Monday, January 16, 2006

eLearning That Doesn't Break the Bank

How do you deal with information overload? I let someone else do it for me. I subscribe to Stephen Downes' weekly summary of OLDaily. Downes scours the web for everything that is of relevance to the world of eLearning, provides a summary, and links to it. What a valuable resource...almost every week I find something of value in Downes' summaries.

This past week was no exception. Downes put me on to a paper titled 50 Ideas for Free E-learning, written by Matthew Fox of Kineo, an eLearning consulting company based in the UK. This article really resonated with me because a constant objection one hears about eLearning is its cost. However, Fox points out clearly and succinctly the many creative ways that one can use free tools (or nearly free) to make eLearning affordable to those on tight budgets. I often tell people that eLearning does not have to mean expending a fortune on an installed Learning Management System.

In particular, Fox points to the following low cost options:

  • Open source LMSs (e.g. Moodle)
  • Open source authoring tools (e.g. ATutor)
  • Presentation software (e.g. PowerPoint)
  • Blogs (e.g. Blogger)
  • Wikis (e.g. Seedwiki)
  • E-mail
  • Virtual classrooms (e.g. PowWowNow)
  • RSS feeds
  • Web phone (e.g. Skype)
  • Instant messaging
  • Screen capture tools (e.g. Wink)
  • Quiz software (e.g. Hot Potatoes)
  • Search engines
  • Survey tools (e.g. Survey Monkey)
  • Pod casting (e.g. Audacity)
Bravo to Fox and Kineo! As I often tell anyone willing to listen....if you have money to invest in an eLearning project, invest it in creative people who know how to target learning at real organizational needs and know how to make learning real, relevant and engaging. Sure, there will be situations where a fully functional and supported LMS is required. However, there is a lot that intelligent and creative people can achieve in eLearning with very limited investments in technology, as Fox so rightly points out.

I will be exploring this further in a free webinar titled How to Make Intelligent Choices for Your eLearning, scheduled for Monday, January 23rd at 12:00 noon EST.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Engage, Engage, Engage

One of the most frequent (and accurate) criticisms of corporate eLearning is that much of it fails to engage learners. Persistence and completion rates are disappointing. For example:

  • only 69% of learners start "mandatory" eLearning courses
  • only 32% of learners start volutary eLearning courses
  • only 30% of learners who start eLearning courses actually finish these

Finding ways of reversing these trends was the focus of a one-hour webinar that was sponsored by eLearn Campus on December 15th. How to Make eLearning Engaging and Keep Your Learners Motivated to Learn, was "attended" by some two dozen participants. For those who missed it, the archive of this webinar is available for review.

During the session, eLearn Campus' Linda Gibson demonstrated how learner engagement could be enhanced by having learners interact with content, with a subject expert, and with peer learners. Her course titled Engaging Your eLearners: Best Practices in eLearning Design and Facilitation, will be next offered started January 16th.

This webinar was the first of many more to come....stay tuned.