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Category Archives: E-learning

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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.

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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.

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Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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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!

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Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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CDSM e-learning E-learning Insights

E-Learning Design Part 7: Models of Memory

Have you ever found yourself unable to recall the name of a place you’ve visited, wondered how you manage to remember all the words of a song, or experienced having someone’s name ‘on the tip of your tongue’? It will come as no surprise that our memory is responsible for all of these things. In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts looking at how memory works. We’ll also be looking at how we use this theory to inform our e-learning practice.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that researchers started to develop models of memory. The multi-store model suggests that memory is divided up into stores. Many cognitive psychologists suggest that we have a short-term memory store and a separate long-term store. The short-term store is believed to have a limited capacity and can only retain information for a short period of time. By contrast, the long-term store has an unlimited capacity and can retain information indefinitely.

Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968), expanded upon this basic model, adding a third store called the sensory register. The three parts can be summarised as follows:

  • The sensory register receives sensory information – such as things we see or hear – and retains that information for a very short period of time
  • Short-term memory is a temporary store, holding information passed to it from the sensory register, and also information retrieved from the long-term store, for use when needed
  • The long-term store holds unlimited information indefinitely

Multi-store-model

Atkinson and Shiffrin suggested that information can be held in the short-term store for approximately 30 seconds. However, if rehearsed it can be held indefinitely. Transfer to the long-term store from the short-term store happens whilst information is held and rehearsed in the short-term store. This is commonly referred to as maintenance rehearsal.

There’s much evidence that supports the idea of separate memory stores. People with anterograde amnesia have the ability to recall distant, past events prior to the onset of the amnesia but cannot create new memories. There’s also empirical evidence to support the notion of separate stores. Presented with a list of items to remember, people tend to recall more of the items from the beginning and end of the list, and fewer from the middle. This is because the items at the beginning of the list are better rehearsed and are believed to have entered into long-term memory (the primacy effect), while items at the end of the list are retained in short-term memory and haven’t yet been transferred to long-term memory (the recency effect).

In contrast to the aforementioned theories, others have focussed more on what we do with the information we receive and the impact of this activity on retention. According to Craik and Lockhart (1972), it’s the depth of mental processing that influences what we remember and what we forget. They made the distinction between two types of processing:

  • The first is shallow processing, which involves considering the structure or appearance of information. An example of this would be to consider if a word was in capital letters or sounded like another word
  • The second is deep processing, and involves applying meaning, and making links to other information

As you might expect, the deeper the processing, the better the retention.

Baddeley and Hitch (1974) argued that the multi-store model was too simplistic and came up with an alternative. In their opinion, the short-term store does more than simply receive and transfer information. What they referred to as ‘working memory’ consisted of three different systems designed to work together to store, process and filter information as indicated below:

Central_executive

Research by Baddeley and Hitch (1976) indicates that the different systems can process information at the same time, but that one system can only deal with limited information at any given time.

Theories of memory such as those outlined above have an impact on educational practice. In the next blog in this series, we’ll be exploring how the theories we’ve outlined can help teachers, trainers and instructional designers to engage their learners and help them to remember.

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References

Atkinson, R.C.; Shiffrin, R.M. (1968). Chapter: Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In Spence, K.W.; Spence, J.T. The psychology of learning and motivation (Volume 2). New York: Academic Press. pp. 89–195.

Craik, F. I. M., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal behavior, 11, 671-684.

Baddeley, A. D., & Hitch, G. (1974). Working memory. In G.H. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 8, pp. 47–89). New York: Academic Press.

Baddeley AD, Hitch GJ. (1976). Verbal reasoning and working memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 28:603–621.

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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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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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International E-Learning Part 3: Proven Production Techniques

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In Part 1, we looked at 5 challenges that can impact on the success of an e-learning rollout, and in Part 2 we looked at how to overcome these challenges. In this third part, we’ll look at the proven production techniques CDSM used to deliver Honda’s e-learning programme across Europe, with award-winning results.

Content is King

You’ll want the production of your e-learning to be as quick and efficient as possible, avoiding any unnecessary delays. This means that you need to plan each step of the production process carefully, considering the order of work and any interdependencies.

Proven production techniques - Happy business people working as a team

So where do we start? Well, in our case, content really is king. It determines how a programme of study is broken up, how the pages will be laid out and what assets need to be collected or created. Almost every part of the production process is informed by the content. Using theories about how we learn, our instructional designers started each module of Honda’s award-winning e-learning by creating a storyboard that provided all of the detail.

Upon customer sign-off of a storyboard, a number of teams – including graphic designers, animators, translators and technical authors – spring into action, bringing the storyboard to life (but always staying faithful to the instructional designer’s intent). In fact, the instructional designer is never too far away, as they need to ensure their vision is realised.

Quality is Everyone’s Responsibility

At CDSM, we firmly support W. Edwards Deming’s statement that “quality is everyone’s responsibility.” Although we have a dedicated quality assurance team who ensure project and product releases are thoroughly tested, every member of staff at CDSM is committed to producing work to the highest standard. Testing happens at every stage in our production process to safeguard quality and meet internal and external benchmarks. Our instructional designers not only check their own content, but also peer review each other’s, and our developers write unit tests for their work before they even start developing a feature. The final layer of internal quality assurance is added by our project managers, who perform spot checks before a project is released.

Ticking the boxes - e-learning programme
Our customers also have a part to play. We build user acceptance testing (UAT) into our schedules, ensuring that our customers have the opportunity to give feedback prior to release. We recognised that Honda were the subject specialists, so their feedback on the subject matter was invaluable, and helped us to fine-tune the course content.

Managing Rollout

Having produced innovative, high quality e-learning, we then had to consider the rollout schedule with Honda. With branches spanning Europe, there were a range of factors to take into account. We had to ensure that the e-learning was delivered to each country at the right time, in line with Honda’s product releases. Translation of the content was scheduled to meet each country’s delivery date. This was no mean feat and meant a rolling schedule of releases as opposed to the usual end of project delivery, but careful planning and ongoing communication with Honda ensured success.

If you want to find out more, download our expert guide: ‘How to Create Award-Winning E-Learning.’

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International E-Learning Part 2: How to Overcome the Challenges of Rolling Out E-Learning Across Different Countries

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In Part 1, we looked at 5 challenges that can impact on the success of an e-learning rollout. In this second part, we’ll look at how to overcome these challenges to achieve an easy and successful rollout across multiple countries.

International E-Learning Part 2

As explained in Part 1, performing an international rollout of an e-learning programme is a massive feat, with large scale co-ordination and organisation required. With 10,000 learners, spread over four-million square miles, our rollout of e-learning across all European Honda dealerships is a fantastic example of how to strike a balance between concept and budget. Our experience with this type of rollout has enabled us to develop innovative solutions to the challenges detailed in Part 1, and we want to share them with you.

Piloting to Success

We found that piloting is a really useful exercise, as it enabled us to engage with end users in different cultures and understand their preferences. We received first-hand feedback from the people who were actually using our content. Not only was this of great benefit to us, but it also made the users feel involved in the development of the programme, helping to increase the uptake and buy-in as the e-learning was rolled out.

However, with budget constraints in mind, it’s not possible to pilot everywhere. With Honda, we found that using their in-country representatives (i.e. Honda Area Managers) to devolve some of the piloting across their region made the localisation process easier without having an exorbitant cost.

Many Different Languages

We previously explored the importance of consistency in production in our blog post: ‘Why Developing Standards is Critical’. This focus on standards was a key foundation block for our work with Honda, and allowed us to ensure a consistency in translation across countries.

We worked with reps from different Honda regions to aid the creation of the company’s Pan-European Specification of Standards. This gave us and Honda’s L&D professionals a universal database, helping to decrease lengthy back-and-forth discussions over terminology, processes, etc.

Our partnership with SDL enabled a smooth translation process, avoiding the possibility of the procedure becoming a bottleneck in the project (in Part 3, we’ll look at how we achieved this in more detail).

Future-Proofing Technology

The consideration of what technology to use is a major evaluation point in the production of e-learning. With Honda, we overcame the problems of different user setups (e.g. different browsers, internet speeds, etc.) by creating a custom user interface, adopting cloud-based media file delivery, and enabling cross-browser support. To learn more, take a look at our white paper for the Honda project: ‘How to Produce Gold Award-Winning E-Learning’.

We also invested a lot of time in future-proofing. Several years ago, in response to the increasing impact of mobile devices in learning, we made the decision to move to using HTML5 and JavaScript as our core technology for presenting interactive content. Although we were under no pressure to render Adobe Flash Player obsolete within Honda’s e-learning programme, our commitment to HTML5 and JavaScript meant we avoided a logistical headache when the recent Flash vulnerabilities came to light.

Lighter Push Load

A key part of making the administration load lighter for Honda was the creation of engaging, contemporary e-learning. This meant that minimal pushing was required on the part of the customer.

When performing an international e-learning rollout, the last thing you want is your admin team spending all their time nagging people to complete it. Creating e-learning that engages the end user means that administration time can be better spent synchronising product releases and further training with what’s happening in the business.

It’s also important to make tracking and reporting as easy as possible, and with an LRS (Learner Record Store) in place you’ll get full coverage of everything including what works and what doesn’t without having any impediment on your LMS.

These are just a few of the ways we managed to overcome the challenges of rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries. In Part 3, we’ll share the clever production technique we used to ensure the successful rollout of Honda’s BER course.

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International E-Learning Part 1: 5 Challenges When Rolling Out E-Learning Across Different Countries

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In this first part, we’re going to look at the 5 challenges we think you need to consider, and how they can impact on the success of the rollout.

International E-Learning

  1.       Production Preferences

How do you actually produce content that’s going to work across different countries? Each country is different, and the people you deal with from each country will have a variety of specific likes and dislikes – so how far do you let them pick and choose what they want?

Before you begin working on an international e-learning rollout, you need to decide how accommodating you are prepared (and able) to be. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re creating bespoke content for each individual country, as this will not be practical or cost effective.

However, that’s not to say you don’t want to consider a country’s preferences and cultural differences, but it’s about finding a balance that won’t put pressure on production.   

  1.       Cultural Differences

You need to distinguish between objections that arise from personal preferences, and objections that are linked to cultural differences. Vague objections such as “it’s not like that in our market” will need to be explored to gain a better understanding of what is appropriate.

Again, decisions will need to be made about how accommodating you can be. For example, some countries will be adamant that their end users prefer video in their own language, rather than subtitles, but this could mean that production costs spiral out of control.

Demonstrating the benefits of a one-size-fits-all approach will help to ease tension – with an emphasis placed on the way that a centralised process ensures consistent, high-quality content. But remember, failing to recognise the importance of differences in culture between countries may mean that your end users feel disengaged, so make sure that every country-specific objection is carefully considered.

  1.       Translation

Translation can be a major challenge. For example, German text is typically 35% longer than English text, which can pose a problem if your content needs to fit in a set amount of space. So creating a consistent production process for translating e-learning into different languages is crucial.

Ultimately, all translations will be proofed by the country of origin, and then these checks themselves will need to be evaluated – are they asking for terminology changes or preferential changes? The more leeway that’s given, the more processes there are to undertake.

We previously explored the importance of consistency in production in our blog post: ‘Why Developing Standards is Critical’.

  1.       Technologies

Rolling out e-learning to multiple countries means catering for a diverse user base, not just in terms of language and culture, but technology too. How do you ensure that you are catering for users accessing the e-learning in different geographical locations with different setups? (e.g. different browsers, internet speeds, etc.)

For example, if the e-learning has sizeable media content, this will cause problems for users with low bandwidths. There may be an opportunity to create a ‘no-frills’ version of the e-learning for this type of user, with text summaries of video content and animations. Sizeable media content could then be placed in a separate repository within the UI for them to view if they wish.

However, creating branched versions for different user types can drive up costs, and so it may be more effective to perform an evaluation of potential content prior to production, making decisions about what content is absolutely necessary for the end user.

  1.       Administration

Rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries will require a substantial amount of administration. This could range from setting up the e-learning on the LMS, to tracking and reporting the progress of end users.

Administration may also extend to promoting the completion of the programme, and synchronising the learning with other training.

This amount of administration will undoubtedly be time-consuming should you decide to take it on yourself. And if your e-learning is a compliance box-tick, then you may not have time to remedy any problems experienced by users, or gain a deeper understanding of the actual effectiveness of the e-learning.

These are the five main challenges you will come up against when rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries. They may make an international rollout seem daunting, but don’t feel apprehensive…in Part 2, we’ll explore how to overcome these challenges to achieve an easy and successful roll out across multiple countries.

Got to International E-Learning Part 2 >

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