Week 4: Producing Effective and Engaging Learning Materials #OCTEL

This week was an interesting #OCTEL activity week that opened my eyes to some resources that I had otherwise not known about and which I could immediately apply to my workplace.

 The first activity was irrelevant for me as we had to look for a resource banks in the following sites and basically have a bit of a ‘look-see’

‘Look-see’ I did but as you can see they are heavily into academic or educational resources that are not directly applicable to a corporate workplace.

If I put my thinking hat on as to where these resources would be applicable, it would be for those employees who are studying outside of their work hours possibly undertaking some sort of qualification or degree of some sort that may or may not be directly related to their normal work.

Therefore the question that pops into mind is “where does the support from L&D start and end?” and “Isn’t this the responsibility of the education provider to provide this to their learner?”

This then got me thinking further that many employees in corporate workplaces are undergoing studies outside of work hours and probably already experiencing different learning opportunity, styles, methods and media anyway.

Why would they have one experience for their studies (which may be more creative, exploratory, collaborative, global)  and another at work (which may be mandated, obligatory and unengaging)?

We were then asked to explore the following links as other educational resources.

Once again, in my experience some corporate organisations would block these sites so being able to obtain, source and share content in these sites would be difficult.  There are ways around it, namely, put in a case for getting access to these sites, or alternatively, I have started using Vimeo (which is not blocked strangely) or create my own screen casts on Captivate.

Activity 4.1: Comparing resources & Activity 4.2 Evaluating a Learning Resource

In this activity, we had to take the perspective of a learner and spend some time using:

and then spend some time evaluating it in how it can be used in our workplace.

I spent some time on the iEthiCS simulation because it was something that I could see easily transcribed into the corporate environment.

What I found appealing instantly was that there was video! No reading of text, no look of a boring e-learning site.  It was REAL people!  Instantly, it was like I was watching a movie.

The videos reminded me of the ‘Pick Your Own Adventure’ books where you were presented with the scenario but rather than read it, you viewed the scene and then clicked on what you would have done.  Effectively, they used the e-learning design principles but to video – and I think something like this could work as long as it is blended with a program of some sort so that people can discuss the situation, the actions taken, the implications of the actions taken and the outcomes.  Of course, this also had extensive course notes with it as it was intended for this use anyway.

It got me thinking that this is something really easy to do in the workplace using live people on real-life scenarios and situations.

Sometimes we think that we need professional actors for our videos and to make them like ‘Hollywood’ block busters but in all honesty, when cost is an issue then this might be an alternative – it might even be a fit of fun!

If subject matter experts are willing to be involved and if it is scripted accordingly – and created with a shot list, with some editing on Windows Movie maker, you can create a series of podcasts that can be used in a blended learning program.

Last year I used this approach with one of the teams in the business units. Their task was to learn their business products.  I gave them links to the Product House and the relevant business products but I told them that their task was to ‘teach other members in their team’ on those products.  They could use whatever format, in whatever manner, in whatever style but the ultimate aim was that their learners must achieve a 100% pass mark around recalling features and benefits of those products.

Do you know what they did?

They read about the products, they talked about them in their group and then, without prompting from me, borrowed tripods and flip cams and recorded VIDEO sessions of products USED IN CONTEXT scenarios.

For example, if the product they needed to learn was for Travel Card, they recorded themselves acting as a banker and customer relaying the features and benefits of the card in the context of how a card would be issued (and processed in the back end).  Their fellow group members viewed these podcasts in a group session where they could discuss the products as well, undertook an assessment and RECALLED these products.

The result was that the teams recalled their product knowledge and had a lot of fun in the process.  They also picked up new skills in using a video camera and Windows Movie Maker which they didn’t know they had on their work systems.  The quality of the videos floored me but I was more impressed with how they worked together on a common problem and came up with a solution.

All I had to do was guide them and show them how to use the camera and software and they were off and running.  The team leader had confided in me that he hadn’t seen his team so excited about product knowledge before and that the activity had actually bonded his team.

Meanwhile I had other teams in the same business coming up to me and asking, “how can we get what they’re getting?”  The videos had created a real buzz in the office.

It just goes to show that our learners are self directed in their learning but Learning and Development teams need to just allow this to happen.

Activity 4.3: Creating your own materials 

We then had to look at the following tools and consider its application in your context:

I have used Jing before and know of Camtasia (but never used it).  I hadn’t heard of the top three so decided on Screencast-o-matic.

I’m glad I did.

It’s a brilliant, quick online screen recorder tool that I practiced creating some short screencasts about Yammer.  You can use it directly from the website or download it to your PC.  The free version unfortunately has a watermark on it but to get the full version, it’s only $15 per year!

I can see immediate use of this tool in my life – both work and home especially when you want to show people how to use certain function on the PC.  I also like that you can save them directly as .MP4 files rather than just post them directly to some social media site such as YouTube.

Although I use Captivate to capture simulations, sometimes you just need something quick and simple and this is it. I’m going to get a pro version.

So there you go. Interesting activities for this week that have given me a couple of tools and ideas to use in my workplace immediately.

I think that’s an #octelwin

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About Activate Learning Solutions

Helen Blunden is the founder of Activate Learning Solutions and Third Place. She has over 20 years of experience within learning and development across private, public and not-for-profit organisations. With a specialty in performance consulting and networked learning, Helen believes that workplace learning is integral to business success. She has a passion for enabling people to learn beyond the classroom and believes in the power of networks and communities to drive collaboration and meaning within the organisation. From facilitator-led instruction, online and blended, Helen deploys social and informal learning such as enterprise social networking, collaboration tools and emerging technologies that have been proven successful and embedded workplace change.
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4 Responses to Week 4: Producing Effective and Engaging Learning Materials #OCTEL

  1. It’s a big one for us because all content seems to be in UK or USA accents. I think people just want to hear their own accents and see their own workplaces reflected in course ware or learning.

  2. crumphelen says:

    Hi Helen. A quickie: thanks for the tips on using these tools as a “curtain raiser” before the main event, and just to say that I never thought of the bias there must be in terms of “English” accents, even though I get it all the time here with worksheets and activities that I want to use being set in the UK and not Ireland. Makes a big difference.

  3. Hi Helen
    Like with any MOOC I’m doing, I’m quickly figuring out that there’s no right or wrong way. Really, I’m just exploring. Sometimes we miss out on information that may assist us in our work. If anything, I’m using these MOOCs to follow up on suggestions that people find so that I can see if they can be applied to some work context from my end.

    Regarding GoAnimate, yes, I had a blast of a time with that. I used it not for actual courses per se but promoting them OR post-event as a reminder follow up for activities that learners had to complete. So I used them as short visually appealing animations to send out messages but not for training.

    The reason is this…the language spoken are English (UK) and American (free version). Also the simulated speech is quite robotic (free version). I know that you can pay for the full version and record your own voice but we have no budget and required to use the tools we have in-house already. I don’t want to be paying for these tools out of my own pocket to develop courses for my workplace without reimbursement.

    However having said that, if the tool is effective, I can easily put in a business case to have a licence if it will be used ongoing for the rest of the team.

    Anyway, I used up my free version of that site and had a lot of fun in the process and my learners loved them (even created their own profiles for the free version too).

    Another one I used was the DVolver Moviemaker which also had limited animations.

    Once again, I didn’t use this for full course training – but only to advertise, promote, remind learners of next steps in a fun and interesting manner as opposed to sending them a boring text email prompt.

    On another side, in the workplace I’d much rather use live situation and people and scenarios for our workplace and use the animations in the ‘in-between’ stuff.

  4. crumphelen says:

    Hi Helen. I didn’t spend much time looking at the iETHICS simulation, which clearly grabbed your attention (in fact, this exercise is beginning to make me wonder if I’m acquiring a bit of a closed mind as to what I might and might not find useful; I seem to decide very quickly, one way or the other). Any way, I was just wondering if you’d ever used, or thought of, animation to achieve the same results. I recently discovered a tool called GoAnimate, which allows you to easily create contexts and scenarios like you mention, without even having to be in the location. It’s very easy to use from basic templates through to more freestyle Pro animations. http://goanimate.com/
    The product also got a handy write-up in Learning Solutions magazine recently http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1110/?utm_campaign=lsmag&utm_medium=some&utm_source=linkedin&goback=.gde_102144_member_218477368

    Oh, and I’m with you, Screencast-o-matic is a very handy tool. I recently signed up for the Pro version, but I hadn’t realised you could save to MP4, so thanks for that bit of investigating.

    Regards, Helen.

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