Monthly Archives: January 2012

E-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer: A review

Towards the end of last year I was asked if I’d like to contribute to the online e-learning magazine ‘eLearn Magazine‘ by writing a book review. I was honoured to be asked and eagerly agreed.

I was pleased to find out that the book chosen for me to review was Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer’s third edition of ‘E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning’ to give it its full title.

Here’s an extract, hot off the press.

Transferring classroom courses to online delivery isn’t as simple as it might initially seem. In our eagerness to meet the needs of the organization, the needs of the learners are often overlooked. Even so, the trend for producing more efficient ways of delivering learning is set to continue. It also means more and more organizations are looking to produce eLearning in house. If this is the case, in order to leverage the benefits of eLearning we’ll need some guidance. And for that we do not have to look further than Clark and Mayer’s E-Learning and the Science of Instruction, now in its third edition.

Read the full article at eLearn Magazine here

Rapid authoring tools – they’re just dishwashers really!

DishwasherIf you haven’t already noticed (and if that’s the case, what planet are you on?), there’s vast choice of media tools out there. Increasingly in today’s climate organisations are looking at leveraging these tools’ abilities to learn and work more efficiently. In fact, organisations can see great potential with increased adoption of rapid authoring tools. These tools are helping them transfer training done in the classroom to a more flexible and efficient delivery.

I’ve certainly embraced any gadget that might make my life easier and to a quicker end result. Take the dishwasher for instance. Until I met my husband I never had one. It was a luxury for which I couldn’t justify the expenditure. Now, having had one for the past 8 yrs I can’t imagine not having one. Yes of course I could live without it but it washes my dishes so much more efficiently and on the whole does an excellent job of it too. And while it’s washing those dishes I can get on with something else or even do nothing at all.

But that dishwasher wouldn’t do such a good job without that something extra from us. To get sparkling dishes it’s important place the content correctly. It’s important to know what is suitable content and not to over stack the content. But even then if you have done that correctly, there’s still more to consider. What temperature is needed? We could stick with the default setting but that might be the hottest. Does every load need that setting. Of course you can carry on regardless. Yes the result will be sparkling – but at a cost of wasted energy and a longer cycle.

Yet what if we were energy conscious and washed everything on the coolest setting? Yes some dishes will be clean but those pots and pans we cooked the Sunday lunch in didn’t come very clean at all. So what do we do? Either hand wash them or wash them again. Either way that’s extra time and energy. And there’s still the question about the detergent! There are so many of them out there all claiming to give the best results. There are Eco friendly ones; power-ball ones; double, triple, quadruple action ones; some in packets that dissolve; some in packets you need to discard.

Fortunately, we more often than not get superb results. My parents, on the other hand, don’t. Is that the fault of the dishwasher? Well, of course there could be a problem but after some observation it was more about their stacking process; their refusal of following best practise because they ‘know best’ and the misguided thinking that cramming as much in as possible, using the coolest setting and cheapest tablets will give them good results. But no! Although if they’re happy with it, what’s the harm maybe? They might be ok with having to re-wash. It doesn’t affect anyone else.

A dishwasher is a brilliant time-saving invention but it won’t wash the dishes without our carefully considered actions and procedures.

Similarly, although there are many rapid authoring tools out there, that’s all they are – tools. With careful consideration, you’ll choose the best for what you want but without the right input from us, without carefully considering the right content , without understanding the implications that over-stacked content has on the result (our learners’ brains); without careful consideration of your audience and making the right decision for them your time and effort may be wasted. This is definitely a case of one size doesn’t fit all.

So remember, when thinking about changing the way you deliver your training, there are lots of tools to help reach global audiences, they may help reach more people in a shorter amount of time but it takes more than just stacking content from your classroom courses.

Out with old, in with the new

2012Well the first week of a shiny new year has flown by and I thought I’d reflect on my last year’s goals. I didn’t do too badly considering…

My plan to get back into my archery unfortunately didn’t materialise which also meant my plans for a more work/life balance wasn’t quite achieved. However, considering my blogging and professional development are all done in my own time, I’m fairly happy with my achievement. OK’ I didn’t always make my plan of a weekly post but I’ve averaged 3.5 posts a month which isn’t bad.

The last three months of 2011 saw me completely drop off the social media planet. I really can’t put my finger on why. I think I just burnt myself out with the social media scene. My official professional work became more hectic than usual and seeped into my own time (probably a familiar story to others out there) that I found myself abandoning my extra curricular investigations in the world of online learning and learning technologies. My iPhone became a tool for making calls, checking e-mails and taking photos of my beautiful new niece. My iPad started to gather dust on the coffee table. Its only outing a trip to Thailand where it was as invaluable as a Swiss army knife (but that’s another story entirely).I start 2012 with renewed motivation. I’ve made a promise to myself to get back on track and continue with those resolutions I made last year. But in addition I’ve made a promise to myself to make time just for me. After all, as the saying goes, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. And that’s exactly how I felt when I saw out 2011.

With a new year it’s time for a new and more positive outlook professionally too . What changes would I like to see in the year ahead in my profession? I’d like to see more emphasis on how people really learn and less about counting those bums on seats – virtual or otherwise. I’d like to see more acceptance of social tools for learning and working. I’d like to see more effort being put into what makes effective learning online. I’d like to see more asynchronous learning being the norm. I’d like to see more use of learning and collaborating in live online environments when live discussion is considered valuable. I’d like to see face to face interaction used efficiently and when most appropriate and I’d like to see more Learning and Development professionals grab the virtual bull by the horns and start adding to their skills to ensure learning online is as effective as learning in well designed classroom events. Am I expecting too much? It might be easier than you think.

Here’s to a successful 2012.