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Patti Shank, PhD, CPT

Articles by Patti Shank, PhD, CPT

eLearning Guild Research: Informal Learning With and Without L&D  September 16, 2014

It’s easy to guess that informal learning is different when it takes place outside the influence of the training department or L&D, but how is it different when it happens outside that arena? The newest Guild research report shines a light on the differences in a way that will help you leverage informal learning in both sets of circumstances. Read the highlights here!

eLearning Guild Research: Informal or “Less Formal” Learning?  August 28, 2014

When experts use the term “informal learning,” they don’t mean exactly the same thing eLearning and learning practitioners do. The latest eLearning Guild research report “Informal Learning Takes Off,” written by Jane Hart, highlights the differences as well as some innovative approaches you may want to try.

eLearning Guild Research: Basic Skills Gaps and Our Role  July 15, 2014

The eLearning Guild’s newest research report says training ROI studies are flawed because they do not measure results. Executives told us one question interested them more than ROI: Do employees have the skills needed to do their jobs? A study on that issue by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has huge implications for education and training. Read about it here.

eLearning Guild Research: How Should We Measure Training's Value? Not ROI.  June 17, 2014

Is ROI (return on investment) an appropriate measure to demonstrate whether eLearning was effective? Do executives and decision-makers actually care about ROI measures of learning, or do they look for other non-financial, perhaps intangible, evidence that eLearning worked? A new eLearning Guild research report offers some stunning new ideas about the right answers to these questions.

eLearning Guild Research: Survey Data vs. Crowdsourcing Data  May 20, 2014

Instructional designers often need to have reliable data about how people do things, but no data exists. When this happens, designers can take a chance and go with their gut, or they can do actual research. But formal research is hard and it is expensive. A better answer sometimes may be to collect observations using crowdsourcing. This month, learn how to do effective crowdsourcing.

eLearning Guild Research: Making mLearning Usable  April 15, 2014

The eLearning Guild has completed an important study of how people interact with mobile devices. If you design mobile apps for eLearning, this study will help you design better: minimum sizes of text for various mobile devices, preferences for touching different devices, designing for keyboards, design differences for phones, phablets, small tablets, and large tablets, and much more.

eLearning Guild Research: Gender Issues in Pay, or What You Don't Know Does Hurt You  March 18, 2014

Since we published The eLearning Guild’s 2014 Global eLearning Salary & Compensation report in February, there have been many comments in social media about the gender pay disparity highlighted in the report. How do we begin to explain the salary gap between men and women? If you read this article, you’ll understand it better—and learn what you can do about it.

eLearning Guild Research: Are You Better Off Than You Were a Year Ago?  March 6, 2014

More eLearning professionals worldwide (5,923) took part in this year’s survey, meaning the validity of the data is greater and even more useful for improved benchmarking. The 2014 Global eLearning Salary & Compensation Report is available to all Guild members, free and paid. Read about it here!

eLearning Guild Research: Karl Kapp on Using Stories  January 21, 2014

Research shows that stories are extremely powerful tools for learning. That’s because our brain has a natural ability to remember facts told in a story. The implications of using stories to support learning are described in the Guild’s new Big Answers report, Using Stories for Learning: Answers to Five Key Questions, by Karl Kapp. This article explains why you need to read the report.

eLearning Guild Research: You Can Be a Researcher! Here's How (and Why)  December 11, 2013

“I’m excited to be able to invite you to take part in an important and groundbreaking research project that will benefit our colleagues who are designing eLearning and performance support applications for delivery on mobile devices. But time is short! Please read this description of the project and start collecting data today!”—Patti Shank, research director, The eLearning Guild

eLearning Guild Research: What Authoring Tool Features Are Important to You?  November 14, 2013

The 2013 Authoring Tools Research Report provides a great deal of valuable information about eLearning practitioner’s choice of authoring tools. This month’s Research column explores the last half of the Report, which contains an in-depth analysis of respondents’ view of the importance of individual asynchronous eLearning authoring tool features.

eLearning Guild Research: What Authoring Tool Do You Want to Buy?  October 10, 2013

When The eLearning Guild asked practitioners about the authoring tools they use for asynchronous eLearning development, we learned which tools they use most, which they deem most important, and which are most likely to be their next purchase. Whatever your role in eLearning, you will want to read this summary!

eLearning Guild Research: Why Failing (While Learning) Is Good  September 12, 2013

“Freedom to fail” is a critical gaming feature that players leverage in order to improve their achievement of the various goals within a game. The “do-over” provides motivation and rewards engagement, and that is one more reason why game learning can be so powerful. The eLearning Guild’s latest research report discusses this and many other facets of gaming. Here’s an introduction.

eLearning Guild Research: Got Game?  August 15, 2013

To be successful, eLearning must be interactive and engaging. The future of eLearning must therefore include both games and gamification to ensure that the engagement is built in. The latest research report from The eLearning Guild contains many case studies and plenty of research about games and gamification. Read about it here, and then go and download the report!

eLearning Guild Research: Is Your LMS Social Enough?  July 11, 2013

For members of The eLearning Guild, social learning seems to be close to the tipping point in importance. Here are some insights from Guild Research about the level of importance, the future role of the LMS as it relates to informal and social learning, and the ways in which the Experience API (Tin Can) will be changing that role.

eLearning Guild Research: Mad About Your LMS?  June 13, 2013

Most organizations use learning management systems (LMSs), but many eLearning practitioners have mixed feelings about them. The latest research report from The eLearning Guild looks at who is using what kinds of systems and at the one factor that seems to have the most effect on the level of satisfaction!

eLearning Guild Research: Mobile Learning for Supporting Workers' Performance  May 16, 2013

What is the best way to position learning on mobile devices? It makes sense to use these devices to provide support for learning since we carry them with us all the time. A 2013 research report from The eLearning Guild can show you some great examples of how organizations are implementing this kind of augmentation.

eLearning Guild Research: Thinking (Guild) Research at LSCon 2013 with Some Very Smart Folks  April 11, 2013

Imagine a breakout session with five opinionated Guild Research writers at the 2013 Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, jam-packed with questions and laughter from both panelists and audience members. Here’s some of the fun (and information) from that session.

eLearning Guild Research: Salaries 2013—Feeling Flat? You're Not Alone!  March 14, 2013

The eLearning Guild’s Global eLearning Salary & Compensation Report always attracts a lot of attention. Here is an overview guide to the report itself, which is a free download (linked in article). Take a look, see what the excitement is about, and use our official Guild Research Salary Calculator!

eLearning Guild Research: Reconsidering Bloom's Taxonomy (Old AND New)  February 14, 2013

Bloom’s Taxonomy—the classification system used by countless instructional designers since the 1950s for creating learning objectives—has an updated version that brings it into the 21st century. The new taxonomy supports new methods of instruction and a new understanding of what learning is. Read about it in the latest eLearning Guild research report!

eLearning Guild Research: Come On In, the Tools Are Grrrrrreat!  January 10, 2013

What are members of The eLearning Guild saying about the tools they use in their work? Recent Guild research reports offer the comments of members about eLearning software, and here are a few of those responses.

eLearning Guild Research: If You're Happy and You're Overworked, Clap Your Hands  December 13, 2012

Do you like your work but feel that you’re working too hard? If so, you have company, because many of your colleagues expressed similar feelings in the research report The eLearning Guild released on December 5, 2012. Here’s a summary of some surprising findings from the 674 respondents to a survey we conducted recently.

eLearning Guild Research: Do I Need to Know about HTML5?  November 15, 2012

What’s changing in your world of work? There’s almost certainly a lot more work, a lot more tasks, and a lot more variety. HTML5 is possibly a major part of this, and The eLearning Guild’s Research has plenty to say on the subject. Get an overview of it here.

eLearning Guild Research: What Are the Benefits of Social Learning?  October 11, 2012

Many people think social learning is new, but it isn’t. What’s new is the ability of instructional designers to leverage online social media as a strategy to support learning. Research can help you make better use of the new social channel in your practice. Patti summarizes the benefits and points the way to recent research you can use!

eLearning Guild Research: How Important is Informal Learning?  September 13, 2012

How critical is informal learning to workplace learning and performance? Here’s some food for thought from the Guild’s August 2012 research report, Smart Companies Support Informal Learning.

eLearning Guild Research: Now for the Big News!  August 16, 2012

The eLearning Guild’s new research director asked herself what the Guild could do to best support the research needs of learning and eLearning practitioners. The answer involved making fundamental changes to the way we do things. Here are the four types of reports we’ll be bringing you in the months ahead.

eLearning Guild Research: Using Good Research to Improve Your Practice  July 12, 2012

Good learning research helps you improve your practice and make decisions. Here are a few of the important things to consider when looking at learning research.

eLearning Guild Research: What's Research Good For, Anyway?  June 14, 2012

Read any good research lately? The eLearning Guild is committed to providing regular research reports on a variety of topics to the eLearning Community of Practice. Far from being “pie-in-the- sky,” research exists to help you improve what you deliver. Here are the thoughts of the Guild’s research director on what you can expect in coming months.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Readability Statistics Help You Sound Human  May 10, 2012

Does your content read like a history textbook or a government document? It doesn’t have to be dry as dust. Here’s how to use tools you probably already have to put some life into learning!

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Getting Good Scenario Content from SMEs  April 12, 2012

Do you have trouble getting “the right content” from subject matter experts? This is a typical problem that many instructional designers have. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to fix. Here’s how!

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Getting the Content You Need from SMEs, Part 1  March 15, 2012

Getting content from your subject matter experts (SMEs) can be a bit of a nightmare. This situation is a common one and it’s a problem that does have a solution, although not a solution that is used as often as it could be. Here’s Part One of a short series on dealing with reluctant SMEs.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Who's Looking Out for YOUR Skills? Part Three  February 9, 2012

In Part Three of her series on Professional Development for 2012, Patti offers links to meetings, conferences, online sessions, and other places where you can acquire new skills or update what you already know.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Are You Looking Out for Your Skills? Part Two  January 12, 2012

Don’t leave your skills development to chance! Consider where your skills will need to be at the end of 2012, and start planning now to create a path to that level. Patti shows you some guideposts that will help you get there!

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Are You Looking Out for YOUR Skills? Pep Talk, Part One  December 15, 2011

Professional development is vital in any career, and especially so in those careers that move as fast as ours in eLearning does. But the task can seem overwhelming: what should be in your professional development plan, and where do you start? It’s not all technical skills. Here is some excellent advice on creating your own plan for 2012 – and for starting on it today!

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Learning How to Author  November 10, 2011

How do you learn to use authoring tools? This is the question that stops many would-be eLearning creators cold, yet the answer is deceptively simple. Patti offers a step-by-step approach to using the plentiful resources that will get you started on your way to success.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Selecting Self-Paced Authoring Tools (Part 2)  October 13, 2011

Last month, Patti offered tips to help you get started choosing the right tools for your authoring needs. This month, she gives you the final secrets to making an excellent selection!

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Selecting Self-Paced Authoring Tools (Part 1)  September 15, 2011

The number of available authoring tools can bewilder even experienced eLearning producers who are trying to choose just the right one for their needs. This is Part 1 of a two-part series designed to help you with tool selection if you are brand-new to eLearning.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Why C.R.A.P. Is Exactly What's Needed (Part 2)  August 11, 2011

The quality of visual design in your eLearning product can contribute to or detract from its effectiveness — and its credibility! Concluding the discussion started last month, Patti shows you how to use alignment and proximity to solidify your visual design, and how to use all four principles of visual design together.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Why C.R.A.P. Is Exactly What's Needed (Part 1)  July 12, 2011

Expanding on last month’s column about alignment of graphics, here are the first two of four overarching principles of visual design. Try them – they make a real difference in the appearance and effectiveness of your content!

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Line ‘Em Up  June 16, 2011

How can you tell a professional’s screen design from a rookie design? The professional makes sure all the elements on the screen align with each other. This is an important point, and it is easy to do. Patti shows you how.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Color Me Matching, Part 2  May 12, 2011

Clip art presents designers with some important challenges. On the one hand, it’s convenient and generally free. On the other hand, it is obviously clip art and it often doesn’t fit the other graphic design elements in the content. This month’s column shows you how to get rid of clip art backgrounds that don’t quite work for your design.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Color Me Matching, Part 1  April 14, 2011

Clip art has a bad image, if you will pardon the pun, among instructional designers and those who review their products. Yet it is possible to use clip art in ways that are consistent with a professional approach. Begin by matching image types and by recoloring images to match your color scheme. This month's column shows you how easy this is to do!

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Get Clipped  March 10, 2011

Is clip art always a terrible thing to use in e-Learning? Not if you use it the right way. It all depends on selection, style, placement, and scale. Here are pointers on each of these factors.

Make the Complex Understandable: Show, Don't Tell  February 14, 2011

Infographics are visuals specifically created to represent, instruct, or to disseminate information in a visual format. These visuals have many potential uses, but many instructional designers overlook the format and we seldom see them in e-Learning. Here’s how to create and use visualizations effectively.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Decide What to Leave Out  February 10, 2011

Creating effective, PowerPoint-based e-Learning requires thinking in some new ways. Often, the most important part of creating PowerPoint slides is deciding what to leave out. In this month’s column, Patti gives you some tips on thinking about content.

Beginning Instructional Authoring: Say What? Explaining Images  January 13, 2011

Are you just beginning to learn how to author e-Learning? This column is meant for you! Patti Shank serves up some tool-independent and tool-specific tips in this series that will help you work better and faster, and develop a better product. This month, Patti shows you four tips for avoiding cognitive overload.

The MOST Crucial Learning Activities and Media  November 15, 2010

There is a simple process that will help you figure out what learners need to be able to do in the real world and then make sure they get adequate practice doing it during instruction. Here’s a “play along” article that shows you the process.

When a Rapid Approach Makes the Most Sense  February 10, 2010

When does rapid e-Learning work best? What types of rapid authoring tools are there? Which rapid authoring tools do Guild members favor? Here are the answers from The eLearning Guild Research Getting Started in e-Learning Report on Rapid e-Learning, published February 10, 2010.

Make Sure Your Media Makes Sense and Cents  February 11, 2008

It is now absurdly easy to add media – especially video – to e-Learning, but a designer still needs to exercise judgment about when to use media, which media to use, and how best to match media and learning outcomes. After reading this article, you will have an outstanding set of guidelines from a top e-Learning designer to help you liven up your e-Learning and increase learner engagement.

Avoiding Assessment Mistakes That Compromise Competence and Quality  December 19, 2005

Assessment of learning is one of those elements of design that many practitioners talk about but find difficult to do well, or to do at all. Yet there are ethical and even legal reasons why doing assessment properly is critically important. Fortunately, designing good assessments is simple, given some basic principles. An expert designer walks you through these basics and shows you how to succeed.

Can They Do It in the Real World? Designing for Transfer of Learning  September 7, 2004

The purpose of e-Learning is to improve the accomplishment of real tasks in the real world. Transfer is the key to achieving this purpose, and designers should focus on interactions that help learners gain the desired level of mastery and then apply it on the job. Here are six basic, proven strategies that will improve transfer from e-Learning to the job.

Unsticking Hands-on Activities: How to think outside the monitor  June 29, 2004

Practice is critical to learning many skills. While practice is relatively easy to arrange in classroom instruction or OJT, it is not always so simple in e-Learning. Furthermore, this is also true of the activities we require learners to perform when we evaluate whether they learned. This article discusses strategies for thinking about how to solve this problem.

Interaction, Activities, and Learning: Engage learners meaningfully to develop mastery  May 3, 2004

"If interactivity is considered an important measure of good online learning, the dilemma is that we often don’t know what we’re measuring, and that’s a pretty slippery slope. To answer that question we first have to ask: Interaction for what? That’s easy... Interaction that supports the desired learning." Read this article to begin exploring how to arrange this result.

Complex Interventions for Complex Problems: Expanded Context for e-Learning Tools  January 13, 2004

Our jobs in e-Learning are all about solving performance problems, but most of the time e-Learning is not enough and organizations are nervous about exposing systemic shortcomings. The solution is Human Performance Technology (HPT), based on analysis and tailored solutions. Read this article to find out what is involved in HPT and to get ideas you can use immediately in your work.