There’s an old Monty Python segue (and a movie by the same title) that goes, “And now for something completely different…” This month I’ll be discussing a social eLearning platform called ApprenNet. The company is three years old, but it has made quite a splash in the education market and is more and more often used in the commercial sector as well.
How does ApprenNet work?
Simply put, ApprenNet has three steps:
- An instructor creates a video. In the video, the instructor challenges learners to respond to a real-world challenge within the subject matter in question (Figure 1).
- Learners then use the mobile app (iOS or Android, free to download) to make a video that responds to the challenge and is automatically uploaded.
- The instructor then turns on the option to let learners perform peer reviews on each other’s videos. The instructor can also, of course, perform reviews on the learner’s submissions.
Figure 1: The ApprenNet app delivers the challenge from the instructor and provides for recording the learner’s response
All this can form a treasure trove of best practice videos created not only by instructors but also by learners. The instructor can vet the learner videos and post the best ones from those submitted to set up a library of expert aids for workers and others.
Videos from cell phones?
The videos are to be short but meaningful. As learners almost universally not only own mobile devices (mobile phones and tablets) but find themselves quite attached to them (figuratively and literally), there is no issue with having to set up an expensive video shoot or even to use a computer webcam to record themselves. They just need to pick up their tablet or take the cell phone out of their pockets and use the ApprenNet app to record their responses to the challenges the instructor gives them. The videos in this case do not even need to be high quality, though it’s amazing how good videos from mobile devices can be.
How does this help?
Those of us who create eLearning often find that we are “converting” courses that are taught in classrooms by instructors who are experts in their fields. The reason we so often must to do this is because eLearning can reach more people at less expense. Designed correctly, the eLearning will capture the best of the classroom instruction while affording learners the opportunity to interact as much as possible with the material to practice and reach a level of expertise in what they are learning.
The issue is that often what makes the classroom experience meaningful is the give and take between the instructor and the students. Questions and answers can be immediate, and so can feedback to impromptu requests.
eLearning occupies a different realm and also has advantages. Each learner can go at his or her own pace and not be bored or lost as they might be in the classroom. This requires, of course, that the eLearning designer keeps the individual in mind and doesn’t try to deliver a cookie-cutter approach to all.
I see ApprenNet as occupying a strategic point between the classroom experience and the eLearning approach. It gets close to the classroom experience, because a computer is not teaching them—a real person is challenging them, though it is a recorded person and not live. Learners provide feedback as they might in the classroom and the instructor can respond accordingly or, as often happens in the classroom, may ask other students what their thoughts to a student’s response are to encourage discussion.
It’s all done electronically, of course, not live, so it fits the description of eLearning, but it gets much closer to the classroom experience because learners are not alone. They are still part of a bigger group with which they can interrelate and where they can interact with the instructor.
What about reporting?
ApprenNet has reporting built in. Instructors can see which learners are participating and which are falling behind. They can print out reports that show learning results as well. Note that this system stands by itself. It does not work like traditional eLearning through an LMS, and so does not use SCORM or Experience API protocols. However, you can integrate it into an LMS if desired.
So what’s so special about this?
ApprenNet does something for learners that’s difficult to get outside of a classroom. It lets them posit their own solutions to an instructor’s challenge, sure, but we know that there may be better solutions in the minds of others. Rather than having canned answers or solutions, as we usually must in typical eLearning courses, this approach lets learners learn from each other almost in real time. That’s different, and that can be perfect in many situations.
I think this platform that gives me an additional way of reaching and helping learners become experts. Coupled with more typical (and highly interactive) eLearning courses, ApprenNet can really enhance the speed at which learners become experts.
To get more information
You can learn more at www.apprennet.com.
The ApprenNet Video Recorder for Android devices is available in the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.apprennet.app
The ApprenNet Video Recorder is also available for iOS devices in iTunes: