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Learning at Work Week 2016 #5

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Learning at Work Week 2016 #5

Let us introduce Andrew, the final participant in our Learning at Work Week 2016 blog series.

Andrew is a Senior Product Designer at CDSM.

Andrew Evans, Senior Product Designer at CDSM

Andrew is a Senior Product Designer at CDSM. His role is to work with our customers and users to understand their needs and design suitable solutions to those needs in partnership with our project management and development teams. Andrew’s is currently working on Hwb, the Wales national digital learning platform and school improvement tools for regional education consortia.

We asked Andrew – what did you learn at work this week?

“A big part of our job is to work with our customers and users (not always the same people but that topic if for another blog post) to understand their goals. Once we understand their goals we set about generating ideas on how we can help people achieve their goals.”

“A prototype can vary in fidelity from paper-based sketches to a polished interactive on-screen application. Our go-to tool is InVision for stitching together prototypes.  We can work in Balsamiq Mockups to put together rough screens and as our ideas develop we will replace the rough screens with screens we design in Photoshop/Illustrator.”

“Another approach is to build functional prototypes to test a more complex workflow.  This involves building the user interface in HTML and JavaScript and producing a prototype that you can perform basic tasks with.  This is particularly useful when designing Web Form and how they behave.”

“I’ve started learning various coding frameworks and tools that will help us build functional prototypes fast.  The frameworks include JQuery, Backbone.js, Meteor.js, AgularJS, and React.”

“In a previous role, I was a web developer so these frameworks are not intimidating but are still challenging to learn.  I’m not trying to become an expert developer and build the most elegant and efficient code when prototyping.  I just want to build something good enough that I can test our ideas with.  We have far more talented developers who will build the finished article.”

“I have started using a website called CodeSchool to learn the frameworks I mentioned.”

“Prototypes are for testing ideas and to do that you need to test with your target audience.  Once we have a prototype we start User Testing where we will ask users to complete certain tasks and see how well the prototype performs (note: we are testing the prototype, not the user – this is an important distinction).  Functional prototypes will give us more options when testing ideas and give us more depth when experimenting with how our users experience our products.”

“Ultimately it will help us validate ideas before we start building the feature or product in a production environment.”

That’s it for our Learning at Work Week 2016 blog series, we hope you’ve enjoyed. Have you participated in at Learning at Work Week too? Tweet us at @CDSM_eLearning.

To make sure you don’t miss out, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our quarterly e-zine.

Authored by Tom Coleman, Marketing Executive, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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CDSM Education Insights

Essential to the Learning Experience: Digital Competence in Teachers

CDSM believe that developing the digital competence of teachers is vital to support the raising of standards and attainment levels in schools.

CDSM designs digital tools for teachers. Tools that enable teachers to create and assign high quality e-learning and assessment resources for students. So it stands to reason that developing the digital competency of teachers is something that CDSM supports tremendously.

Good teachers have always used their skills, imagination and ingenuity to deliver their commitment to children and young people. To deliver the richest of learning experiences. This is one of those eternal truths, sacrosanct and enshrined in public sector UK education.

Good teachers adapt to environmental, political, socio-economic and technological phenomena. They seek to understand, assess and realise the resulting output of such change to enhance their practice, design and shape the curricula they deliver and ultimately sharpen their learners ways of seeing and understanding the world.

Teaching digital competence to young learners

Education in the 21st century is dynamic, demanding and standards-driven. Our good teachers continue to have the very best ambitions and commitment to their students. Today, for those ambitions to translate into high quality contemporary teaching and learning practice, we have to ensure that our schools’ digital capability is about infrastructure, access and their teaching and learning staff’s digital competency.

So CDSM innovates, design and supports digital tools that serve teaching and learning communities.  So that schools can have a cost effective capability to develop and assign quality digital learning and assessment resources. A capability that is able to respond immediately to the changing world we all live and participate in.

Digital Tools

Teachers are the most important agents of change in developing our young people and children because they are instrumental and expert in the design and development of:

  • Challenging and effective curricula
  • Metacognitive skills
  • Specialist subject knowledge
  • Delivering effective teaching and learning strategies

Our digital tools are designed to support, develop, and in competent hands, enhance these important educational activities. It is our digitally competent teaching communities that make our schools effective 21st Century learning organisations.

This blog is the first of several looking at why and how CDSM’s tools effectively support teaching and learning in 21st century learning organisations.

To make sure you don’t miss out, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our quarterly e-zine.

Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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CDSM e-learning E-learning Insights Learning

Interactive Digital Content Designed to Develop Capability – Part 2

Like in most other walks of life there is a pecking order in terms of dominant content forms. There are it seems more popular, more preferred, forms of content. User-generated video, animation, and audio (podcast) are used to stimulate ‘gazillions’ of learning experiences every day.

Each form has its genres, and sub-genres building on learners’ pre-existing experience and knowledge of said form. Like any type of established cuisine, each form has its range of intrinsic ingredients that once blended and processed by expert hands will result in a rewarding experience.

blog_graphic_skills_collaboration_02

Digital instructional designers that are expert and literate in specific forms of multimedia will be able to enrichen the end-user’s digital learning experiences. Similarly, learners who want to learn by doing, demonstrate a new skill acquired or simply give voice to their opinions in a socially collaborative learning context can do so by other means than simply writing or typing their contribution. This generates really interesting dynamics for collaboration. For collectively working to understand something, to discuss and discover together and then to collaboratively create a response that highlights or exemplifies the very thing that the group has been learning about. The multimedia tools and the creative process involved to make such a sophisticated learner response possible are often collaborative by their very nature. So a number of outcomes are possible from such approaches:

blog_graphic_skills_collaboration_01

For example, if using film (audio and video):

The concept or skill that is demonstrated on film is more iconic, more realistic than that of any other type of representation. More ‘realistic’ than a teacher’s verbal description at the front of the classroom or an artist’s impression in a flat 2D graphic in a traditional digital learning object.

The technical form (film) enables the learner to repeat the experience repeatedly. The learner can rewind to view and listen to the content as many times as is required.

As a learning response:

The form (film) enables learners to work together to create a video response that demonstrates they have the skill or understand the concept

The form (film) requires learners develops or at the very least appreciates other valuable important skills for example, scripting, acting, lighting, direction, sound, editing etc.

The execution of the form (film) and its genre will ensure an intrinsic experience of the new concept or skill the learners are being exposed to

At CDSM we seek to understand the mechanics of each interactive content form to enable us to utilise it effectively to create high quality learning and development content for client organisations and their targeted learning audiences.

To make sure you don’t miss out, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our quarterly e-zine.

Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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CDSM

Interactive Digital Content Designed to Develop Capability – Part 1

The old adage ‘content is king’ still rings true in 2016.  7 out of 10 digital learning experiences are driven by well-designed interactive digital content. However the traditional e-learning object is ‘not the only game in town’ any longer. Since 2012 we have seen the emergence of the MOOC (massive online open course), a structured learning environment. A more distributed, less rigid learning form than that of the traditional e-learning object.

blog_graphic_mooc_01

The MOOC is the theoretical chalk to the traditional learning objects cheese. It is the ‘poster-boy’ of the social learning movement (social constructivism) opposed to the traditional learning object that typically reflects the teaching and training principles of the behaviourist school of teaching and learning.

Yet despite their theoretical differences both the MOOC, and the traditional learning object utilises multimedia content, as an intrinsic approach to developing learners’ knowledge and understanding. Interactive content is the glue that binds the constituent elements of a digital experience together.

blog_graphic_mooc_02

However, digital content has changed significantly over the last 10 years. This is because the creation and distribution of interactive content no longer rests solely in the hands of the professional film-maker, the animator and sound engineer. User-generated content has transformed our attitudes and ideas around ownership, quality and price. Interactive content, that is ‘good enough’ can be curated, created and distributed by teachers and learners alike. As described above, teachers and trainers use interactive multimedia to create stimulus resource to initiate the learning and development process.

And those same technologies and techniques are used by learners to build and shape their thoughts and responses to their learning. ‘Flipping the classroom’ as it has become known, is a radical departure for many traditional learning environments but it is happening and is resulting in fascinating learning output and outcomes. YouTube, Vimeo, Captivate, Camtasia, ‘household’ brand names have all enabled teachers and learners alike to access, curate and generate content easily and simply.

Keep an eye out for part 2 of this blog post, where we will explore social collaborative learning and the different outcomes of learner response to interactive digital content.

To make sure you don’t miss out, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our quarterly e-zine.

Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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Business CDSM e-learning E-learning Insights

The Importance of Removing Unnecessary Barriers to Online Learning

It’s an obvious thought but it’s worth sharing…without learners there can be no learning!

Obvious, right? Yet talk to many designers and developers and you might be surprised to learn that very few consider how their work is being accessed. At CDSM, we make it our business to remove barriers to learning opportunities. In working with our customers to identify barriers we uncover a number of repetitive examples that never fail to frustrate and surprise us.

It seems that many agencies fail to understand that for the end-user, a ‘stodgy’ on-boarding process, or a poorly rendered homepage, is a demotivating sign of things to come. It’s a bit like booking that good restaurant, arriving that evening and seeing dirty cutlery on the table. Alarm bells start ringing immediately!

So in no particular order here are four cardinal sins that e-learning agencies still persist with when trying to deliver online learning for their clients:

  • Failure to get e-learning content to present across a good range of current browsers. This is unforgivable and rapidly reduces the number of learners able to access your content
  • Failure to get the same content to render well across formats: PCs, MACs, Tablets and Smartphones. No excuse for this in 2016. There are now standard, responsive design patterns that are in the public domain for all to exploit and benefit from
  • Those e-learning companies that continue to sell and build content that requires 3rd party plug-ins and re no longer supported by majority of modern browsers
  • Those cynical companies who still fail to realise their legal responsibilities to learners who use adaptive and assistive technologies to access their online digital learning

So why and how does this poor practice persist? Unfortunately some companies see providing good practice as an additional extra, a nice-to-have that the client should pay more for.  It is not, the examples above are nothing more than issues that should be resolved as a matter of standard practice and it is unprofessional to suggest or deliver otherwise.

Of course there are always opportunities for improvement and all organisations make mistakes but poor practice should be the exception not the rule. Our industry develops itself by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’. We pride ourselves on our respective innovations but we have also used innovation as an excuse in justifying not doing the simple things well. Thankfully, our industry is growing up, and with open source techniques we have efficient and elegant ways of distributing practice-worth-sharing. This will result in a better deal for our clients and better, more productive experiences for our learners.

At CDSM, we seek to continuously improve access to our services and technologies. We try to fully understand our customers’ learning contexts.  We do this by working closely with our end-users. By describing an extensive range of learner-personas and learning scenarios. We then design and develop for and test against these in order to ensure that access to our work is for the majority not just a few.

Don’t forget to check out our infographic on digital onboarding too!

To make sure you don’t miss out, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our monthly e-zine.

Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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CDSM E-learning Learning

How to Get the OK on Your New E-Learning Strategy

iStock_000076279161_revisedIn order to achieve positive change at any organisation, its implementation needs to be carefully planned. Transforming the way your organisation learns is no different. It was this type of careful change management that enabled CDSM to first create, and then help one of our customers to implement, the e-learning programme that won gold at the 2014 e-learning awards.

So how can you transform your own organisation’s e-learning content, and get the all-important OK from your leadership team? Let’s take a look.

Support Your Vision with Evidence

Proving your case by pointing to statistical data gives your views credibility. A great way to show that your project can deliver results is by performing pilot studies using a small number of learners, and then presenting your findings to your leadership team.

Gradually Build Trust in Your Strategy

Building momentum and trust in your new e-learning strategy can help to get larger projects off the ground. At the beginning of our relationship with one of our now long-term customers, we recommended that they switch from Flash-based e-learning authoring tools to HTML/CSS/Javascript. When they saw the potential of the new technology, they immediately signed us up to develop their e-learning programme – the beginning of a long and very rewarding partnership.

Design Matters

Converting the rest of your organisation to new e-learning is much easier if it looks good. By making e-learning shine on the screen, it becomes much easier for users to imagine how it will fit in with both their work culture and their daily working lives. But it’s important to remember that e-learning shouldn’t just look good – it should also be supported by excellent learning design. At CDSM, we draw on a range of learning theories – from the past and the present – to form the method and practice behind our award-winning e-learning. This is known as our ‘pedagogy’, and you can read more about it in this blog series.

Get Everyone On Board ASAP

When you believe in your strategy, it’s understandable that you’ll want to see immediate results, so it’s important to get those stakeholders on board as soon as possible. You should also utilise any internal communication channels – such as intranets or in-house magazines – to make important announcements and make sure everyone is aware about exactly what’s going on.

Transforming the way your organisation learns isn’t easy, but by taking these points into consideration you should have a greater chance of getting get the all-important OK from your leadership team.

You can stay up to date with CDSM by following us on Twitter, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

 

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Blended Learning Business E-learning Insights L&D Learning

The Benefits of Adopting Digital Learning

If your business hasn’t entered the rapidly-growing world of digital learning yet, there are plenty of reasons why it should. At CDSM, we are passionate about delivering high quality e-learning and digital solutions that improve performance and enable businesses to stay ahead of the competition. In this blog post, we’ll be looking at how you can harness the power of digital learning to build on your success.

Learning is key not only to economic success, but to achieving our full potential as human beings. There’s no denying it: learning matters. Moreover, digital learning is the way to go. The US Department of Education reviewed previous research into the effectiveness of online learning, with two key findings:

  • Learners in online study conditions performed slightly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction
  • Learners in blended learning conditions performed much better than those receiving face-to-face instruction

We summarised the other important points to come out of the study in an infographic: e-Learning Paints a Pretty Picture. Most notably, it found that giving learners control over their learning has a positive impact. Enabling learners to self-monitor their understanding, giving them additional learning time, and putting them in control of their own interactions with media, all led to greater success.

businesswoman using computer - digital learning

If you’re still tentative about taking the leap, you should also consider the extent to which digital learning plays a key part in business productivity, and how this trend is set to continue in the future. We’ve previously highlighted the cost savings, and according to a Brandon Hall study (1995), digital learning in contrast to traditional classroom instruction:

  • Is quicker to deliver than traditional, classroom-based instruction
  • Increases learner retention
  • Boosts productivity
  • Improves the ability to introduce new products and services
  • Is quicker to update
  • Decreases skills gaps

According to a recent report – Modernising Learning: Delivering Results – over 90% of L&D leaders would like learning technology to enable a quicker response to changing business conditions and organisational change. In spite of all this, a massive 60% of organisations cannot implement a technology-enabled learning strategy due to lack of skills.

How Can CDSM Help?

With award-winning e-learning and digital learning solutions at the heart of what we do, CDSM can provide you with the tools you need for a more productive business, a more knowledgeable and skilled workforce, and a more positive working environment. The proof is in the performance.

There’s never been a better time to go digital.

You can stay up to date with CDSM by following us on Twitter, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

Sources:

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Policy and Program Studies Service, Revised 2010

Modernising Learning: Delivering Results, Towards Maturity, November 2014

Return-on-Investment and Multimedia Training: a Research Study. Sunnyvale, CA:, Multimedia Training Newsletter, Brandon Hall, 1995a

Multimedia Training’s Return on Investment,Workforce Training News, Brandon Hall, 1995b, July/August

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CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu News Wales

Major Update to Hwb

[Read in Welsh]

Since our last major Hwb release in June, we’ve been working tirelessly to bring you our best tool suite yet. Collaborating with primary and secondary teachers in Wales, as well as with our colleagues at Welsh Government, we’ve built Hwb into what we believe is the best freely available national digital education offering to be found anywhere – and we’re nowhere near finished yet.

Latest Release

Friday 13th November sees the first of two major releases for Hwb, with five new Playlist features released, along with a plethora of wider enhancements.

CDSM is privileged to serve the educational community in Wales: we know it, and we’re proud of it. It gives us huge pleasure to be making a difference in our own community, and we love the opportunity to travel to your communities and hear your thoughts, listen to your opinions and incorporate these into Hwb.

Playlists

The Playlists feature has been updated to include two new assessment types, to further diversify the way formative or summative assessment can be used in your classroom. The first allows Playlist authors to easily create drag and drop sorting activities, allowing them to create everything from capital city quizzes to reasoning exercises on forces in new and engaging ways.

Playlist Blocks

Coupled with this is the new Image Multiple Choice Question (Image MCQ) format. As with so many aspects of Hwb, the beauty here is in the simplicity: this development gives authors the chance to provide images as the answers to multiple choice questions. This opens up so many new possibilities for our users, such as making possible the creation of mathematical formulae questions without the need to write complicated code or use 3rd party libraries.

Hwb Playlist Blocks

Simplicity, however, isn’t the only beauty on offer– the Playlist feature’s new Slideshow content block provides a template in which the user can present learning material visually in a stimulating way, using bite sized pieces of written text to accompany a complimentary image. Teachers now have real options in accommodating the different learning styles, preferences and abilities in their classrooms.

Slideshow

We’ve also built in the ability for Playlists to hold file attachments, giving authors the option to attach supplementary and supporting content to any Playlist.

Hwb - attachments on step

Next Release

What will make the Playlist improvements even more powerful, however, is the release of our brand new Assessment tool. Created with Playlists at its core, the Assessment tool (released on December 8th) will allow authors to assign Playlists created by any author in Wales to a group of their choosing – for example a class or a set.

Even more excitingly, the latest Learner Record Store technology then allows the author to see the learner’s interactions, progress and attainment in real time. Results can be viewed across the entire cohort or at an individual level, giving the author an unprecedented and timely insight into both group and individual understanding of the topic.

Hwb Markbook

We’re very proud of these features, and can’t wait to see the diverse range of up-to-date assessments that the teachers of Wales will make with them.

In addition to all of this, we’re also releasing a large number of enhancements to Hwb itself; ranging from personal communication enhancements like the private news feed, to practical improvements like the ability to view the resource repository as a list.

Hwb News Feed

We’ve built upon and enhanced so many features that it’d be impossible to try and list them all here – so go and take a look at them for yourself on Hwb.

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