SHIFT's eLearning Blog

Alignment Should Always Be Our Watchword in eLearning

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 @ 11:37 AM

“The instructional decisions we make will increase the probability that our students will learn”—Anonymous. 

How do you dress? For the occasion, of course. How do you choose your accessories? So they match the dress. You take care to turn out in a well-coordinated outfit. Then why shouldn't the eLearning courses you create show such harmony? The watchword here is alignment. The most effective eLearning courses are perfectly aligned, but most often this objective gets the miss when the course is being planned. At other times, eLearning designers are clueless about the concept, so they naturally do not realize their courses are all over the place but not going where they are supposed to head to.a

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Topics: eLearning design

A Do-Not-Do List for eLearning Designers

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 @ 12:27 PM

You have a Moleskin for your to-do lists. Or maybe you prefer an app. You probably get all (or most of) the items ticked off in the list. But what about the ones that you shouldn't be doing? It is as important not to do the wrong things—the ones that sap your energy needlessly or the time-wasters—as it is to do the right things. That is why, productivity champs ask you to take the Start/Stop/Continue road. 

You know what to do; start doing them. Figure out what you are doing right; continue with it. But most importantly, STOP doing what is not serving you any purpose. 

Here's a do-not-do list to help every eLearning professional become more productive:

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Topics: productivity

4 Big Visual Design Trends the eLearning Industry Should Care About

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 12:52 PM

As a learner, did you ever face a situation when you felt that a course had nothing new to offer and the same information was presented in an obvious manner like every other time you have taken an eLearning?

That was a common situation for me as well... as an eLearning designer.  Every time I sat to design a course or training material, I was stuck with the same old style guide that the client has provided me and do not get enough scope to experiment. One fine day I decided to take a plunge and move forward.

Visual design can affect a host of things in learning. It especially helps to concretize the learning for a more clear and memorable experience. Therefore, we, eLearning designers, must carefully observe current trends that will keep our courses from feeling lifeless.

And believe it or not, 2015 is believed to be the year when these visual trends will be seen looming large over the industry and bringing about a change (for better) in the way eLearning is perceived across the globe. 

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Topics: design trends

A 5 Step-Plan to Create Your Own Scenario-based eLearning Course

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 12:38 PM

Fairy tales do a better job of teaching kids the values of honesty and hard work than all the dressing-down you may administer or the sermons you deliver. Kids learn from examples. Adults are no different. They feel inspired by the stories of struggle, hardship, courage, and triumph of our real-life heroes and feel motivated to emulate them.

Have you seen a soccer coach teaching in a classroom or someone learning to drive a car by reading how-to manuals? No. Some tasks are learned best with hands-on training.

Scenario-based eLearning (SBL) courses combine the magical appeal and relevance of stories with the realism of hands-on training within a virtual environment. Virtual scenarios let learners gather professional expertise and experience within a much shorter duration than what they would have obtained from just working at their real jobs. What is more, scenario-based learning lets them learn through a trial-and-error process that is as effective as getting an on-job training but without having to face the consequences or bear the costs of a wrong decision.

Scenario-based learning is well-suited to teach or help the learner hone skills that involve decision-making. Scenarios are often used to teach soft skills like communicating with customers to sell various offerings or resolve complaints. Sometimes learners need to learn, practice, and perfect skills like emergency preparedness and reaction, so they are not caught unaware when a crisis actually arises. SBL is the best instructional strategy to achieve this end.

In this post we will take over a simple and proven model to guide your planning of a scenario for your eLearning course.  


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Topics: eLearning tips, elearning scenarios

Four Questions You Should Ask to Help You Think Like a Learner

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 12:13 PM

Creating an eLearning course is a creative process. As an instructional designer, you need to be come up with designs and ideas that wow your audience. But in trying to be innovative, we often end up creating courses that wow us but fail to inspire the audience. We feel elated at having used a novel technology but fail to impress the learners. We think we have got across a message effectively but the learners leave our course feeling unfulfilled and without solutions to their problems. There is obviously a gap somewhere!

Yes, the gap is in the thinking processes. We, as instructional designers, tend to think differently than the learners.

But you want to create a course that not only impresses the learners but also helps them solve their problems. You want to create a course that convinces the learners to change their thoughts and behavioral patterns. You want to create a course that is memorable and enlightening. To create a course that sticks and connects with your audience, you have to step into their shoes, delve into their minds, and deliver what they need.

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Topics: eLearning tips

More eLearning Design Hacks to Keep Your Creative Mojo Flowing

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 12:56 PM

It is true that we learn design principles from a bunch of theories. But too often, we eLearning designers make the mistake of relying on these theories to give us design ideas. They can provide ideas but only so much. You need to think beyond the theories and look around you to find inspiration and break free from the creativity rut.

Last week we published the first part of the Creativity Series. Here we will continue giving you more design hacks. 

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Topics: eLearning design, creativity

eLearning Design Hacks: How to Get Out of a Creative Rut

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Feb 05, 2015 @ 12:07 PM

How often have you spent hours staring at a blank screen in front of you trying to come up with an innovative eLearning design? Waiting for inspiration to strike is agonizing, and if ideas take too long to show up, you begin to wonder if your creative juices have dried up. Scary, isn't it?

Admit it; we don't get to enjoy too much variety in the content for the courses we create. HR policies, health and safety guidelines, sales techniques, team management and leadership roles, and application and systems training—we seem to circle round and round these types of content, often for years. Our learners often belong to the same demographic group, which means they tend to have similar learning styles and preferences. It is not surprising that most of the time we fall back on tried-and-tested design strategies, either because we fear experimenting or we run short of ideas. We end up falling into a design rut. Beware!

Do not let your creative juices dry up. Follow the tips below to cultivate and nurture a creative mind that is always brimming with ideas.

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Topics: eLearning design, creativity

Bringing Sexy Back to Your Compliance eLearning Courses

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Feb 03, 2015 @ 12:58 PM

I was at LinkedIn when I came across this post by Paul W., Managing Director at Wright Solutions: “People hate compliance training, they don’t remember it and they don’t take it seriously!”

What do you think?

I have to agree with Paul! Is this the students' fault? No! It's our fault! Most compliance eLearning courses can be sooo boring, the topics presented are just “common-sense” or too repetitive, and learners only take the course because they “have to” – not because they are expected to learn anything useful.

eLearning professionals know this, but why is that we keep immersing learners in hours of regulatory torpor?  Why can we develop courses that engage our audience in the same way their favorite book or TV series traps them?

I think the book The Age of Slide Stuffing has the answer: “We’ve forgotten to tell stories; we’ve learnt to stuff slides”.  

In this age of lightning-fast communication and varied media, we are bombarded with messages from all quarters. How many of these stick with us? How many move us? You have to admit that although many messages pack in oodles of wow factor, courtesy of technology, not many inspire you. That's because they fail to connect with you emotionally.

As an instructional designer, you should care. After all, you want your courses to help your audience.

The solution? Weave storytelling into your compliance eLearning courses to make them resonate with your audience's hearts. Yes, stories can enrich and make memorable even dull, drab, and complex technical subject matter. Teaching through stories and metaphors is the best way to hook your time-crunched adult audience and keep them engaged till the end. 

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Topics: eLearning tips, compliance eLearning

Seven Tips for Breaking into the World of Instructional Design

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

What does an instructional designer do when he or she is at work?

He hobnobs with clients who may be life coaches, entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals, owners of production units, real estate magnates, or banking professionals.

He gets to read on and learn about a mindboggling array of subjects—self-development tactics, new software systems, fire safety, managing diseases and medical emergencies, flying an airplane, food packaging, and everything else under the sun. 

He shares office with creative graphic designers and illustrators who make scenes and people come alive with their images, wordsmiths who paint pictures with their words, and maverick programmers who bring together the words and the pictures to create exciting courses.

He looks for inspiration in movies, video games, books, and toys.

There's never a dull moment at work for the instructional designer. And he gets paid to have the fun!

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Topics: instructional design

Managing Cognitive Load is a Delicate Act of Balance

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 @ 12:13 PM

Cognitive load. What's that? You may not be aware of the jargon, but you are up to your neck in it! Try searching for information on the Internet. Kudos to you, if you can manage to find what you need right away in the midst of spammy websites and pop-up ads. An hour of your favorite animal show on TV instructs you more on detergent brands and car makes than animal trivia. We have to be on top of the cognitive load aimed at us in our daily lives, else we would be lost in the maze of useless information.

Spare a thought for your learners when you create courses for them! Learn about the cognitive load that could creep up in your course (unknowingly, of course) and how to manage it.

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