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Engaging Thoughts on eLearning
eLearning EssentialsBlended LearningCollaborative LearningDistance LearningBest PracticesTacticsLearning Management SystemsSCORMCorporate Learning

eLearning Essentials
is defined
as the use of electronic media, information, and communication technologies in education. Skilled designers typically create learning content as interactive, digital training materials, delivered to students (primarily) via the Internet, with additional options for delivery including internal intranets, social media, discreet audio/video files, and CD- and DVD-ROM. eLearning is also commonly referred to as:

  • Computer-based instruction (CBI)

  • Computer-based training (CBT)

  • Computer-assisted instruction (CAI)

  • Technology-enhanced learning (TEL)

  • Internet-based training (IBT)

  • Web-based training (WBT)

  • Online education

  • Virtual learning environments (VLE)

  • m-learning (mobile)

  • Multimedia learning

  • Digital educational collaboration

  • Distributed learning

Whether delivered in or out of the classroom, an eLearning may be self-paced, instructor-led, or a combination of both. It's well-suited to distance learning and flexible learning requirements, but can also be used in conjunction with in-person teaching, referred to as blended learning.

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Blended Learning

The combination of face-to-face classroom methods with electronic activities results in a more integrated approach for both instructors and students. Also referred to as hybrid-learning, technology-mediated instruction, web-enhanced or mixed-mode instruction, “Blended learning” refers to the use of multiple educational modalities within a single unit of study.

Blended Learning

Blended learning is commonly used to describe courses which involve both instructor-led and online learning components; traditional classroom time is reduced but not completely eliminated. Studies demonstrate that while the overall effectiveness of online instruction is equivalent to that of instructor-led classroom training, it is not as effective as the combination of face-to-face instruction with online learning methods.

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Collaborative Learning

The developer's use of instructional methods designed to encourage or require students to work together on learning tasks, computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is conceptually similar to the term “eLearning 2.0,” a term that arose with the social advances realized via “Web 2.0” technology, more specifically the sharing of information between multiple people online.

Collaborative LearningCollaborative learning can be distinguished from the traditional approach to instruction in which the instructor is viewed as the principal source of all knowledge and skills. In contrast to this “linear” delivery of content (often directly from the instructor's material) CSCL uses a combination of blogs, wikis, forums, and cloud-based document portals to share information between multiple people, creating a sandbox for creativity and an engaging educational experience.

Additionally, after initial instruction on using collaborative learning tools, students gain an increased technological knowledge and comfort level, and are prepared going forward with these much-needed skills.

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Distance Learning Distance Learning
Distance learning is a method of delivering education and instruction to students who are not physically present in a classroom or lecture hall. Distance learning provides remote access to learning where the source of the information and the learners are separated by time and/or distance. Courses requiring a physical presence for any reason (including testing) are referred to as blended (or hybrid) learning.

The widespread use by eLearning designers of cutting-edge technology has made distance learning easier, faster, and extremely effective. Today’s virtual schools and universities offer broadly diverse and robust online curriculums.

eLearning Best Practices
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Best Practices

The development of quality eLearning content is dependent on organized processes that encourage developers to take top-down approaches to content creation. Creative brainstorming sessions produce (1) the overall concept with maturity succession plans, (2) messaging and design direction, and (3) the key performance indicators which will drive the idea-through-execution lifecycle. Depending on the project's goals, certification requirements, and target delivery platform(s), the process can be complex, addressing multi-dimensional data structures and compliance requirements, or very simple, allowing developers to focus on tutorials, testing, and measurement. In general, content is explored and cultivated through a series of development phases, including:

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Creating artistic, compelling, and meaningful content requires designers to possess a combination of creative, technical, and design skills to effectively navigate the complex, ever-changing technological landscape. Tactics used by designers to be “heard above the noise" center on creating unique, interactive, hands-on student experiences, stimulating curiosity by creating a veritable playground of learning and exploration. This content ecosystem is built using a variety of development solutions, from simple PowerPoint to eLearning conversion software to involved, highly-specialized programming environments. Significantly higher retention rates are achieved by continually engaging students in hands-on tutorials. Successful designers employ the following eLearning tactics:

  1. Produce compelling visuals. Presentations containing attention-grabbing graphics have a significantly greater impact.

  2. Create engaging interactivity. Engage your audience by creating hands-on demonstrations of processes and concepts, requiring study, thought, and interaction.

  3. Design thoughtful animations. Express complex ideas by incorporating animated concept demonstrations.

  4. Apply tasteful humor. Make it fun and entertaining to capture students' attention and relax the training environment.

  5. Employ progress testing and final exams. Access knowledge transfer, retained understanding, concept references, and student status.

  6. Performance measurement. Track opens, completes, progress barriers, and student reviews. Evaluate and refine overall training effectiveness.

These strategies provide designers a comprehensive approach to training effectiveness by integrating proven teaching methods with forward-thinking applications, in an ever-changing technological landscape.

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Learning Management Systems (LMS)
Learning Management Systems

Learning management systems are used for delivering, tracking, and managing training and education courses, for example:

Learning management systems (LMS) capabilities range from simply managing training and educational records to providing the software needed for online distribution. Blended courses delivered over the Internet include built-in integration, providing online collaboration and teamwork.

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Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a collection of standards and specifications that specifically applies to web-based eLearning and instruction. It defines communications between client side content and a host system (“run-time environment”), commonly supported by a learning management system.

SCORM is a specification of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, which originates from the Office of the United States Secretary of Defense, also defining how content may be distributed. Employing a concept called “sequencing”, SCORM establishes a set of rules which specify the order in which a learner may experience various objects of content. Essentially, these rules (1) restrict a learner to a fixed set of paths through the training material, (2) permit the learner to “bookmark” their progress when taking breaks, and (3) assure the acceptability of test scores achieved by the learner.

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Corporate eLearningCorporate Learning
eLearning has become the gold standard for companies seeking an effective method to inform and educate both their employees and customers.

Businesses with large and diverse distribution chains benefit by utilizing eLearning designers to create content that educates their sales and marketing staff on the latest product developments or business compliance requirements without the need to organize in-person, on-site courses. In addition, eLearning has significant impact in the improvement of “staff development” offerings, providing employees the resources needed to continually learn new (and improve existing) workplace skills.

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Key eLearning Advantages

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