Filed Under (e-Learning) by David Wiles on 18-06-2009

elearning_treeofknowledge One of the most confusing aspects of eLearning is that nobody knows what it is. Did you know that the “e” does not stand for “electronic”.

The”e” in eLearning would be better defined as Evolving or Everywhere or Enhanced or Extended

Based on one reported survey from a very respected eLearning company, there are many people that have the wrong definition of eLearning.

The survey asked 259 training managers at Fortune 500 firms what tools they use to create e-learning content. The top choice was PowerPoint with 66% of responses. Next was Microsoft Word with 63%, Macromedia’s Dreamweaver 61% and Flash 47%.
(Respondents could choose more than one.)

  • Just taking a Word document or PowerPoint presentation and doing a “Save as HTML” does NOT mean you have created eLearning.
  • Just taking a “talking head” presentation and presenting it using a web conference is not eLearning.
eLearning can be defined as …
  • A learning environment supported by continuously evolving, collaborative processes focused on increasing individual and organizational performance.
  • Effective eLearning thrives at the nexus of web usability, communication, relationship, document, and Knowledge Management tools.

I like this definition of Knowledge Management.

Knowledge Management is about using information strategically to achieve one’s core business objectives.

Knowledge Management is the organizational activity of creating the social environment and technical infrastructure so that knowledge can be accessed, shared and created.
Robert K. Logan

eLearning IS

eLearning is NOT

Non Linear – Learners determine how, what and when they access information.

Linear – Learners must move through presentation in a predetermined sequence.

Dynamic Process – Transformed, personalized, customized on demand in response to learner and environmental variables. Available on demand and just in time.

Static Event – Learning is not an event that only happens when scheduled training occurs, it happens continuously.

Learner Controlled – Learner controls their own interaction with the content and presentation. Learner has opportunities for reflection and application.

Instructor Controlled – Instructor determines sequence, content, media and timing. Long simulations, or animations or Flash presentations are instructor controlled.  Synchronous meetings are instructor controlled.

Reusable Objects – Content of any media that can be chunked down to the most granular, meaningful level to allow combinations of objects to be assembled and dynamically presented for different environments and functional needs.

Learning Objects or Knowledge Objects or Information Objects – By focusing the use of an object for only one environment, you remove reusability.  Web standard enterprise level portal and CMS platforms should be used.

Informal – Recognizes that at least 70% of learning occurs in lectures, and in the class interaction, through collaboration, in situational communities.

Formal – Learning occurs w/o formal training presentations. Training is not the same as learning.

Platform Independent – can be transformed for use in a variety of standard formats – XML, HTML, DHTML, PDA, etc. in a variety of environments, both formal and informal.

Standards – AICC ( Aviation Industry CBT Committee) , SCORM – (Sharable Content Object Reference Model – Department of Defense, USA)  Why use these limiting standards from extremely different, strongly hierarchical environments?

Knowledge Management – Rich, flexible tools chosen to create, collect and distribute information, on demand and contextually, to learners, intra and extra organizationally.

LMS or LCMS – To manage the administrative and content aspects of training, usually supports a linear presentation of materials.  Used to track learners, not the value of the learning processes

Communities of Interest – Collaborative, self selecting and organizing groups of individuals that share the same interests.

CoPs (Communities of Practise), Functional or Departmental – Limited by type of function, title or expertise.

RAD (Rapid Application Development) – Iterative, incremental design process. Define, design, refine processes are integrated and parallel. Continuously refining prototypes allows improvements to be integrated and tested with each iteration. Each iteration offers an opportunity to increase the penetration and acceptance of the learning support processes.

ISD – Linear approach to needs analysis, design and evaluation. Errors are geometrically compounded from wrong audience analysis, invalid sample audience, skewed survey results, wrong focus on weaknesses. Validity and usability issues are not discovered until training is delivered.  By then it’s too late to correct, adjust, or change because of the sunk resource investment in the deliverables.

Multi Channel
Learner <-> Learner, Content <-> Learner, Expert <-> Learner, Expert <-> Content, Expert <-> Expert

Single Channel – Trainer to Attendee

Filed Under (Editorial, Tips) by David Wiles on 04-06-2009

achoo There doesn’t have to be a flu pandemic for Health Science employees to remember to protect their health and safety while on the job. Every day we face health risks in the workplace, whether it’s infection, heavy lifting, repetitive motion, or plain old stress.

I might only be an technical person, but I would like to remind you of some common sense tips you can use every day to stay healthy at work.

First, let’s take a look at your personal workspace. Being tied to a desk has its own health risks, and if you are constantly sitting, typing, or mouse-clicking, you could be in for an array of aches and pains. At the very least, make sure your chair, your keyboard, your mouse, and your monitor are positioned for your greatest comfort.

There is little or no skills at the university to provide workplace health or ergonomics advise, but be sure to take advantage of it and request ergonomically designed equipment for your particular needs. It might not seem like a big change, but over time, those little adjustments can greatly reduce physical strain. In addition to optimizing your physical environment, remember to get up every few minutes to stretch, walk around, and rest your eyes. Budget constraints or a scrooge for a department head should never stop you from requesting equipment that will keep you healthy and productive. Remember “Goedkoop is duurkoop” and in the end the university will end up paying for not looking after the occupational health of its employees.

Lastly, unless you work in a lab, don’t let your workspace become a breading ground for germs, insects, or other health hazards.  You might not have that much control over others’ hygiene, but try to keep your own equipment and workspace reasonably clean. Alcohol swabs or a spray bottle with some form of disinfectant will help keep your work area clean.

A bit of Dettol mixed with water in a spray bottle can go a long way to keeping your area germ free.

Ensure your rubbish bins are kept clean of food scraps, used tissues and at least have some form of cover to prevent flies and other insects from breeding.

Furthermore, if you have or have recently had a cold, periodically wipe down your monitor, keyboard, and phone. And, use tissues and dispose of them properly.

Everyone who works with computers knows how dirty PCs and components can get, particularly keyboards and mice – and we have noticed in the FHSCUA (GERGA) that there are a lot of hygienically-challenged individuals out there.

Since germs can live on surfaces for anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, make sure you regularly wash your hands or use liberal applications of hand sanitizers (with at least 60% alcohol). This will help keep you healthy as you travel around the cube farm or from office to office, touching potentially infected keyboards, desks, and other equipment.

Dis-Chem and Clicks sell hygienic handwash or “waterless” hand sanitizer in handy bottles to keep on your desk.

Most importantly, avoid touching your face or eyes, until you’ve had a chance to wash or disinfect them.

Keeping yourself healthy and safe at work is mostly common sense, but we tend to get so busy and stressed out that we sometimes forget to take the basic precautions.

Remind yourself that no matter how busy you are – if you get sick or become injured, you’ll only make things worse. This also goes for those times when you realize you’re already ill. If you are – stay home and avoid spreading it to more of your co-workers. You’ll recover more quickly and do everyone in the office a big favour!

These aren’t the only health risks for university workers – after all, we frequently have to negotiate tight spaces, lift and carry heavy equipment, and work with electricity or other harmful materials. But the most common culprits are also the most mundane, so always be on the alert.

Perhaps this posting is not what you might consider an e-Learning matter, but I hope you see its benefit for you as a university employee.

Keep healthy and happy,

David Wiles