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Tag Archives: advantages of elearning

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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The Advantages of eLearning (2 of 2) – The Doppelganger Advantages

Note: This is the second post in the sequence, “The Advantages of eLearning.” Please read the first post here.)

In “The Advantages of eLearning (1 of 2)”, we reflected upon the advantages, real and apparent, that accrue to the client organization and the audience. We also spoke about some of these advantages not being real, and gave them the somewhat exotic name – The Doppelganger Advantages. (As the ID-aware readers must’ve already surmised, the nomenclature served the purposes of curiosity arousal, one of the three ARCS techniques to Gain Attention (Refer: Keller’s ARCS Model.)

(Doppelganger – a ghostly double of a living person that haunts its living counterpart – Source: The Free Dictionary) (Simply said, you think that you are looking at someone, but that someone isn’t real!)


Photo by jcoterhals

Here are our three Doppelganger advantages once again. Let us now remove them from the “Advantages” class, and shift them to the “Characteristics” class, as their status as an advantage is being questioned through this post.

Following are the Characteristics of eLearning, which have been touted as advantages by some.

  1. Create Once and Integrate according to the Requirements (The client’s perspective.)
  2. Cost Reduction of Different Kinds (The client’s perspective.)
  3. Offer Flexibility and are Easy to Complete (The audience’s perspective.)

Let us analyze each of these once again, but now let us look at the overall impact (the long-term impact on the client-audience duo) of these characteristics, instead of looking at only one part of the picture.

Create Once and Integrate as per Requirements:

This is one of biggest selling point of eLearning. Unfortunately, when reusability is stretched to a point where the content turns so brittle that it can barely be kneaded to impart digestible learning, the learners shut their minds off and stop learning. Organizations often remain blissfully (and sometimes, deliberately) ignorant of the fact that the sharable learning objects created by them fail to attract the audience’s attention completely. This aborted attempt at learning is often clocked as valid learning hours – and the organization has a “trained” employee who doesn’t have the competencies that his role requires!

If we stay true to instructional design, we’ll realize that a blinding passion for sharability doesn’t work! Unfortunately customized eLearning is expensive to develop. According to instructional design, it is that audience-mapped customized eLearning that would work best! However, the decision-makers in the client-organizations are human too – they need to see the impact of their decisions on the annual results – and so the long-term impact of such content doesn’t connect with their schema.

So the question is – who’s the ultimate loser?

While you try to answer that question, let us see the impact of the different kinds of cost-reduction!

Cost Reduction of Different Kinds:

We know that organizations are happy to cut their costs, which of course is a noble objective. We spoke of some costs that organizations expect to reduce through the implementation of eLearning. They expect to have a reduced number of onground trainings, which would result in the reduction of

  1. Trainer Costs
  2. Logistics Management Costs
  3. Opportunity Cost (working hours lost in classroom trainings.)

Now let’s quickly look at the eLearning implementation costs. There are the technology costs (procurement and implementation,) the content costs (if the content has to bought/extracted from the Subject Matter Experts,) the development costs, the facilitation costs, and the management costs! I may have even missed some. Think about it – eLearning implementations aren’t cost-free.

Remember, in the short-run, eLearning is more expensive that classroom training; and if eLearning content is created without considering the audience, it may turn out to be more expensive in the long-run too.

Flexibility in Submission Deadlines and are Easier to Complete:

Often the audience assumes that online/eLearning courses are self-study courses, and that the only commitment required from their end is to spend x number of hours a week on the course. This perception has its roots in two different realities.

  1. There are online courses that work on this premise – they provide the content, allow the learner to ask questions if he or she wants to, make provisions for an online objective test, allow the learner y number of attempts at the test (to ensure that he or she passes), and finally, generate a printable certificate by running a program, which the learner can print and file away. Course ends – competency achieved at BL2 (if at all!)
  2. The adult learner’s exaggerated application orientation coupled with the belief that concepts don’t matter, only application does, is the second reason behind this incorrect perception! So the adult learner often assumes – If I can take a course – find what I need to apply now and skip the rest – I am done!

The truth is the opposite of this. Online courses can be great learning experiences, if the above two realities don’t exist. The learning provider and the learner, both have to share the responsibility of making the experience successful. The learning provider has to ensure that the learner learns. The learner has to realize that the online courses require the participants to be internally motivated, organized, and punctual. The instructionally sound online courses require a lot more from its learners than a classroom training program.

End Note:

eLearning can result in a win-win relationship between the client organization and the audience, if it is designed, developed, and implemented according to instructional design principles. A departure from the ID principles on any pretext can reduce the learner’s motivation levels, and can lead to the failure of the learning experience.

(Short Link to this Post: http://wp.me/pFZ5p-3N)

 

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The Advantages of eLearning (1 of 2)

Let us continue our quest. We’ve already discussed “How eLearning is Different from Classroom Learning” and we’ve carefully analyzed the definition and nature of learning. It is now time to classify the advantages that eLearning has to offer – to the client and to the audience, and then analyze them to identify the real advantages and separate them from others, which masquerade as advantages, but actually aren’t!

It is important to remember that the Client’s Advantage is different from the Audience’s Advantage (though in some cases it might become one.) The Client of an eLearning Developer is usually an organization or a department of an organization; while the Audience is the individual (or group of individuals) who “consume” the content – and so can be understood as the consumers.

So here are the advantages of eLearning – For the Client and for the Audience!

ELearning – The Client’s Advantages:

  1. Create Once, Implement Always
  2. Create Once and Integrate as per Requirements
  3. Cost Reduction of Different Kinds
  4. Standardization of Training Quality
  5. Centralization of the Training Function

Create Once, Implement Always:

This results in reduced management and maintenance. It helps eliminate the logistic issues completely.

Create Once and Integrate as per Requirements.

Content can be created once, in form of small sharable fragments called the Learning Objects, and reassembled. Client organizations that are big oceans of employees in different departments at different positions; use this policy and implement it through the LMSs by applying the sharability principles.

Cost Reduction of Different Kinds:

Save on trainer costs, training costs, and also on the opportunity cost of work hours lost in training.

Standardization of Training Quality:

eLearning content can be standardized for big, geographically scattered organizations, which is usually not possible in classroom trainings where the trainer’s personality and training methods have a distinct impact on the quality of training.

Centralization of the Training Function:

Training quality control can be centralized, and it becomes much easier to manage and implement across-the-board changes. This also helps in conducting audits and rolling out new programs faster.

ELearning – The Audience’s Advantages:

  1. Flexible Learning Hours
  2. Anytime, Anywhere Availability of Training
  3. Reduced Commutation
  4. The Comfort of Anonymity
  5. Flexibility in Submission Deadlines and are Easier to Complete

Flexible Learning Hours:

Of course! In a world where with each new invention that helps us save time, a new time-guzzling issue crops up – we want to save time and energy. ELearning provides this option to the learners. Also remember that the extraneous load drops considerably when the learner learns in an environment he or she is comfortable with – so learning turns more effective.

Anytime, Anywhere Availability of Training:

As long as the learners can access the Internet, they can learn. The Web has now been woven almost everywhere (Enterprising individuals from the US, South Africa, and even from the Far-Eastern mountains of India take the IDCWC Online…without missing a beat!) eLearning erases the time-zones and the geographical/political boundaries from the list of constraints faced by the audience.

Reduced Commutation:

The cost of commutation goes beyond what you pay for the gas. It includes the time that you could’ve spent playing with your kids or your friends, but which you spent playing “Need for Speed” on jam-packed roads that didn’t just allow you to go beyond a measly 10 mph! Think about the others costs: a date canceled, less time with your family, aching knees – I leave this exercise to you:-)

The Comfort of Anonymity:

The comfort of making mistakes and learning from them – away from the hostile and competitive classroom environment is a boon for many. This comfort alone can turn a medium-paced learner into a fast-paced smart student.

Flexibility in Submission Deadlines and are Easier to Complete:

I know that you might not agree with this – but I should know. The number of people who call us trying to reconfirm their bias that the online course would be easier to do as compared to the corresponding classroom program, woke us up to this reality.

As you must’ve noticed, I’ve italicized some advantages in this post. These are what I call the Doppelganger Advantages. We will understand the nature of these Doppelganger Advantages in my Friday post.

(Read the concluding post, “The Advantages of eLearning (2 of 2) – The Doppelganger Advantage” here.)

 

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