Monthly Archives: May 2015

  • Slide course reload: 5 useful tips how to use outdated e-learning content effectively

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    E-learning is constantly developing. Nowadays a list of various techniques is widely used, such as gamification, storytelling, interactive simulations, 3D models, etc. Nobody is actually interested in simple slide course. It's all in the past. But are illustrated texts really so totally ineffective?

    It's astonishing, but with a help of simple slide course you can solve almost any learning task, whether it's an introduction to a job description or cultivating skills for a spaceship construction. Training course effectiveness rather depends on appropriate way of material presenting than on usage of technical innovations. Therefore simple slide course still can be relevant, considering the main advantage - low production costs.

    What should be done to revive simple slide course?

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    Text

    In a simple slide course main semantic load refers to the text. It should be enough to convey the main idea, but no more. Nobody reads long, dull, complex description. You should structure the text, submit it in a list form, highlight main ideas and key words. You are free to use tables, diagrams, charts and graphs.

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    Images

    Graphic images - is the main tool of instructional design. Visual objects stimulate interest, evoke emotions, switch on involuntary attention and associative memory mechanism. It essentially improves material perception. Moreover, there must be an associative relationship between course images and object of study. It should be bright and aesthetically appealing.

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    Sound

    Studies show that the best result is achieved by combining visual and auditory perception channels. It becomes possible because we cover both learning categories: people who perceive information visually and by means of audition. Moreover such combination will significantly strengthen long-term memory, but you should know: person always reads faster than perceives sound, so voiceover should be short. There is no need to duplicate the course text completely.

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    Storyboard

    Methodically correct course storyboard significantly improves learning efficiency. Divide course into logical blocks, provide an opening and closing slides, come up with a functional course map, use interactive tasks, case method or training tests.

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    Design

    The main design task is to create favourable conditions for material perception, but not to distract user from learning process. Design should be stylish, light, but not primitive. Pay attention not only to character portrayal but also to font and colours.

    The widespread use of new technologies doesn't mean simple slide course should sink into oblivion. If you make it qualitatively it will always be on top.

  • 6 Tips to enliven your course

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    The early Greeks said: "philosophy begins in wonder". And the cognition based not only on logical thinking, but on emotions too. According to Latin "emotion" means to excite, to amaze, to affect. Recent research shows that all cognitive processes, such as memory, perception, thinking, imagination are significantly improved with a help of emotions. To increase learners activity and to help them to adopt the material you should make them feel surprised, to arouse their inner thirst for knowledge.

    Using emotions and feelings to enhance the training effectiveness is actually a common occurrence. We even assess it according to emotional intelligence: "like / dislike" and remember theoretical material less than an experience of public speaking, the pleasure from winning the team game and the coach jokes. All these emotions are needed in the e-course. But in contrast to the full-time education it's much more difficult to achieve. Lack of emotional component turns distance learning to a boring lecture. So, how to enliven your course? Here are some useful learning tips.

    1. Use a familiar speech

    The e-course vocabulary must be bright and lively. Try to avoid complex, highly specialized structures and terms. Long descriptions and repetitive instructions cause only boredom and irritation. The sentences should be short and contain clear main idea. Words which are deprived of semantic load should be abandoned. But you are free to use vivid epithets, similes and metaphors.

    2. Tell a story

    Do you remember Scheherazade, who due to ability to tell stories saved her life? People are tend to believe in fairy-tales. Storyline affects us magically. Use some stories instead of instructions and fill the theory with the plot. Storytelling - is a powerful motivational tool which can cause different emotions.

    3. Play the game

    Game - is a best way to cause emotions. Millions of people play computer games in order to feel the excitement. Gamify your e-course to engage user in learning process, to keep user's interest and to create powerful motivation to learn.

    4. Draw some illustrations

    Beauty will save the world! People have an inherent need to contemplate the beauty. You might be aware that people tend to trust attractive sellers more and consumer psychology is already exploiting it. The experiments directed to examine the emotion effect on cognitive processes shown than even useless information along with obviously pretty images is better memorized. Use interesting illustrations in combination with pretty character images and your course will be more efficient.

    5. Be fond of jokes

    Lots of jokes are based on the expected and actual conflict. Such combination causes emotional reaction. It means that humour is needed to make human mind flexible. With a help of it person could easily demonstrate new patterns of behaviour in various situations. The same is for training. Such a similarity actually explains humour high efficiency in e-learning process. But please, remember: to enter joke into the course is not an easy task. It should be connected with the course material but not to replace useful information. Note: the course which contains only an obsessive "Humour" tab looks ridiculously tasteless.

    6. Create a three-dimensional space

    In a virtual, three-dimensional world people actually feel the emotions which are very close to reality. Taking into consideration novelty factor, 3D - is one of the best ways to induce positive emotions, to increase curiosity and to engage students into the learning process.

    Creating e-learning course you have to remember that even useful information would not be accepted if the outline is boring. Only bright, vivid object can cause a surge of mental activity, to consolidate memory and imagination. One of the strongest emotional displays which can easily generate interest is a surprise.

    Surprise your learners and their progress will surely surprise you.

  • How to make a good test?

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    Why are tests an important part of e-learning?

    While starting to develop a test, please, keep in mind that testing is not a goal but a way to achieve it. In each course testing performs several functions:

    Knowledge check

    Test helps us to understand whether students learned the material. We also can check whether the necessary skills were formed.

    Training

    All tests have to perform training function. If user didn't get enough information, missed or forgot something, test questions together with answer variants and proper feedback provide another opportunity to learn the material. Please, note: Questions and answers are better remembered than dry theory, so it's recommended to base test questions on main issues of the course. You may also include some material which has not been considered alongside major topic. In this case quiz should be constructed in a clear manner to help user to find the right answer by himself, using his own logic and knowledge.

    Education

    Using tests by the end of the course and after each topic we discipline our customers by structuring the learning process and motivate them to learn.

    How to create an effective test?

    Tip 1. There are no common requirements according to format of a test task. It could be represented not only in question form, but also as a judgement.

    For example, question form is preferable in the following case:

    pic_1 And if you want to describe the concept, it's better to use judgement. For example:

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    Tip 2. Test questions should be as short as possible, clear and logically formulated.

    Tip 3. All test answers should be equal in length to avoid the phenomenon of "representativeness heuristic", when people subconsciously perceive the longest answer as a correct one.

    Here's an example of failed wording of possible answers:

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    Tip 4. Try to avoid questions with negative particle (the word "not"). Denial is not perceived by subconscious in the first few seconds, that's why word structures with "not" may be interpreted by user as opposite according to its meaning. It's better to replace them with an affirmative construction. For example, instead of "What phrases waiter should not use while serving the customers?" try "What phrases waiter should avoid while serving the customers?".

    Tip 5. The optimal number of possible answers is 3 or 4. If there are only 2 it may be too simple. If you use 5 or more, it may confuse user and the exam result would be unreliable.

    Tip 6. Incorrect answers should be believable. Do not use obviously wrong, funny or foolish options.

    Here's an example of failed wording of possible answers:

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    Tip 7. Number of questions is unlimited, but please, remember: if the test contains only 5 or 6 tasks it doesn't allow to check the quality of material mastering and distracts user from learning process. If test consists of 100 tasks and more it becomes exhausting and demotivating. Therefore it's better to stick to the "golden mean" and proceed from the semantic content of course and its volume. The best option - is 7-9 tasks illustrated with 10 info slides.

    Tip 8. Try to avoid tasks where all answers are correct or incorrect. "Yes / No" questions as much as "True or False" are also inappropriate.

    When it should be done?

    You may conduct the test immediately after completing the course or a few days later. It depends on goal you are pursuing. Test after the end of the course aims to check users memory. You may check whether your students pay enough attention to a certain moments.

    But if your final aim is to check how the particular skills were formed, find out whether the received knowledge works in practice, it's better to start test few weeks later.

  • An effective feedback: 7 simple ways to grab learner's attention

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    The main drawback of e-learning is lack of communication between teacher and users. You cannot praise your students for their achievements, correct their mistakes or give advice by means of e-learning tools. One-sided training format affects the quality, which makes educational process formal and disagreeable. So what should be done to avoid this? How to implement effective feedback in electronic course? Here you may find some useful tips.

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    1. Try to give a constructive feedback as often

    Feedback must be given not only at the end of the test, but while studying each single topic as well. For example, after creative and challenging tasks or in a role-playing games.

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    2. Be creatively emotional

    Common phrases, such as "correct" / "incorrect!" may cause discouragement. Use your imagination. In dictionary you will find more than 100 synonyms for such words as "well done" and "right". Try to say: " Great!", "Good job," "Wonderful," "You're absolutely right," or even "F**king amazing!".

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    3. Be visually attractive

    The perception of e-learning course material is realized by focusing on visual images. Use it while providing feedback. The scale of success or other graphical images make feedback strategy more descriptive and visually appealing.

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    4. Use several feedback strategies

    Very often some course tasks do not have the correct answers or such answers may be more than two. Providing multivariate feedback or building complex strategy according to an appropriate response you're getting closer to your students.

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    5. Make comments on correct and incorrect answers

    If user made a mistake, tell him where did he go wrong and indicate the correct answer. Please note: you should also comment user's activity even if he did everything right. After all, he could doubt or just randomly chose the correct option.

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    6. Never stop educational process

    The clear goal of feedback strategy is to control user's knowledge. But it's not the only goal, and, moreover, it's not the main. In general, the task of e-learning course as well as the main goal of feedback strategy lies in education. Providing feedback you give useful information and cultivate the skills. Fun fact: fulfilling tasks users learn as much info as if they were studying theoretical material.

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    7. Give the extended statistics at the end of the course

    At the end of the course show users the overall picture and indicate on their achievements. You may create an appropriate section in a course structure. Feedback strategy not only helps users to learn, but it is also an effective tool, which can be used by developers to refine and improve their products according to needs of the target audience.

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