Keys to the successful design of a corporate training process

Interview with James Goldsmith, Learning Architect/ Business Advisor at Accenture (Chicago, IL).

James has worked at Accenture for 17 years and is currently a Learning Architect and Business Advisor working out of the St. Charles, IL office. Prior to that, he was a Capability Development Team Lead for the Talent Development group and Development Manager for Accenture Learning’s Content Development Center. He has more than 25 years experience in training design, development and deployment as well as program and project management. His interests are to develop strategic approaches to address business capability opportunities and then to lead teams to successfully implement these opportunities.


What are the 10 most important points to consider in the training process that you can highlight after 25 years of experience in training design, development, deployment, and project management?

James J. Goldsmith: It is difficult to limit this answer to just ten points, but here are some ideas that come to mind:

1. Business goals drive learning goals. The learning event is not an end in itself but is a means to an end. It will only be successful if there is a change in performance that leads to the participant successfully achieving the business goal. (As an aside: I’m a corporate developer and I realize that things might be a little different in academia.

2. Get the best possible people for your project team. Spend time on this because having the right team makes all the difference! You want people who are talented, creative, easy to work with and experienced (and what they lack in experience they should more than make up for in good instincts). They should be intelligent, insightful, hard-working, highly invested and have high-quality standards. They should be self-starters, can-doer’s and people who are naturally uneasy if they aren’t adding value.  Find these people and, with their help, you can do anything

3. At least from my perspective, working with subject matter experts (SMEs) is typically the most challenging part of any development project. The reasons why could include:

  • SMEs don’t understand/value what you as an ID bring to the projec
  • Their work on your project is part-time and it is a second (or third, or fourth) priority to their real job
  • They think that all the content they provide is of equal value and should be included in the deliverable, despite its impact to scope
  • They underestimate the amount of work and/or overestimate their ability to complete the wor
  • They are locked into 20th Century learning models and are not interested in using anything but “tried-and-true” techniques from the past

To mitigate these risks:

  • When the project is just beginning, spend time with the sponsor to make sure that the right SMEs are assigned to the project
  • Make sure the SMEs have adequate time to work on the project (sanctioned by their supervisor) and that the work is included in their annual development plan.  They need to be recoginized and rewarded for their work
  • With the SME’s active participation, develop a detailed development plan covering all phases of the project (and spend time discussing the design approach)
  • Establish frequent and regular opportunities to meet and communicate
  • Become the SME’s best friend (optional)

4. When you first start a project, try to brainstorm with as many design-minded people as you can, even if your project seems simple and straightforward. The last couple of years have clearly shown that we all have much to learn about learning so look for opportunities to include new ideas coming out of learning science and industry research. Also, when brainstorming, your first pass should be focused on developing the best possible solution. Don’t worry about constraints like time, money and resources at first but work towards a solution that will best address the business goal. After that solution has been developed, work with the stakeholders to modify the solution based on the realities of budget, timeline and resources. If stakeholders are actively involved, all compromises will be made with open eyes and, if the process is done correctly, the highest priorities will remain intact and be addressed in your final design.

5. Make a template out of any new design you work on. You may be using it again or may want to share it with colleagues.

6. More times than I like to remember, a project has started with the sponsor telling me what to do before we even had a chance to talk about the overall goals or strategy. The first words out of his or her mouth were something like “I want you to build me a three-day workshop and I need it in two weeks.” There are so many things wrong with this! Instructional design is a profession and IDs are paid to consult, not take orders. As an ID, you’ve spent years, perhaps even decades thinking about and applying learning best practices to increase engagement, retention and capability. Your sponsor, on the other hand, may have been thinking about the project since… that morning?  You need to make it clear at the onset that your role is to guide the learning development process and that your relationship with the sponsor is collaboration among equals.  Of course, you also need adequate time to do a thorough Needs Analysis and then build a thoughtful design proposal, etc.  It may take a little time to build up trust and respect you need with your sponsor but it will come after you have had a chance to show the value that you, as an ID, bring to the project by providing a learning solution that is clearly aligned with the business intent.

7. Related to the above, don’t be afraid to push back when it is clear to you that following through on a sponsor or other stakeholder’s recommendation will lead to poor results. It is your responsibility to clearly and dispassionately explain why an alternate approach is preferred. My experience has been that most stakeholders are reasonable and, if your argument is credible, they will agree with your recommendations. After all, they want the project to succeed as much as you do (and perhaps even more so). However, there is the chance that your explanation will fall on deaf ears. If it does, at the very least you will need to document the situation fully (describing the issue, your alternate approach and why you are recommending it, outcomes from the stakeholder meeting, etc.) to explain your role in the situation. In extreme cases, you may even need to remove yourself from the project.  This has happened to me twice in my career. In both instances, I took little comfort in eventually being right in my assessment of the situation, wishing that there were some way to have found common ground with the stakeholder to avoid the inevitable poor outcome.

8. Go outside traditional ID sources to improve your craft. As an example, I am a (very part-time) professional musician. Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are parallels between writing music and developing learning solutions. In particular, you need to be able to quickly jump back and forth from the details to the “big picture” and be able to keep all of the connections active (and editable) while doing this.  When writing music, a question might be, “Should I use strings and brass together at measures 120 – 128 or just strings alone to create the dramatic effect I need here?” For the developer, a similar question could be, “Should I include a mini-scenario at the end of Module 3 or will a series of multiple choice questions suffice to demonstrate mastery?” In both cases, a clear understanding of the overall strategy is needed to make an informed decision at the detailed level. And, when all of the details are combined together, the result is your strategy incarnate. I use ideas from music to help me in my work as an ID but you may find inspiration from other arts, from the sciences, from nature, from the entertainment industry or from any number of other sources. Keep an open mind and you may be surprised at the number of the great ideas you uncover!

9. Develop a sense of humor or, at a minimum, a sense of perspective. My experience is that the work IDs do is surprisingly complex with the potential for many things to go wrong, especially if you aspire to move the learning discipline forward through your work. At times, you could get discouraged (don’t!) and it may seem that your project will never end (it will!). Basically, if you keep at it, you will eventually prevail. Take the work but not yourself too seriously and don’t forget to reward yourself along the way for small victories. If you are a perfectionist, you will likely face some dark days during the development cycle and may have to let some things go to in the interest of budget and schedule. Also, my personal opinion is that no project is so important that it is ever acceptable to alienate your ID colleagues. Take the long view which is that the project will end, but the relationships will continue.

10. One more point (and one that is easy to forget): Have fun!


What are the keys to the successful design of a corporate training process?

Of course, dozens of books written by very experienced, highly competent and knowledgeable people in the learning profession have been written on this topic, and the basics are well documented. A small sample of books I have benefited from include:  The Systematic Design of Instruction by Walter Dick, Lou Carey and James O. Carey; First Principles of Instruction by M. David Merrill; Evidence-Based Training Methods by Ruth Clark; and Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen. Of course there are many, many others.

What I would like to do to answer this question is to focus on some of the key developments of what I call “21st Century Learning.” Here are ten trends I have benefited from on recent development project work that, I think, are worth noting:

  1. Big Data (for Learning) – Gleaning the most useful information from Learning Management Systems, etc. to improve learning design, development and delivery. (An enormous amount of data is being generated by LMS’s and similar devices. By identifying the right type of data and then organizing it into useful constructs, we can re-tool our learning products and processes to better meet our learners’ needs.)
  2. Confidence-Based Learning – The application of neuro-biology, cognitive psychology, and game theory to increase participants’ retention of and confidence in their knowledge.
  3. Gamification – The use of game elements and design techniques in non-game contexts to improve engagement and retention.
  4. Immersive Training Simulations – Computer-generated or other environments that mimic real life and enable learning to take place in a risk-free setting.  (Especially useful when life or limb would otherwise be threatened!)
  5. Information Nuggets (reusable content) – The ability to reuse small pieces of information across a wide array of learning assets and for multiple audiences. In brief:  Develop once; apply many times.
  6. Installment Learning – A design and delivery format that can quickly and cheaply provide useful information in a way that can make learning “habit forming.”
  7. Personalized Learning - Highly individualized learning based on a learner’s needs and interests. The learner makes personal choices regarding when, where, what and how learning is achieved.
  8. 21st Century Classroom – A global, interconnected network of collaborative classrooms that incorporate state-of-the-art virtual conferencing and collaborative technologies.
  9. Social Learning – The idea that people learn from each other through interaction, reflection, imitation and modelling (and change as a result).  (More on this in Question 8.)
  10. Video for Learning – The use of inexpensive, low-fidelity video lectures to deliver and build a framework around learning.


What are the challenges for the instructional design industry in 2014?

Anyone working in this field knows that the pace of change is great. It is difficult to keep up with all of the advances in technology, neurobiology and the many other areas that impact the work we do as instructional designers. The recent research in brain and learning has been particularly valuable, poking holes in commonly accepted ideas such as learning styles, left-brain/right-brain dominance and too literal interpretations of the 70-20-10 rule. Trying to keep up with all of the new ideas, tools and techniques available in the learning industry can become a full-time job!


What recommendations do you have when implementing new and innovative tools in the training process?

My recommendation is that you should roll out a new tool the way you would start a new business.  In short, you need a “business plan.” Among other things, the plan should articulate:

1) What you hope to accomplish by introducing the new tool

2) How you will accomplish this

3) Details on the stakeholders and audience for this tool (describing, essentially, what’s in it for them; also, providing a change management approach)

4) The budget and timeframes for the rollout

5) Potential impediments to the rollout (e.g., infrastructure, technology, support, etc.) and steps to mitigate them

6) A cost/benefit analysis, etc.

A careful review up-front can make the actual release much easier.  In some cases, it could head off a disastrous rollout had these steps not been taken.


How to Use Experiential Course Flow to Enhance eLearning

Guest Blog by Sister Misty from e-Learning Brothers –the leading provider templates and custom e-learning design, that has a partnership with QuickLessons.

Not to give away all my instructional design secrets, but I’m going to tell you how I’ve been structuring eLearning course flow to enhance eLearning for over a decade. Ready? Here we go!

The Experiential Course Flow is a simple way to think about structuring course flow to capitalize on the adult learner’s natural tendencies, strengths, and preferences.

Here are a few:
1)     Adult Learners enjoy connecting to and sharing their experience
2)     Adult learners are problem-based learners, who need to understand the relevance of content
3)     Most people learn by doing

This Experiential Course Flow can work simultaneously on many levels:

  • Sub-units of a course
  • An entire course
  • A course series

Structuring your course around connecting to (Existing), creating (New), and planning for experience (Future) increases learning engagement and amplifies the effectiveness of their learning.


1. Connect to Existing Experiences

Your first goal in the course you create should help the learner buy into what they can gain through the investment of their attention, retention, application, and eventual performance of a new behavior. One of the most effective ways to help learners realize the relevance of your course is to connect the largest core concepts to something the learner already values or has experienced. To do so, ask yourself these questions:

  • How can I help the learner connect to previous experiences that will help them better understand the value of or importance of this new behavior?
  • How can I help the learner feel the reality of what they can gain by applying this new skill or behavior?
  • How can I help the learner connect to what they will lose without this new skill or behavior?
  • How are these materials, skills, or behaviors relevant to something the learner might already care about, and how can I help them make that connection?
  • How can I bring this topic closer to home for the learner (from an emotional relevance perspective)?

Here are some ideas:

  • Stories: Use stories that are illustrative or larger concepts, testimonials, case studies, allegories, etc. to get learners connecting to their existing experiences or the experience of others through imagination.
  • Short videos: Highlight the problems of being without the skill or behavior that the learner may be experiencing now, or how a situation in the past may have played out differently had they had X skill or demonstrated Y behavior.
  • Analogies: Relate course concepts to things learners have experienced in everyday life, and that will set the stage for them to relate to new experiences and information.
  • Reflection: Invite learners to reflect upon, share, or write down previous or personal experience that you can then connect to the concept of the course. It’s possible this experience may not be obviously related to the concept at first, but it’s possible for you to make the connection later in the course.
  • Questions/Quotes: Pose questions that help to get learners thinking about their opinions, experience, needs, desires, etc.  These can be indirectly or directly related to the course content, as long as you can transition the conversation to a meaningful point.
  • Predicting Outcomes: Tell a story, but put the learner in a position to predict or finish the outcome based on their imagination or previous experience.

Things to Avoid:

  • Scaring learners
  • Asking learners to share things that are too personal
  • Assuming learners have direct previous experience with your content
  • Thinking “learning objectives” will take care of this step

No matter how you choose to make the connection, remember that this stage is meant to help set the hook, get the learner emotionally involved, and connect them to existing experiences and attitudes that will help set the stage for them to experience something new. For example, building on previous experience or because of previous experience.


2. Experience the Success and Failure of a New Skill

Now that your learners are primed and ready, you might be tempted to start “educating” them via several informational slides and then a self-assessment or practice activity. This is where the experience model gets radical, folks! Because eLearning allows learners to practice (and potentially fail) in a safe environment, we can skip the “presentation slides” and let them roll up their sleeves.

Here’s why:

  • Very few people are interested in the content for content’s sake.
  • Most people want DO something, not READ something.
  • Designed correctly, your course can meet the best of both worlds (taking in new content AND experiences that help to build skills).

Still don’t believe me? Answer this question:

Congratulations, you just won a new vacuum! What will you do with it first?

a.      Brag to my friends, then plug it in and see how it works
b.      Brag to my friends, read the entire instruction manual, then plug it in and try it out

If you answered B, good for you! You are the person your family comes to when stuff breaks. If you answered A, you are like most of the learners you are designing training for—problem-based learners. This means that you’re only interested in learning things if it helps better your life (aka has relevance or solves a problem). If that vacuum breaks, you’ll find the instructional manual, search for the exact piece of information you need, and use it to solve your problem (aka Just Enough, Just In Time, Just For Me). Then, you’ll toss the manual back in the dusty junk drawer where you found it and keep vacuuming.

Can you imagine how technical writers would feel if they knew the truth? No one reads the whole manual! As instructional designers, we have to embrace this reality as well. People don’t want to read our whole course, even if the content is good. We must change our methods.

Here’s how:

  • Put the learner in a situation where they need to apply your prepared content by practicing the new skill or behavior
  • Use the strength of your eLearning tool to make the aforementioned situation as realistic as possible. Include:
    • Story
    • Emotion
    • Sound Effects
    • Images that clearly show the problem to be solved and help the learner feel it
  • Tell the learner it’s their job to “fix it” by applying the new skill or behavior
  • If the learner does not yet know what they need to know in order to apply the new skill, allow them to access a RESOURCE.
    • The resource is where you have placed the relevant content (not irrelevant content!) that will help them perform the task
    • The learner will be motivated to read this Just Enough, Just in Time, Just for Me piece of content because it is going to help them solve the problem, win the game, achieve the goal, etc. of your scenario

Think back to the question about the vacuum. Whether your learner is someone who would answer A or B, they are covered with the way you designed this. If the learner wants content first, they can have it. If the learner wants to jump right in and try it out, they can. The worst that will happen is that they will fail in a safe environment where:

  • They are provided with a realistic RESULT stemming from their application of the skill
  • They feel this result in an emotional way due to the design of your content, audio, media, etc. and their emotion boosts memory, engagement, and retention
  • They are presented with the relevant content via a coaching opportunity (which they are more interested in now that they have failed and realize they need it)
  • They are allowed to reflect and internalize that instruction before they try again
  • They correctly apply the skill and see a successful result, repeating the emotion and retention cycle over again

By focusing on creating new experiences for learners, rather than “course content,” we can:

  • Create eLearning that is more engaging, interactive, and effective.
  • Allow the learner a chance to use new skills
  • Allow the learner to experience the realistic effects of applying the new skill successful and unsuccessfully
  • Increase the chances that they will transfer this new behavior to the job


3. Plan for Future Experiences

Once your learner has been able to spend the majority of the course practicing new skills or behaviors, you should conclude by helping them connect what they learn to relevant application once they return to the work environment.  This helps to finish your “Experiential” Course Flow:

  • You started with helping them connect to existingexperience to establish relevance and prime them for something new
  • You provided opportunities for them to have a new experience and refine their practice of it through meaningful coaching and feedback
  • Now, you are inviting them to plan for how they will use this new skill in future experiences in order to solve problems back on the job and enjoy enhanced results.

Did you know that most learners know, before they ever leave a classroom or eLearning session, whether they are going to apply the information or not? Structure your course in such a way that you can use this time to:

  • Connect their new experiences to how they plan to perform in the future
  • Increase their motivation to transfer the skill back to the job
  • Eliminate personal or organizational barriers they may face in implementing the new skill
  • Provide supportive resources they can use as they begin to implement the new skill

As you strive to focus your instructional design on experience: existing, new, and future, you will be helping the learner to better prepare for learning, engage in the practice of the new skill, and integrate that new skill into their future performance.




QuickThoughts is one of The Top 50 Most Socially-Shared eLearning Blogs

QuickLessons blog: QuickThoughts, is located in #21 position in The Top 50 Most Socially-Shared eLearning Blogs.


The Top 50 Socially-Shared Learning & Development Blogs this time, it’s about the best E-Learning blogs.

The Center of Management & Organization Effectiveness used the same method as before to come up with their list, by summing up all the social shares of each blog’s posts from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

The social-shares data were pulled on April 13th, 2014.

The total social shares is what determined this list of the top 50.




QuickLessons y eLearningBrothers: alianza para desarrollar y potenciar experiencias de e-learning innovadoras

QuickLessons, la plataforma de colaboración para la creación de cursos en línea atractivos y eficaces, y eLearning Brothers (eLB), el proveedor líder de plantillas de e-learning y diseño de formación virtual a medida, anunciaron una alianza global para dar mejor servicio a sus clientes actuales y futuros.

Los personajes, plantillas, juegos y otros contenidos de eLB ( ahora aportan a la mejora de los cursos creados con QuickLessons (, en una experiencia de aprendizaje más rica para los usuarios finales.

“Todos los planes corporativos de QuickLessons incluyen ahora una selección de 200 personajes de eLearning Brothers. Los clientes pueden elegir entre fotos, ilustraciones y una amplia variedad de posiciones. Además de eso, estamos lanzando una nueva función para añadir interacción a los cursos construidos con QuickLessons, con más de 25 juegos y concursos de eLB disponibles en nuestra biblioteca HTML5″, explicó Alfredo Leone, CEO de QuickLessons.

Por su parte, Dan Dellenbach, Business Development de eLB, destacó: “eLearning Brothers se complace en trabajar junto con QuickLessons. Hemos seguido a QuickLessons durante varios años y valorado su profesionalidad, la calidad de sus productos, y la capacidad de penetrar en nuevos mercados. QuickLessons ofrece una excelente plataforma a diseñadores y desarrolladores, para convertir rápidamente sus contenidos en eLearning atractivo”.

“Tenemos plena confianza en la capacidad de QuickLessons para mostrar nuestras herramientas a una gran audiencia de usuarios potenciales, que las utilizarán con entusiasmo para crear impresionantes procesos de eLearning”, añadió Dellenbach.

“Estamos convencidos que los recursos ofrecidos por eLearning Brothers contribuyen a lograr una experiencia increíble de formación en línea. La integración de estos recursos en nuestra plataforma de colaboración ofrece una poderosa y convincente propuesta de valor para las organizaciones interesadas en el desarrollo de formación en línea eficaz y eficiente, que permita lograr los mejores resultados de negocio”, completó Leone.

QuickLessons y eLearning Brothers buscarán aprovechar y potenciar sus sinergias, con nuevos lanzamientos de productos integrados, que se anunciarán progresivamente

En conjunto, ambas compañías tienen como objetivo ofrecer soluciones para convertir a los expertos en diseñadores de e-learning, y a los diseñadores con experiencia en rockstars del aprendizaje.


Manténgase informado en las plataformas sociales de QuickLessons:

Manténgase informado en las plataformas sociales de eLearning Brothers:

QuickLessons and eLearningBrothers partner to develop awesome e-learning experiences

QuickLessons the Collaborative Platform for creating engaging and effective online courses, and eLearning Brothers (eLB) the leading provider of e-learning templates and custom e-learning design, announced a global alliance to better serve their current and future customers.

eLB’s characters, templates, games and other content now help enhancing courses created with QuickLessons into a richer learning experience for end users.

Alfredo Leone, QuickLessons CEO said: “All QuickLessons corporate plans now include a selection of +200 characters from eLearning Brothers. Clients can choose between photos, illustrations and a wide variety of poses. In addition to that, we are launching a new feature to add interaction to courses built with QuickLessons with more than 25 games and quizzes from eLearning Brothers available in our HTML5 library”.

Dan Dellenbach, eLB’s Business Development highlighted: ”eLearning Brothers is pleased to work together with QuickLessons. We have followed QuickLessons for several years and value their professionalism, quality of products, and ability to penetrate new markets. QuickLessons provides an excellent platform for designers and developers to quickly turn their content into engaging eLearning.”

“eLB has full confidence in QuickLessons’ ability to showcase our tools to a large audience of potential users who will enthusiastically use them to create awesome eLearning.” Dellenbach added.

“We are convinced that the resources offered by the eLearning Brothers make for an amazing online training experience. Integrating these resources into our Collaborative Platform provides a powerful and compelling value proposition for organizations interested in developing effective and efficient online training to achieve the best business results”, Leone completed.

Both companies look to further leverage synergies between QuickLessons and eLearning Brothers with more product integration releases about to come.

Collectively, both companies aim to deliver solutions to turn subject matter experts into e-Learning designers, and experienced designers into learning engagement rockstars

Stay informed on QuickLessons social platforms:

Stay informed on eLearning Brothers (eLB) social platforms:


10 Kickoff Questions for Managing e-Learning Development

Guest post by Sister Laura – eLearning Brothers, a global provider of eLearning templates, custom eLearning design, and training for eLearning professionals. (QuickLessons, the Collaborative Platform to create engaging and effective online courses and eLearningBrothers have an alliance to develop awesome e-learning experiences).

If you are an e-Learning Project Manager, you know how difficult it is managing e-Learning development with all the details that go into course building. You are responsible for the entire project — from the kickoff call/meeting to launch of the course. It can feel overwhelming and a little scary managing Custom e-Learning Development. The last thing you want is to miss an important detail early on that will throw the project for a major loop later down the road.

To try and ease some of that anxiety, try looking at project management as you would an e-Learning course. Would it be effective learning if you expected your Learner to master everything by the end of Chapter 1? No, not really. Your learners would panic, feel overwhelmed, and give up all together.  It would be too much too soon.

The same holds true as you manage your projects. Chunk your projects up into phases and decide up front what the mandatory requirements are for each phase. Tell yourself and your team/client that you cannot move forward to the next phase until all of the current phase’s requirements are achieved. Define the potential risks for each phase, and know what to do if they occur.

So let’s start with the project kickoff.  What information is critical at the kickoff of an e-Learning project? To help, I suggest you utilize a project kickoff agenda when managing e-Learning development at the beginning of each and every project.  I have been managing e-Learning projects for about 8 1/2 years now, and as time has passed, my kickoff agenda has certainly evolved. I have learned many lessons, (sometimes the hard way), which have contributed to my kickoff agenda.  For example, 8 years ago I would never have thought to ask if the course is going to be viewed on an iPad. Or even better, I wouldn’t have thought it important to find out if the course will be viewed on a smart phone. So as technology changes and your experience grows, so will your kickoff agenda.

Here are 10 questions, (most certainly not all), that must be asked when starting your project. (Notice: that they are broken down into specific topics.)

Roles and Responsibilities:

1. Who are the project contributors

2. What are each project contributor’s distinct responsibilities?


3. Who are the Subject Matter Experts and what is their availability?

4. Will the course ever need to be translated?


5. How big is the course – what is the required seat time?

6. How many knowledge checks/interactions/animations etc.?


7. What browser(s) will the audience be using? (Very important for QA purposes)

8. Will the course ever be viewed on an iPad or mobile? (This impacts course design, development, and QA)


9. What are the major milestone dates?

10. Are there any holidays, vacations etc. that will impact our required launch dates?

We’d like to hear from you! Tell us what items you feel are critical to know from the very start of your project? Which unanswered questions will stop your project in its tracks?



The Rising Power of MOOCs: Now, Everyone Can Learn at Harvard (or Yale, or…)

Guest post by Julia Smith - 3 years ago, MOOCs were an idea. Now…. 5 million: number of students signed on to MOOCs, around the world – 33,000: the average number of students that sign up for a MOOC. Post & Infographic.

The Dream: MOOCs Can:
• Offer Ivy League Courses at non-Ivy League prices (free), thus….
• Lifting people out of poverty
• Unlock billions of brains to solve the world’s biggest problems

And yet
1 in 4: Americans don’t even know what a MOOC is.
They are: Massive Open Online Courses.

Who Takes MOOCs:

• 37% have a B.S. degree
• 28% have a Master’s degree or profession
• 27% high school

Majority of those taking MOOCs tend to be young, male and employed, from highly developed countries.
• Over 40% of students are under 30 years old
• Less than 10% over 60
• 88 % of MOOC students are male
• 62 % are employed
• 13% are unemployed…or retired

Comparison of geographic location of students, by self identification and IP address
• U.S. 34% of MOOC students
• India: 7.28 %
• Brazil: 4.37 %
• Great Britain: 3.89%
• Canada: 3.4%
• Spain: 2.7 %
• Russia: 2.5%
• China: 2%
• Australia: 2%
• Germany: 1.7%

• Student: 17.4%
• Part time employed: 6.9%
• Full time employed: 50%
• Self employed: 12.4%
• Unemployed: 6.6%
• Retired: 6.8%

Why do students Participate in MOOCs? 
• Gain knowledge to get degree: 13.2%
• Gain specific skills to do job better: 43.9%
• Gain specific skills to get a new job: 17%
• Curiosity: 50%
[Those surveyed could pick more than one answer]

Requirements for successful online learning: 
• Quality of material covered in the course
• Engagement of the teacher
• Interaction among students

Accredited Online (only) Schools offer MOOCs

edX: Courses from:
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology
• Harvard
• University of California Berkeley

Coursera: Courses from:
• California Institute of Technology,
• University of Washington,
• Stanford University,
• Princeton University,
• Duke University
• John Hopkins University, and many others.

Udacity: Partner companies include:
• Google
• Facebook
• Bank of America

Udemy Free courses from:
• Dartmouth,
• the University of Virginia
• Northwestern and others….

iTunes Free Courses
• Apple’s free app. Right in the app, they can play video or audio lectures. Read books and view presentations.

Top Universities offer MOOCs:

• Stanford Free Courses - from Quantum Mechanics to The Future of the Internet.
• Stanford’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence: 160,000 students from 190 countries signed up to Stanford’s Introduction to AI” course, with 23,000 reportedly completing.
• UC Berkeley Free Courses. Check out Berkeley Webcasts and Berkeley RSS feeds.
• MIT Free Courses: MIT’s RSS MOOC feed, and MIT’s Open Courseware.
• Duke Free Courses – Duke offers a variety of courses on ITunesU.
• Harvard Free Courses: Get a free Harvard education. No application required.
• UCLA Free Courses
• Yale Free Courses – Check out Open Yale
• Carnegie Mellon Free Courses – “No instructors, no credits, no charge”

Pros and Cons of MOOCs:

Pros: By design, MOOCs are….
Incredibly flexible
Diverse in their range of subjects
Open to anyone

And Downs:
No credit for completion
Lack of hands on learning
100,000 or more to 1, student to teacher ratio
High dropout rates of up to 90%




“Engagement is the key element within an E-Training Package”

Interview to Martin Wallace, Management Consultant, Wallace Executive - he worked as Business Development Manager at PAULEY – Interactive E-Learning

“As is the case with all training types I believe engagement is the key element within an E-Training Package, it’s not enough to put forward a list of questions or a page full of information and assume that the learner is taking all of the information in. We need to make E-Training packages interactive, using all forms of multimedia to get the learner full involved, make them concentrate on just what we are showing them and not on what else is going on around them”, Martin Wallace said.

What can we expect when we talk about Next Generation E-Learning?

Martin Wallace: The next phase of E-Learning is already here, Gamification, lending itself to the notion of increased interactivity, using games engines and 3D modelling to bring to life training packages which will drive user engagement through the roof. Although it is not like playing a traditional computer game, this software can really help employees get to grips with concepts that traditional E-Learning doesn’t.

The biggest issue with it currently is affordability, the average SME can’t afford to construct a fully interactive E-Learning Platform, however as with all technological advances, the early adopters set the way for the rest of the industry. Also the affordability element can be more of a perceived issue as I have already saw within platforms created by my own company, how this software can actually be used to save companies money.

How can we effectively combine formal training with informal learning, for maximum effectiveness of knowledge exploitation within companies and organizations?

By using a Learning Management System (LMS) that has good quality tutorials and support services, can go a long way to making both types of learners happy. We can provide an engaging learning environment through the use of social media learning tools, which are becoming more popular. These systems can be used to combine the best elements of formal training and informal learning whether it be step by step instructions or trial and error.

How can be solved the coexistence of different generations in the same workplace, and problems arising from cultural differences and different learning styles?

With increased multimedia usage, we have the ability to integrate multiple learning styles within E-Training programs, whether the user is more of a tactile, visual or auditory learner, the materials can be structured for a fair usage of all styles. Tactile was always a difficulty previously however with increased interactivity there are plenty of options now available for that type of learner.

What are the keys to developing successful social learning projects?

1. To be classified as a social learning project it has to take place within a social media environment to begin with, this would be the first key.

2. Secondly taking the environment into account the projects would have to make use of social interaction, realistically within the network.

3. Thirdly some form of measurable education must have taken place, be it tested information exchange or some form of change in understanding relevant to the material or course.

4. Lastly the information should be lasting and not just for existence within the project itself but also in the real world.

What are some of the changes you would like to see in the e-learning industry?

I would like to see the industry grow further into markets where currently training can only be carried out in a classroom environment. Certain governing bodies within a range of industries forbid the use of E-Learning to deliver their content, in a large amount of these cases the work being covered is all theory based and could easily be integrated into an E-Training facility. E-Learning can make training more accessible and affordable to everyone, this should be a goal for all organisations.

How can students become producers of content? Do you think the appearance of learning solutions based on social networks such as Izzui can help increase this trend?

Social media is a useful tool and Izzui is a great step in the right direction. I feel it is important for students to share information, ideas and experiences and all the platforms such as Twitter and Facebook should be utilised fully. I would like to see more schools integrate the use of Social Media into activities allowing students to create a share content with others, as this promotes a culture of collaboration between peers which is an essential social skill.

What tips can you recommend to develop successful sales experiences in e-learning industry?

To  generate the sales leads I would always say you need to be where your customers are, trade fairs, learning exhibitions, business expos are all great for showcasing your products. For successful experiences, you have to listen to your customer and be prepared to be flexible. As a supplier it is always cheaper and easier for you to repackage something you have done already for someone else, or to try and roll out a product you have spent a lot of time developing, however if that isn’t exactly what your customer wants, they will never be entirely happy with it. So listen to your customer and advise them well on what is available.


Source: America Learning Media


10 Super Powers of the World’s Greatest Instructional Designer

Guest post by Karla Gutiérrez Trejos, Marketing Coordinator - Aura Interactiva

Any professional eLearning designer would agree that users are always at the heart of what they do. The bulk of our articles last year focused on users. But what about designers themselves? Who are they? What impressive feats do they perform? What skills do they possess? How crucial is their role in developing educational materials for a new generation of learners? Let’s not forget about these oft-overlooked professionals who help make eLearning possible, personal, effective and immediately applicable.

That’s why we’re going to start the year with this quick list of super powers every excellent instructional designer has:

1. Passion for Learning that Borders on Obsession

Instructional designers share a passion for learning. But the great ones are obsessed with learning everything and anything that has to do with learning.

They constantly seek new topics to learn and teach, no matter which area or industry. They make time for reading—from studying the latest research in scholarly journals to checking out eLearning blogs and technology websites. And when they read, they’re also actively applying techniques and tricks they learn in their everyday instructional design work.

2. Deep Understanding of How People Learn

Non-professionals might have an idea of how people learn. Good instructional designers might know a set of strategies that aid students in recalling facts. Great IDs, however, go beyond the basics and not only rely on tactics and strategies. They clearly understand how people learn and have well-tested ideas on how to help them learn more effectively.

In sum, they design for how people learn. They don’t assume but rely instead on the contribution of experts and trained professionals even in other fields—psychology, neurology, usability, information technology and communications.

3. Strong Visualization Skills

The human brain, take note, is primarily visual. And it’s no longer a secret that we’re all visual learners. Great instructional designers know this. They know that people take in more information through the eye than in any other sense organs. But that’s not all. They also know the importance of seeing the big picture, of asking themselves “what’s the learning goal here?” They visualize it and see it from the perspective of a designer and a learner. They’re avid learners, remember?

4. Ability to Write Well

The ability to write well, they say, reflects the ability to think well. Great IDs, not surprisingly, are able to think and write way better than the others. They can craft a well-structured sentence, one that conveys ideas coherently and effectively.  And they know which tone to use depending on the context too.

That’s why people should seriously consider their writing abilities before they begin a career as an instructional designer. It’s a rewarding yet tough career choice. There are ways to improve one’s writing skill, though, and potential designers can learn a lot from pros.

5. Creative and Analytical Problem-Solving Skills

Most of the time, super-powerful instructional designers are tasked to solve learning issues. And there are countless days when they’re compelled to come up with something new. The ability to tackle problems creatively and analytically is key here. That’s why the best IDs can quickly spot a problem, generate options and alternatives, and test them out to discover a solution.

6. Organizational Skills

Exceptional IDs have an eye for detail. They do, in fact, pay careful attention to every teeny bit of detail that goes into every learning material. Because they’re detail-oriented, these designers constantly organize, move, select, synthesize, summarize and edit information to make it effective.

7. Active Listening Skills

The International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI) recognized the critical importance of active listening for a reason. Such a skill allows industry professionals to better understand a subject.

It also shows care and let others, especially learners, know that you are willing to see things from their perspective and are focusing on their needs. Asking relevant and well-timed questions is part of this active listening skill as well. Doing so helps clarify and define situations and statements, and eventually contribute to learning outcomes.

8. Technology-Based Skills

Exceptional IDs share a deep understanding of how technology can aid the field of instructional design and learning. They don’t blindly follow trends. They can, however, take a look at a piece of software, and see how it’s going to benefit their workflow or not. They can pick up almost any tool and learn how to use it without needing a month or two of formal training.

9. Innovation and Creativity

The hyper-connected and dynamic environment demands instructional designers to innovate and think of creative ways to keep the learner engaged.  Such call for innovation, however, must consider the limitations of budget and client requirements. High-performing IDs know how to balance these. They know how to go beyond just providing interactivity, they know how to present the content intelligently.

What’s more, their creative minds find inspiration everywhere, from the books they read to a commercial they just saw on TV.

10. People Skills

It’s obvious why IDs need to possess strong people skills. They constantly work in collaboration with others. They simply cannot work alone. Great IDs who are able to create effective instructional systems have overcome objections from people and have worked closely with knowledge experts and students. They also have resolved an unbelievable number of issues and conflicts, and persuaded people into working with them toward their designed project goals.

5-Steps for Creating Effective Employee Training

Guest post by Justin Ferriman – Founder of LearnDash, a WordPress based LMS and Learning Strategy provider. He also works as a Learning & Collaboration Consultant where he implements large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. This article was originally published in LearnDash.

There can be a variety of reasons why an organization needs to create training for their employees. Sometimes it is for standard processes (think orientation training), but other times it is to ultimately change the behavior of the workforce to better the company.

If you have never created training before, or are new to the field, your first stop is probably to do a Google search for a valid training design approach. As a warning, there are many out there, and they can sometimes be quite confusing and theoretical.

Luckily, there are some higher-level approaches you can take when creating employee training. The 5-step process below, originally identified by performance improvement company EJ4, provides a viable path for the trianing development process.

Remember, these process steps are meant to provide you with the framework for your particular situation. You should analyze each step and modify it accordingly to your unique situation.

5-Step Process

1. Identify the Problem – Before you create any training, you need to identify the problem you are trying to solve, and then provide an acceptable definition. If you don’t have a real problem that can be resolved, then a formal training approach is probably not needed.

2. Target the Training – It is often tempting to try to leverage past training materials for new training efforts – this is usually not a good idea. The most effective training is unique to the problem at hand. Target your training so that it directly address the problem you identified.

3. Timing is Everything – While creating your targeted courses, make sure you keep an eye on how added content affects course duration. The average attention span is in decline (12 seconds in the year 2000, today it is at 8 seconds). Keep this in mind when building out your lessons as well. If possible, include various levels of interaction through gamification.

4. Reinforce the Learning – In general, it has been reported that people forget 50-80% of what they have learned after just one day, and up to 98% after a month. To help combat this, create various refresher training courses via elearning so as to keep the training points fresh in the employees’ minds.

5. Facility Growth – The least effective training for solving problems is a “one-and-done” effort. Try to foster a culture of continuous learning so that you can retain the talent in your organization and keep everything running smoothly. You can do this through refresher training, gamification, rewards when training goals are met, etc.