Mary Arnold is a Gen-X digital native who got pulled into working with technology in her first job out of college, where she was frequently called on by her co-workers to explain how to use the user-spiteful computer system in her office. Having grown up with computers (thanks, Dad!), she’s never been afraid to experiment with them until they work the way a user would expect. She is currently working as an instructional technologist, uses Flash extensively for her online learning projects, and probably spends more time than she should in social media.
What’s your approach to “compliance” training? Many eLearning teams treat it as boilerplate; purely utilitarian, with minimal time and energy allotted to its creation. Yet there is a business case that supports more engaging treatment of the content. This month’s column presents that case – and the rewards of a creative approach for the eLearning team.
The Human Factor: Moderators in a Creative Online Community March 20, 2012
In online communities, members can produce tremendous amounts of content. In closely moderated communities, members submit more work, and get more feedback than members of communities with no active moderator. Here’s an exploration of what the most effective moderators do that makes a big difference.
The Human Factor: Building Strategic Partnerships in Your Organization February 14, 2012
Last-minute training requests make many training departments wish they had a seat at the table when projects are being developed. If your training group wants to partner with other areas in the organization, here are some ways to accomplish that goal.
The Human Factor: Serious Game, Strategic Partnership January 17, 2012
Mobile and social technologies can combine to support learning and performance, as can simulation and gaming. But games, simulations, and social technologies can also be combined collaboratively to support learning, performance, and other real-world tasks. Here is an example that also suggests a model for collaborative development of such applications.
The Human Factor: Winter Reading List December 20, 2011
Looking for some good reading during the holiday break? Mary recommends the five business books she’s found most useful in her ongoing professional development in 2011.
The Human Factor: The Trouble with Group Brainstorming November 15, 2011
Brainstorming is a common strategy for quickly getting good ideas from a group, but anyone who has ever participated in one of these sessions knows that the technique can confound the results. Here are three ideas to help you achieve efficiency while maintaining the enthusiasm of the brainstorming group!
Pondering how to create a social media strategy that supports learning? Research suggests that an effective strategy may be simpler than you think.
The Human Factor: Communicating to Every Audience September 20, 2011
Communication is a major concern in any human undertaking, and especially in instruction. Understanding what’s important to people, and how they respond to your content, is important to successful instructional design. Here’s a simple model that can help you connect with your audience.
In a finding that will probably surprise no one, researchers have concluded that men and women really do interact with software differently. These differences have implications for the design of effective training. Here’s how to design software training that prevents a bias against women without introducing a bias against men.
The Human Factor: Evangelizing Social Learning July 19, 2011
Training professionals are quick to see the potential value in social learning and collaboration environments. However, their organizations often need additional reasons to invest in a social learning environment. The good news is, the reasons are substantial! Here are some persuasive arguments you can use.
The Human Factor: Five Tips for a Better Audio Podcast June 21, 2011
Podcasting (audio recordings on the Web with an associated RSS feed) has been around for several years, but it can be a surprisingly effective tool for eLearning and for mLearning – especially if you apply the five tips in this month’s column.
Creating color palettes for eLearning projects can be frustrating and time-consuming when the designer tries to do the job manually, even for those with experience in art. Luckily, there are tools available online that save time and frustration. Mary reviews five of them this month.
All projects have constraints, and it is important that the project team and the client are on the same page about which one is most important. It can be painful to discover, too late, that the client’s expectations were different from the team’s. This week’s column offers a simple process that will protect you from that pain.
The Human Factor: Get On The Same Page With The Stakeholders March 15, 2011
Customer satisfaction is as important a goal for instructional development teams as it is for any other business activity. The very first step in your analysis phase should be sitting down with the stakeholders and identifying their expectations. This month’s column arms you with the right questions to ask!
The Human Factor: Delivering Training to Multi-Taskers February 15, 2011
It’s a simple fact: In this always-connected age, learners multi-task. It’s true for learners in the classroom, and it’s even truer for learners engaged in asynchronous e-Learning. You won’t be able to stop them, but here’s how to design instruction that takes multi-tasking into account.
The Human Factor: Do You Speak Video? January 18, 2011
Being familiar with video, as a lifelong consumer of it, does not guarantee that we know how to produce it. Instructional designers should learn to think like a director, and to look at the story from the point of view of the audience. Here are some pointers to get you started.
The Human Factor: Back to Basics With Each New Tool December 21, 2010
Analyzing new technologies is a fun activity for instructional designers, but it takes focus to remember that the point is learning, not technology. Here’s a three-step process to keep your review on track.
The Human Factor: Instructing From a Learner's Perspective November 16, 2010
Methods intended to engage learners are just tactics that become instructional only when they’re meaningful and strategic. Here’s how to achieve this: by writing content backwards.
Videogames show us how to provide useful feedback, even in conventional e-Learning offerings. There’s more to feedback than correction, as this week’s column demonstrates!
The Human Factor: Mixing & Matching with Rapid Development Tools September 21, 2010
Rapid e-Learning tools provide some benefits, but at the cost of tight, clean, easily maintained code. Here are some great tinkering tips for optimizing your work by using a combination of tools.
The Human Factor: Social Media as Mentoring Platforms August 17, 2010
Have you ever thought of social learning platforms as knowledge management tools – ways to store an organization’s knowledge so it can be tapped as needed? Could knowledge management be mentoring with a new name? Here is a brief collection of ways to use social learning platforms to promote sharing of knowledge and experience, to give guidance to those who need it, and to get a better ROI.
If you’ve ever tried to move the social learning dynamic to a computer-mediated discussion, you’ve probably noticed that giving learners a forum where discussion can take place is not enough to create a social learning environment. Here’s how to give learners a sense of presence that motivates them to participate in the discussion.
Scores can be a surprisingly good way to help learners enter the Learning 2.0 environment at their own level of expertise. Here are some great pointers that will help you use social networking-type incentives (points) to build participation, and to track and reward individual users’ contributions to group understanding.
Real-world meetings and classrooms require ground rules and good classroom management or facilitation skills. The Web 2.0 learning environment also needs to provide guidance and facilitation for learners, and this is part of the instructional designer’s job. Here are three questions that can help you stay on course as you work to establish a collaborative learning environment.