CDSM never stop learning

Monthly Archives: August 2015

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>

To make sure you don’t miss it, follow us and subscribe.

Subscribe
CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu Learning Wales

The HWB Project in Wales

As a Welsh company, and as citizens of Wales, CDSM is very proud to have won the right to supply and service www.hwb.wales.gov.uk – a Welsh Government (DfES) service that enables Welsh schools to exploit learning technologies for the benefit of teachers and learners alike.

Hwb Home Page

For the past 18 months, CDSM has been working with Welsh Government (DfES) to design, develop, and license tools and services for primary and secondary schools across Wales.

A Community of Users

Hosted and delivered from CDSM’s cloud infrastructure, Hwb represents a significantly large community of users, with the potential for hundreds of thousands of teachers and learners to be using the service at the same time.

With this many concurrent users, it’s important that Hwb is available anytime, day or night, and as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner, CDSM is best placed to support this. But the type and nature of the services available via Hwb are just as important as the scale of the project and number of users. Hwb isn’t just a place where teachers go to download the latest printouts – it represents a community of users that are all able to:

  • Create, upload and/or download resources
  • Design, build and create learning and assessment playlists
  • Create or join established communities of practice
  • Communicate with peers in real time and much, much more

The digital content and tools in Hwb are designed to support great teaching and learning practice for all schools in Wales. Where good, competent digital practice exists, Hwb aims to support, share and promote for the benefit of all.

Hwb Community Area

The Hwb project has been fortunate enough to establish itself some years after projects of a similar size and approach were initiated in English and Scottish regions. This has enabled us to learn from previous successes and mistakes, and take a pragmatic approach to making this project work for Wales. The take-up of the service in the last 12 months is significant and really encouraging. Clearly there are a growing core of teachers in Wales working with Hwb, recognising it as a service that supports their excellent teaching and learning practice in our schools.

What Next for Hwb?

Ultimately the answer to this question will be determined by Welsh Government, but CDSM firmly believes that Hwb has seized its opportunity to become the gateway service provider to educational organisations across Wales. The current and potential benefits to Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Further and Higher Education organisations are significant, and the service now has the attention of those practitioners who readily exploit digital technologies to deliver a first class education for their students.

We hope that this is the beginning of a long and productive relationship between Welsh Government, CDSM Interactive Solutions Ltd and our schools in Wales.

Subscribe to the mailing list and keep updated with our exciting projects at CDSM!

Subscribe
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.

 

Subscribe
CDSM E-learning News

Honda’s Compliance Course Set for Success

Honda E-Learning Course Results

Thanks to their partnership with CDSM, Honda Motor Europe are well on their way to achieving their legal compliance targets with their Core Curriculum Minimum e-learning programme.

As part of the EU Block Exemption Regulation ruling, it is essential that this e-learning programme is completed across all Honda dealerships in Europe by a specific date. However, this didn’t mean that the course had to fall into the common traps of standard compliance learning, which can and often be dull and disengaging for the learner.

CDSM’s rollout of Honda’s Core Curriculum Minimum programme has enjoyed first-rate feedback from end users across Europe, many of whom noted its appealing and engaging nature.

“The information is nice and succinct. No fluff.”

– Andrew Williams, Sales Advisor

“Nice design, photos, background – good use of imagery.”

 Annie Last, Sales Manager

“The format and layout made it easier to stay focused.”

 Darren Hall, Sales Advisor

The course is currently smashing the target pass rate of 25% per country (as of the end of June 2015). With an average pass rate of nearly 62%, and with some countries even hitting the 90–100% mark, it’s clear that Honda have a successful e-learning rollout on their hands.Not only has a significant improvement on previous Honda e-learning been highlighted, but due to the course being so user-friendly and intuitive, Honda’s support helpdesk are finding things much easier to manage too.

It’s been a long journey for Honda and CDSM, but we’re now seeing all our hard work pay off. And with new e-learning courses being developed and rolled out across the European dealerships, we’re excited to see what else we can achieve together.

If you would like to find out more about the Core Curriculum Minimum project, you can download our Honda Case Study.

You can also stay up to date with all that’s going on at CDSM by following us on the social media websites below, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

Subscribe
CDSM E-learning Learning Pedagogy

E-Learning Design Part 2: Observable and Measurable Outcomes

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 last post (E-Learning Design Part 1: Structure, Repetition and Reinforcement), we gave you an insight into how we use some of the essential aspects of the theory of ‘behaviourism’ in our digital learning solutions. This time, we’re going to take a closer look at the behaviourist approach of having observable and measurable outcomes, and explain why it’s an important aspect of our e-learning.

What are Observable and Measurable Outcomes?

The use of observable and measurable outcomes in learning is linked to something called ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’. Between 1949 and 1953, a committee of educators – chaired by Benjamin Bloom – met for a series of conferences designed to improve curricula and examinations. As a result of these conferences, the committee came up with a taxonomy that classified skills from least complex to most complex.

Since the taxonomy’s first volume (Handbook I: Cognitive) was published in 1956, Bloom’s name has been synonymous with lesson planning for teachers across the world. In Handbook I, Bloom and his committee identified a number of cognitive levels at which humans can function. These 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.

Bloom's Taxonomy Cognitive Domain

Bloom’s cognitive levels are commonly displayed as a step pyramid, with the lower-level functions located at the bottom. This taxonomy of the cognitive domain was revised by Anderson and Krathwohl in 2001:

Bloom's Taxonomy Cognitive Domain

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, especially when it is applied to Anderson and Krathwohl’s revised taxonomy. Shelley Wright of the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) goes as far to suggest 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 (but that’s for another blog post).

How CDSM Use Observable and Measurable Outcomes

At CDSM, we often use observable and measurable outcomes – or ‘learning outcomes’ – in our e-learning modules. These appear at the start of the module, allowing our users to recognise exactly what they should expect to learn.

Learning Outcomes

Each learning outcome begins with an ‘action verb’, indicating something that the user should be able to do once they have completed the module. Our learning outcomes use action verbs – words such as ‘evaluate’, ‘discuss’, ‘construct’ or ‘classify’ – rather than more general verbs, such as ‘understand’, which are much harder to observe or check and measure a user’s progress against.

We often use action verbs in the context of independent e-learning, where users receive little to no face-to-face interaction with a teacher, trainer or peers. We believe that independent users need a clear indication of what they will be expected to achieve from the outset, as this allows them to ensure that they have chosen the correct course and can commit to completing it. They also inform the design of the ongoing and final assessment activities that are critical to checking learners’ understanding and progress.

To find out what other theories inform our pedagogy, keep an eye out for Part 3 of this series, where we’ll be introducing ‘constructivism’ – an approach which believes the learner should be an active participant in the learning process, constructing their own understanding and knowledge of the subject matter through experience and reflection.

Take Me To Part 3 >

To make sure you don’t miss it, follow us and subscribe.

Subscribe