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Category Archives: Online Learning

A First is always Fearful, sometimes Frustrating, but never Fruitless.

This morning I posted my first article on LinkedIn.

Are you wondering why this feat-o-mine warrants a dedicated post on my WordPress blog?

Well, it does, because this is indeed a victory of sorts for me.

You see, I had been planning to make this post for more than two weeks now. I had been reading posts done by my connections, and their connections, and wondering how with such meager accouterments (an extremely basic formatting bar and a minimalist environment,) could one make a reasonably good looking article? I was battling the fear of the unknown.

The Fear of the Unknown

My main cause of anxiety stemmed from the unknown. I didn’t know the interface and I didn’t know how the LinkedIn audience would receive my content, but I knew that I had to take the first step in order to take the next, and then the next…that’s how we learn to walk then run – don’t we?

The fear of the unknown is one of the most debilitating fears of all, and the only way to over come it to learn about the unknown. It may take a while, but it works. I’ve seen it work all through my life. So armed with this hope, I started writing “5 Instructional Weapons to Win the Microlearning War.

About 5 Instructional Weapons to Win the Microlearning War

It worked with this article too. Microlearning has always intrigued me. Even in our online ID courses that I had designed for Wavelength, I had ensured that none of the learning interactions went beyond 10-15 minutes, and that they did their job in that time – gaining the learner’s attention, establishing relevance of the content for them, providing the learning/providing practice/quizzing them – as the case might be, and leaving the learner satisfied. True that each course had more than a couple of hundreds of those, but each of those learning interactions did their job, and the fact that we had happy and satisfied learners who remember us even after a dozen years, proves that those learning interactions worked.

But those were different times. In the last decade or so, smartphones have changed the whole learning eco-system. In fact, they’ve changed the learner’s persona as well as her expectations.

5 Instructional Methods to Win the Micro Learning War - Infographic

Never before we had a learner whose attention was so difficult to gain and retain – this obviously means that only those learning providers who would have the right arsenal will win – others will be left behind.

I thought I had something to say – and so I wrote and then made an infographic to go with it. Here’s it. Please head over to LinkedIn and read the full article.

About the 3 Avatars of the Micro-learner

And while I was at it, I saw the true persona of microlearning audience – the triumvirate with three different avatars. Read more about them in the article.

The Microlearning Audience - Avatar 1 - the Scout

The Microlearning Audience - Avatar 2 - the AssessorThe Microlearning Audience - Avatar 3 - the Ambassador

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to announce that I’m feeling rather comfortable with LinkedIn articles now, and if you have any question, I’ll be happy to answer (but remember that little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and I’m still learning.)

The Thrill of Discovery Replaces the Fear of Unknown

Now that I’ve gotten used to the basic format of the LinkedIn article editor, I’m looking forward to making my next post. I am not sure what I shall write about – but it’s definitely going to be a thrilling experience. I hope to meet you on this ride. If you are on LinkedIn and are passionate about making learning effective, let us connect. Find me on LinkedIn here.

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Learning Adobe Captivate – Coffeebeans: The Trainer and The Trainee – A Comic Capsule.

As you may have noticed, Creative Agni’s REDAC (Rapid eLearning Development with Adobe Captivate) certificate course rolled out on August 5th. Traditionally, I’ve always participated in the first rollouts of all the courses that we create and bring to you, except when I’m the one conducting the course.

Two Sundays into the program, I created a small linear interaction (“Coffeebeans – The Trainer & The Trainee,” a comic-capsule that features Coffeebeans and her owner Froth,) and I am feeling mighty proud of it.

Coffeebeans Comic Capsule by - The Trainer and the Trainee - by Shafali R. Anand and Creative Agni

Click the image to view the Comic Capsule.

I hope you like Coffeebeans – she’s one heck of a smart pup 🙂

Since Creative Agni’s Instructional Design and eLearning Courses are engineered to learning experiences that don’t just enable but empower, their learning goals aren’t about learning but about doing – and this is why I can already use a wide variety of Captivate’s tools. Barely past the third class, I can already use most of the menu items; use text and shapes; stylize and animate them; record (or import,) edit and use audio; use buttons and actions; create advance actions (this week I created a click and view interactive all on my own, using advance actions;) and use the timeline like I was born to use it.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be learning tons of other interesting stuff and will be able to create learning interactions, record and use simulations, use videos, create different types of quizzes, figure out the responsive content bit, etc. It’s an exhilarating ride and I’m glad to be a part of this very smart and enthusiastic group of participants.

Do visit the Creative Agni eZine site and check out the Coffeebeans Comic-capsule.

 

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Cognitive Dissonance and its impact on Learning.

“Let us say you ordered a watch online. The picture of the watch looked good (it looked like it had a curved glass and the dial had a silvery sheen) and it was available at a very affordable price. A few days later, the watch was delivered, and you opened the box with great expectations. You were hoping to find a watch that looked as classy as the one you had seen in the pictures. But when you unwrapped the box and opened it, you realized that the real watch didn’t look as good as its pictures. The dial was off-white and glass was plain. You realize that the pictures must have been touched up as the watch was the same model that you had ordered. Fortunately despite its not-as-good-as-expected looks, it still was a deal at the price you bought it.

So you tell yourself, that the watch is from a good brand, and that you anyway wanted a robust watch and not a flimsy wrist-candy.

When you engage in this behavior, you are trying to curb the cognitive dissonance that has arisen out of two conflicting ideas in your mind.”

Understanding cognitive dissonance and its impact on learning can prepare us to handle it in our classrooms and online courses. The following links will take you to a series of three posts:

  1. Understanding Cognitive Dissonance – Explanation and Illustration
  2. Cognitive Dissonance in Classrooms and Other Learning Environments
  3. Cognitive Dissonance and Other Instructional Design Principles

BTW, this Easter, Froth bought a pair of Easter Bunny ears for Coffeebeans

Training pup dog cartoons - coffee beans experiences cognitive dissonance - instructional design.

 

 

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Returning…

Dear Readers,

It has been a while that I posted anything here. A medley of reasons kept me away – the most important being some critical health issues. Yet, every dark cloud that hovers over your head filling your view of the world with darkness and gloom, either explodes into a storm of rain and drenches you cold, or sails away in time. This cloud is sailing away, and though I can still see its tail on the horizon, I am confident that the wind won’t reverse its course to bring it back. At least I hope that it won’t.

So, in all probability I am back.

I intend to dust away the cobwebs and scrub this blog to make it sparkle again. I also want to thank the latest follower of this blog who inspired me to return. (If you followed this blog yesterday, you are the one I am talking about.)

As I couldn’t move about a lot, I spent the last whole year experimenting with some new learning mediums. I worked extensively on the mobile platform (specifically iOS) and this year I intend to work on development of Android apps. I intend to share my learnings on content development for the mobile learning or m-learning medium here along with my thoughts on e-learning. I am also experimenting with Kindle. Recently I have once again started accepting corporate training assignments in Instructional Design and eLearning. I also plan to share my experiences from those programs here.

This blog primarily focuses on the psychological principles that relate to learning (directly and indirectly) so expect to see the regular stuff on cognitive psychology too 🙂

I leave you with a link to my latest article on the Creative Agni Website.

 

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Announcing the birth of the Creative Agni Instructional Design and eLearning eZine

I’d like to invite the readers of this blog to the Creative Agni eZine site. It was designed in my after-work hours. Those extra hours took their toll on my neck and shoulders, but when I was done, I felt that  it was all worthwhile 🙂

The Creative Agni eZine has the following five sections.

  • ID Fiction
  • The IDEAL
  • ELearning
  • The Creative Lounge
  • Sloth & Froth

Do visit the eZine site here. If you like what you see there, subscribe to the Creative Agni eLearning eZine 🙂

 

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A Question – Is Design an Inhibitor?

In one of the discussion groups of IDCWC Online (Wavelength’s Instructional Design and Content Writing Certificate – Online Course), a participant raised an interesting point.

She said that when a teacher or a trainer is required to follow pre-designed content, the opportunity for creating something that will enhance the effectiveness of the program for the learner, disappears.

I think she’s made a valid point. When we begin to roll-out a program, we are extremely sensitive to every little signal that we receive from the audience, and we don’t let go of our own instructional knowledge while implementing it; but with each pass, the content begins to harden. We start believing that there could be nothing better than to just follow the content. Thus, we stop directing the learning experience, and allow the content to become the director.

Having spent more than a dozen years developing eLearning content, and about 7 years implementing the content that I was instrumental in designing; I think that with every phase of ADDIE, some degree of rigidity is introduced in the content; and by the time it actually reaches the Audience, it acquires a sort of permanency…and nobody then wants to question the design at all.

Still wondering…is there a way out?

 

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Pros and Cons of Rapid e-Learning

Have you been blinded by the glare of Rapid eLearning Products yet?

  • Yes
  • No

What’s your answer?

I know that it’s difficult to answer this question objectively.  Don’t worry – let’s begin by first looking at some of its obvious advantages.

Advantages of Rapid e-Learning:

Rapid e-learning has multiple advantages. Here are 3 important benefits of employing Rapid eLearning.

  1. It can be produced by an SME-ID (Subject Matter Expert and Instructional Designer) team, thus trimming the development costs.
  2. It can be quickly put together depending upon the need of the hour – and note that with the rapidly changing technologies, the learning needs are in a flux.
  3. It can lead to standardization of eLearning content quality.

Rapid eLearning has the concept of the shrinking half-life of knowledge at its core – and it does help an organization benefit in the above three ways. Unfortunately, the obvious advantages of rapid e learning have led to its being employed for all kinds of content and all types of audiences.

Such indiscriminate use of rapid elearning tools, leads to certain disadvantages in the long-run.

Disadvantages of Rapid e-Learning:

Here are three serious issues with the use of Rapid eLearning.

  1. The content begins to look stale after a few lessons, and loses the learner’s attention.
  2. The best-possible instructional strategy is sidelined and the next possible one is applied! Thus, there’s a reduction in the learning effectiveness.
  3. The overall loss of learning effectiveness kills the learner’s appetite for eLearning…because the learner doesn’t know that all eLearning isn’t rapid elearning.

It doesn’t matter how many interactivity templates a rapid eLearning product offers to you…and how different they look on the surface…internally they still are “templates”. I agree that there is content with little or no longevity, and that such content can use rapid eLearning to avoid the loss of precious time – but I don’t see how non-technical high-longevity content or its learners can benefit from rapid eLearning.

Using rapid eLearning tools all the time could be like eating burgers three times a day for the rest of your life. It’s fast to cook, easy to order – and it saves a lot of time…but you can’t eat it all the time…not if you want to live!

 

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