Tag Archives: eLearning

The Evolution of Adult Learning – A Poem.

Long ago, students learned before they earned,
And teachers sat up high and taught.
There was never any confusion,
And the real gurus were widely sought.

Then all hell broke loose, when
Oxford was founded in thousand ninety-six,
Adults found their calling in learning and
In 1833, Andragogy entered the learning mix!

When education left the universities
And followed adults into work,
Confusion brewed, then bubbled over,
And training became its new and dashing form.

“Shame that I should be trained!”
Simmered the trainee on the training burner.
“You see, I am a not a circus animal.
I am a self-directed, adult learner!”

Cried the experienced, self-aware adult,
“Don’t teach me. Don’t tell me.”
“I shall choose my own learning path,
If I only knew, ‘What’s-In-It-For-Me!’ ”

So trainers turned into learner-centric facilitators,
And learning became the overt-mantra,
Training changed into Learning & Development,
As trainers mastered the learning-tantra!

– Shafali R. Anand

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Posted by on February 15, 2021 in Uncategorized


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Dear Readers,

I’d like to tell you that I recently discovered my Twitter Account that I made in 2009 – and I’ve started tweeting seriously about some serious matters, such as Instructional Design, eLearning, Training, and Creativity. If these topics interest you, please follow my account here.

My new love is Gestalt, and I’ll be talking about it in the next episode of the Learning Lights podcast 🙂 Don’t miss it! It’s going to be super-awesome!


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Sia’s Story or The Job of an Instructional Designer


That first Instructional Design assignment…

Waiting for the ID Reviewer’s comments…

Then clicking open the document with your heart pounding against your ribs…

And then seeing… RED!

Was this what you HAD signed up for?


what is it that you ARE signing up for?

Meet Siya…and Rajeev.

If you want to become an instructional designer and find yourself wondering what it would be like to work as an ID, you’ll find your answers at

A heads-up…

This is a podcast – and so you’d need to keep the audio on.

Click to listen to the Learning Lights Podcast.

In this episode, meet Siya, a mint-fresh instructional designer who is discovering what it means to be an instructional designer.

This episode is an introduction to what an Instructional Designer’s Job comprises, takes you through the fears and apprehensions of a new ID, and then puts them to rest through the knowledge of an experienced instructional designer.

With this episode, we are through with laying the basic groundwork. In the coming episodes, I intend to discuss a few concepts of instructional design and cognitive psychology within the context of their application in eLearning and/or training.

If you’d like to join me on this fun ride, do subscribe or follow Learning Lights on a podcasting app of your choice. It is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify too.


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Who should be an Instructional Designer?

Do I have the right abilities and traits for becoming an instructional designer?

This is a question asked by many accidental content professionals and all those fresh job-seekers who are exploring the field of content development and Instructional Design. They want to find out if they are temperamentally suited for a successful career in ID and content development, whether they are creative enough, and what sort of skills they must possess.

If you too are trying to ascertain whether or not you have the right temperament and skills for becoming an instructional designer, then you should listen in.

Click to listen to the Learning Lights Podcast.

In this episode, I present to you the three most important characteristics of an Instructional Designer and attempt to dispel a debilitating myth about creativity.

After you’ve listened to this episode, please read more about this topic at: Four Key Traits of an Instructional Designer.

Also visit to explore the world of creativity and instructional design.

Thank you 🙂


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Using Games in eLearning Part III – The Basic Structure of an eLearning Game

In the previous two posts of this series, we discussed:

Let us now determine the structure of a game and see how this structure helps us establish an emotional connection between the learner and the content.

A learning game isn’t very different from the entertainment games, except that the theme of a learning game is “learning,” and not “entertainment.” The basic structure of the two types of games is almost the same.

A Learning Game consists of:

  • An environment
  • A Challenge
  • A Reward/Punishment
  • The Learning

Let us look at these four factors in more detail.

The Environment of an eLearning Game:

An elearning game like all other types of games has to first gain the attention of the gamer, and then it has to sustain it. A game, unlike other learning activity, should be high on immersion, and establish a suspension-of-disbelief, to whatever extent it can. Thus, an eLearning game requires that you establish an environment. You can do it through a story, a visual, or a scenario.

The Challenge in an eLearning Game:

Every game should include a challenge. A challenge is “a demanding or a challenging situation,” or, if we speak in terms of motivation, it is something that urges you to act towards a specific objective. A challenge can be incorporated in an eLearning game, by asking the learner to use the knowledge gained/skill developed through the content to <achieve a goal>. Remember that goal has to be designed keeping in mind the audience’s profile.

The Reward/Punishment Associated with an eLearning Game:

Every learner wants to “gain something” from a success, and is driven to avoid “losing something” through a failure. A challenge doesn’t transform into a game unless the learner has something to gain or to lose. Thus, an eLearning activity will not convert into a game unless you establish a reward/punishment for the outcome.

The Learning in an eLearning Game:

A game is a game and NOT an eLearning game if it doesn’t result in learning. Remember that learning or reinforcement of learning should result from the process of playing a game, and not as a reward for the game. Very often, eLearning game developers end up creating games where upon completing a game successfully, the learner learns – but otherwise he or she doesn’t learn! Instructionally, such games leave nothing for a person who doesn’t play well. Make sure that your eLearning game doesn’t suffer from this issue.

That’s all for now, dear readers! If you’d like to learn more about developing eLearning games, drop me a line, and I’ll write more about it.


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Four Important Differences between the Online Learning Environment and the Classroom Learning Environment

My temporary absence from the blog can best be explained through the hackneyed, cliched, beaten-out-of-shape excuse of having been busy. I was indeed busy with matters in the real world and so the demands of the virtual world were automatically shunted back into the yard.

A quick analysis of my behavior helped me draw some parallels with the online learner’s behavior.

There’s a world of difference between the environments of the online learner and the classroom learner. These differences often result in learner behavior that doesn’t explain itself readily to us.

The Four Important Differences between the Online Learner’s and the Classroom Learner’s Environments are:

  1. Distance from Family & Friends
  2. Flexibility of Time
  3. Strength of Supervision
  4. Urgency vs. Importance

Distance from Family & Friends

During the learning process, the online learners are much closer to their family/friends than their classroom counterparts. While classroom learning requires that the learners transport themselves to a specific location for completing a training program, the online program merely requires online access and so people often take online courses from home.

Thus it becomes difficult for the online learners to ensure that while they are going through their online classes, they aren’t disturbed. They often are, and in absence of a formal learning environment, it becomes difficult for them to refuse the demands of friends and family. This leads to either a short break in their learning schedule (to talk, to reply, to help) or a longer one (to go for a movie/game together.)

Flexibility of Time

Even if we leave everybody else out, the online learners have to play with the dangerous double-edged sword called “flexible timings.” When timings are flexible, we tend to procrastinate more. When we can do something whenever we want to do it, we get down to doing it only at the last moment. So the online learners with the flexible time option often find themselves running errands for those who don’t have the same option. “You can do it later, I can’t” makes them feel guilty about refusing to do the errand.

Strength of Supervision

The Online learners usually don’t have any sort of direct supervision. This isn’t good. I agree with Dr. Knowles’ Andragogy in principle, and I do feel that he captured the intentions and the motivation of the adult learner well. However, the intrinsic load for the learning content varies and content with higher intrinsic load often requires that the learners put their minds into high gear.

Direct supervision helps. It enables the learners to stay focused and master such concepts. The online learners are responsible for cultivating this ability to stay focus, despite the cognitive load of the content. Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed earlier, online learners often study in environments that aren’t all that accommodating.

Urgency Vs. Importance

Every question that pops up in a classroom learner’s mind is urgent as the class has a definite time frame; every concept that’s taught needs to be handled by the mind immediately. In the case of online learning, the situation reverses. Everything else around our online learners becomes urgent. The course, though important, isn’t urgent. The submissions become urgent only on the due date – however, the days before the due date are lost because of those urgent (though unimportant tasks) that demanded to be done first.

I too was led astray by some urgent matters! I hope to tune out the urgent but unimportant matters in the coming month; and attend to this dear blog of mine.


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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:


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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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How is eLearning Different from Classroom Training?

I missed my self-imposed posting guideline by a day, and I am grateful for this lapse. It reminds me that the quest for perfection is the perfect killer of motivation:) So, with my recent lapse, I am completely rejuvenated!

Let us quickly review the recent posts on the topic of learning.

Now, through this post, let us differentiate eLearning from classroom trainings. Actually, eLearning means different things to different people, and despite being around for about two decades, eLearning is still fighting for acceptance. It’s not that people and organizations don’t know about eLearning – and in social circles, they’d often speak of eLearning in a positive, slightly emancipated manner – but this acceptance is quite like the way live-in relationships are accepted in our society. It’s acceptable as long as someone else is doing it.

But let’s leave the philosophical discussion for now and review how eLearning is different from classroom training.

Here are some of the ways in which eLearning is different from classroom training.

  1. The Audience’s Attitude & Skills
  2. The Content Presentation
  3. Anticipation of Cognitive Dissonance
  4. Accuracy in Content and Language
  5. Open Channel for Communication & Doubt Resolution

The Audience’s Attitude & Skills Should be Oriented towards eLearning.

The success of eLearning is often determined by the attitude (maturity, internal motivation) and the skills (time-management, stress-management, and technological competence) of the learners.

The Content Presentation Needs to be More Engaging.

In the absence of external bonds, the learner’s attention could stray more easily in an Online/eLearning course. eLearning needs a conscious effort towards personalizing the eLearning content delivery.

Cognitive Dissonance should be Anticipated.

In eLearning content creation, you need to project the worries that will assail your learners; and you will have to build the resolution of those issues in the course.

Accuracy in Content and Language are More Important.

You need to be much more careful while dealing with content and presenting it to your audience. In a classroom training program, you can correct your error easily and without fatal consequences – but in eLearning, your error may remain undetected for a long time. Also remember that language errors that aren’t even noticed in an on-ground training program become monsters in eLearning.

Open Channel for Communication & Doubt Resolution is Essential.

Classroom trainings are characterized by direct synchronous communication. This helps boost the learner’s confidence. ELearning either has no two-way communication (CBTs) or it has asynchronous communication and doubt-resolution (I am not speaking of the virtual classrooms here.) Special attention has to be given to these details in eLearning.

I’ll be back with what I call the Doppelganger Advantages of eLearning!


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Learning, Learning Mediums, and eLearning!

Let us continue our exploration of the phenomenon of learning. Remember learning is “acquisition” of knowledge, skills, and attitude. When we speak of acquiring something, we also speak of “someplace” from where it shall be acquired, thus, we refer to an “environment”.

So we can say that Learning results from an interaction between the learner and the environment. This interaction could be learner-driven or environment-driven, and it takes place through a “medium of communication.”

Let us understand it by analyzing the behavior of an old acquaintance, Ms. Froth. Froth wants to learn “how to blog.” Here’s how we can explain her behavior in the terminology that we’ve now “acquired.”

Froth (the learner) wishes to learn (the learning process is thus, learner-driven) “How to blog” (a skill to be acquired; if she already knows how to blog, but now wishes to learn how to blog more effectively, she’d be “modifying” a skill, which is another aspect of learning.) For this learning, she will have to interact with the environment (comprising her friends, colleagues, trainers, books, and of course – the Web,) through an appropriate communication medium (speech, text, training material, online content.)

You got it…right?
Now you are ready to lift the shroud of mystery that surrounds the learning mediums.

Simply put, a learning medium is a communication medium which is used for the purpose of learning.

Thus, you have:

  • Classroom trainings (where the communication medium is primarily non-tech (apart from some non-interactive, soporific PowerPoint presentation.)
  • ELearning (where the medium of communication is electronic – usually computers.)

I am not going to spend a lot of your precious time on expanding upon classroom trainings. That you are reading this post goes to prove that you’ve had enough of that experience. So let us try to figure out this exotic bird called eLearning.

Photo by kodomut

ELearning is the name given to all such learning, which uses technology as a medium to communicate. Thus, online courses and trainings as well as standalone computer-based training programs, and even blogs such as the one you are reading now, comprise elearning.

Actually, eLearning isn’t an exotic bird at all. It is the same learning that we know so well – with the medium of communication being the only tangible difference. There’s no difference as far as the learner’s psychology and the instructional design principles are concerned.

However, there’s a lot of difference between the way both kinds of learning programs are designed, developed, and implemented. As you might’ve guessed, most of the difference results from the technological angle, which unfortunately bugs many of the traditionalists.

So when Froth searches the web, or buys a CD that tells her “How to Blog”, she learns through eLearning. From the learner’s angle eLearning isn’t very different from classroom training. Froth still uses her senses (seeing/hearing) to absorb the new learning, and then processes it cognitively; the way she’d do in a classroom-training program. But yes, there’s a lot of difference between the way a classroom trainer would prepare the content and an eLearning instructional designer would.

In my next post, we’ll ponder over some of these differences. We also haven’t spoken of the blended learning solutions (where you blend elearning with traditional classroom learning) – but I believe that if we understand the two ingredients of blended learning correctly, blended learning would explain itself.

Until Friday then:-)


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