Special E-Learning Grab Bag

Greetings from St. Petersburg, FL – where they haven’t forgotten the true meaning of humidity (drip drip drip drip…) I’m down here for a few days to work on an e-learning project at the Poynter Institute. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few e-learning-related items that have caught my attention lately.

TOP OF THE LIST: RSS, Knowledge Management, and Me: Reflections, Aug. 4: Kathleen Bennett explains how she’s experimenting with using webfeeds to enhance the NLII Learning Objects Virtual Community of Practice.

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Michael Allen Rails Against Boring E-Learning

In the July 2003 issue of Learning Circuits features a superb and lively interview with e-learning guru Michael Allen: Down with Boring E-Learning!

I’ve been a fan of Michael Allen’s practical, playful approach to e-learning ever since I became interested in this fast-growing field. This interview sums up many of the reasons I admire his work.

My favorite part of the Learning Circuits interview was when Ryann Ellis asked, “Why/how do you find most e-learning to be boring? What isn’t working? Pet Peeves?”

Here’s how Allen responded to that…
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Writing Learning Objectives? Fill Out this Form

Right now I’m in the midst of my first major e-learning course development project. It’s quite a psychological switch to go from writing informational, weblog, or journalistic content to creating a learning experience.

One discipline I’ve found very useful is focusing on writing precise learning objectives. It’s a new skill for me. They didn’t teach this in journalism school – but they probably should. E-learning and journalism are two fields with a lot of natural overlap.

I put considerable effort into writing and honing my learning objectives, and I keep revisiting my them to guide my writing and stay on track. The last thing I want to do is deliver an online course that’s basically just an interactive textbook, where the only input from the trainee is pushing the “next page” button. That’s no learning experience – its just a way to kill time and burn money.

One particularly helpful resource is Don Clark’s Quick Guide to Writing Learning Objectives. This includes fill-in-the-blank sample outlines (suggested wording) for learning objectives, as well as other resources (such as a reference list of verbs to describe what the trainee is supposed to learn to do).

It’s simple and to the point. This page has made my project so much easier. Thanks, Don Clark!

The Social Software Learning Experience

I’ve been writing more lately about wikis, which are one kind of social software &#150 which is basically any software that supports group interaction.

Group interaction obviously can be a key part of any formal or informal learning experience. Consequently, many educators and e-learning professionals are trying to figure out best ways to leverage social software for learning.

On June 17, 4:15-5:30 PM PDT, there will be an intriguing presentation exploring the synergy of social software and learning: Small Pieces Loosely Joined.

More about this…
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Learning with (and from) Wikis

Lately I’ve been intrigued by wikis – online content repositories that users can freely modify (expand, change, link, or delete entries). These can be published on the Web, or on an intranet or other network.

Wikis are most commonly used as community-created resources for reference (like Wikipedia) or collaboration. I’ve been getting interested in them mainly for their e-learning potential. I’m starting to like them immensely, even though they’re generally rather ugly (more on that below).

Sometimes we learn the most from our mistakes. Along that line, I just read an excellent piece about what one educator learned from a wiki that didn’t work so well…
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Learning from People Who Learn Via Computer

Perhaps the most crucial type of content you’ll ever encounter is information you have to learn in order to do your job, get a promotion, or to maintain or upgrade a professional certification. If that content isn’t clear and effective, you’re in trouble.

Self-paced, technology-based training (automated courses housed on the Web, a CD-ROM, or an intranet) has become quite popular with companies and other organizations. In these courses, learners are on their own – they do not interact with an instructor or a group of learners. This option offers learners greater flexibility (including just-in-time knowledge and the ability to repeat sections at will). However, these courses must be designed with extreme care since they must function completely on their own.

From the user’s perspective, how well do automated courses really work? In particular, what makes them succeed? What features should you look for if you’re selecting such a course?…
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elearningpost: Excellent Online Learning Resource

Over the last year or two, I’ve been quietly educating myself about the field of online learning. I’m fascinated by this field and its possibilities, and I plan to start offering my own online learning modules (and creating them for my clients).

I’ve discovered lots of cool online learning resources, so I’m going to start covering them in CONTENTIOUS. Here’s one of my favorites:

Elearningpost bills itself as “an intelligent digest of daily links to articles and news stories about corporate learning, community building, instructional design, knowledge management, personalization, and more.” Its creator is Maish R Nichani. It offers daily news blurbs as well as clear, to-the-point feature articles.

What I like best about elearningpost….
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