CDSM never stop learning

Monthly Archives: July 2015

CDSM E-learning Insights Learning Pedagogy

E-Learning Design Part 1: Structure, Repetition and Reinforcement

In the competitive market of digital learning solutions, it’s easy for providers to fall into the trap of ignoring the sound theories of the past and only give their users a taste of the flavour of the month. Here at CDSM, however, we draw on a range of theories – from the past and the present – to form the method and practice behind our e-learning. In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of posts looking at the various learning theories that make up our ‘pedagogy’. First up: Behaviourism.

What is Behaviourism?

Have you ever heard of Pavlov’s Dogs, Skinner’s Rats or Thorndike’s Cats? All of these theorists focused on how animals learned to behave in certain ways as a result of changes to their environments.

Behaviourism

Emerging in the early part of the 20th century, behaviourism quickly became the main theory relating to how learning takes place. The theory is largely based on the results of experiments in which animals (including humans) learnt to display new behaviour patterns encouraged by repetition, reward and/or punishment.

For behaviourists, repetition is very important. John Watson, the father of behaviourism, suggested that the “more frequent a stimulus and response occur in association with each other, the stronger the habit will become.”

So how do reward and punishment reinforce behaviour, and motivate people to learn? Think back to when you were in school and the teacher set you homework. Your motivation to complete this work was probably influenced by at least one of the following:

  • To achieve a good mark or praise from the teacher
  • To avoid being shouted at by the teacher
  • To avoid receiving detention
  • To avoid having privileges taken away

These are all examples of reinforcement and punishment.

How Behaviourism Informs CDSM’s Pedagogy

Punishment is less helpful when it comes to adult learning – although it is still possible to use it effectively, you must be careful not to make your learner feel frustrated or undermined. However, reinforcement – in the form of positive feedback – can be just as rewarding for adult learners as it is for children. In our e-learning, we use reinforcement in the form of frequent feedback and praise:

Learning Assessment

Behaviourists place an emphasis on structured learning with observable and measurable outcomes, and this is something which is particularly important for users who complete e-learning in insolation. At CDSM, we add ‘signposts’ at regular intervals to help our users to find their way. These signposts take the form of learning outcomes, easily-accessible menus and section introductions. We also structure content into small, bite-sized chunks to help with this. Repetition then comes in the form of regular activities and summaries, reinforcing what the user has covered so far.

Learning Outcomes

Almost a century after it first emerged, the theory of behaviourism may seem a little ‘old school’ by today’s standards. At CDSM, we don’t believe that our users are simply empty vessels, ready to be filled to the brim with knowledge (as behaviourists do). But we also recognise that it’s important not to throw out the baby with the bathwater – which is why you’ll find some of the essential aspects of behaviourism in our pedagogy.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take a closer look at the behaviourist approach of having observable and measurable outcomes for learning, and explain why we ask our learners to ‘identify’, ‘summarise’ or ‘recognise’, rather than to simply ‘understand’.

Take Me To Part 2 >

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CDSM Learning

Never Stop Learning

Our CEO, Dan Sivak, explains the thinking behind CDSM’s new strapline ‘never stop learning’…

CDSM’s previous company strapline was ‘our solutions your success’. It worked…well sort of – it was a catch-all phrase, flexible enough for us to get away with. However, as the business grew, we often acknowledged the need to change it. Seriously, you shouldn’t so much ‘get away with’  your company strapline, but more stand by it, be proud of it – after all, it acts as your motto, so it should mean something!

A company strapline conveys a message that reflects upon your core business values and activities. It should resonate positively with clients and related audiences alike. So this year, we put our heads together and re-imagined our strapline.

Never Stop Learning CDSM Strapline

‘Never Stop Learning’ has been enthusiastically received by colleagues and clients alike. Some felt that it clearly associated CDSM with our core business activities (i.e. the design and development of learning technologies), whilst others simply remarked that it “felt like us.”

For the purpose of this blog post, I revisited some of the notes we made during the re-imagining process. Interestingly, as well as considering what ‘never stop learning’ meant as a whole, we also chose to break the phrase down into its three parts:

Never

This word describes our commitment – to learning and development, to our customers and their end users, to the development of digital learning technologies and to our positive effect on those we come into contact with.

Stop

At CDSM, we simply don’t stop! There is always a discussion happening, an idea being developed upon, or some conceptual debate taking place about how we can improve something. We never stop, there’s just too much to do!

Learning

We live and love to learn. CDSM is a culture that nurtures insight, innovation and wisdom. It’s a rich and rewarding place to be if you actively seek to learn and to develop, and we like to think that this extends to those who partner with us too.

Each word on its own had a pertinent meaning, and together they created a phrase that offered more than the sum of its parts. That’s why we felt that, with these three simple words, we had successfully captured the essence of CDSM.

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Why Developing Standards is Critical

If you haven’t developed standards for your e-learning yet, then you should be doing it now!

Developing standards is criticalHaving standards means you have an agreed way of doing things, which helps to streamline processes. This could be a set of guidelines, or a code of practice captured to ensure the excellent performance of your product or service.

Not having a set of standards in place affects relationships with your people, your customers and your suppliers, and can also affect your revenue. Our experience with Honda proved just how important it is to develop standards.

The Challenge at Honda

Honda has been driving standards across all its European dealerships, so no matter whether a customer uses a dealership in Warsaw or Edinburgh, they receive the same high quality Honda experience. A recent EU ruling – ‘Block Exemption Regulation’, which allows new car owners to have their vehicles serviced at other manufacturer’s dealerships without affecting their warranty – meant that raising existing standards became critical for Honda to maintain a competitive advantage.

Honda already had the same look and feel in all their dealerships – from the lighting to the displays to the floors – but what about customer service? They knew that providing a consistent customer service would have a dramatic effect – so why didn’t they provide it?

Ensuring consistency in the look and feel of a dealership is one thing, but how do you ensure consistency in the training and behaviour of all your staff across 14 different languages?

The challenge was that several departments were handling different sections of training –each one using a different supplier in a different location, with different authoring tools, different templates, different navigation, and also different pedagogy.

The risks associated with inconsistent strategies for learning

  • Inconsistent standards of training across different staff roles
  • Varying quality of content, creating disengagement in some areas
  • Diverse look and feel across modules, steepening the learning curve
  • Disproportionate costs acquired across departments
  • Inconsistency for the learner, creating confusion and poor learning outcomes

Open notepad with concept of right and wrong strategy  on white
Consistency takes away the barriers to learning

Creating a universal standard of effective training for Honda meant that their learners received the same look and feel and, importantly, the same pedagogic rules.

CDSM had the challenge of unifying departments, and creating consistent and effective e-learning, across different languages and different elements of system integration. We didn’t guess what learners were going to like though – we piloted and used tactics to make the audience more receptive. It meant we could effectively align their learning experience and deliver the same consistent experience for Honda staff that they provided for their dealership customers.

Using Standards to Avoid Guess Work

Standards allow a company to not only have consistency, but also create an expectation across the organisation.

They provide receptiveness from learners, promoting engagement, as well as aiding a consistent and predictable cost level across departments.

If a department hasn’t previously used e-learning, having standards in place will allow them to foresee a measureable and predictable outcome. The same applies when you ask a new supplier to come on board – if you have a set standard, the supplier can get up and running for you as quickly as possible.

So, develop your standards now, and reap the benefits for both your staff and customers, as well as protecting that all-important bottom line.

If you would like to find out more about this project, download the Honda Case Study.

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Just2easy and CDSM: A Perfect Partnership between Award-Winning Providers

Just2easy are an award-winning Educational Software Company with years of experience in creating stimulating learning tools for primary schools. These award-winning tools have been made available via Hwb for all schools in Wales.

J2E Tool Suite

The Just2easy Tool Suite contains a number of curriculum-focused tools that encourage pupils to explore their understanding of particular subject areas, and to present their work in collaborative, creative and imaginative ways.

J2E Tool Suite

The tools have recently been updated to include an e-portfolio that ties in with learning conversations and progression statements, making it perfect to monitor progression and to celebrate success.

As you would imagine, J2e’s tools have been designed by teachers with the classroom in mind. Teachers love the ease of use and intuitive nature of the whole Tool Suite, which gives pupils from the youngest age the opportunity to become fluent in digital literacy, creating a new generation of digital leaders.

The Tool Suite has had an amazing reception from the schools that are discovering it in Hwb:

The relationship between CDSM and Just2easy is beginning to produce opportunities that we had only dreamed of at the start of our collaboration. Hwb has already brought together the best of what is currently available to schools worldwide, and the introduction of the Playlist by CDSM has coincided with the update of j2launch by Just2easy – creating flexible routes to learning opportunities for schools, classes, groups, pupils and teachers.

Both companies’ modern approach to software development means that schools in Wales are using-cutting-edge technology and pedagogical thinking. Thanks to the partnership between Just2easy and CDSM, ‘any device, anytime, anywhere’ learning is a reality for every single pupil using Hwb.

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