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Category Archives: Insights

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Want New Employees to Stick Around? Use Digital Onboarding! [Infographic]

Onboarding is a challenge for every L&D manager, no matter what your strategy is!

Training for new employees is a mandatory need – and there is no escaping it – so you want onboarding that is quick, creates a cultural expectation, and provides a rapid enlightenment of your business values.

But what many don’t realise is that onboarding doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore, completed just so you and your new employees can tick a box.

If anything, you can use onboarding to your advantage!

At CDSM, we recently looked at:

  • Why an onboarding program is important
  • How companies are currently training new employees; and
  • What you should expect from digital onboarding

To see what we found out, take a look at our latest infographic:

[View Text Only Version]

Digital Onboarding

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Business CDSM E-learning Infographic Insights Learning Skills Gap

Want New Employees to Stick Around? Use Digital Onboarding! [Text Version]

[View Infographic]

Why is conducting an onboarding program so important?

Only 52% of people join a company with an official onboarding program.

More than 37% said their employer had no program, and just over 11% said they weren’t sure if a program existed or not.

Organisations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater new hire retention.

Nearly 4% of new employees leave their new jobs after a disastrous first day, and 33% decide within the first 30 days.

Companies lose 25% of all new employees within 12 months.

New employees who attended a well-structured onboarding orientation program were 69% more likely to remain at a company for up to 3 years.

25% of companies admitted that their onboarding program does not include any form of training, which can lead to a loss of 60% of a company’s entire workforce.

Organisations with structured onboarding programs enjoy a 60% year-over-year improvement in revenue per full-time employee, and a 63% year-over-year improvement in customer satisfaction.

A combined 71% of companies surveyed are currently in the process of updating their onboarding programs.

Currently, less than 40% of onboarding is completed through technology-based solutions.

The 16% who deliver more than 61% of their onboarding programs through technology-based solutions use either company-wide intranet or e-learning. Hiring employees takes time and money – on average 23 days and over £5000 to fill an open position.

Return on investment from technology onboarding:

Higher staff retention rate – decrease in skills gap
New employees contribute to the bottom line faster
Save employers time training
Reduce travelling time and costs to training

What’s CDSM’s onboarding approach? Proven contemporary learning science!

Typically, the time a worker must spend being trained is reduced by about 40% using e-learning.

However, there is e-learning… and then there is CDSM e-learning! By using best practice, contemporary learning strategies and effective pedagogy, organisations can rapidly improve their onboarding even further…

Scenario-based training can often reduce new hire training time by 25-50%

92% say video helps teach more effectively, and improves learning by 56%

Learning science can be incorporated to empower new starters with skills they wouldn’t usually get from e-learning, and this takes away some of the pressure of a new role.

To understand the difference that learning science can make, get in contact with CDSM now for a demo…

Sources:

http://www.impactinstruction.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013-Onboarding-Report_FINAL-REPORT.pdf
http://www.globoforce.com/gfblog/2014/five-ways-to-keep-your-new-hires-from-failing/
http://www.lesson.ly/blog/9-surprising-employee-onboarding-statistics/
http://www.rootinc.com/white_papers/new-hire-onboarding-overlooked-element-sustaining-successful-strategy-execution/
http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2014/12/24/onboarding-methods-produce-roi/
http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/human-resources/2014/09/how-to-help-your-new-hires-first-day-great.html?page=all
http://www.icmi.com/Resources/People-Management/2013/06/Boost-Performance-With-Scenario-Based-Training
http://www.syberworks.com/articles/e-learningROI.htm

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CDSM EdTech Education Insights Learning Software Wales

The Donaldson Report – A CDSM Perspective (Part 1)

Earlier this year, Welsh Government published a comprehensive, independent review of the curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales, written by Professor Graham Donaldson. Now, in a two-part series on the Donaldson Report (Successful Futures), CDSM explore the headline findings and provide a context from our perspective as an Education Technologies company based in Wales. In this first post, we’ll look at the task, the principles and some key recommendations, giving our perspective on the intended outcomes.

The Task

Schools Traffic Sign

“In recognition of the potential pitfalls of overload, complexity, and redundancy in the [current] curriculum, the Review was asked to stand back and to take a fundamental look at the ways in which today’s schools can prepare young people for an exciting but uncertain future.”

Successful Futures, page 11

CDSM believe that Wales has to ensure its learners are ready to play a role in the local and national industries that govern the prosperity of the nation. Only a wholesale transformation can make this possible. To try to adapt the 1988 curriculum in piecemeal fashion could add years of frustration to the process.

The Principles

School Science Class - Donaldson Report looking at School Improvement

“The purposes of the curriculum in Wales should be that children and young people develop as:

  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society”

Successful Futures, page 29

While CDSM admit that a broad set of purposes, like these, can be used to say very little, we cannot help but be excited and energised by the focus on creating life-long learners who are well-rounded, worldly and outward focused. For us, it means that the classroom becomes a place of discovery, and an environment where pupils can take a lead in their own learning. It’s a perfect environment for the tools that we work so hard to create to flourish, fulfilling their potential alongside the potential of the students they are helping to teach.

It was impossible for us to overlook the references to inclusion in the report; Wales is leading the way through its adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and we’re proud to see that this sentiment will be represented throughout the new curriculum proposals. CDSM believe that it’s vital we give our learners a holistic understanding of what it means to have rights and to be protected. This is contiguous with our own commitment to ensuring learner safety and freedom of expression.  

“Principles of curriculum design – the curriculum should be:

Inclusive: easily understood by all, encompassing an entitlement to high-quality education for every child and young person and taking account of their views in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and those of parents, carers and wider society”

Successful Futures, page 14

CDSM has, for a long time, banged a drum for teachers. We feel that teachers are the best-placed people to make decisions about their classroom. It is their passion, drive and invention that strengthens our education system, always responding to new demands and changes. Our intention is to enable teachers to successfully adapt to those changes, by creating tools that place teacher-generated content at the heart of the classroom. We make aggregation, sharing and collaboration easy and we facilitate networks of professional learning communities, helping the whole of Wales to benefit from established islands of excellence.

We can’t, therefore, fail to be excited by the commitment to subsidiarity, outlined in the report:

“Principles of curriculum design – the curriculum should be:

Based on subsidiarity: commanding the confidence of all, while encouraging appropriate ownership and decision making by those closest to the teaching and learning process.”

Successful Futures, page 14

Key Recommendations

School Classroom - Children and Teacher - Donaldson Report looking at School Improvement

“A digital competence framework and an accompanying ‘Routes to Learning Digital Competence’ should be developed and be included as a Cross-curriculum Responsibility.” 

Successful Futures, page 42

This recommendation is hugely welcomed by CDSM. As an SME based in South Wales that strives to recruit the best and brightest software developers from local schools and universities, the commitment to improving the levels of digital competence – not just in terms of using software, but in terms of becoming an active participant in the discovery and creation of tomorrow’s technological breakthrough – cannot be underestimated.

The Reception

School Classroom - children with hands up - Donaldson Report looking at School Improvement

It’s worth noting that the Donaldson Report has received near-universal support from our politicians and, although no concrete timelines have been announced, the feeling is that we should expect an ambitious timetable leading to implementation before 2020.

“We need a curriculum which is ambitious, engaging and fit for the challenges of the twenty first century. The national curriculum of 1988 has served an important purpose, but we can no longer address the weaknesses of the current curriculum through a ‘patch and mend’ approach.”

– Huw Lewis, Education Minister, July 2015

CDSM has a huge role to play in the realisation of the Donaldson Report. It’s potentially the biggest and most profound change in our education system in living memory and, crucially, it  represents the ambitious, forward-thinking and diverse framework we need. From the perspective of a learning technologies company based in Wales, with a vested interest in our young people, it’s as much as we could have asked for – and we can’t wait to get started.

In the second of this two-part series on the Donaldson Report, we’ll look into the report’s implications for teachers, the classroom and technology in the classroom. To make sure you don’t miss it, follow us and subscribe.

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CDSM E-learning Insights Instructional Design

So, you want to be an Instructional Designer?

Our Senior Instructional Designer, Rhys Williams, gives us an insight into how someone becomes an instructional designer, and explains what the varied role entails…

There’s a scene in the television sitcom Friends where Rachel and Monica are desperately trying to remember what Chandler – one of their best pals  – does for a living. It’s the final question in a high-stakes trivia game and if the girls can’t remember, they lose their apartment. Pressured into coming up with an answer, Rachel shouts out: “He’s a transpons…transponster!” Of course, she’s wrong – there’s no such thing as a transponster – and Chandler (an IT procurement manager) and Joey win the game and the bigger apartment.

You’re probably wondering – what does this have to do with instructional design? Well, I’ll tell you.  Outside of the e-learning industry, it seems that very few people know what an instructional designer is. Although my own group of friends (we don’t have our own television show, you’ll be saddened to hear) could all tell you, if asked, that I work in e-learning, or that my employers are CDSM Interactive Solutions, I’d bet that very few would be able to offer up ‘instructional designer’ as my job title. Some might even end up saying that I’m a transponster.  

Drawing design using pencils and ipad - Instructional Designer

It’s not their fault. Even though its origins stretch as far back as the 1940s, ‘instructional design’ isn’t a phrase you hear too often when you work outside the world of e-learning. Apparently, it’s not even that well known by those who work in it. The Internet is awash with blog posts about accidental instructional designers – writers, teachers and/or trainers by trade who suddenly realise that their work turning traditional teaching or training resources into digital learning material has a name and that name is ‘instructional design’. It’s a nice story (albeit one that’s quickly getting old), but it’s not my experience.

Back in 2011, CDSM advertised that they wanted a new instructional designer and I successfully applied, acknowledging that I had many of the essential skills listed in the job description:

  • A strong background in creative and technical writing
  • An existing knowledge of contemporary design
  • Experience in proofreading and editing (with excellent attention to detail)
  • A practical knowledge of the correct use of spelling, grammar, syntax, etc.
  • Good communication and organisational skills
  • A willingness to learn

As with any role, there are always certain skills that you’ll need to learn ‘on-the-job’, and so in the years that have followed I’ve had to add an extensive knowledge of contemporary technology and learning theory to my skill set – additions that have come from a mix of mentoring, reading and assimilation. But what exactly, you might be asking, am I using these skills for?

What Does an Instructional Designer Do?

Lady smiling at the computer - Instructional Design 2

Ultimately, an instructional designer’s main objective is to create engaging and effective learning experiences. You could call this our ‘bread and butter’. However, the role is actually a lot more varied than you might imagine. Despite some of the online horror stories about instructional design jobs, CDSM don’t chain me to my desk until I’ve turned a customer’s 495-page training manual into an hour-long e-learning module. For example, in the past few months I have:

  • Held meetings with customers to discuss requirements and scope
  • Worked closely with our developers and other designers to come up with new digital solutions
  • Written and directed a series of situation-based e-learning videos at an off-site location
  • Met with a teacher on secondment to Welsh Government to discuss the creation of new learning materials for Welsh schools
  • Attended a series of seminars on accessibility
  • Researched and co-written a six-part blog series on e-learning design

My regular desk-based work is just as diverse. One week I might be working on assessment questions for a blue-chip company’s international compliance course, and the next I’m creating new PISA resources for schools across Wales. It certainly keeps me on my toes!

What Do Instructional Designers Need to Know?

For an instructional designer, theory is everything. It’s easy for poor instruction to hide behind good design initially but, just like the Emperor and his new clothes, eventually everything’s going to become embarrassingly clear. It makes sense, if you think about it, because how can you create good e-learning if you don’t first understand how we learn?

Before taking up the role at CDSM, I had no formal training in teaching practice, but thanks to a programme of mentoring, training and on-the-job experience, I was soon able to begin creating engaging digital learning solutions.

Two men talking over what's on a computer - Instructional Design 3

Extensive reference materials and an informed reading list (containing books and articles on topics such as Skinner’s rats, Bloom’s taxonomy and Vygotsky’s disagreement with Piaget) were essential aspects of my training at CDSM, allowing me to become well-versed in learning theory. However, an instructional designer has to always be open to new ideas and research. Six months after I had first read about Bloom’s taxonomy, Shelly Wright of the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) published an article on ‘flipping it’. This is the type of fresh impetus that it’s important to keep a look out for, as it can change the way you approach solutions for certain types of learners.

It’s also important to know the possibilities and limitations of your technology, as what you create in storyboard format has to translate well to the screen. I’m lucky at CDSM because I’m able to work with a team of excellent developers and designers, all of whom are sympathetic and responsive to issues such as accessibility, usability and readability. This makes the e-learning we produce a truly collaborative effort, with the written, visual and technological aspects working in harmony so the learner can efficiently and effectively acquire the knowledge and/or skills they need.

So, if you still want to be an instructional designer, brushing up on your learning theory is an essential first step (you could even use our series on e-learning design as a starting point). Then once you begin working with a company, you can familiarise yourself with their technology – as well as the requirements and scope of their customers – and you’ll be away.

And it might also be an idea to prepare a response to the question “What’s that, then?”, for when you tell your friends your new job title.

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CDSM E-learning Insights Learning Pedagogy Software

E-Learning Design Part 6: CDSM’s Active Learning Model™

Throughout this series on e-learning design, we have looked at some of the learning theories that help to form the method and practice behind our award-winning e-learning. This is known as our ‘pedagogy’. In this final post in the series, we’re going to reveal how we ensure that sound theory is turned into exemplary practice, by giving you an insight into the formula we use for producing successful e-learning content for our customers – a formula we call our Active Learning Model™

What is CDSM’s Active Learning Model™?

CDSM’s Active Learning Model™

CDSM is a commercial e-learning company. This means that we are one of a number of national brands that claim expertise and excellence in designing and developing e-learning courses. So it’s important for us to distinguish our skills, expertise and service from other providers in the marketplace. One of the ways we do this is through the use of CDSM’s Active Learning Model™ – our formula for producing successful e-learning content derived from many years of professional teaching and learning experience.

At CDSM, we draw from a wide range of classical learning and contemporary memory theories – as varied as behaviourism, constructivism and social constructivism. With fundamentally differing views on how people learn, no one would blame you for assuming that these theories are mutually exclusive. However, in order to achieve the best-fit pedagogic approach, we carefully select the bits that work and can be practically applied for the relevant context, always using the best strategies to help people embed and recall knowledge or skills. We also consider learning styles and how we can cater for different learners, constructing an experience that will interest and challenge each and every user.

CDSM E-Learning Award Winners

How CDSM’s Active Learning Model™ Works for Everyone

Making sure that e-learning suits the circumstances of the end user it is intended for is very important if an e-learning course is to be a success. That’s why our Active Learning Model™ subscribes to leading thought on user experience, accessibility and usability, and why we spurn off-the-shelf products in favour of bespoke solutions that exactly fit our customers’ needs.  

Let’s take Bloom’s taxonomy as an example of a theory we utilise differently depending on circumstances. Learners working entirely independently may benefit from structured outcomes using Bloom’s taxonomy (i.e. outcomes that indicate precisely what is expected of them). In instances where this is the case, we may focus on outcomes that ensure that learners are able to understand and retain knowledge. However, for learners who benefit from having the scaffolding provided by a teacher, trainer or a community of peers, we may advise flipping Bloom’s, loosening the outcomes and offering a solution that enables learners to discover, create and share knowledge.

In order to ensure that our Active Learning Model™ achieves the results required, we give careful consideration to the nature and frequency of activities and assessments, choosing effective formative activities that help learners to check their own progress as they work their way through a unit of study. We also employ summative assessments at the end of a section or unit of study that others can use to assess learners’ achievements.

CDSM’s Active Learning Model™

The Future of CDSM’s Active Learning Model™

Our Active Learning Model™ has been expertly constructed, but it is not something that we consider to be sealed shut. It is a model that is interested and open to new ideas, research and fresh impetus from learning professionals from all over the world. Whatever solution we agree on, rest assured that we’ve considered the options and will deliver e-learning that not only engages your learners, but that responds to everyone’s needs based on our extensive knowledge and experience.

If you’ve enjoyed this series on e-learning design, or if you want to open a discussion about any of the points raised, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via our website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+. We’d love to hear from you. And to make sure you don’t miss out on further news, blog posts and insights from CDSM, follow us and subscribe.

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CDSM E-learning Insights Learning Pedagogy Software

E-Learning Design Part 5: Learning through Creating (Blooms 21)

At CDSM, we draw on a range of 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’. In an earlier post in this series (E-Learning Design Part 2: Observable and Measurable Outcomes), we looked at the influence of Bloom’s taxonomy (1956) on our e-learning. This time, we’re going to take a look at how this taxonomy can be ‘flipped’, so that learners are actively involved in knowledge construction from the outset.

What is Blooms 21?

Conceived between 1949 and 1953 by a committee of educators, the original Bloom’s taxonomy identified a number of cognitive levels at which humans can function. These levels range from the basic function of understanding and recalling new information, to the more complex function of evaluating new information and connecting it with other knowledge. They are commonly displayed as a step pyramid, with the lower-level functions located at the bottom.

step-pyramid structure - Blooms 21

The step-pyramid structure is often interpreted as suggesting that the higher-level functions can only be reached if the levels below them have been achieved, and that not all learners will be able to reach the top level. Some educators strongly disagree with this structure, most notably Shelley Wright of the Buck Institute for Education (BIE):

“The presentation of the taxonomy as a pyramid suggests that one cannot effectively begin to address higher levels of thinking until those below them have been thoroughly addressed. Consequently, Blooms becomes a ‘step pyramid’ that one must arduously try to climb with your learners. Only the most academically adept are likely to reach the pinnacle.”

– Shelley Wright

5-2-aThough this taxonomy of the cognitive domain was revised by Anderson and Krathwohl in 2001, the visual metaphor of the step pyramid was still prevalent. In 2012, Wright suggested that the revised taxonomy should be flipped on its head, so that learners begin with an introduction to a subject through creating, rather than being bombarded with facts they need to remember.

Blooms 21

We would suggest that this flipped taxonomy, also referred to as ‘Blooms 21′, is more in keeping with a constructivist approach to learning due to its emphasis on learner contribution to the building of knowledge.

How CDSM’s Users Learn Through Creating

When used in the context of learning, the word ‘creating’ often conjures up images of early-years students fingerpainting, pritt-sticking and making lopsided ceramic bowls that only a parent or guardian could love. This is because ‘creating’ (alongside words like ‘create’, ‘creative’, ‘creativity’, etc.) has come to be more associated with producing something physical – like a painting or a piece of writing – than it has with the equally correct definition of “evolving from one’s own thought or imagination.”

Like Shelly Wright, CDSM believe that learners of any age can benefit from ‘getting creative’. We particularly like activities that ask the user to contribute their own ideas – ‘starter activities’ at the beginning of a unit of study, for example, enable the user to consider an idea before being told more about it.

Starter Activities

‘Suggested response’ activities are very useful in this context too, getting users to respond to a question or idea with the opportunity to see some of our suggestions if they wish (i.e. offering scaffolding when required). Open-ended questions are also a useful device, enabling users to reflect upon what they have just learnt.

As Wright asserts, “the more churn a brain experiences, the more likely it’s going to retain information,” and so asking a learner to begin with creating is a really effective way of getting those cerebral juices flowing. Learners are engaged with the process of learning from the start and therefore, by the time they reach the end of the unit of study, are more likely to have understood, interpreted and curated the essential knowledge they need.

Next time, in the concluding part of this series on e-learning design, we’ll be introducing CDSM’s Active Learning Model™ – our trademark formula for producing successful e-learning for our customers, based on our extensive knowledge, experience and application of the learning theories we have explored throughout this series.

Take Me To Part 6>

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CDSM Insights Trends

Adobe Flash and the Danger of Zero Day Exploits

Our Head of Technology, Nik Goile, gives us some background on last month’s Adobe Flash exploits, and explains how CDSM was prepared to deal with them…

You probably heard about the Adobe Flash Player vulnerabilities that came to light in July. They were heavily publicised in the news – even appearing in a BBC article – and caused a flurry of activity in the online security community.

Security updates for operating systems, programs, browsers and associated plugins are common – so what makes July’s multiple patch releases any worse than what’s happened in the past?

The Danger of ‘Zero Day’ Exploits

Early last month, the controversial ‘Hacking Team’ – a company that sells offensive intrusion and surveillance tools to governments, law enforcement agencies and corporations – were hacked themselves. The hackers cleaned out the Hacking Team’s internal code, files and email archives, and then published them on the Internet.

Adobe Flash

The published archive included at least three zero day exploits for Adobe Flash, and one for Microsoft Internet Explorer. A ‘zero day’ exploit is when an exploit has been created but the supplier doesn’t know about it, and so hasn’t patched their software to defend against the exploit. Whoever has these exploits can attack anyone who’s using a vulnerable technology (which is a lot of people when it comes to Flash and Internet Explorer). Worse still, these exploits were tried and tested, as the Hacking Team had been selling them to snooping agencies and corporations around the world for several years. Now these effective and proven exploits were available to any active cybercriminal.

What Happened Next

Adobe, Microsoft and Oracle (for an unrelated – but serious – set of Java vulnerabilities) rushed out patches in an attempt to close these security holes and protect their users. However, the rapidity of the exploits being discovered in Flash meant that users’ computers were left vulnerable for days at a time between patches. This led security experts to call for Flash to be uninstalled or disabled on computers, and some browsers to start automatically blocking Flash by default. Internet giant Facebook even called for Flash to be killed off completely. Things were clearly getting serious.

The impact of this Flash Player blackout is that fewer and fewer Internet users will be able to see Flash content automatically when they visit web pages (though on the plus side, this does stop them from being subjected to a whole host of annoying adverts). If a user has Flash ‘Click-to-Play’ enabled, then they will see a box where the Flash movie is and must choose to play it manually. If Flash has been disabled or uninstalled, then the user will get a prompt to install it (if the content is clever) or an empty box (if the content isn’t running any checks to see if the Flash plugin is installed).

Install Flash Player to play content

How CDSM Dealt with the Zero Day Threats  

Several years ago, in response to the increasing impact of mobile devices in learning, CDSM made the decision to move to using HTML5 and JavaScript as its core technology for presenting interactive content. The recent Flash debacle is a vindication of this decision, as it means that the impact of these recent exploits on our core products and services is very low.

In the week following these zero day exploits, one of our large corporate customers notified us that they had disabled flash on all their company devices. As the dust settles, we expect more of our corporate and public sector customers to follow suit.

A Big Decision

Your content repository may contain a significant amount of third-party and/or legacy material that has been negatively affected by these recent developments. For many companies, existing Flash material represents a significant investment, and so abandoning Flash overnight may seem like an intimidating prospect.

The decision to completely disable Flash is ultimately a decision for you and your organisation. If you decide against disabling Flash, it’s important to make sure that your browsers are updated and protected. For organisations considering a migration strategy, an evaluation of existing content – working out exactly how much would need to be moved over to use HTML and Javascript – is a good place to start.

If you would like some help in planning a transition to more contemporary e-learning content, then please do not hesitate to contact us. Whether you’re an existing CDSM customer, or a representative of an organisation that has been affected by the fallout from these zero day exploits, CDSM are here and happy to help.

 

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CDSM E-learning Insights Learning Pedagogy

E-Learning Design Part 3: The Learner as an Active Participant

At CDSM, we draw on a range of 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’. In our first two posts in this series, we gave you an insight into how we use some of the essential aspects of ‘behaviourism’ in our digital learning solutions. Now, we’re going to introduce you to a theory which plays an even bigger part in our thinking: Constructivism.

What Does It Mean to Be an Active Participant in Learning?

When we encounter something new, we process it by measuring it against our existing ideas and experiences. When we meet a dog in the street, for example, we very quickly recognise it as belonging to the class of objects that we identify as ‘animals’, and then further classify it as being a ‘dog’.

Constructivists believe that this is how we learn, by being an active participant in the learning process, and constructing our own understanding and knowledge of the subject matter through experience and reflection.

Constructivism

For something as simple as adding a new breed of dog to an existing class of objects, all we need to do is to tap into our existing understanding of the concept of ‘dogs’. For most people, the association between an object (the dog) and such a simple concept (‘dogs’) happens within milliseconds – but constructivists believe that the same process of using experience to construct meaning applies to all concepts, even though some more difficult concepts may take longer for the learner to evaluate and assess.    

However, although constructivism places an emphasis on learner autonomy, this doesn’t mean that learners should be simply left to their own devices. The theory also identifies the need for support in learning, something which is known as ‘scaffolding’.

To continue with the theme of classifying animals, when early European settlers – who had no prior experience of marsupials – first saw koalas in Australia, they incorrectly classified the tree-climbing animals as bears, a misnomer which is still widely used to this day. Making sure that scaffolding is in place for constructivist learning prevents incorrect conclusions from becoming accepted classifications for the learner, whilst still allowing the learner the freedom to find things out for themselves.

How CDSM’s E-Learning Creates Active Participants

As we’ve already mentioned, the constructivist method of learning encourages students to use their existing experience and ideas to create new knowledge. This might be through experimenting, thinking about what they already know and/or applying real-world skills. The key is to then have students reflect upon what they have done and how their understanding of a subject has changed.

At CDSM, our subscription to constructivist learning theory is reflected in the tools and techniques we use to create e-learning content. We particularly like activities that ask the user to contribute their own ideas – ‘starter activities’ at the beginning of a unit of study, for example, enable the user to consider an idea before being told more about it. ‘Suggested response’ activities are very useful in this context too, getting users to respond to a question or idea with the opportunity to see some of our suggestions if they wish (i.e. offering scaffolding when required). Open-ended questions are also a useful device, enabling users to reflect upon what they have just learnt.

Our learning platform technology enables users to actively engage in their learning. We have features that facilitate inquiry and discovery, such as shared spaces and a content repository. These features allow users to be active curators of their own knowledge, by letting them explore existing user-created resources, and even create and add their own.

Constructivism

We want our users to have access to a community of learners, and this is something we achieve by providing them with communication tools – such as forums and chat facilities – that promote discussion and critical thinking. These are actually innovations that lean towards a more ‘social constructivist’ way of thinking, a branch of constructivism that we’ll be covering in Part 4 of this series.

Take Me To Part 4 >

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