3 practical tips that will make your eLearning course more effective

More and more people with no eLearning background are creating eLearning. I see the result of their work every day. I found that there are three simple things that will make the eLearning courses more effective:

  1. Have a clear goal
  2. Define proper learning objectives
  3. Do things in the right order

The wrong way to start creating an eLearning course

Many people who start creating eLearning for the first time start with a presentation in mind, and that is the wrong way to start. An eLearning course is very different from a (PowerPoint) presentation. Here is how you should do it.

1. Have a clear goal

Before you start with eLearning you need a well-defined goal for your eLearning course or quiz. Also remember that your eLearning course will probably not be the only thing you do, maybe you will combine it with a face-to-face meeting, maybe you will put a video online. All these things will help you to reach your goal, but every separate element will have its own specific objective. Make sure you have your overall goal clear and the separate objectives of separate element (course, quiz, classroom session, video, blog) that you will create.

2. Define proper learning objectives

When you have defined your objective for the e-Learning part of the goal you should work this out in more detail. This leads often to more than one learning objective. Defining learning objectives can be hard. But there is help and that help is called Blooms taxonomy. The taxonomy divides learning into 6 different levels, so the first step to take is to  determine the level (or levels) you want to reach with your goal:

Levels of learning

1.      Remember Students can use knowledge and facts from long term memory.
2.      Understand Students can make sense of what has been learned.
3.      Apply Students can use new knowledge or information in a similar situation.
4.      Analyse Students can break down knowledge to see how it all relates.
5.      Evaluate Students are able to judge based on standards.
6.      Create Students can use what was learned and create something new.

If you break down the learning objectives you will find that there are always the same six elements present.


You need to define all six of them to make a good learning objective. The nice thing is that there is a range of verbs connected to each level of Blooms. For the remember level you have verbs like define, describe, state and many more. You will find that choosing a level of learning and then choosing a verb will help you greatly in creating your objective. To make it even easier, we put these levels and the verbs in a free tool. We call it the learning objective maker and it is available for everybody that wants to create a learning objective based on Bloom’s taxonomy.

Here is an example of the result of the tool:


3. Do things in the right order

The last thing for a proper start is not to start writing content. Here is the proper order:

  1. Create your learning objective
  2. Create questions that will assess this objective
  3. Create content that will help the learner answer this questions.

Try it out, it really help. Remember, less is more, so only add the content that is really to help the learner answer a question. If you want more detail and instruction on this. I have created an eLearning course on this topic feel free to take it.

Easygenerator launches free tool for creating learning objectives

At Easygenerator (the e-learning software company) we not only try to deliver a state of the art e-learning authoring tool, but we also try to help people in creating better and more effective e-learning as well. We do free Q&A session, have online courses on how to create proper e-learning and now we have the Learning Objective maker. It is available in Beta and we are looking for people who want to test it and give us feedback (see bottom of this post).

Learning objectives will help you to create better e-learning

In order to create effective e-learning you need to have clarity on your learning objectives. Easygenerator already supports building your courses on learning objectives. Most of our users are non-professional developers (teachers, trainers, Hr people). We discovered that they find it very hard to create a proper learning objective. Which gives them a bad start in the creation process.

Learning objectives by non-professional developers

A large part of our users has never heard of things like Blooms taxonomy or does not have any other any other didactical background. Yet we want to help them in creating better learning objectives and better e-Learning. So we decided we needed to build something to support them.

Learning objective maker

We created a free tool: the Learning objective maker. It can be used by anyone, you do not have to use easygenerator. The learning objective maker is available for free on our website, it is free now and it will remain free in the future. The goal is to offer a few simple steps that will help you in creating proper learning objectives, based on Bloom’s taxonomy. it also allows you to share your learning objectives with others and to re-use learning objectives created by others.

Who wants to test our Learning objective maker

The tool is live, but it is not yet perfect. We are looking for people that want to test this tool and give us feedback so we can improve it. All you need to do is go to the Learning Objective maker and start create some objectives. Any feedback is welcome. You can give us your feedback through this form.

The learning objective maker by easygenerator

The learning objective maker by easygenerator

A How to Guide on the Principles of the #elearningmanifesto: 3. Tie Learning to Performance Goals

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“We will couple the skills we are developing to the goals of organizations, individuals, or both.”

This principle is an important requirement when building eLearning courses.  If learning doesn’t support  the goals of the organization, what is its value  from a business perspective? Now the question is how to do it?

Get integrated into the business
In the first two posts I wrote about the importance learning integrating with  the business and day-to-day business processes, which is the best way to live up to this principle. In the short term,  I  imagine  this goal is beyond your reach. However,  this should  be your main goal for the next few years. To help you in achieving this, I’ll recommend again reading Tara Elkeles’ book: The Chief Learning Officer: Driving Value within a Changing Organization through Learning and Development.

How to connect to the business: Cathy More – Action Mapping
One way to  connect learning to business goals, is to familiarize yourself with Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping. Basically there are four steps in her approach, see her presentation and blog.


The four steps are:

  1. Identify the business goal
  2. Identify what people need to do (instead of need to know), translate them into actions
  3. Design a (real world) activity for each action that help people practice each behavior
  4. Identify what people really (really?) need to know, add that information

I really like this approach. It connects learning to business goals and it helps create eLearning based on real situations. It puts the learning experience before the knowledge transfer.

The third principle also talks about connecting learning to learners’ performance goals. I think this can be accomplished with learning objectives. If you combine action mapping with learning objective development, the following steps guide your development

  1. Identify business goals
    Identify the business goals and determine what needs to change ( behaviorally) in order to reach them.
  2. Create learning objectives based on identified business goals (in terms of what people need to do)
    First, you need to complete a baseline needs assessment to determine the gap between what people are required and expected to do (that is, identify individual performance expectations) and what they actually can do. This will help determine the types of learning interventions and activities to include in the eLearning course. Then, based on the business goals and gap analysis, you can define the learning objectives. They will describe what people need to be able to do (differently) in order to achieve business goals by successfully meeting personal performance goals.
  3. Translate the learning objectives into activities
    A specific learning experience typically d has targeted learning objectives, and translating them into activities can be challenging. What will help you to develop these, is to understand the needs of the business. Also, working with subject matter experts who are embedded in the business process will help you in creating realistic situations.
  4. Define learning activities around these activities
    You have to come up with learning activities (or interventions) that will help the learner to reach his objectives. Please note it says ‘Learning activities’ so it can be any form of learning (including eLearning).
  5. Measure progress based on questions; ; keep the knowledge to a minimum
    Come up with questions or an assessment that will measure the learners progress. Only add the knowledge (information)  the learner really needs!
    It is important learning objectives are visible to the learner in an eLearning course.
  6. Report on the learning objectives.
    If your LMS is not capable to report on the learning objectives, check out TinCan it can do that and much more!
  7. Evaluate the learning objectives in relation to the business goals
    It is time to evaluate and come up with improvement for the next round. It is crucial that you are able to do this with the people from the business side that are responsible for achieving the business goals.

It is obvious the quality of learning objectives will determine the quality of your learning. If you need some tips on the basics of how to create learning objectives, you can read an article  I recently wrote.

How to convince your boss/client
As we discussed in the previous post on the first two principles, the first step is to start the conversation. I’m confident the business side or your client will be very interested in this conversation, because ultimately this is what it is all about for them.

Jay Cross and the internet time alliance
Jay Cross, is one of the oldest and most respected thought leaders in our industry, who is credited with being the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. Now however, he has completely moved away from the term, using instead “Working smarter’. He does this together with a formidable group called the Internet Time alliance: Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings and again Clark Quinn. They have published ‘The working Smarter fieldbook’ in 2009 It covers Working smarter, Informal learning, social learning, a whole bunch of consequences for instructional design and examples. But in this context most relevant is the chapter on “The business case”. It covers over 50 pages, so it is hard to make a resume you should read the book, although it is mostly about informal learning there are enough lessons to be learned for all of us.

See the overview article for other published posts of this series.

learning objectives: you need feed back to make them work

If you read my blog on a frequent basis you will know that I believe that Learning Objectives and learning are two sides of the same medal. I want to share a story with you that gave me an insight yesterday.

Some time ago I wanted to improve my bathroom and in a moment of insanity I decided that I would do that myself. It worked out sort of OK, but every now and then the bathroom would leak. Because it is situated on the second floor, I have a problem on the first floor as well. This was not a part of my master plan. So I needed to have a contractor that could fix that for me. I hired Albert, a local contractor, that did some fine work for us a while ago. So last week he was in my house for a few days fixing the problem. I work 3 days a week from home, so he saw me sitting in my office; mailing, conferencing, calling (over VOIP) and all the other stuff you do when you work. He was really amazed that all this was possible. He told me that he has a website (made by a local guy) and that that guy also installed a PC with internet connection and mail in his home three years ago. He never touched it since, because he hasn’t got a clue what to do with it.

Later on he decided that I would need a new shower base (if that is the proper word for it; anyway I mean the thing you stand in while taking a shower), and he told me that it would cost me between 350 and 400 Euro. I surfed the web and found the perfect one in 5 minutes for 130 euro, I ordered it and paid for it on-line. He was in awe and understood that it would be profitable for his business if he would be able do that as well. I offered him to teach this. So we set out to define the learning objectives for this, they became (with the action mapping rules in mind):

  1. Albert is able to send and answer mail from his own PC
  2. Albert is able to search ‘Marktplaats’ (a Dutch eBay) and buy things from it

They looked simple enough. Yesterday evening I went over to his house and we started. It turned out he did really know nothing about computers at all. I had to explain that you don’t only have to place your mouse on the desired position, but that you have to do a left mouse click as well. When he typed a few words he asked me ‘How can I get a gap between the words?’ and I had to explain the function of space bar to him.

spacebar 3

Based on his feed back I had to adapt our learning objectives. They became:

  1. Albert knows how to operate the main function of his PC
  2. Albert understands the difference between mail and internet
  3. Albert is able to sent and answer mail from his own PC

We went on from there and decided that we would need several session to reach the original objectives. For me this was a learning moment. We changed not only the learning content but the learning objectives as well. With easygenerator we are proud on our adaptive courses that will advise a learner on an individual basis; but only on a content level. I now realize we have to offer facilities on the level of learning objectives as well. Another two hours well spent.

Returning to the didactical roots: innovation in eLearning?

Earlier this month I presented at DevLearn on connecting learning to the business and this week I did a webinar and a seminar on adaptive learning. During these sessions I noticed that our basic approach (Determine learning objectives, Figure out how to assess and then create only the content that is really needed) is far from standard.  Most people create content, create an assessment and that is it. But the funny thing is that this ‘old school’ approach is the foundation of innovation at easygenerator.

Originally I’m a teacher in social studies and economics. They taught me that for every lesson you want to create you need to figure out your goal first and that you need to find a way to asses if that goal is reached in the end. Only then you could start creating your lessons. I did apply this approach through my working live: with teaching, with writing books (on bookkeeping – how boring can you get?-), when I create eLearning and even when I manage a company. I know it is not common practice, but I still believe that this is the way to go.

Old school didactics
Let’s first take a look at this old school approach.


As said you start out with your learning objectives. Creating sound and useful objectives is an art in its own right. I will not go in too much detail here but I’m a fan of the action mapping approach from Cathy Moore. The essence of this approach is that learning is not about obtaining knowledge but to (learn) to be able to perform a task. Cathy doesn’t link this to learning objectives, but if you do, they should state what the learner needs to be able to do.

The second step in the development process is the assessment: how do you prove that the learner is able to do the task? You can do this by asking questions, presenting cases, really anything that will measure the performance and comes up with a score. By the way thanks to our new emerging standard (‘Tincan API’ aka ‘the experience API’) we will be able to measure this in real live and use the outcome in an eLearning course). When you create good cases (or scenario’s) this assessment will be the learning experience by itself.

And only then you start creating the content. But in the spirit of Cathy Moore only the content that is really, really needed to (learn to) do the task. When in doubt leave it away, ‘less is better’ and much cheaper!

We have applied this principle in the authoring platform of easygenerator and it has become the foundation underneath the innovations we have created and will create in the future. I will explain.

In easygenerator we created a dashboard to create and manage your learning objectives. You can’t create a course without a learning objective (if there no goal there is no point in creating a course after all) in easygenerator.

After creating the course you need to set how to measure the progress in the course. You do that by connecting the Learning objectives to questions and cases. In fact you are determining how to assess the objectives. Finally you connect these questions to related information pages.

And this simple approach will change and enable a lot:

  1. It will change your design process and with that the kind of course you create.
  2. The learner is able to see the objectives and his progress on the objectives during the course.
  3. The course is able to present a personal study advice to the learner.
  4. You will be able to report the outcome per learner per learning objective, giving you meaningful data to evaluate you course and your contribution to the companies goals.

These are only the first developments we did based on this approach, a lot more will follow. This video shows you how this works for the learner and for the author.

Based on these very basic dialectical principles we will continue the innovation of eLearning courses and the creation process. Some of the things on our road map are:

  • Create non-hierarchical metaphors and interfaces for eLearning courses (no book metaphor).
  • Create better support for designing eLearning courses in our authoring environment.
  • Implement TinCan
  • Create learning maps, where the learner can navigate through on his journey to reaching his learning objective
  • Create better support for case based and scenario based eLearning in the authoring environment

And there will be much more. But the bottom-line is that this idea is independent of a tool, it is how you organize your development process. You can do this on paper if you want, but I believe eLearning developers should do this much more, regardless of the tool they are using.

Devlearn conference day one: an exhilarating day

So we are off to an excellent start with DevLearn. As always at the first day of a guild conference it was an exhilarating day. I was able to attend some sessions and keynotes and talked to lot’s of people. Here is my wrap-up.

I try to spot the emerging trends at conferences like this, for this conference there are two. One is SaaS or cloud based solutions, the other is the future of the Learning Management Systems. Acceptance for cloud based solutions is definitely growing, almost all the vendors have plans in that direction.

TinCan and IACC
The other trend is that the LMS market is changing rapidly. The big thing here is TinCan. I wrote about it before. Yesterday it became even bigger. Before the second keynote there was an extra unplanned presentation by Aron ‘TinCan’ Silver. He showed a video where AICC announced that they will adopt TinCan. I don’t think that the entire audience grasped the meaning of this announcement. We have two main standards in our industry SCORM and IACC, both of them enable us to track and trace results, both of them confine eLearning within the borders of the LMS. TinCan will free us from this, it allows you to track and trace any learning experience, anywhere. I don’t know what the adoption will actually mean but it sounded like TinCan will be the next version of IACC. This leaves us with one standard and but more importantly it ‘frees’ eLearning from the boundaries of the LMS. This really is a big thing and it will affect the way we use any LMS and in the long run it will change the market completely. We will see how this develops, but I’m exited.

Way to reinforce learning
A morning buzz session I attended, presented by Art Kohm. It was about how to improve memory retention.

His story was along the lines of the keynote of last year by John Medina at the Learning Solution conference. The brain filters information (to prevent information overload), in principle you forget the most information that you encounter, you need to reactivate the facts in order to really store them in your brain. He refers to research by Rodigger. His solution is Booster training. Two days after the learning event you have to trigger the information by asking (multiple choice questions). It forces you to retrieve the information and that will enhance the retention. After two weeks you have to do that again. The interesting here is that in this phase he will ask open questions, that not only require retrieval but also processing of the information. I believe that memory retention is a sort of blank area in eLearning, there are some tools but the notion isn’t widely spread. Ans it is important it determines the effectiveness of your Learning experiences.

Brent Schenkler
Brent opened the first session. He is the driving force behind DevLearn, but he has accepted another job. So this conference is his last one. It will be interesting to how this affects future conference. He spoke briefly about all the elements of the conference.

Keynote: John Landau

John is the producer of many movies, the most famous ones are Titanic and Avatar. Great presentation. His message is that the story precede the technique. The technique to shoot the scripts of these movies wasn’t there when the scripts were written. They just developed the techniques they needed. According to him the same goes for eLearning. Make the learning experience leading and then just make it work. Great keynote.

Easygenerator Free edition launch
After the keynote I presented the launch of easygenerators free edition. I had a good turnout and great responses. It is great to see how the story about better eLearning courses catches on. More info at our website, you can register and start working within minutes.

Xtranormal scenarios
I joined this session because I am a scenario based learning fan, but this turned out to be a session about the posibilities of a product that let’s you create animated video’s with Lego images and text to speech voices. Looked ok, but is really not my thing.

Learning objectives concurrent session
My second presentation of the day about learning objectives and how you can use the in many ways, but most importantly how to use them to connect learning to your business goals. I really enjoyed giving this presentation. Good crowd, good responses.

Organizational Learning with agility
A session by Jenet Clarey of Bersin. I was triggered by the term agility. It turned out to be something very different. She was talking about trends in the LMS market. She says that the trend is that it is changing rapidly. The core function of LMS was track and trace and course management. In the ‘Agile LMS’ it is just one of the functions. It grows to become a broad talent management system or even a corporate portal where learning is just a part of. I have two photo’s of interesting slides. I think they tell a large part of the story, again a story about the changing LMS market.

Brian Bushwood, how to scam your way to the top.
This was interesting. He is a ‘sort’ of a magician. But his story turned out to be a marketing story, he told us how he build his internet brand. He is hugely succesfull with his ‘Scam school’ he had great stories how created fake Ibooks and made them top-ten hits in Itunes and his Scam school is very successful. Some of his lessons:

Identify one niche and own it, be first at least in your category or in the minds op people. His niche was internet magician and it is great to hear and see how he made it to the top of his market.
And he is funny:

More to come tomorrow. Make sure you check out the curated backchannel of Devlearn by David Kelly.

Connect learning to the business: Learning objectives and action mapping

I’m preparing my presentation for my concurrent session at DevLearn, Las Vegas. I will present about: Supporting business objectives with better learning objectives. Since only a small part of you will be present there (and even a smaller part will attend), I decided to give you a heads-up.

There is a lot of discussion on the relevance of formal eLearning. The trend is in the direction of workplace learning, social learning, mobile learning, just in time learning and performance support. The role of the formal eLearning courses in these developments is often seen as minimal or is not present at all. I do agree with the trend that wants to connect learning to the workplace. I disagree with the conclusion that eLearning courses shouldn’t be a part of that. Formal learning is an important instrument in changing and developing. There is more to learning than just solving your day-to-day problems. Real change requires insight and training and eLearning courses can and should be a part of this. In order to keep eLearning relevant we need to create better courses, we need to connect these courses to the business goals and we need to prove our added value to the business. That’s what this post and my presentation are about.

Action Mapping
When you are talking about connecting learning to business goals, you are talking about Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping. Basically there are four steps in her approach, see her blog for more details:

  1. Identify the business goal
  2. Identify what people need to do (instead of need to know), translate them into actions
  3. Design a (real world) activity for each action that help people practice each behavior
  4. Identify what people really (really?) need to know, add that information

I really like this. It connects learning to the business goals and it helps you to create eLearning that is based on real situations. It puts the learning experience before the knowledge transfer. And this is all good. What I would like to add is the connection with learning objectives. That is important because:

  • Learning objectives will help you design the course
  • Learning objectives inform the learner on  his goals and progress
  • Learning objectives can make your course and your curriculum adaptive
  • Learning objectives are an ideal way to report results
  • Learning objectives will help you measure and evaluate.

What I propose is action mapping combined with the use of learning objectives.

  1. Identify business goals
  2. Create learning objectives based on these business goals (in terms what people need to do)
  3. Translate the learning objectives into activities
  4. Design your eLearning around these objectives and activities
  5. Inform the learner on his goal and progress
  6. Make courses and curriculum adaptive
  7. Report on the learning objectives
  8. Evaluate the learning objectives in relation to the business goals.

Use the objectives to:

You can write books about each of these steps. I will limit myself to some observations and comments for each step.

Identify business goals
If you start with this step, you might run into a major problem of eLearning development. Very often it is not a problem to identify the business goals, but it is a problem to connect to the people who set these goals. The Learning department is very often not connected to the business or not connected to the right level in the business. You need to solve this if you want a real chance of connecting learning to the business.

Create learning objectives based on these business goals (in terms what people need to do)
Once you have your connection to the business and your business goals you can define your learning objectives. They will describe what people need to be able to do in order to achieve the business goals. In the ideal situation you are part of the process of setting these business goals and you can translate them into your (departments) contribution for a longer period. Separate learning objectives will become different learning experiences. Do a baseline assessment to determine the gap between what people need to be able to do and what they actually can do. This will help you determine what kind of learning intervention you have to create.

Translate the learning objectives into activities
A specific learning experience will most of the times have a limited amount of learning objectives. Translating them into activities is often a challenge; again you need to be connected to the business side of your organization. You probably need to have subject matter experts that are embedded in the business process to help you create these situations.

Create eLearning around these activities; keep the knowledge to a minimum
Activities can be small, just a single activity the learner needs to be able to do. But very often it will be more complex; you will have a scenario that people have to go through in order to experience the ‘real life’ situation. It is important that you select an authoring tool that let you connect these scenario’s and activities to the learning objectives, so you can measure the progress and can report on them.

Inform the learner on his goal and progress
It is important that the learning objectives are visible to the learner in the eLearning course. He needs to know what you expect of him. Equally important is to report progress on these objectives during the learning process. It will be a big help and motivating factor for the learner.

Make courses and curriculum adaptive
If you use learning objectives in a smart way you can create a course that will adapt to the learner. You can offer an individual study advice to either improve knowledge on a weak point or to skip areas that already assess at the desired level. See this link for an example how this is done in easygenerator.

Make sure that your course can report on learning objectives to your LMS. In some adaptive learning management systems you can even create an adaptive curriculum. Based on the outcome of a course the learner will be directed to a relevant next course. This is for example possible when you use a course created in easygenerator in a Learning management system like ANewSpring.

Report on the learning objectives
Through SCORM it is possible to report on the outcome per learner per objective. It is important that your LMS is capable of generating a report on the combined outcome of all the learners and all the objectives. This way you are able to show the effect eLearning has on these objectives and on the business goals. If you did a baseline at the beginning of this reporting period, you will even have a stronger case to really prove the return on investment in eLearning.

Evaluate the learning objectives in relation to the business goals
And then it is time to evaluate.  It is crucial that you are able to do this with the people from the business side that are responsible for achieving the business goals.

I hope to meet a lot of you at DevLearn. This presentation will be concurrent session 204, October 31, 1:15 PM. You can also find me at our booth at the expo (number 241).

How to keep formal e-Learning relevant

We all know that e-learning is changing, we all know that our learners have changed. The rise of the internet, social media and mobile devices have changed our world. It turned out that it is much easier for a learner to adapt to these changes than for a e-Learning manager or developer. Over the past 16 months I have written all kind of post researching this change. I was recently asked to present on this subject in a webinar. In my preparation I went through all the posts and was for the first time able to merge them in a coherent way. I wanted to share this presentation with you.

Additional information on a lot of the subjects that are in the presentation I wrote about earlier. These post contain a lot of links to other resources on the internet on these subjects:

•Output management
•Agile development for Software, and for e-Learning
•Learning metaphors, learning maps
•Outcome learning (series of posts)

You can attend the webinar if you like (Wednesday February 15th 2012 10.00 am and 2.00 pm EST). See for details the site of Interactive Advantage.

Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (6): the vendors perspective

I started working on the Outcome learning idea to give direction to the product development of easygenerator. And it did generate a whole bunch of new features, but the impact was different than expected. We always considered the e-Learning author and the subject matter expert (SME) as our target audience. But now we added features that had an impact on the learner and for the first time we had to develop features for them. This proved to be a big change. I will try to explain this impact in this post.

We started to develop based on this concept in the beginning of the year. First we created all kind of features that would enable SME’s to play a bigger role in development process. So we created a role based system, workflow facilities and more features like that. To bring learning closer to the workplace we added mobile publications, a QTI export and a facility to reuse content in a smart way. These are all features that were ‘close to home’ for us. But in the version that we are developing at this moment that has changed.

The key functionality of the next release will be learning objectives. We have defined three goals we wanted to achieve:

  1. Support the course design based on learning objectives
  2. Make it possible to assess knowledge and progress based on these objectives
  3. Make it possible to create courses that really adapt to the learner and put the learner in control of his individual learning.

The first two goals led to functionality that affects the author. We created to possibility to define learning objectives, developed a dashboard to support course design based on these objectives, made it possible to connect questions and assessments to the objectives and an option to create a study advice based on the outcome of these assessments. They are all features that we are really proud of, but they are still aimed at the author.

This changed when we started to think on how to bring these new features to the learner. We needed to create an option to present a study advice based on the results of assessments and connected to the learning objectives. The goal was after all to create adaptive courses with true individual learning paths. Easygenerator works with so-called master pages; they define the look and feel of a course and the functionality of the course. And before we realized it we were developing master pages with all kind of extra features for the learner. We created a smart table of contents and a study advice control. We started to realize that our output is not a system to create e-Learning courses, but the courses and the learning experience they offer. Up till now you could not really tell that a course was created with easygenerator or another tool, but now you can. The course itself has unique features and they really impact the way a learner will work with these courses.

From the outside this might seem as a logical step, but for us it is a big change. We are changing from a company that develops software for e-Learning into a ‘learning company’ that develops an authoring platform. Software is not the goal, but it has  become a means to create and change e-Learning. Our complete focus is shifting. As a consequence of this we just hired our first e-Learning consultant and more changes will follow. The funny thing is that this is something I wrote down in our mission statement, but without actually steering in that direction this change just took place. So we as a company have to adept in order to create adaptive learning. This is part of the reasons we chose a chameleon as part of our corporate image, they can adept as no one else.

The only thing might be that we chose the wrong image, it is very possible that it is a Lizard. But we really got used to our green friend, so we will stick with him, being a Chameleon or as a Lizard portraying to be one.

This post is part of a series of post on this subject:

  1. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning
  2. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (2)
  3. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (3): The managers perspective
  4. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (4): The developers perspective
  5. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (5): The learners perspective
  6. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (6): The vendors perspective

Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (5): the learners perspective

One of the most valuable things that internet, e-learning and social media have brought us, is that you can learn what you want, how you want, where you want and with whom you want. Learning has shifted from push to pull. Not the teacher or the developer is in control but the learner is. I my view the (e)Learning community is still adapting to this new paradigm.

Plan economy versus market economy

The learner has shifted quickly from a planned economy (company plans all training programs) to a market economy (the learner decides). For him it’s easy, there are all kinds of new learning and information resources available through internet and social media. For the e-learning department this is much more difficult, most systems focus on planning and reporting and making the shift from collective learning resources to learning opportunities is a difficult task.

Eastern Europe
It’s a bit like Eastern Europe at the time of the ‘fall of the wall’. I have visited eastern Europe before 1989 quit a few times. You had supermarkets, but they had a very limited assortment. There would be one type of product for a certain need (one brand of sugar, one brand of water) and for a lot of needs they wouldn’t have a product at all. If you had enough (foreign) money you could buy almost anything at dollar shops or import it from abroad. You could compare this with the old centralized approach for learning. There is only one solution for a learning need and if we planned for it there is no solution add all.

In the period that followed the fall of the wall shops where quit empty. Internal production halted and they didn’t have enough foreign currency to import goods. People where already used to growing their own food, but that became even more important during this period.

It’s a bit like the situation we know have in the land of learning. We offer courses and training but learners are finding their own recourses, internet and the social media make that very easy. There is an increasing mismatch between supply and demand.

Conflict of interest
There is a growing conflict of interest between the learner and the learning departments. Form a corporations point of view planning and control are important, from a learner’s point of view it isn’t. They want to learn when, how, what en where they want. You can’t plan that.

The solution lies again in an approach where you don’t steer on input (courses) but on output (learning outcome). It doesn’t matter how they learn as long as it is effective and they can do their job.

We need to switch more to a demand driven learning environment. We don’t need more Learning management systems, but more Learning management systems. I do believe that this is one of the reasons behind the success of tools like Moodle; they offer a learning environment, not an environment to manage learning. Therefore we need to change our ‘learning landscape’. But that is the easy part. The difficult part is that we need to change the way we work and think. Not the planned transfer of knowledge is leading, but the individual learners need. At the same time we need to find ways to manage this and the answer is again by applying Outcome learning. Managers should steer on out the results of learning, not on the amounts of courses we create.

While writing this I realize that this would have been a good first post of this series, well that’s a disadvantage of learning by doing. Originally I had planned that this would be my last post in this series. But I will add one more with the vendors perspective.

This post is part of a series of post on this subject:

  1. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning
  2. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (2)
  3. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (3): The managers perspective
  4. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (4): The developers perspective
  5. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (5): The learners perspective
  6. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (6): The vendors perspective

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