for them to recognise and rectify any challenges that arise.

4.    Make allowances for set-backs and delays

Even with the best of planning, unexpected set-backs are bound to happen; whether a member of your team needs to take a few days off or you have technological issues. By anticipating unexpected and uncontrollable events in your planning, you can ensure that you reach project milestones on time.

5.    Create a culture of appreciation

A recent survey by Monster found that 58% of British workers feel they don’t get thanked often enough at work, leading many to feel both under-appreciated and demotivated. If you can lead by example and encourage your team to recognise success, hard work and talent then you will find team members are more engaged, more eager to share their ideas and generally more happy.

 

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.

Selecting the right Learning Management System for your organisation

Image of a computer fashioned as a shop window with the blog title, "Selecting the right Learning Management System for your organisation"

With organisations increasingly keen to monitor both formal and social learning, Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are set to be a big trend for 2015.

In a market saturated with over 600 learning management solutions, (yes, that many!) choosing the right LMS for your organisation can be a daunting task but will reap huge benefits in terms of money savings, time efficiency and the ability to deliver innovative and effective learning campaigns.

In this latest post, we’ll help point you in the right direction.

What is an LMS and why do you need one?

An LMS is a software application which will allow you to manage all aspects of your online learning; including administration, tracking learner progress and the delivery of learning content. A good LMS will make the organisational, technical and administrative tasks associated with delivering online learning into a simple, manageable process.

In his presentation: 7 Questions you must ask before purchasing an LMS, Business Development Manager at Aurion Learning, Gavin Woods outlined the seven key questions you should ask to avoid LMS disappointment:

  1. Is it easy to implement?
  2. Is it easy to customise and configure?
  3. Is it secure?
  4. Is in-depth reporting available?
  5. Does it have strong functionality?
  6. Is it scalable?
  7. Do I want to work with this vendor?

See the full presentation here.

In 2015, there are five industry wide trends that we predict will affect LMS choice and that you’ll want to take into consideration as you future proof your E-Learning:

  1. The widespread adoption of big data in E-Learning
  2. The emergence of Tin Can API
  3. An increase in self-directed, informal learning
  4. A further rise in mobile learning
  5. The integration of learning management and talent management

Ultimately, the aim is to find an LMS which is robust, functional and future proof, as well as being within your budget. Each organisation will have different requirements in terms of technical and functional requirements.

Before approaching any vendors, we recommend sitting down with representatives from across your organisation and discussing what you need to have and what you would like to have.

It’s likely that your LMS will be used by more than just your learning and development team, so remember to include colleagues working in management, human resources, marketing and anyone else who will use the LMS on a regular basis.

With so much LMS choice available, it can be hard to select the right one for your organisational needs. At team Aurion, we’ve selected three LMS solutions that we regularly recommend to a wide range of organisations and outlined which learner needs they meet most effectively:

NetDimensions Learning

Described by Brandon Hall as “bulletproof”, this LMS is notorious for its technical dependability and is ideal for high information or compliance based industries.

With inbuilt talent management integration, it benefits both the human resources and training department by tracking and recording learner progress as well as potentially reporting workplace performance. NetDimensions Learning is used all over the world and its translation and localisation capabilities make it ideal for organisations operating in several countries or using numerous languages. Customer service is reportedly helpful and quick.

LearnUpon

Recently named by independent reporter Learning Light as one of its top 8 learning management systems, LearnUpon is famed for being a simple, easy to set up LMS where administrators can quickly upload and share learning content.

With a transparent payment plan and ability to create new learning content at a fast pace, it is a favourite amongst training providers. As a cloud based LMS, it is highly competitive in terms of data security, accessibility and customisation.

Moodle

For many in the academic world, the word Moodle is synonymous with E-Learning. This open source, highly scalable LMS is seen by many as the unquestionable forerunner in the race for best LMS.

Also voted by Learning Light as one of the top 8 LMSs, it stands out from the crowd because of the cost benefits it offers, its consistent development and innovation and the community of developers who continually create new features and ways of delivering digital learning. It is great for creating mobile learning and is compatible with Tin Can API.

Although it is free, you will need to partner with someone who knows how to use it and will help you to keep abreast with the constant changes associated with a Moodle LMS deployment.

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.

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.