SHIFT's eLearning Blog

Instructional Designers: How to Pick Your SME's Brain in an Interview

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 @ 12:10 PM


You may be an eLearning professional, but the subject matter expert or the SME actually flags off your course by providing the all-important content for you and your team to sculpt on. The SME may be a software programmer or a marketing analyst in your company, a professor, doctor, or a best-selling author who has penned books of encyclopedic proportions on the course matter. Whoever may be the SME, it is likely he is not your cubicle mate. You will probably get just a few opportunities to glean relevant content from him. So take the smart route to make the most of an SME interview. Here we will review the key steps you can take before and during, the interview to maximize its effectiveness.

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Tags: eLearning tips, SME

The Most Basic Things eLearning Professionals Need to Know About Learning

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 @ 12:25 PM

Understanding how the mind processes information and stores it is vital to educators, instructional designers and eLearning professionals. Simply stated, if you don’t know how the mind works, you have no way of knowing how to design material that will ensure success for your students. Information processing theory is a subject that has been studied, discussed and debated so much that a lot of the information available conflicts. However, there are a few basic principles that are generally agreed upon.

So, how do people learn? Essentially, it works in four main stages, and five thought control processes. The four stages are motivation, comprehension, practice and application. The thought control processes are attention, encoding, rehearsal, retrieval and metacognition. When you’re creating instructional materials, you need to keep the stages and thought control processes in mind in order to best facilitate learning.

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If You Confuse Learners, You Lose Them: 4 Steps to Effective Communication in eLearning

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

Well-design courses are worthless if they can't communicate content effectively to those learning. Truth is, effective communication is actually more challenging to apply especially in designing eLearning . 

Optimized eLearning design has the power to motivate students and drive performance. If you are serious about creating effective eLearning courses, it is essential that you follow all four of the following steps to get the right message across to your learners.

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Tags: eLearning design

The Power of White Space to Improve Screen Design in eLearning

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 12:40 PM

When you began to plan your course, you probably never thought of one aspect of eLearning design: the effects of white space. In fact, it’s one of the most overlooked elements in the screen layout of a course. It’s actually a very important component of design. Effective eLearning designs are made by appropiate use of white space, and plenty of it.

What Exactly is White Space?

It’s sometimes called negative or blank space too. That’s space that appears between elements in any composition. Most of us refer to it as a part of the page or screen that remains blank. It’s space that appears between figures, type or columns. In short, white space is area intentionally left untouched.

Its inclusion as part of an effective eLearning design can turn a screen into something very interesting or sophisticated, or both. White space reminds us that simple screen designs can be highly effective and that it’s unnecessary to cram a screen with text and graphics to get a message across. 

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Tags: eLearning design

Use the Psychology of Surprise to Grab Your Learner’s Attention

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 @ 01:27 PM

Every learner wants to believe that their teacher is an expert who can give them knowledge they did not know. Realistically, that isn’t enough to keep the learner on task. The world today is full of stimuli that get our attention. Our brains want that same kind of stimulation in a learning setting. This is even truer in eLearning environments.

Therefore, eLearning professionals have to find different ways of attracting the eLearner’s attention by varying content delivery, asking challenging questions, giving them new things to think about, and so many other things. Our brains, including the brains of eLearners, are constantly in search of stimulation to catch our focus. They are designed to crave the unexpected. It is that stimulation that will win over the brain’s attention, and if that stimulation isn’t provided, something else off-task will provide it. If there is no stimuli, either from the eLearning content or other outside environmental factors, the learner turns within—and day dreams occur.

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Tags: eLearning tips, Grabbing Attention in E-learning

Four Data-Backed Tips to Help You Rock Your Next eLearning Course

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 12:22 PM

When it comes to eLearning content, boring means learners who aren’t engaged. The challenge in designing courses is how to avoid stumbling through a series of hints and still end up with boring content. Here are four tips for effective eLearning course design based on solid data. Stumble no more.

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Tags: eLearning design

Organize Content Effectively to Maximize Learning Opportunities

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Nov 04, 2014 @ 12:07 PM

It is time to set up a new eLearning course. That sounds simple enough, at least in theory.

  • Sit down, draw up objectives for what the course is expected to convey to students.
  • Get curriculum prepared to meet those objectives.
  • Prepare assessments to determine how effective you were in presenting information to those who participated in the eLearning course.

It's not that simple. There is an old saying that “if it was easy to do, then everyone would do it,” and the wisdom behind that saying is true for eLearning courses and for presenting information so people actually learn. Students are able to learn best when information is presented in one of several clear and effective instructional design choices. In fact, research has proved that the order and organization of learning activities affects the way information is processed and retained (Glynn & DiVesta, 1977; Lorch & Lorch, 1985; Van Patten, Chao, & Reigeluth, 1986). 

Text-Organization Effect

The concept refers to the effects that the structural elements of the course have on the information learners encode and remember. This effect relies on the fact that learners’ comprehension is influenced by the text structure used to convey the information. Moreover, it assumes that our brains like the organization of information, which is why chapters, outlines and sections are highly recommended as an instructional method.

To properly organize and sequence content, you’ll first need to consider: 

  • How to use concept or mind-mapping for analyzing content (to determine which concepts build on others and should be presented first, and know how much to include and what to eliminate.)
  • Get to know your learners
  • And...Answer these 7 questions before choosing a structure
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Avoid These eLearning Horrors – Not Only on Halloween

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 @ 12:24 PM

No matter how good you content is, there are a few factors that can totally kill your eLearning courses. If you are looking to create an effective eLearning design, it is essential to eliminate the following four issues.

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Using Concept-Mapping Techniques for eLearning Content Analysis

Posted by Yael Escamilla on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 @ 12:22 PM

Is it possible to find a murderer through the analysis of his writings?

Imagine you are a detective who faces the search of the murder of a young woman. There are no traces of the crime, only a series of letters the prime suspect has sent to his mother but which does not contain any information that could lead to evidence of any kind. Where would you start looking for clues?

This is the problem the protagonist of the film “The Secret in Their Eyes” faces. It took years for a person to analyze and identify that, within the letters, several names are mentioned, apparently unconnected, but referring to players of a famous football team; discovering that this was his passion, the detective then knew where to look.

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Overcoming the Motivation Challenge in eLearning: 5 Things You Can Do

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 @ 12:39 PM

Motivation in eLearning can best be described with a U-shaped curve: novelty and enthusiasm produce high drive at the beginning, but it drops off sharply thereafter, only increasing when the end of the course is in sight. It is up to you to boost and maintain your students' motivation throughout the course, so that they will get the most out of it. Unless they have the motivation to focus and sit through the entire course, they learn nothing at all.

Though every student responds differently, here are some fundamental guidelines you can use to keep your learners motivation levels high from that first splash to the finish line.

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