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Interactive Digital Content Designed to Develop Capability – Part 1

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

blog_graphic_mooc_01

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

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

blog_graphic_mooc_02

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

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

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

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

Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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The Importance of Removing Unnecessary Barriers to Online Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by Dan Sivak, Managing Director, CDSM Interactive Solutions

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CDSM e-learning 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.

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

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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Britannica® Digital Learning and CDSM – A Perfect Partnership

Since 2014, CDSM have been responsible for providing Welsh teachers with a national digital content repository: Hwb. A key feature in Hwb is ‘Playlists’, our answer to the current demand for quick, easy-to-use content creation tools for teachers. Although the Internet provides teachers with a wealth of sources to choose from, having a bank of resources at their fingertips that are curriculum-relevant and rights-cleared is of benefit. That’s exactly why CDSM teamed up with Britannica Digital Learning.

Britannica Digital Learning’s award-winning resources are designed for all ages and abilities. Written by Nobel laureates and other renowned authors, they are reviewed and updated regularly by the world’s leading editorial experts. The resources support curriculum objectives in core subject areas, providing curated articles from encyclopaedias, journals and magazines; primary sources, images and videos; interactive lessons, activities and games; and many other high-quality research tools for learners. The differentiated reading levels help deliver personalised and self-directed learning.

Britannica® ImageQuest™ gives our Hwb users access to millions of rights-cleared images from over 50 of the best collections around the globe, including images from the National Geographic Society, the British Library and the National Trust. Teachers can safely search through the best and broadest collection of educational images, saving them time when creating their own digital resources.

Britannica Solar System image, used in CDSM Playlists

Playlists not only enables teachers to aggregate resources from the Internet, Britannica Digital Learning and other resources within Hwb, but customise it too. This gives teachers an opportunity to contextualise content, making it relevant to their learners and what they are doing in the classroom. Introducing a video or explaining the significance of an image, poem or scientific experiment gives learners the support they need. Fun and engaging activities and assessments can be added to their Playlists, which can then be shared or assigned, and finally assessed within Hwb.

With our easy-to-use Playlists tool, teachers in Wales are creating first-class materials for a variety of purposes, including classroom-based activities, homework and revision. What’s more, they are letting us know about it on Twitter:

Tweet about Britannica

Tweet about using Britannica

But Playlists and Britannica Digital Learning are not just tools for teachers. Learners have access to them too, giving them control over their learning. Pupils can create and use digital resources to suit their needs, whether that is to record the findings of research, share knowledge with their peers or to reflect on a recent learning experience.

To find out more, follow CDSM and Britannica Digital Learning on Twitter, and subscribe 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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CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu Playlists Wales

CDSM’s Vision for Hwb

In this post, we’ll be looking at the role of today’s teachers in the modern classroom. For a long time, teachers relied on third-party providers to supply resources they could use with their learners. However, changing technology and skills mean that, in our opinion, teachers can now create resources as good as those they can buy. We’ll look at the tools CDSM have built to enable teachers to do just that.

‘Content is king’ is a phrase often used in the creative/digital industries. As qualified education specialists, CDSM’s leadership team believe that good quality content leads to effective digital learning experiences. Consequently, we are committed to designing and delivering simple, powerful content creation tools that help teachers to respond to the new, emerging curriculum for Wales. This is the vision we shared with Welsh Government in 2014, and since then we have been responsible for providing Welsh teachers with a national, digital content repository: Hwb.

A key feature in Hwb is ‘Playlists’, CDSM’s answer to the demand for quick, easy-to-use content creation tools. An intuitive, engaging interface enables teachers to create high-quality, customised, online content with just a few clicks. Teachers can aggregate resources from both the Internet and the resource bank within Hwb – which includes Encyclopaedia Britannica resources – and add their own content in the form of text, image or video. This gives teachers an opportunity to contextualise their content, making it relevant to their class and learners. Fun and engaging activities and assessments can be added to their Playlist, which can then be shared or assigned, and finally, as of early December, assessed within Hwb.

Hwb Playlist

We recently visited All Saints Church in Wales Primary School with our partner Encyclopaedia Britannica to see how Playlists were being used. We wanted to observe how teachers and learners interacted with Playlists, and also capture any ideas they had about enhancing the tool. What we saw was a blueprint for the use of educational technology adoption and utilisation. Largely pupil-led, we witnessed independent learning, critical thinking and mature decision-making all in one lesson.

Aled Williams – Deputy Head and Year 5 teacher at All Saints – started the lesson by reflecting upon the class’s recent visit to Cardiff Castle, where the pupils had learned about life in Tudor times. From there, it was over to his pupils to collaboratively create Playlists that reflected their experiences. The pupils knew that in Encyclopaedia Britannica they had an easy-to-access, safe, secure, and accurate database of information, from which they could harvest many of the specific details their inquisitive minds craved. The pupils knew they could return to their Playlists in the future for reference or revision.

The use of Playlists at All Saints was a perfect example of the ‘flipped classroom’ in action. Here pupils were leading the way – actively involved in directing their study and collaborating to create their own resources.

pupils round computer

Using Hwb, Aled (and teachers like him) now have the opportunity to create and share teaching and learning resources on the latest curriculum areas with all teachers in Wales. By giving our teachers the power to create resources, they can rapidly respond to curriculum changes. From our experience, not only do they do this, but they engage their learners in the process too.

CDSM’s vision for Hwb is ambitious. We want Hwb to establish itself as the gateway and service provider for an ever-growing number of learning and development services. We believe Hwb has the potential to become a nationally-provisioned learning management system, an enabler for Wales’ regional and national school improvement programme, and the key resource provider for a range of other Welsh Government programmes.

If it’s in Wales and it has a learning and development requirement, we want Hwb to be the service that our fellow citizens, colleagues and young people go to.

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

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Major Update to Hwb

[Read in Welsh]

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

Latest Release

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

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

Playlists

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

Playlist Blocks

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

Hwb Playlist Blocks

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

Slideshow

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

Hwb - attachments on step

Next Release

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

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

Hwb Markbook

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

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

Hwb News Feed

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

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