aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Posts Tagged ‘e-learning’

Valuable Report Stops Short

Posted by Ellen on March 31, 2011

I’m admittedly behind in my reading… this report was issued last March from NTEN, but that doesn’t discount the value of it, nor keep me from pointing out a big chunk of the IT picture it misses.

The “Nonprofit IT Staffing: 2009 IT Staffing & Spending Report” from NTEN in conjunction with the NonProfit Times gives us some great ammo when we’re trying to build a case that our organization needs a strategic plan for its use of technology, that we need more IT staff or better use of the IT personnel we have, or even that training does more than educate our staffers.

First, the helpful stuff. Then I’ll get to what the report DIDN’T give us, but should have.

Key findings of interest:

  • No surprise that larger organizations spend more and are farther ahead as leaders in tech use.
  • But here’s an interesting statement: “Though the median percentage of an organization’s overall budget allocated to IT was 3%, this figure tended to be significantly higher among small and medium organizations that large or very large.” I take this to mean that medium and small nonprofits are investing a larger percentage of their budget, but are still struggling as stragglers.
  • Organizations considered IT leaders are more likely to have a strategic plan for their technology and its use, and more often conduct ROI on their IT projects or programs than non-leaders.
  • “[O]rganizations satisfied with their IT staffing levels were more likely to provide technology training to employees.” Good training = greater satisfaction.
  • In some cases, that training was offered as incentive to highly valued IT employees to retain them during tough times when higher pay wasn’t possible and/or the workload increased because of reductions in staffing. Good training = good incentive to keep appreciated employees.

Here’s another fact that this survey supports: smaller organizations are less likely to participate in surveys such as this one — they continue to be the “hidden element” when it comes to getting a finger on the pulse of the small association/nonprofit sector. In this case, just 15% of the survey respondents work at organizations with annual budgets of less than $500,000 — which is actually the majority of nonprofits.

The report includes lots of valuable information to be sure: IT expenditures, recruiting, and outsourcing among it all.

But here are the things considered within the IT spectrum (whether conducted in-house or outsourced):

  • Social media
  • Help desk
  • Web site hosting, design, content management and maintenance
  • Hardware and software installation and management
  • Database
  • Network administration and support
  • E-mail hosting
  • Telephone services
  • Programming
  • Security and backup

What’s missing?!?

What about that ever-important linkage to elearning? What about learning content management?

Sure, you could explain it away by saying IT isn’t usually in the learning business…

…but you’d be wrong, so don’t even start down that road. Few organizations with elearning programs are doing it without the use of their IT.

eLearning is an essential element in many nonprofit technology portfolios, and omitting it from the mix weakens the value of the study, particularly when the study could have given us a good picture of where elearning fits within the overall IT picture.

  • What’s an IT staffer’s role in helping an organization implement elearning?
  • Are IT staffers involved in the integration of AMS systems and LMSes? To what degree?
  • What percentage of their time and budget is devoted to implementing and managing elearning?
  • Do they have any security or other concerns about how elearning is deployed in their organization?
  • Do they *want* to be more involved in Webinars and other elearning offerings, at least in an advisory capacity?

Someone please tell me there are plans to include elearning in the NEXT NTEN survey….

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

aLearning Tutorials — Now Improved!

Posted by Ellen on February 18, 2011

If you accessed the aLearning tutorials in the past but were frustrated by the awkward PowerPoint delivery mode, we’ve got great news!

All current tutorial titles have now been fully converted to Flash using iSpring Free or iSpring Presenter!

It’s easier than ever for you, your members, your staff — anyone! — to access and take these free tutorials 🙂

Watch for new titles coming soon, including one that uses the iSpring Presenter quiz function so you can see how it works.

We thank iSpring for making their product available for use in these tutorials and hope you’ll access them to see how you can make elearning available — at lost cost! — in your organization.

And — as always! — we welcome your suggestions for topics and any other comments you have.


Posted in aLearning Strategies, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Resources, Online Learning in General | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Making What’s Free Even Better!

Posted by Ellen on January 7, 2011

Many of you have discovered aLearning’s free tutorials — and have even invited your association’s members to access them, I hope (like I’m always saying, I don’t know who’s visiting… I only know how many are visiting!)…

But if you’ve been reluctant because of the clunky way the tutorials have to open, take heart!

Thanks to iSpring, aLearning has been revising the tutorials so they will launch automatically in your browser, rather than through PowerPoint. This will make viewing and sharing the tutorials easier than ever.

It will take a bit of time to re-load the tutorials, so please have patience.

What We’re Learning…



iSpring has three primary products:

  • iSpring Pro
  • iSpring Presenter
  • iSpring Free

iSpring Pro is primarily designed for improving how your conventional PowerPoint presentations display over the Web. There seem to be fewer player options, which limits your choices for controlling navigation. But it’s less expensive, so it might be just what you need at a great price ($249 as of today).

iSpring Presenter is their “training” option. It includes an embedded function for creating quizzes (which you can purchase separately, too, if you don’t want the full kaboodle). We’ll post a tutorial with a quiz in it so you can see its functionality. It has several question-type options, but the automatic scoring (which I can’t figure out how to turn off, or even if it can be) feels like an interruption in the course. Most importantly, the feedback function for the quizzes is very limited — no remedial feedback that’s specific to the question that was asked. This is unfortunate, as most instructional designers want to be able to explain why a particular answer isn’t as correct as a different one — and most learners want to know why their answer isn’t correct. Perhaps this will change in a future version — or maybe the separate QuizMaker has this functionality.

What’s great about iSpring Presenter, however, outweighs its weakness. It’s inexpensive ($399 today) compared to similar products, plus it’s easy to learn and simple to use. You can select a player (which is how the sessions are viewed in the browser) that has minimal navigational controls or a players that allows learners to see the slides in a side panel, read the notes section from your PowerPoint, or see additional resources you can add.

We’ll also use a variety of the players in the revised tutorials so you can see what I mean by all that.

The third option is available for qualifying non-profit organizations. The “free” version is very simple and won’t provide much latitude for providing tutorials that aren’t page-turners (or at least don’t feel as much like a page-turner). We’ve used this version for the “Leading Learning Events” tutorial, which you can access here. Notice the logo in the corner — you’ll want to plan to accommodate it ahead of time so your text or images won’t get covered, as ours did (we’ll be re-generating this popular tutorial soon, using a different player to avoid that).

The Big Difference

Of course, the biggest difference is that we can — rather inexpensively — make online tutorials for our members or other constituents much more accessible, and do it pretty easily, with a tool like this one. So much better than posting or e-mailing a PowerPoint deck!

New Topics Coming!

We’ll continue to re-compile the current titles in iSpring and will continue to post them as they’re available, so please check back.

As always, if you have any questions about the tutorials, feel free to contact me directly.

You can access them via the aLearning Fundamentals image on the left.

And iSpring? Their Web site it loaded with info. They’re well worth a look!


Posted in aLearning Strategies, Asynchronous Learning Types, eLearning Resources, Financing eLearning | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cyber Monday = 25% Off the aLearning Trail Guide!

Posted by Ellen on November 29, 2010

If you missed the free shipping offer for Black Friday, here’s a Cyber Monday deal for you:

All orders received before 11:59 p.m. PST today  (Monday, November 29) are 25% off (up to $185… don’t I wish someone would order that many books!!). Just click the Buy Now – Lulu blue button on the left to find out more about the book and begin the ordering process. When you are ready to check out, type CYBER25 in the Code field to receive your discount. It’s that easy!

Select the download version for immediate access, or choose the print version if you prefer flipping pages and highlighting key points 🙂

Either way, it’s what Lulu is calling their best deal of the year, and on top of the already reduced price of the book, it’s a bargain for the 270+ pages of step-by-step activities and checklists that will guide you from start to finish in developing a workable elearning plan for your association or non-profit.

What are you waiting for?!?

Please note that Lulu prints copies as orders are received. This means delivery on or by a particular date cannot be guaranteed.  See for more information about shipping and delivery schedules.

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

aLearning Blog Listed as “Most Updated and Popular”

Posted by Ellen on November 27, 2010

Many thanks to Christopher Pappas at “eFront: News from the e-learning frontier” blog for including the aLearning Blog in his list of “The Most Updated and Popular E-Learning Blogs”!

If you’re looking for more resources to add to your PLE (Personal Learning Environment) on all topics related to elearning, see this eFront blog for recommendations that will keep you busy for hours!

Posted in Blogroll, eLearning Resources, Online Learning in General | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »