Dec 29, 2007

Very good presentation on learning 3.0

It links learning design with the possibilities we have today. Nice presentation.

http://www.bridgemailsystem.com/pms/servlet/com.PMSystems.servlets.OfferClicked?art=jbKw21Tw30Ww33Ov26Cs17Er20jc&subId=jbGs21Tw30Qq33Mt26Aq17Mz20Kw21Qt30je

Education Podcast Network

On EPNweb.org or Education Podcast Network you can find a nice collection of educational podcasts by category. For example: subscribe to a podcast series to learn a second language (like chinesepod.com)

Learn how to be a dad

You can learn anything, right? Even how to become a good dad... I think this one gets my prize for most unexpected e-learning theme of the year: go to the project-dad.net site for modules in multiple language on the 9 most important things you need to know as an almost-dad (like how to make a bottle, change the baby or hold it).

Dec 21, 2007

Know Knowledge or Connectivism

You can find a good article on the book Know Knowledge of George Siemens and connectivism on Clive on Learning Blog. Knowledge is not only what is in your own head (luckily :-) ). It is also what is in your network: what do your friends and connections know? What does the network know (del.icio.us, google, etc)?

BTW You can download the book freely on the Knowing Knowledge page as a PDF file.

Dec 20, 2007

Lots of links to trial software for training

This page at LearningCircuits has a long list of links and descriptions of trial software for training and content development.

http://www.learningcircuits.org/tryit

Dec 7, 2007

e-learning for kids

Don't know what to spend for Christmas? Why don't you donate to the global non-profit foundation e-Learning for Kids. The free site www.e-learningforkids.org hosts 80+ small modules to help kids learn via the web. Didn't work well in Firefox and had some javascript errors in IE, but the modules are very nice and suited for the intended audience. ..

Dec 5, 2007

Communities of practice and learning

An interesting interview with Etienne Wenger on Communities of Practice, web 2.0, social software and learning on the elearningeurope.info site: http://www.elearningeuropa.info/directory/index.php?page=doc&doc_id=10476&doclng=6

A quote:
"Of course, emerging technologies are affecting communities of practice, and especially more recent developments in social software. It is interesting to note how aligned the peer-to-peer nature of web 2.0 technology is with the way learning takes place in a community of practice. This alignment is remarkable. It has given rise to a lot of interest in communities of practice because it has enabled all sorts of communities that would not have been possible in the past"

Dec 3, 2007

Free versions of older Camtasia and SnagIt software

Techsmith is the company that makes the popular e-learning tools Camtasia (to capture the screen in a video) and Snagit (to capture screen images). They have started to give away old versions of their software for free. I think that is a great idea. I've tried it, and got two license keys in my mailbox. Best of all, getting this free software entitles you to upgrade to the latest version at a 50% discount if you would need the latest features.

Article on free Snagit:
http://www.labnol.org/software/download/free-download-snagit-with-serial-number/1841/

Article on free Camtasia Studio:
http://www.labnol.org/software/download/download-camtasia-studio-free/1829/

Nov 29, 2007

Presentation on IBM Knowledge Factory

Just gave my presentation at Online Educa Berlin on the IBM Knowledge Factories, and how we went from the 'renaissance man' model to a global e-learning production factory model with global resources.

I've uploaded the presentation to Slideshare.com.


The presentation went well, just the open discussion at the end didn't really take off. I guess the European Online Educa audience want to get presentations rather than discuss :-). The discussion was on how to integrate the learner (not the subject matter expert) in the development process without adding cost, predictability of quality outcome or time. I'm always interested in your ideas.

Nov 26, 2007

Sounds of the Bazaar: my first podcast appearance

I just made my first podcast appearance on 'Sounds of the Bazaar', a series of podcasts leading up to the Online Educa Berlin conference that I will be attending this week. I have a weird voice :-). The podcast is on e-collaboration tools in learning.

http://project.bazaar.org/2007/11/23/sounds-of-the-bazaar-16/

Nov 8, 2007

Book review: Informal Learning - Jay Cross

I finally finished the book 'Informal Learning - rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance' by Jay Cross. It has been on my reading list since last year, but somehow I never got around to go on after the first few chapters.

The book is as the title suggests about one extremely important form of learning that is overlooked by the learning profession and industry: how people learn informally through conversation, contacts, social networks, etc. Admit it: the first thing you do when you don't know something is ask the person next to you. Very often that is not the right person to ask, but it does show how people prefer to learn. It is by definition impossible to formalize informal learning (don't even try!), but it can be steered and supported.

I found the first chapters of the book very insightful, cleverly written with some humor and very promising. However, the later chapters where Jay Cross starts describing some formats (often long chapters on personal experiences) did not really add much value for me. They sound like written by a learning guru on the verge of retirement, looking back with disrespect to the things he has done before and we as a profession are still doing daily. Or I was just jetlagged while reading them.

Some forms of informal learning experiences like unconferences, spontaneous and unmoderated sessions, or grokking especially seem very powerful mechanisms for a little select group of people: those who are smart, open and willing. It's like Steiner education: I think it IS better than traditional education, but only for the smart, open and willing. Those forms of informal learning will not take off or be less productive for others. I can see how these formats would work well in an environment such as IBM. I do not see how to get better results out of it in a federal ministry where people actually don't want to share their knowledge for reasons of status and job protection. I can see it working in America. I cannot see it working in a culture where hierarchy and status dominate value and performance.

I totally agree however with the main point of the book. Informal learning is important (80% or another number of learning), and can be fostered and cultivated. In a learning world where about all focus is on formal courses and training, a book that (over)emphasizes the other side is more than welcome. So let's indeed start to at least acknowledge and support informal learning in our workplaces.

Use voice123.com to find voice talent

The times of expensive 250$/hour audio studio recording is over. Nowadays you can include voice in your courses or learning podcasts at much more reasonable prices. Use for example the site www.voice123.com. The site is an intermediary between you and thousands of voice talents. The site doesn't charge you for its use and lets you set up a project and get quotes and demo's from voice talents. You can also search the database for a particular voice.

Some numbers from E-learning Guild 360° report on learning systems

  • The top ten vendors enjoy a 70% market share and the top 20 vendors an 83% market share.
  • 'Developed in house' is the second largest LMS in terms of market share, with a market penetration of 12.78%. Moodle, the most popular open source LMS, comes 4th but is usually a secondary LMS. (These numbers include academia and small companies as well as large enterprises.)
  • Costs per learner per year for large corporations (> 5000) for the LMS vary from 15$ to 57$.

Nov 6, 2007

Learning SCORM

SCORM is the major e-learning standard nowadays and it defines how the e-learning industry packages, describes, structures, delivers and tracks e-learning modules. It stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model and its current version is SCORM 2004. Most organizations however standardize on courses and learning platforms that are SCORM 1.2 compliant, due to the slow adoption and the unneeded complexity of SCORM 2004. Anyway, the world is big and open, and unless you like begin locked in with one particular vendor you better make sure both your learning infrastructure (LMS) and learning content are SCORM compatible and/or certified. Open standards ARE the way forward.

Many people however ask me what SCORM is, what is does and how it works. So today I provide you with two links to help you out.

Oct 23, 2007

SCORM goes LETSI

SCORM was developed by the US defense originally, and is now spread beyond their initial imagination allover the planet as the de facto e-learning standard. (Well, actually the previous version SCORM 1.2 because the SCORM 2004 specification is too complex for most vendors and content builders I would argue.)

Just heard that SCORM specification has found a new home. A loosely coupled federation of organisations will keep on maintaining and developing the SCORM standards. The organisation is called LETSI but I forgot what it stands for. Expect the new organisation to find out its way of working and governance in the first quarter of 2008. And I think later on we will see specifications coming out to get web service and SOA standards for e-learning.

Oct 22, 2007

L7: ROI for learning braindump

The learning 2007 conference has started yesterday evening and is now at full speed. During the opening session there was an interview with Doug Lynch from Wharton university. He claims ROI is a false number and the learning profession should move towards other forms of evidence to prove its value. Actually he used a quite strong word to describe the significance of an ROI number but I'm not going to repeat it here, both because I didn't get it well and because it's a dirty word that would bring down the level of this blog :-).

I went to his session this morning. Here is my dump:

  • We live in a knowledge economy and more people learn in companies than in schools. However there are no peer reviewed studies of ROI in companies. That is worrying.
  • It is not that ROI cannot be done, but it is very complex to do and not necessarily meaningful. A quick poll of the audience says 71% say their companies do not have an accurate ROI measurement in place.
  • Learning is accounted for under GAAP as an expense, even if we talk about it as an investment in people
  • Some reasons why ROI is not what we necessarily need: ROI is outcome based but in a learning organization for example it is the process of continuous improvement that matters. For ROI you need to define, measure and monetize all variables that make up the benefits and the costs of learning, while controlling for all variables except for learning. What goes into ROI is also very specific to the company and context.
  • All things being equal, what is the impact of learning? Well guess what, all other things that affect performance are not equal, performance is affected by lots of things we cannot control for in the calculation.
  • What we are actually are talking about is the IMPACT of learning, and evidences of that instead of the financial number related to outcome benefits and associated costs ratio.
  • So we should all be like researchers and find evidence and validate that in a scientific way. Work with the evidence you can gather or with what is easily quantifiable.
  • Americans are typically asking a lot of questions and interrupt the flow of the presentation and go into side discussions much more than you will see happening on European conferences. That is not necessarily bad, but at this point I lost it so I don't really know what we could do instead ROI. We did not get to the end or half of the slides, but they will be on the learningwiki.com site later on so maybe I'll get the point of the session later.
At a previous conference I remember in a similar session some people and vendors boosting on how they got a number and cracked the holy grail on proving learning value. Then the last speaker came and declared that mankind has been teaching each other stuff since the dawn of time, and we still do not know how to measure its value, although we all feel it does matter. So who started the whole ROI saga in learning anyway? Was it the business that noticed learning and wanted to manage it like any other service or investment? Or was it the learning function that wanted a place at the table and decided it should come up with a ROI number to achieve that?
At the end of the session I'm still as confused about the ROI debate as before. I have more reasons to believe that ROI is not the unifying answer. But I still have no idea as to what other evidences to replace it with. So hopefully I'll get it later and in the mean time stick to Kirkpatrick.

Learning theory video's

You can view 4 free video's on learning theory on the site http://www.learningwiki.com/theory. Prof. Stanton Wortham from Penn University talks in a clear and understandable way about behaviorism, cognitivism and sociocultural learning theory.

Oct 13, 2007

elearning mysellingskills.com

Just tried out the demo of mysellingskills.com, a brand new e-learning site to develop your selling skills. It is made by instruxion (Belgium) and a license costs 250 euro to access the whole library.
I like their approach: these courses show that e-learning has definitely moved away from the text-based screens into media-rich and almost film-like stories. The backside is that you can't learn at a quicker pace and need to passively indulge the rhythm of the course as it develops in front of your eyes. And there are no transcripts of the story which makes the course inaccessible for the hearing impaired. But that aside the course made a good impression, and I like the initiative to throw this on the Internet in a yearly subscription mode.

Oct 1, 2007

e-Quality project for learning

Another European-funded project on Quality in e-learning, the e-Quality project has released a free DVD with an overview of quality processes on learning and e-learning. The project also released a software eLUP to model quality in e-learning processes.

http://www.e-quality-eu.org/home.html

I was in an e-learning quality seminar last week, where Dr. Ulf-Daniel Ehlers mentions there are a lot of quality tools for learning out there. Hundreds. But not one that stands above the other and becomes a generally accepted one. Maybe this one? Maybe SEVAQ? (I'll blog on a similar project SEVAQ later.)

Mobile learning

One of the interest areas of the learning industry right now is mobile learning. Devices are getting even more widespread and powerful, with decent network access. Take the iPhone and the likes as an example. And in some areas of the world it also makes much, much more sense to use a device everyone already has as a learning delivery vehicle instead of more expensive computers.

Anyway, I wanted to share a link to this platform to create free mobile applications:
http://www.mobisitegalore.com/

Personally I don't use my cellphone for networking because it is still very expensive here in Belgium to do so. But once that obstacle gets out of the way, I might be tempted for a question or module a day on a topic. Or to interact with the speaker/trainer via SMS. Or to send in a picture of my work for review. Or anything else people will come up with...

Sep 18, 2007

Study: E-Learning Spending on the Rise

Another study, this time from Global Industry Analysts Inc., “eLearning: A Global Strategic Business Report,” says e-learning is on the rise. Frankly, predictions of e-learning futures have always looked like that, and if those from years ago would have been accurate it would have been omnipresent. That as a side note, the study does shed some interesting light on the distribution of e-learning in the world and relative market shares.

  • 60% of corporate e-learning is in the US
  • 15% is in Europe, the second largest market
  • Japanese and Asian markets are smaller, but due for a catch up in the next years

Aug 8, 2007

Moodle + Second Life = Sloodle

I stumbled across a project that aims to integrate the most popular open source LMS Moodle with the most popular 3D internet environment Second Life. It is called Sloodle.

As they describe it:
Sloodle is a project to integrate the VLE platform Moodle with 3D immersive settings such as Second Life. Imagine a Moodle course that, if you wanted, could turn into a proper 3D interactive classroom with all your Moodle resources available to your students in the virtual world.


Aug 7, 2007

QTI Tutorial

You can find a nice tutorial on the technical details of the QTI specification on the Cetis web site.
QTI is a standard (most current version 2.1) for implementing assessment questions and systems. The standard allows to make questions once and import and use them in all compliant testing systems. I'm not a person that can easily read document specification documents, so this little tutorial is a big help!

The adoption of this standard has been much slower than for example SCORM, but LMS systems are increasingly picking it up.

http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/QTI_Training_Guide

Aug 1, 2007

SCORM 2004 poster


Do the inner workings of SCORM 2004 confuse you? Rustici software made a free SCORM 2004 poster you can download on their site. As they describe it themselves:

" A handy wall poster containing a complete reference of SCORM 2004 3rd Edition. Including:
  • The complete CMI and ADL.NAV data models with data types, syntax and descriptions.
  • A road map to the sequencing pseudo code with function relationships and descriptions.
  • A syntax reference for the runtime API.
  • A summary of the SCORM activity tracking data model and how it relates to the CMI runtime data model. "

Jul 31, 2007

Most common reason for not completing courses

This list comes from a Brandon Hall study among 313 learning professionals. It has the common reasons learners do not complete courses:
  • learners get the information the need, then exit
  • learners get interrupted or distracted
  • learners are too busy
  • learners don't have incentives to complete courses
  • the online courses are boring or badly designed
  • the technology doesn't always work right or is confusing

The Indians are coming

Don't panic. They are actually already here :-).
Tata systems announced a new LCMS.

"Global learning solutions provider Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) launched Learning Planet, an enterprise learning content management system (LCMS). The technology includes a core learning management system (LMS), along with tools in the areas of competency management, content management, knowledge management, collaboration and communication, and an assessment engine. "

Jul 30, 2007

What works: strategies for increasing elearning usage

How do you make elearning work? What can you do to promote it, and to make it more effective? According to a Corporate University Exchange study e-learning dropout rates stand at about 70% as compared with 15% for classroom. I believe 30% e-learning dropout is a common figure in corporations. The dropouts don't say whether that is because of the poor learning, because of a mismatch or because the learner found what they needed and quit. Regardless of the reason, here are 9 tips Brandon Hall gives to make e-learning work better:

  1. Talk to your audience - and share the results
  2. Pay attention to culture
  3. Be specific in your marketing
  4. Find e-learning champions
  5. Get learner's managers involved
  6. Brand your program
  7. Don't stop with the launch; keep communicating
  8. Tie e-learning to consequences
  9. Give learners enough time and space to do e-learning

Corporate learning survey

Want to know how your corporate learning compares to that of 'the big ones' or the major players in your sector? Until August 15 companies can freely sign up for participation in the CUX 8th annual benchmarking study on corporate learning and employee development.

Later this year, at the November Online Educa conference, results will be discussed.

Jul 29, 2007

Diversity training

This Checkpoint article talks about the 'Respect Diversity Toolkit', a diversity training package from Aviva. Diversity training is gaining in importance. That is a positive evolution, and it is even more positive companies are sharing their experiences on the topic.

The potential of Jing

Jing is a free beta product that allows you to easily share screenshots or screencasts of your desktop and save them or share them. The makers call it 'visual conversations'. Jing is a project of TechSmith, the makers of the popular commercial snapshot product 'SnagIt', screen video product 'Camtasia' and associated hosting site 'screencast.com'. I don't expect Jing to end up as a free product, but as long as they are in beta you get a pretty good, simplified and easy tool with free hosting on screencast.com. I recommend you give it a shot.

I see a lot of potential for Jing, not at least in the field of learning. It lowers the centre of gravity for expertise because anyone can easily, just-in-time make a small tutorial on how to us a certain feature of an application or where to click, and share it. Help desk people will find this a useful tool. Coaches and remote trainers will love this. And if the makers add tags to it and a home page you get an instant YouTube for 'how-do-I-do-this' screencasts. Very cool indeed.

See full article on the about2findout.com blog.

Jul 25, 2007

The Learning Savings Account

Some days I'm very proud of my company IBM. Like today. IBM is announcing (at least in the US for now) a radical new way to help employees update their skills and learn new things.

Most of training budgets get spent at the beginning of a career, and then you get some days a year for incremental updates along the way but only for what you need for your own daily job. The most productive employees, and probably the employees that could leverage training the most in real life, get the least of it. But at the same time companies expect their workers to keep themselves 'employable' by updating their skill set and keeping it current. Most often, that is at the personal expense of the employee. Besides, hardly any training you get internally will prepare you for a new job aspiration or heaven forbid a career change at another company.

In today's announcement IBM will create kind of saving accounts that can be used for education and training, and adds 50% of what the employee contributes (up to 1000$ a year). It is completely controlled by the employee.

For more information read this article in the NY Times.

Jul 18, 2007

Thomson sells Prometric testing to ETS

Thomson last year sold its e-learning division NETg to SkillSoft. Now they have an agreement to sell the certification division Prometric to one of its major customers ETS (the one from the TOEFL test).

More on http://www.thomson.com/content/pr/corp/acquisitions_divestitures/217831 .

Jul 17, 2007

3D for training

Yet another tool to create 3D avatars for learning.

Vcom3D released Vcommunicator Authoring Suite and
Sign Smith Studio 3.0. The tools are designed to
provide users, regardless of computer animation or
modeling experience, the ability to quickly and
cost-effectively animate 3-D characters for training
applications.

Jun 27, 2007

Jun 16, 2007

Learning Blogs

I've just added the following blogs to my watch list and wanted to share that with you. I find them inspiring for our field.
http://clive-shepherd.blogspot.com/
http://www.connectivism.ca/blog/
http://www.digitalchalkie.com/
http://elearnqueen.blogspot.com/
http://informl.com/

The circle of learning

The learner is in control of what to learn, when and how. And according to the learner's needs and his or her learning style another format or activity might be appropriate. So far the theory, and it's not a new one.

In the image you'll see one way of putting this theory into practise: it is the navigator used within the IBM Learning Suites. It is a very visual learning compass that allows for summary or in depth study, practise, simulations, access to experts and tests all in one.

Jun 8, 2007

What makes a good e-learner?

In a survey of the Department of Instructional Technology's E-Learning Concepts and Techniques Spring 2006 online class, participants were asked to respond to “what factors and/or skills contribute to being a successful student in an e-learning class?” The responses included:
1. Self-discipline
2. Patience
3. Self-motivation
4. Communication
5. Asking questions
6. Knowledge of how e-learning works
7. Familiarity with the software
8. Time management
9. Ability to work independently
10. Ability to communicate with groups via distance
11. Active participation in the class
12. Being able to compromise and communicate effectively
13. Ability to multitask

How much for learning?











This clipping shows a table by De Vries & Bersin on how much different learning development projects cost and the time they take.

What do you put in an RFP for an LMS?

Finding a suitable Learning Management System (LMS) for your enterprise is a daunting, complex and time-consuming task. The world of LMSes continuously evolves and there are many, many vendors out there. Most companies go through a formal process of 'Request-For-Proposal' and a selection process. But what should you put in such an RFP?

Karl M. Kapp (2003) suggests the following general outline of an LMS Request-For-Proposal:
1- Overview of the project
2- Submission process and timeline
3- Selection criteria
4- Ownership statemen
5- Organisation of the proposal
6- Orientation of the business
7- Strategy that is supporting the e-learning initiative
8- Audience description
9- Delivery environment
10- Technology infrastructure
11- System parameters and requirements
12- Quality Assurance
13- Administration and maintenance
14- Implementation schedule
15- Available resources

John Gerald Theis recently finished his PhD thesis on LMS selection RFPs. He studied 25 RFP documents for structure, features asked for etc. You can download his thesis here. The last pages contain 100 RFP questions that you will probably find inspiring.

To ADDIE or not to ADDIE

We use the well known ADDIE model for learning content creation: Analysis, Design, Development, Integration/Implementation and Evaluation. Many other companies in the sector stick with it. It may not be the ideal model, but is has proven to work and to deliver results. Similar to the application development world, alternative models are suggested because the world evolves at an increasing pace and this model forms an obstacle.

I found a quote that describes my sentiments on 'ADDIE or not' quite well. It is by Marc Rosenberg.

It's like that old definition of democracy. It's the worst form of
government-except for all the other kinds. Instructional System Design (ISD) is
the best thing we have, if we use it correctly.

Making a learning strategy

Glen Memuth (2001) suggests one of 3 different approaches to develop a learning strategy for enterprise-wide e-learning:

a- Level1 - If your organisation has had little or no e-learning experience, the business case should be built either around an off-the-shelf generic product approach or a 'narrow and tall' problem focused approach.

b- Level2 - If your organisation has implemented two or more successful e-learning projects, consider building the business case around a problem-focused approach where content is more customised and offers problem-based skills practice through the use of simulations.

c- Level3 - Finally, if your organisation has implemented two or more successful e-learning projects where learning is problem-centered and simulation-based, your organisation may be ready to build a business case around an enterprise-wide solution. The focus of this level is collaboration through virtual group workspaces providing the opportunity to engage face-to-face with other learners in real work.

Jun 3, 2007

The new RELOAD has arrived

RELOAD is an extremely popular open source e-learning packaging tool. You cannot use it to create content, but you can use it to convert whatever content you have to a standard compliant SCORM package, complete with metadata and everything.

There is now a version available based on the open source development environment Eclipse, and the new version supports formats like: IMS MD (versions 1.1, 1.2.1 and 1.2.4) , IEEE LOM, IMS CP(versions 1.1.1, 1.1.2 and 1.1.4) as well as SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004(3rd edition) specifications.

May 27, 2007

Microsoft e-learning free sample


For a limited time you can get free access to a Microsoft E-learning course on ASP.NET. Even if ASP.NET is not your cup of tea or sounds like a disease, it is worthwhile to have a look. You will need a Windows Live ID to register. One of the nice things is an automatic scanner to check if your system meets your prerequisites as seen in figure 1. But the course player itself gave me a WOW feeling. Of course there is the tree-like menu structure that hold all the SCO modules in the course. But inside a module there is a very nice visual navigator too with introduction, a suite of learning activities such as video, animation, instruction, etc that you can take in any order, and a self test at the end. There is also an integrated Notes panel in the same screen. And the top of the screen has a search function that will search the entire course. I really feel in control as a learner when I take such a course, and that's exactly the point. At all time I know where I am, and I can search and select the activity I take next.
My recommendation: give it a try, just for the experience.

May 21, 2007

SkillSoft completes acquisition of NETg

I received a nice e-mail from my NETg contact that the SkillSoft acquisition of NETg (for about 270m$) has been completed.

Now there is only one big worldwide player for off-the-shelve content left, next to an enormeous amount of little local players.

The goal of course is to streamline the offer and make sure SkillSoft courses run on the NETg platforms and vice versa. That should be done somewhere in 2008. The long term goal is to come up with a unified platform.

May 16, 2007

Moodle installation (my try)

In this article I will share my experience with installing and configuring the most popular open source Learning Management System (LMS): Moodle. This article is not intended to be an installation manual, because you can find those on the Moodle site. It is written as a 'learning journey' and reflects the steps I have taken, the problems I encountered and how I (didn't) solve them. The article will show I'm no genius :-) but I think this kind of 'learning journey' description might be more useful for people than traditional step-by-step instructions. In a world where everything changes so rapidly it is more important to find your way than to have a very detailled but also very specific step-by-step guide. It is more important to tell about potential problems and where to look for help than to discuss a problem free installation. There is no such thing as a 'installs problem free in 5 minutes' software, at least not if you have a free choice in many platforms, databases, and other underlying technologies and middlewares.

So let us start at the beginnings.
1- Download of the Moodle code. Initially I downloaded version 1.8 because that is the latest stable release. Go to http://download.moodle.org/ and download the zip package. I also downloaded extra modules (the scorm module) and extra language packs (Dutch and French), but later I found out that you don't need that. The SCORM module is included by default and the language packs can be downloaded and installed automatically via the Moodle administration interface.













2- Unzipped the package somewhere on my hard disk. The zip file is about 12 MB, the unzipped folder about 35 MB.
3- I also printed out the manual at http://docs.moodle.org/en/Installing_Moodle
4- Then I needed to copy the contents of the unzipped package to my web server. Moodle is a PHP application and uses MySQL as a database. As I use a web host (ipowerweb), I needed to transfer via FTP. I created a folder 'moodle' and transferred all the files. That took quite some time. (15-20 minutes) In case you want to know, I use the free FileZilla FTP client.
5- Before you can start the installation script, the database must exist. So I created a new MySQL database and a new MySQL database user account for the Moodle program. With my web hosting provider I can do that via the control panel web interface. Other providers will have similar tools. If it is a local server you can use the popular PhpMyAdmin tool.












6- Start of the installation program. Very easy, just opened my browser and went to the URL of where I copied the moodle code. The installation program will automatically start. If that doesn't work somehow, go to 'install.php' in the root. First step is to select the language for installation. This doesn't affect Moodle itself, it's just the language shown during the installation.











7- Next screen is important as it checks for prerequisites such as PHP settings. If any is not OK you will be warned and you have a help section on how to resolve them. For some settings you cannot continue with the installation until the prerequisites are met. In my case the memory limit was too low. If you have full acess to the server you can change settings in your PHP.ini config file. On a hosting provider, you may not have access to that, as in my case. But then you might be able to create a file called .htaccess (no name, just .htaccess as file name) with commands in likephp_value memory_limit 16M. More info on: http://www.javascriptkit.com/howto/htaccess.shtml


















8- Next I needed to provide the locations of the moodle folder and the moodle data folder. They are prefilled for you but make sure the Data Directory folder points to an existing folder. In that folder Moodle will store uploaded files and it is recommended to put that folder outside of the moodle main folder. If it is not, you can still continue with the installation but you will get an error message "fopen ... failed to open stream moodledata" on top of each screen as I found out later. They really want you to put that folder elsewere :-).


















9- Next screen is for the database configuration. Filled in the host server name (type 'localhost' if it is the same as the web server), the database name and database user configured in step 5. If you want the installation script can add a prefix to all table names. (In case you want to reuse an existing database and want to avoid name clashes. I have 5 MySQL databases in my hosting package so I didn't need to share with another application. For production servers that would not be a good idea either.)

10- Son of a biscuit! I'm blocked at the next screen that again checks for prerequisites but this time on the level of the database. Turns out I need a higher version than the MySQL that comes with the ipowerweb package. So IF you can find the version of MySQL and PHP supported by your hosting provider, check them before you start your installation :-) . (It's called 'Read the F****** Manual', but who does?)



















So I started the whole thing over on my other hosting provider, seekdotnet. This time I succeeded because they do support PHP and MySQL versions that are high enough to meet the demands of Moodle.

11- Next screen asked me about installing language packs. There is time to do that later once installed, so I just pressed Next.

12- The final screen tries to write all those changes to a config file in your moodle installation directory. If your site is even a bit secured, that will not work, and you'll get an error saying you need to manually copy the content shown on the screen to a file config.php in the Moodle directory. So I copied the text, created the config.php file and pasted it in and pressed Continue.










13- Next, the database creation scripts run. Don't be like me and refresh the browser when it takes some time. You'll have 5 or 6 pages with database scripts that run, and wait untill you see a button 'Continue' at the bottom of the page. It is the same kind of screens you'll see after updating the moodle installation. I had better experience doing this in Internet Explorer than in Firefox where the continue button didn't work.









14- Next screen you need to fill in the administrative details of the site such as the name.













15- Next I installed language packs to make it a multilingual learning portal. Go to menu on the left, choose languages, install language pack. Point to them, they are downloaded and installed automatically. It's that simple.

Done.

My conclusion:
Moodle installs quite easily, but you need to check your environment meets all requirements. If you get stuck the forums or other web sites will probably have a solution and help you out. The Moodle community is hugh, so the chances you are the only one with a particular problem are really slim.

May 10, 2007

CLO Business Intelligence Report 2007 available

Chief Learning Officer magazine has published its 2007 CLO Business Intelligence Industry Report, based on a survey among almost 2000 professionals in the Business Intelligence Board. The executive summary is available for free at their web site, the full report is paying.

Some numbers out of the summary I stumbled upon:

  • There is more spending for learning and development. The increase averages 10-15%. The strongest spending growth is among small companies. Spending goes a.o. to leadership development and learning technologies.
  • Classroom is the major delivery format, but its share decreases a bit and that of elearning increases a bit.
  • Only 20% of companies track informal learning and only 8% have a strategy for it. More than half of companies expect to increase support for informal learning.
  • Talent Management is on the rise.
  • Learning functions look at their staffing, most are understaffed. Also outsourcing rises slighlty.
  • In general, CLOs are more optimistic than a year ago.

May 6, 2007

LMS on the cheap: open source learning systems

Please refer to my post in my other blog: about2findout.com/blog

http://www.about2findout.com/blog/2007/05/lms-on-cheap-open-source-learning.html

I'm going to have a look at Moodle, Dokeos and the Sharepoint Learning Kit in the next articles and see how they would do as a basic e-learning delivery system for corporations.

May 4, 2007

Open source LMS Dokeos 1.8 released

Yesterday the Dokeos company and community released the newest version of its open source and free LMS with the same name.
In the world of open source LMS systems, Moodle claims the top spot in the number of downloads and the size of its community. But Moodle is not alone, there are SAKAI, ILIAS, ATutor, etc ... and also Dokeos.

Dokeos is a PHP-based LMS that runs on a typical LAMP or WAMP stack (Linux or Windows, Apache web server, MySQL database and PHP). It is a fork of the Claroline LMS and a Belgian open source project, used among others at the university of Ghent. The Dokeos company not only contributes to the open source community, but also provides commercial services such as training, support, installation services and the like.

The newest version is 1.8 and it is a major update. Dokeos is not only an LMS anymore, but includes now a rapid authoring tool Oogie and videoconferencing for virtual classrooms. The major improvements are
  • better SCORM support (export of a learning activity to SCORM, import SCORM, tracking)
  • video conferencing system
  • Oogie: powerpoint to course convertor, includes possibility to record your voice with each slide via the browser
  • better reports
If you just want the basic LMS part, the installation and requirements are not that different: Php, MySQL. However it gets more tricky for the new parts as Oogie and web conferencing, that involves Open Office, Tomcat, Java and a much more complex setup. You will probably not be able to get those working on a regular hosting provider.

A few years ago I evaluated open source LMS systems for use as an e-learning delivery system in enterprises, and I deemed them not ready. Soon I'll start evaluating Moodle and Dokeos again and see how enterprise-ready the systems have become. I'll keep you posted. If you already want to play around with Dokeos, download it from www.dokeos.com or play with it on the free campus.

May 3, 2007

e-learning in Africa

At the end of this month the second e-learning africa conference will be hosted in Nairobi, Kenya.
Back in my student days I was part of a the multitaal project to create language training cd-roms for the many national languages in South Africa. Many people think of Africa as a 'back' region, also in terms of learning and e-learning. But in fact, I think the lower penetration of the internet and the much lower number of computers per inhabitant might bring the most advanced m-learning projects to Africa. Mobile phones are about the only widely available and relatively cheap communication devices in the region, so it makes sense to create e-learing for mobile phones rather than for computers. We have been talking so much about m-learning, but I still need to see massive use of it. Mostly it is a secondary and lower quality distribution of a web-based course. Will Africa teach us how to bring m-learning further?

Apr 26, 2007

Clips of learning (2)


Another clipping (I think it comes from CLO Magazine but I am not sure):

The future of learning will stretch beyond the walls of our own organisation into the 'extended enterprise'. We will educate our customers, our partners, our suppliers. That is not news. The graph illustrate how far we are with these 4 different kind of audiences. Far most is of course for our own employees. Then customers. Partner and supplier education are quite low.

Apr 25, 2007

Statistics: How long does it take to create e-learning?

I'm often asked for development ratio's and other statistics on e-learning development. A characteristics of e-learning is that is requires more time and money upfront to develop the course as compared to more traditional approaches. Some people don't realise that so it is good to set the expectations right from the beginning.
The text and table below come from a free Brandon Hall research paper 'e-learning 101' that I wrote about in a previous post. You'll find industry-average numbers that should give you a rough idea.
- - -
How Long Does it Take to Create E-Learning?
There are no set measurements on how long it takes to create e-learning. It depends on the content, resources available, level of interactivity, and capabilities of the developer. One source says creating a one-hour e-learning course averages about 250 hours of development time.
Acceptable production times are approximately 8-12 weeks for one hour of training, 12-16 weeks for two hours of training, and 16-20 weeks for three hours of training (Codone, p.14). This is consistent with this author’s experience on an interactive course utilizing a team of people. Bryan Chapman, chief learning strategist and consultant/researcher through alliance with Brandon Hall Research, provides the following benchmarks

Ratio

Type of learning

34:1

Instructor-led training (ILT), including design, lesson plans, handouts, PowerPoint slides, etc.

33:1

PowerPoint to e-learning conversion. Not sure why it takes less time then creating ILT, but that’s what we discovered when surveying 200 companies about this practice.

220:1

Standard e-learning, which includes presentation, audio, some video, test questions,and 20 percent interactivity

345:1

Time it takes for online learning publishers to design, create, test, and package thirdparty courseware

750:1

Simulations from scratch. Creating highly interactive content.

SAP and Adobe join forces for SAP Enterprise Learning

Giants Adobe and SAP will work together on a new product called SAP Enterprise Learning. It is due in the 3th quarter. SAP will also start reselling the Adobe Connect (formerly called Breezer I believe) products. SAP already is reseller for the RWD Infopak simulation authoring tool.

With this move once again a major ERP player is positioning itself further in the enterprise learning market. It makes sense and we all knew this was coming. After all, learning is being freed from its silo and increasingly integrated into the (HR) processes of a company. So far SAP has not been very succesful in persuading organisations to move to its LMS solution because it is perceived by the market as 'not good enough yet'. That might change when SAP seeks more and more partnerships with established players in the field. After all, there are enormeous benefits in buying one big package from your ERP vendor that includes learning out of the box and is integrated with existing databases.

It is an interesting move and the future will tell if the future for learning systems will be for the big ERP players such as Oracle or SAP, or stay within the hands of established players such as Saba, SumTotal etc who themselves are moving towards the more general HR field.

Apr 24, 2007

What is your ideal blend?

According to statistics from ASTD instructor-led training (ILT) dropped from 80% in 1999 to about 61-68% in 2005. The use of e-learning rose from about 8% in 1999 to 28-38% in 2005. So roughly speaking the blend of ILT versus e-learning in the learning offering mix went from 80/20 to about 70/30 in five years time.

This shift will continue for some more time, but eventually stabilize. So maybe it is time to think about what would be the ideal blend for your organisation?

I know for example here at IBM we are about 50-50 and want to keep it that way. There are no plans to increase the level of e-learning delivered education because we think we are at the right mix for our company, content type, cost and audience.

Apr 23, 2007

Free report 'e-learning 101' by Brandon Hall

Brandon Hall research gives away this free 57 page introduction e-book to e-learning, e-learning tools and technologies. (Click on the picture to download.)

Fields such as e-learning tend to confuse people with the technical details, the for-insiders-only language and vast list of acronyms. This report will bring everyone up to a basic level of understanding and make sure everyone can talk intelligently about e-learning.

It talks about the history of the profession and technology, the/a definition of e-learning, instructional design, development roles, evaluation and authoring tools. It comes complete with illustrations, references to actual products or vendors, a much needed glossary for beginners and FAQ.

For experienced learning professionals this guide will bring few or no new information, but it is nice to have it all available in one easy guide. For newcomers to the field this guide will quickly get you up to speed.

One short paragraph I like very much is the one on pro/cons of e-learning. It summarizes it nicely.

There are advantages and disadvantages associated with e-learning. Advantages include cost, geographical reach, use of multimedia, availability, portability, consistency, learner control, up-to-date content, no duplication, and shorter learning time. Disadvantages include a lower level of interactivity, initial development time and cost, technological limitations (bandwidth, access), developer limitations, learner motivation, learning styles, and preferences.

Apr 19, 2007

More e-learning in big companies, less in SME

A NIDAP study in the Netherlands reveals that in 2006 total training spendings increased, as predicted. E-learning grew in large companies, but actually reduced in smaller companies.
That's also the feeling I have. SME rely more on informal or classroom training. If they use e-learning it tends to be provided to them for free or at low cost by government bodies that try to stimulate the economy.

Apr 13, 2007

Toolbox of 20 instructional models

There is a free download from Blinc productions entitled 'Instructional Models in eLearning and Blended Learning' available from this link.

The report builds on the 'Goettinger Katalog Didaktischer Modelle', that goes back to the mid-seventies. It lists 20 instructional models with definition, didactic principles, reference to eLearning and a template for designing them.

The 20 models are:
- activity method, assignment method
- disputation
- exploration, excursion
- case method
- apprenticeship, assistance
- distance study, correspondance instruction
- classroom teaching, expository teaching
- programmed instruction, personalised instruction
- individualised learning center, laboratory plan
- micro-study circle, small group discussion
- educational/learning exhibition
- educational dialog
- clarifying educational environment, interactive man-environment learning system approach
- educational conference, symposium
- educational network
- learning project
- simulation
- peer tutoring
- lecture method
- educational workshop

Apr 11, 2007

Outsource the learning function

More and more companies are considering outsourcing (part of) the learning function. So maybe it is not a question of 'if' but 'when'... In any case you should always keep the learning strategy in your own hands and that of your Chief Learning Officer, who's job it is to assure alignment of the learning function with the business.

On the website trainingoutsourcing.com there are many links and articles on the topic. For example the Training Process Framework. It lists processes that are typically found in the learning function in 3 categories: administration, content and delivery.

LMS getting cheaper


In a recent Brandon Hall newsflash, Richard Nantel compares prices of LMS systems over time. He concludes prices have dropped since 2005 for small, medium and enterprise wide installations, and equally for installed or hosted systems. (hosted solutions are more expensive than internally installed systems)

Apr 10, 2007

Survey: more e-learning

Novation Group did a survey among +2000 HR professionals. They report that they are under pressure to reduce the time-away of the employee and increase the bottom line accountability of learning. No surprises there, these are trends we see for some time now.

Here are some trends on the rise:
  • More online/e-learning: 57 percent
  • Greater effort to quantify results of training/development: 42 percent
  • Increased on-the-job training: 41 percent
  • Personal coaching: 35 percent
  • Fewer classroom hours/more condensed classroom time: 30 percent
  • Outsourcing of trainers/facilitation resources: 25 percent
  • More podcasting: 10 percent
I note that blending education with forms of e-learning is rising (as predicted), the ROI focus is getting stronger (as predicted), and learning is more embedded on the job rather than an island on its own (as predicted). I'm surprised at the strong trend for outsourcing (25%). But it is on a lot of agenda's so I guess we'll see a lot of that happening in the years to come.

But stay real people, because classroom training isn't going anywhere. It still holds a strong unquestionable first position.

  • Classroom training (instructor-led): 87 percent
  • On-the-job (OTJ) training: 79 percent
  • Seminars/webinars: 78 percent
  • Coaching/mentoring: 66 percent
  • e-learning/self-paced study: 64 percent
  • University programs: 33 percent
  • Simulations: 22 percent

Mar 25, 2007

Clips of learning (3) - ISO reference process

The last clipping I find worth sharing is one on the ISO reference process for the development of a new e-learning program.

Mar 23, 2007

Clips of learning (1)

I often copy some pages from magazines or other sources of information to read later. After some time when the pile on my desk becomes too high, I start going through them. The samples below come from some of the clippings I find interesting. However, I have forgotten where I got them from, so please forgive me if I cannot recall the source.

For the first clip, the source is luckily still included. It is a categorisation of 4 quality preference profiles: individualist, result-oriented, pragmatic and avant-gardist. Not everyone finds every aspect of the learning activities spectrum as appealing. (click on the picture to enlarge)















The second clipping comes from a survey amongst learning professionals and lists the learning roles most in demand. Instructors and instructional designers are on the top of the list. Our industry is expecting a revival because of the war on talent that is emerging (and in some sectors it is already war time). But so far the learning industry doesn't expect this war of talent to affect herself... I think we might also see a fight over scare learning profiles in the years to come.

Mar 22, 2007

Learning Dashboards

Companies want to be able to manage the learning function just as any other function or business. Therefore, CLOs need relevant data to base their decisions on. One way is to construct a learning dashboard.
According to Jeffrey Berk in a recent article (Designing and Delivering Learning Analytics Dashboards), there should be 4 categories of data available in such a dashboard: operational, financial, performance, cultural.

  • Operational
    • Number of students trained / training hours performed
    • Usage rates of instructors, e-learning
    • Average class size
    • Completion and cancellation rates
  • Financial
    • Cost per student day
    • Learning as a percentage of payroll
    • Development budget
    • Productivity and ROI
  • Performance
    • Satisfaction (level 1)
    • Test scores
    • Time-to-competence
  • Cultural
    • Average hours per employee
    • Management support

Mar 20, 2007

Elliott Masie on changes in LMS systems

Elliott Masie will be hosting another LMS conference in April, and as a warmer up to that you can listen for free to a 20-something minute flash audio presentation on what he sees as changes in LMS systems. I found this once again a very insightful talk. Basically he sees changes in LMS systems technology, content models, new learners, processes, Services & IT and a changing marketplace.
So, how does your current LMS cope with all these? Because the bar for LMS systems is raising...

http://www.lms2007.com/changes

LMS Selection and Implementation webcast replay

There is a free webcast replay available on the Brandon Hall site on LMS Selection and Implemantion. Three panel speakers go over selection, implementation, governance, completion and other topics of their LMS projects.

It is also a nice example of an Adobe Breeze live meeting if you never been in one. Breeze is a popular web meeting/training tool. I also enjoyed the format of the webcast: a well moderated panel discussion where key topics were written down on the slide templates by the moderators.

http://www.brandon-hall.com/webinars/6mar07.shtml

Best in learning content sample

The Brandon-Hall awards are like the Oscars for e-learning. You can now find a link to a flash movie on one of the winners of last year: the course 'Sustainability: Step by Natural Step'. The course pleased the judges because of the many case study examples, high level of interactivity, effective presentation, simple but engaging, ...

http://www.brandonhallawards.com/free/163-CC-TM/TNS-BrandonHall.html

Another example is the course 'Launching your business'. The link to a flash example is on

http://www.brandonhallawards.com/free/CCFC-Allen176/

Mar 19, 2007

Cisco acquires WebEx

In a move I didn't see coming, Cisco will acquire the WebEx web conferencing services for $2.9 billion. We all know the education and collaboration software market is in consolidation, but I never would have thought Cisco entering it. In a way, Cisco also touches the learning market now because WebEx is a very popular tool for web conferences. And web conferences and virtual classes are very closely linked. It also puts them right in the face of vendors like Saba (Centra), Microsoft (Office Live Virtual Meeting) and IBM (Quickr, Sametime).

Mar 15, 2007

WebQuests

A new kind of learning activity is the web quest. It can be seen as an educational 'treasure hunt'. There is a clear task and goal and all activities are done via the web. It's an example of learning by doing.
There are some places where you can find ready-made web quests, such as DiscoverySchool.com or webquest.sdsu.edu/matrix.html. A problem with web quests is 'link rot', you need to constantly check if all links are still valid.

E-portfolio's: what should be in it?

Components of e-portfolio's might vary, but this is a list made by George Siemens (2004)

- Personal information
- Education history
- Recognition such as awards and certificates
- Reflective comments
- Coursework such as assignments and projects
- Instructor comments
- Previous employer comments
- Goals, plans
- Personal values and interests
- Presentations, papers
- Personal activities such as voluteer work, professional development

Avatars in e-learning

Codebaby.com is another example of a company that provides avatars/agents for e-learning.
This is a link to a course sample on 'tires'.

http://www3.codebaby.com/demo/fountaintire/

Mar 14, 2007

New book on learning and games 'I'll take learning for 500'

Among the myths they debunk (as excerpted from their book)?

Myth 1: A game show wouldn't appeal to my trainees; they're too shy, too professional, too blue-collar, too serious.
Truth: Games have the uncanny ability to engage even the shyest, most skeptical or most professional of trainees. Everyone from a white-collar executive to a blue-collar factory line worker likes to have fun and compete. They will appreciate a training experience that is exciting and engaging.
Game shows have multiple elements that appeal to a wide spectrum of people, from the most competitive salesperson to the shyest "newbie." They include competition, socialization, fun, learning and a chance to express themselves and their knowledge.

Myth 2: They won't work for my subject; it's too technical or too sensitive to have fun.
Truth: Game shows can take a subject that is particularly touchy, tough, and tedious and transform it into a truly tantalizing training experience. Any subject can be made into a game show.

Myth 3: They're too difficult to create and take too much time to construct; I don't have that kind of time to spend every week.
Truth: Game shows can be as elaborate as you want to make them or as simple as you need them to be. Software shells can take a lot of the grunt work out of the creation process. In most, all you have to do is type your questions and answers. If you're really pressed for time, there are companies that offer content modules for common training topics; import the questions into your game, and you're ready to go.

Myth 4: I don't have time in my training session for a game; I have too much material to cover.
Truth: Game shows don't have to replace the time you devote to training. Most people have reviews and recap sessions during or after the main training session anyway. This is where game shows can be used as a quick review. Although television game shows last half an hour, yours doesn't have to. Even a five-minute review with a game show can be beneficial to capture trainees' knowledge and ensure that your information is in their heads.
Think about this: when you review with a game show, you gain insight into knowledge gaps that your students may have. Knowing what they know and don't know can help you focus and leverage the time you have remaining in your training session -- saving you time overall and helping you achieve your training goals. Because game shows also increase retention, you'll save time in your training session, especially if the upcoming material builds off of the material you're reviewing with the game show.

Myth 5: Game shows don't fit the company culture; we just don't DO that kind of thing here.
Truth: We've been raised to believe that because training is serious, training methods must be serious. Training IS serious, and that's why it is so important to present information in a way that people will remember and use. Sometimes that means using unconventional methods in a conventional environment. Game shows don't have to be tacky, loud or over-the-top; they can be tailored to match your culture and your needs. Something as simple as changing the description or name can affect the reception and perception of a game show. Instead of introducing a game show as a "game," you could call it a "content review challenge."

MIT puts all courses in open source

MIT will put 1800 courses online for free in its program ‘OpenCourseWare’ by the end of the year. That means all the courses of the famous institute of technology will be available. Today that is a few hundred courses and 1,5 million people have studies them in February.
It is the first institute to put ALL its courses online.

Mar 2, 2007

List of open source LMS

This is a listing of open source LMS. Moodle is the most used worldwide, but there is something for every taste and platform...

Feb 27, 2007

What employees need to know

From David Burrows, Microsoft UK Director of Education:

What employees need to know is: one, can I get access to learning which is relevant to me, when and how I need it, in a way that fits in with my work and home life? Two, wil my employer give me the time I need to do the learning? And three, when I am successful in my learning will this be rewarded by my employer, and will it be recognised so that it will help me get on in my work and my life?

Enterprise Learning Leader makes annual predictions

1- There will be a continued increase in training budgets
2- The structure and operation of corporate training will change
3- The use of outsourcing will become standard practice
4- Leadership development will take center stage
5- Talent management will change the role of HR
6- Elearning will continue to mature and evolve
7- Content management will become an imperative
8- Elearning 3.0 will arrive
9- New approaches to eLearning will emerge
10- The LMS market will continue to morph

Feb 23, 2007

Growing market

quote

The corporate learning market continues to grow, with budget increases averaging 7 percent, according to findings published in the newly released Corporate Learning Factbook from Oakland, CA-based enterprise learning and talent management research provider Bersin & Associates. Total training spending grew from $51.1 billion in 2005 to $55.8 billion in 2006, while spending on products and services grew from 13.5 billion in 2005 to 15.8 billion in 2006.

/unquote

Feb 10, 2007

Currici - wiki for education

The most popular wiki is ofcourse wikipedia. I stumbled upon another wiki for educational content: curriki.com . There is not much content yet, but it is a good initiative. It is not the first project trying to share teaching content. I'm wondering if it will work. I don't know why but there is something going wrong with the whole content sharing for learning. It doesn't seem to happen. As always many takers, few to no givers. Why does everyone keep sitting on their lessons? Is making learning content something to personal to share? Is it something you only want to share with your direct colleagues and not with the world? Do teachers fear the reactions of their peers? Is it too much trouble to share? Is it more trouble than it is worth? Please teachers of this world, enlighten me...

Jan 26, 2007

Cost of e-learning content creation

According to a Brandon Hall research, the cost of having one-hour of e-learning course developed by a custom content vendor is approximately 30000 US$.

Jan 21, 2007

Benefits and drawbacks of Virtual Classrooms

Benefits:
- no need for travel for either participants or instructor
- shorter development cycle especially comparted to e-learning
- cost savings

Limitations:
- scheduling difficulty (timezones etc)
- bandwidth need
- technical difficulties (Murphy)
- specific instructor/facilitator skills needed for virtual environement
- instructional design different

Jan 18, 2007

Gerenations of content

You can recognize the different generations of content by these features:

Generation 1 (1996 to 2000)

* Slides
* Some audio
* Online and on CD-ROM

Generation 1 content did little more than migrate classroom courses to the
computer — vendors didn't redesign the content to work well on computers.
This content wasn't well-received by workers, which led some companies to
believe that classroom instruction was their only viable option.

Generation 2 (2000 to Mid-2002)

* Animation and rich content
* Online, with limited offline delivery
* Limited live delivery

Generation 2 content added more-sophisticated design and instructional
techniques. Live delivery has proven to be popular, but many companies use
it simply to share slides. Some vendors have packaged courses for live
delivery and received rave reviews. Just as with self-paced courseware, you
need to plot out courses on storyboards and design content for online
delivery.

Generation 3 (Mid-2002 to 2005)

* Rich course design
* Support for the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)
standard
* Online and offline availability
* Limited use of simulation
* Live delivery as an option

Many companies use Generation 3 content because they realize that rich
course designs help e-learning programs succeed with users. Courses often
lack flexibility by being hard-coded for online or offline delivery, but
this is slowly changing. SCORM support enables companies to reuse content
and run it on their learning management systems (LMSs), even if the content
is authored with different tools. However, because not all authoring tools
support SCORM, content has not yet become fully interoperable.

Generation 4 (2006 to 2009)

* Dynamic course designs
* Multichannel delivery (online, offline, live and mobile or wireless)
* Consistent use of simulation
* Just-in-time scheduling

Simulations will become pervasive and more advanced in their design. Some
companies will use simulations for tasks beyond training, such as screening
workers for job advancement. Generation 4 content will also be available at
any time, and links to just-in-time scheduling will connect it to the
business process or application. For example, if an employee leaves
unexpectedly, a colleague can train immediately to take over his or her
duties.


(source : Gartner)

Jan 14, 2007

Knowledge Management and e-learning

A free extract from a Brandon Hall report has an interesting section on Knowledge Management and e-learning. Is it possible to link both worlds that are artifically split anyhow?

Some sentences:

Knowledge Management

By simple definition, knowledge management is the practice of organizing information in a central repository, representing the best practices of an organization, and serving up that information in a timely fashion to those who need it. For some types of knowledge and some types of work, however, it is best to focus on supporting group interactions rather than structuring knowledge into databases and documents. This highlights the two sometimes divergent views of knowledge management: the “content” perspective and the “community” perspective. Ideally, both are applied in various combinations suitable to each particular context.

...

In contrast, some have described learning content management systems as the convergence between traditional e-learning and knowledge management. This oversimplifies the issue. We see this convergence as just starting to take place for the following reasons:

  • Both learning content management and knowledge management share a similar purpose, namely to increase knowledge, learning and skills within the organization.
  • Both share similar technologies. The database technology for both knowledge management and LCMSs are fundamentally the same. Both allow for advanced searching of content. The primary difference is that learning content generally includes opportunities for measuring performance through tests, quizzes and interactions such as simulations, while a knowledge base generally serves up only critical information needed to perform one’s job.
  • Both represent expert knowledge and best practice information to achieve organizational goals.

... On the other hand, there are some significant barriers to this convergence. The obstacles are more structural and historical than they are technological barriers:

  • Structurally, the management of learning almost always resides within the training department as part of human resources. Knowledge management, however, in most cases does not reside within the training department.
  • Knowledge management often resides at a very high level in the organization, sometimes directly below the executive level or is dispersed among several departments. Very often, knowledge management is married to the establishment of the corporate intranet.
  • Complex and ambiguous concepts: Knowledge management concepts are among the most ambiguous and misunderstood. There is only partial agreement on definitions of knowledge, content, intellectual capital and other basic concepts, leading to confusion and missed opportunities for collaboration.
  • Divergent communities of practice: While this has begun to change, knowledge management and e-learning/training people rarely attend or speak at the same conferences.
  • Divergent technologies: Knowledge management and e-learning have spawned totally different software sub-industries, with very few firms trying to serve both markets. Content and document management systems include virtually no learning or competency management functions, and learning management systems offer little support for content which is not structured training.

Jan 10, 2007

Top 10 characteristics for LMS

A free section of the Brandon Hall report 'LMS KnowledgeBase 2006' lists 10 charcteristics often found in request for proposals/tenders for a Learning Management System. They are:

- Standard-based e-learning launching and tracking (SCORM / AICC)
- Open model for interoperability with 3rd party content (NETg / SkillSoft / ElementK / ...)
- Ad hoc, customizable reports / reporting engine (not just some static reports)
- Classroom management capabilities with facilities/instructor management
- ERP/CRM integration capabilities (SAP/PeopleSoft/...)
- Content Management capabilities for in-house content
- Performance management capabilities (competency management/compliance tracking)
- Quick, efficient implementation
- Reasonable price
- Financial viability of the LMS vendor

Jan 9, 2007

4C From learner to e-learner

The ELEC project (sponsored by the European Social Funds and coordinated by BE-ODL) has published a booklet 'from learner to e-learner' to help people to make the transition to this 'new' form of web-based learning.

Currently the booklet is available in Dutch, but will be translated in English (and maybe French).

The ELEC partners found 3 types of learners. The booklet contains a short test to determin your own style, and has 3 color-coded sections to make suggestions on the learning formats, best practises and tools for your learning type. Furthermore there is a FAQ section and a glossary.

The online PDF version in Dutch is available here.

The related presentation from the international seminar in Ghent where the booklet was presented can be found on slideshare. It lists the findings of a learner survey that was used to make the booklet.

Jan 8, 2007

open content

After open source, open content is becoming increasingly popular. The MIT was the first to release many of its courses under a free and open license. The Open University in the UK followed its example last year.

http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/
Open University in the U.K. launched its first free online courses in October. The university is reportedly spending €5.65 million on the courses, which are housed on its OpenLearn Web site and cover subjects ranging from the arts and history to science and nature. The online learning material is taken from Open University courses and utilizes tools including videoconferencing, mind maps and instant messaging to facilitate learning. To learn more or to take a course for a test drive, visit the above URL.

Jan 5, 2007

2007: the year of ...

Everyone is making lists these days, so I couldn't resist. This is the list of topics I would like the learning professionals and the learning industry take to heart in 2007:

1- Architecture

Architecture is not just about IT systems. It's a combination of people, processes and systems. I would like to see more focus on the design of the learning function.

Architecture comes to mind when you think of buildings. Buildings need architecture because they are complex systems with many components (foundations, walls, electricity, heating,...), because you want to be able to redo it later on, and because you want to be able to change it later on. Without a blueprint that would be close to impossible. We need more architecture in learning for the same reasons: it is complex, we want to be able to redo it and we want to be able to change/maintain it. So we need a blueprint of how the people, processes and systems in the learning function deliver their goals.

2- Reuse of content

It has been a promise of the learning industry for years: reuse of content. It is one of the main reasons that make organisations standardize on SCORM or AICC. It is one of the main reasons why we design our learning products as a combination of small 'reusable' learning objects.

But it doesn't happen. Why?

There are dozens of LMS vendors out there, but end of this quarter we will have one single dominant worldwide player for content: SkillSoft. (And a bunch of small, local players.) There is just no competitive and efficient market place for content. I would like so see more focus on sharing/selling content. What stops us from doing it?

3- Localisation

Another wet dream of the learning industry is to one day be able to assemble a course 'just in time', adapted to the unique needs, delivery capabilities and style of the learner. It will not happen in 2007, but we can already progress halfway between this dream and the one-size-fits-all approach we still take too often. We can start localising our learning products better. With localising I mean not just translating (which is important on its own), but also making the examples and exercises relevant to the learner, the learner's organisation and the learner's work context.
So what does it take to be better at localising content?


So that's my proposal for the learning agenda this year. I'm even too realistic in my dreams: I did not dare include measuring the impact of learning, but some day we need to get our act together on that one too. Hypes last for years, but when they are over you need to be able to prove your value. Maybe in 2008...