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Archive for the ‘Asynchronous Learning Types’ Category

Quick Clicks

Posted by Ellen on October 10, 2011

A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the recent aLearning Association Survey… while we compile the results into readable posts for you (watch for new posts with the results)… here are some quick resources for you.

eLearning Glossary

ASP? CMS? CMI? ILS? Looking for a great glossary of common elearning acronyms and terms? Look no further than the e-Learning Guild’s Learning Solutions’ magazine glossary, found here.

Tutorial Tools

And here’s another great article from Learning Solutions. If you’re considering a tool for creating your own tutorials and asynchronous, online courses, don’t assume Articulate Presenter or Adobe Presenter are your best choices. See “Making Sense of PowerPoint Pandemonium” by Mark Simon in the September 14 issue for a great summary of these tools, plus iSpring’s Presenter (aLearning’s choice) and Lectora’s Snap.

Should You Charge for a Webinar?

If you haven’t read Jeff Cobb’s great post, “Webinar Strategy — The Inform/Perform Distinction,” you’re missing some great advice on how to decide whether to charge for a Webinar or not. What’s even better, his recommendation for those you should offer free should cost you less (if anything) to provide than it will cost you to offer those you would charge a fee for. When the financial numbers make sense, the instructional design makes sense, and the strategy makes sense, then you know the idea is sound.

Thinking of Producing Your Own Webinars? Here’s Help

See Susan Kistler’s summary of some “Low-Cost Webinar Production Tools” at the AssociationTech blog — note that she isn’t comparing different Webinar platforms but describes GoToWebinar by Citrix and the tools one organization uses for editing, archiving, and hosting. I’ve not used GoToWebinar, but if it requires post-production audio editing, you’ll want to try it out before you commit to it so you can reduce the amount of extra work involved in making the session available in recorded format.

More on Learning from Webinar Recordings

What are the advantages to recorded/archived Webinars? Take a look at this post from Donald Clark. His point is related to higher ed lectures, but the same likely holds true for our purposes as well.

Encouragement for Starting Your Social Learning Initiative

Looking for inspiration about how easy it is to get started with social learning? See “Implementing Social Learning: Start Small, Start Now” by Bill Cushard.

Want more specifics on how implementing social learning can be accomplished? See Cushard’s post, “Practical Ways to Design Social Media into Your Training Programs” at his Mindflash blog.

Ohhh… and there’s so much more, but that’s all I have had time to review for now… !


Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Marketing, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning, Social Learning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

From FTF to Online

Posted by Ellen on July 6, 2011

The past couple of posts have tackled the myth that waiting lists are a good thing [see “Wait Till Next Year”] and that multiple offerings of the same program are the best option [see “Waiting Lists are Overrated”], and I promised to walk through a process for adapting face-to-face (FTF) sessions for online delivery…

…because, as I said in the previous post, “Offering a series of Webinars that imitate what happens in the FTF sessions won’t cut it.” Won’t even cut a tiny little slice of it.

Which isn’t the same thing as saying that Webinars can’t be a part of your mix of delivery modes. I’m just saying that you can’t simply schedule a series of Webinars that follow the same general format as your FTF session and assume you’ll have the same success. They’re different teaching and learning modes, and need to be planned for accordingly. That’s what I’m saying.

First, you need to understand how the various options deliver training online. aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning thoroughly covers this, so we’ll use a case study to highlight some key points.

Let’s say you offer a multi-day FTF program on Financial Planning in Our Industry. A look at the agenda shows segments on the following topics:

  • Software spreadsheet basics
  • Basic accounting
  • Industry-specific accounting
  • Industry-specific price-setting
  • Industry-specific regulatory/reporting requirements
  • Case study

Although what follows isn’t the only way to tackle repurposing this content for online delivery, here’s a start:

The spreadsheet basics segment could be delivered via asynchronous, online tutorial — either purchased off-the-shelf (OTS) or created specifically to address the learning points required for the program either in-house or outsourced. As a prerequisite so learners will be prepared to use the spreadsheet program in the program activities, the tutorial could include a pre-test option so those who are already familiar with the software could efficiently test out of the session while those who don’t do well on the pre-test will be routed through the tutorial.

Basic accounting could also be offered as an asynchronous, online course and probably purchased as an OTS course as well. Ideally, because some learners might have an accounting background (if not in the association’s industry) the accounting prerequisite should include a test-out option as well.

The industry-specific segments will probably need to be custom-developed.

To transfer the principles of general accounting to the specifics of the industry, an asynchronous course should incorporate interactive spreadsheets and activities. These could be supplemented with an online-accessible mentor to answer any questions. If the mentor’s e-mailed (or text message) responses aren’t adequate, the learner and mentor should be able to set up a call for a more detailed conversation.

Price-setting is a skill, so it requires opportunities for learners to see the skill performed and then practice it themselves. It’s likely there are many ways for prices to be determined (regardless of the industry), so providing a general overview of the price-setting options is imperative. This could be provided in a short tutorial that provides simple opportunities for learners to see examples of the various price-setting options, practice each, and make some general applications to their own situations. Questions learners have could be submitted for the basis of a followup Webinar. Because the questions would be specific to the learners, the content would be timely and relevant. And because learners will have covered the basics in the asynchronous tutorial, the focus of the synchronous Webinar would be on price-setting trouble-shooting, unusual pricing options too complicated for the tutorial, and — of course — answering learners’ questions.

Addressing regulatory/reporting requirements requires someone to call on their understanding of those requirements — so this is a fact-driven segment (rather than skill-driven) that could be started with required readings (rather than a tutorial) and followed up with an asynchronous discussion using an expert moderator. By posing particular “what if” scenario questions, the moderator would generate discussions about how the regulations/reporting procedures would be followed.

And the case study? Might not even be necessary if the focus throughout the other segments is on what learners can transfer back to their own situations. A case study is often used in a group as a sort of simulation to demonstrate transference from theory to reality — but if the course itself is doing that, is the benefit of the case study still worth its inclusion? In many cases, it probably isn’t.

So there you have it.

Were you keeping score? Did you see how much can be covered on the learner’s schedule, rather than on your schedule? Here’s what I see from the learner’s point of view:

  • One possible phone call (if I have questions about applying general accounting principles to my field)
  • One Webinar on price-setting

Everything else is covered on my time (and one could argue that the phone call was set up with my schedule in mind, too).

And the budget? That’s another post. But I will say this:

  • …if you end up investing $54,000 (our estimated expenses for two FTF sessions on the same topic for 80 members — see the previous blog post, “Waiting Lists Are Overrated,” for the full discussion)
  • …and you could charge $650 for the “course”
  • …and all 120 people for your next three sessions of the popular FTF program signed up for the online version
  • …you’d net $24,000 in revenues.

Yes, that’s after expenses. Here’s the math:

$54,000/120 learners = $450 per learner

$650-$450 = $200 revenue per learner

$200 x 120 learners = $24,000

And my bet is that you’d have more than 120 members register for the online offering.

Which means you’d increase your revenues $200/registration. Not bad!*

So you’ve accomplished many things: you’ve eliminated your waiting list — learners who need a specific program will get it, when they want it, when they need it. You’ve eclipsed any temptation they might have had to slip over to your competitor to get their learning needs met.

Most of all? You’ve continued to deliver meaningful, effective education and training to your members and do so at an affordable price.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Isn’t that more important than keeping some “waiting list” so you (or your boss) can feel popular and desirable?!?

Of course it is.

*Okay…. there’s no ignoring the fact that you’d probably need an LMS for this to work, and that would cut into your expected revenues — maybe even put you in the red that first year or two, but over time you’ll earn that investment back. The fact remains that you will have instituted a system of delivering a popular program in a way that retains its value while eliminating that dreaded waiting list.

It’s all good!

Posted in aLearning Strategies, aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, Financing eLearning, Justifying aLearning, LMS, Webinars | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Free Help for Session Facilitators

Posted by Ellen on June 4, 2011

We’re always grateful when our members volunteer to lead educational sessions and share what they’ve learned with their peers.

Sometimes we just wish we had more time to spend with them as they prepare for those sessions. We know they’ll probably rely heavily on a lecture format using PowerPoint slides as talking points. That’s not always a bad idea, but we’d feel more comfortable if they had a better understanding of adult learning and the roles of interaction and relevance in learning.

What if you had free access to a mini-course, a crash course, in adult learning?

What if that tutorial was online and you could just have your volunteers and guests access it anywhere, any time they wanted to view it?

What if you knew they didn’t need anything except Web access to take the tutorial?

You thought of the aLearning Blog, didn’t you!?

Of course you did.

Because we have just what you’re looking for, right here.

Here’s the link to the Leading Learning Events tutorial.

It shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes, and it’s designed help your facilitators appreciate the ways adults learn.

Feel free to share this link with your volunteer content leaders, colleagues, and others.

Curious about how the tutorial was created? After you view the tutorial itself, check out the companion Behind the Scenes tutorial.

Not all online learning must be elaborate nor expensive to create. Sometimes a casual approach is just as effective and can save you time you probably don’t have. These tutorials aren’t launched via an LMS, but are hosted directly from a Web site. If you’re curious about how this can work for you, feel free to contact me directly.

To see the full array of aLearning Fundamentals tutorials, click here.

AND… if you’re looking for some guidelines about which types of topics lend themselves to development as casual tutorials (as opposed to professionally-created online courses), see Chapter 9 in your aLearning: A Trail Guide to Association eLearning book. (What? Don’t have a copy?!? Click the blue Lulu link on the left to find out how to get one!).

Feedback? Post it here. Thanks!

Posted in Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Resources, Learning in General | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Tutorials Instead of Documents?

Posted by Ellen on May 1, 2011

One of the standard objections to simply done tutorials (like those you’ll find under the aLearning Fundamentals link on the left) is that they’re essentially page-turners. With minimal interaction, why not just post a document that covers the same content?

I’ll be the first to admit that including more interactions is a great thing, as long as they contribute to the learning outcome. A much more involved scenario with branching would have been ideal for the “Choosing a Learning Management System (LMS)” tutorial we did, but in this case the number of possible variations was daunting. Instead, we focused on the few key decisions that will at least narrow the LMS field and get you started. That’s a course objective that worked well for the length and complexity we wanted from the tutorial.

So why not just convert the decision-making points into a decision-tree graphic and post it?

Let’s be honest here. How interesting would that be?!?

Since the Web became a resource pool, all manner of documents have been tossed into it: white papers, charts, articles, blogs, etc. etc.

How many text-based resources have you downloaded or saved links to with the intention of reading them when you have time? Be honest.

Why haven’t you read them? No, really… why haven’t you read them?

Chances are you’re inundated with stuff to read already: e-mail, tweets, blogs, newsfeeds….

Now transfer that experience to your members.

You’ve got new board members coming into the loop, and they need some insight into Robert’s Rules of Order. You send everyone a copy of the revised Rules (an easier to read, modern version) — but how often do your volunteer leaders read that book?!?

If you’re being honest, you would admit that not many do. And those who do, scan it on the flight just before that critical meeting.

Now imagine you can just send them a link to a series of online tutorials — free, easy to access — that are set up in a sort of comic-book format, touching on the primary things your officers and meeting leaders need to know.

Think I’m delusional that your members won’t prefer the online version (assuming they have easy online access)?

How many of you know kids who will read a comic book before they’ll read a narrative text?

Have you seen the number of graphic novels that major bookstores are now carrying?!?

Yes, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. You can find such tutorials here at aLearning 🙂 Just follow the aLearning Fundamentals link on the left and go to the General Topics area, where you’ll find links to tutorials on Robert’s Rules of Order covering (or click the direct link at the end of this post):

  • Meetings
  • Robert’s Rules for Officers
  • Motions
  • Coming Soon — Voting and Elections

I’ve been a nay-sayer of elearning page-turners and still am. But when we can repurpose needed content and present it in a way that’s more interesting than paragraph after paragraph of explanation, why not?

We can’t cover everything in a tutorial that’s included in a book, but that’s not the point, either. We should cover the most essential content, and — for the nice to know and more detailed specifics — refer learners to quality resources.

Which is why you should still provide a readable copy of Robert’s Rules of Order. But instead of using it as your primary teaching tool, use the book as a reference manual.

Here’s an example…

When I taught college freshman composition courses, I required all students to purchase a grammar book. But instead of memorizing out-of-context grammar rules, they learned how to navigate the grammar book: how to find the correct way to use punctuation, structure a sentence, etc.

I told them they were learning the Einstein way. It’s said that Einstein didn’t know his own phone number. When asked how such a genius couldn’t know something so basic he said he didn’t want to clutter his mind with information he could readily find elsewhere. Phone numbers? That’s what phone books are for.

Why hold all that grammar in your head when you can consult a grammar book?

Why read all the ins and outs of Robert’s Rules of Order when you can access a tutorial, then follow up with the book once you know what you’re looking for? Those (along with the handy-dandy job aid that tells you which motions take precedence, when they need a second, and if debate or voting or reconsideration is allowed) work in combination to provide effective need-to-know-NOW instruction.

Why make your members read books (even short ones!), long articles, white papers or other documents if you can bring them to life with a tutorial that covers the same ground in a more engaging way?

So while I’ll always advocate that we need to create environments for active learning, sometimes there’s a place for simple tutorials that make certain content more relevant and interesting.

Give it a test run. Share the links to aLearning Fundamentals’ Robert’s Rules of Order tutorials. Access is always free, and registration is never requested — so no information is ever collected.

Then ask yourself: wasn’t that more fun than reading the book?

Easy Access Links:

Robert’s Rules of Order Tutorials []

aLearning Tutorials []

Posted in aLearning Trends, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Resources, Learning in General | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ABC… It’s Easier Than 1, 2, 3!

Posted by Ellen on March 2, 2011

What’s easier? Acronyms! Acronyms for elearning, that is!

If you’re confused by LMSes, LCMSes, CMSes, and all the other letters that refer to systems — letters that get thrown around as though we all should know them…

Well, aLearning can help sort it out!

“eLearning Alphabet Soup,” the newest aLearning Fundamentals tutorial, has now been posted!

As with all tutorials, it’s free, and this one has a companion “Behind the Scenes” session so you can see how it was put together.

Just click the aLearning Fundamentals image on the left to go to the launch page where you can get started.

Remember — aLearning does not collect any of your information. There’s no registration, no hoops to jump through. Just click and learn.

Makes it easy to share these resources with your members, colleagues, clients — anyone you think would find value in them.

Topics to Come:

  • Choosing an LMS
  • Robert’s Rules of Order

Book mark the site or this blog so you can check back for these updates.

Now what are you waiting for?!?

Posted in aLearning Strategies, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Resources, LMS, Online Learning in General | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »