Author Archives: Mark Sivy

About Mark Sivy

Mark Sivy, Ed.D. - experienced specialist in Learning and Development, Instructional Design, Learning Technology, Research, Instructional Systems Technology (HPT), and e-Learning. For more about him, please visit http://www.marksivy.com

Mobile Learning Design

Mobile Learning Design

By Mark Sivy

The use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets has greatly increased the past few years. More people are now accessing learning content via their favored piece of portable tech…assuming that the content is mobile ready. Preparing content and resources to include mobile learning requires specialized responsive design practices such as:

  • Should be specifically designed to be visible and interactive on a variety of devices.
  • Addresses immediate personal learning needs – concise and on-demand.
  • Allows for content retrieval that is self-directed and self-paced.
  • Empowers the learner to take more responsibility for their learning.
  • Facilitates immediate learner collaboration and communication.

smartphone

Development

The development of mobile learning requires the consideration of multiple points. So for starters, a general recommendation that can be applied at all levels is to Keep It Simple. Overall, the design should be clean, easy to navigate, and ubiquitously functional. Remember mobile learning is NOT about adapting or squeezing entire e-learning courses for delivery to a mobile device, but is more about just-in-time or chunked information. The design and development needs to be originally created for mobile learning, and every learning situation is unique.

ADDIE

Considerations

Before getting into specifics, here are some overarching considerations to get you thinking:

  • Know the digital devices the learners will be using. What operating systems will be used? Will the content stream through wireless or mobile services? What size screens do the devices have?
  • Know the recipients of the content. Will they be teenagers, young adults, or adults? What languages do they speak? Are they full-time learners or employees? Are there any accessibility considerations?
  • Know your development tools and formats. Will the content be text, audio, or video? What screen orientation will be used? Will Flash or HTML5 be used and how? Are your development technologies supportive of mobile device content?
  • Know the subject matter and how it is best presented. How interactive should it be? What learning theories will be applied? How can it be chunked for mobile learning? What strategies will be used to present and connect the chunks into a course learning sequence?

Now getting down to the nitty gritty, there are several developmental elements that need to be considered. Next you will find these elements and some associated points for each.

The Learner

  • Hold each learning segment to a maximum of 10 minutes.
  • Keep scrolling to a minimum.
  • Try to avoid external links, but notify the learners if you use them.
  • If you quiz, keep questions and responses short.
  • Consider how the learner will input or interact with the device.
  • Involve learners in development and usability testing.

The Technology

  • The interface should be simple and intuitive.
  • Try to use formats that are cross-compatible with multiple devices.
  • If a specific device will be used (i.e., iPad or Chromebook), then research and design accordingly.
  • Be considerate of bandwidth limitations.
  • Optimize audio and video files or files that will be downloaded.

Reader

The Visual Design

  • Use a white background
  • Keep the visuals and font clean and simple
  • Use images instead of descriptive text when possible
  • Don’t use text in images
  • Apply bold and strong visuals
  • Keep font no less than 12pt
  • Use large, well-place buttons

The Content Design

  • Keep text focused, relevant, and minimalistic.
  • Be creative.
  • Apply appropriate learning theories and guidelines.
  • Use an agile learning development process combined with an instructional systems design approach such as ADDIE.
  • Have developers and learners preview the design.

Reflection Point – “One training event is not sufficient for people to transfer learning to new situations. If you are seeking strong retention and learning transfer, people need distributed learning and performance support.” ~ Connie Malamed

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Know Your Adult Learners

Know Your Adult Learners

by Mark Sivy

The writing of this post was prompted by the all too common contrary treatment of adult learners in academic and corporate settings. Learning for adults is often treated as an extension of traditional public education, which itself is in desperate need of updating. As an adult, the motivations, challenges, psychology, and mechanics of learning are significantly different from those that exist for K-12 and undergraduate programs. These differences need to be recognized, acknowledged, and integrated into instructional practice.

Adult LearnersBackground

Even though no single theorist’s approach comprehensively applies to all adults, one of the most well-known of contemporary adult learning theorists is Malcolm Knowles. His assumptions align with previous work of noted individuals such as Jean Piaget and Dusan Savicevic and concurrent work by experts such as Kathryn Cross and Jack Mezirow.

Adult Learner Characteristics

So for a start, the first six items that I present are based upon Malcolm Knowles’ (1984) assumptions of adult learning characteristics. I then follow up with some of my own, which I highly doubt are original, yet they are important to consider.

  1. Adults have transitioned from being dependent learners to being self-directed. This translates into the abilities to: a) have control over their learning process, b) develop peer-level rapport with instructors and trainers, c) learn in a manner that is conducive to their individual style, d) to select projects or tasks that reflect their desires, and e) avoid highly structured learning.
  2. Closely related to the previous assumption is that adults motivated to learn voluntarily, or at least learning material in a manner that generates a sense of intrinsic benefit such as to boost self-esteem or address a curiosity.
  3. Adults want to draw on or connect to their past experiences to help them in learning new content or skills. This stresses the importance of hosting learner groups that are comprised of individuals with similar experiences or interests.
  4. Adults are pragmatic and goal-oriented, wanting learning outcomes that are immediately applicable.
  5. Adults need to see the relevance and benefit of current learning to their life and future, work or personal.
  6. Learning needs to be problem-based and task-oriented instead of focused on the memorization of facts or processes.
  7. Adult’s lives are complex with multiple roles and busy schedules, thus learning needs to be more flexible in terms of time, place, and pacing.
  8. The ability to learn slows with age, yet learning becomes deeper and more meaningful due to its integration with a learner’s pre-existing knowledge and experience.
  9. Many adult learners who approach a new learning experience have anxieties, either due to negative learning experiences at earlier ages or because they sense they may not be equipped to learn as an adult.
  10. As a whole, adult learners are much more diverse, consequently requiring a greater personalization of the learning experience.
  11. Learning through the use of technology and at-a-distance communication can be new for many adults, thus causing a sense of disconnection with the learning process and a perceived inability to address previously mentioned adult learner needs.
  12. After a learning event, adults benefit from coaching, follow-up discussions, on-demand support, and informal communities of practice.

Adult TechImplementation

The topic of integrating these characteristics of adult learners into instructional design will be the topic of a follow-up blog post….

Reflection Point – “Learning isn’t an assembly line process like that implemented by Henry Ford”     ~Mark Sivy

References

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

e-Learning Ecosystems

e-Learning Ecosystems

By Mark Sivy

There’s growing awareness of the need for e-Learning Ecosystems that are designed to be adaptable to specific learning environment requirements and contexts. This parallels the increasing dissatisfaction with the classic learning management system (LMS) that tries to be the Swiss army knife of online education. Instead of attempting to use a LMS as a one-size-fits-all tool to develop and facilitate online teaching and learning, a growing trend is to adopt an e-Learning Ecosystem (eLE) strategy that offers the needed flexibility to address divergent educational requirements, differing instructor preferences, and the need for adaptive and personalized learning approaches. The bottom line is that educators and innovators in educational community are calling for well-developed eLEes that provide the learning resources and facilitate the educational experiences that instructors and learners desire.

e-Learning EcosystemLearning Management Systems Out?

Many traditional LMSes have become increasingly complex and bloated, and are less able to conveniently or easily be adapted to the specific needs of various fields of study, courses, administrators, educators, and students. To take advantage of what these LMSes do offer requires costly support, time consuming training, and the expectation of fitting education to a standard formulaic package. Many individuals are not willing to undertake or accept these caveats. This is not to say that the LMS is not useful as a means of course management, providing beneficial services such as class student lists, grade book functionality, certain means of communication, and file access.

e-Learning Ecosystems In

An eLE is a suite of e-learning tools that range in purpose from design and development to learning delivery and ecosystem evaluation. What a properly planned and vetted eLE can do is merge desirable LMS abilities (if an LMS is even used) with those of other specialty tools to create a collection of options that not only meet current needs, but is also adaptable to future desires and additions.

So how does one accomplish such an undertaking? From the conceptual onset, it should be realized that an eLE involves more than technical mechanics and innovative learning technologies. It requires a philosophical approach, a collective acceptance, and cooperative development. The project must have a soul.

SoulFirst and foremost, an eLE must involve stakeholders, including learners, instructors, managers, vendors, administrators, IT staff, and support staff. It’s important that this continues throughout the process, from the commencement through maintenance and updates. It’s then highly recommended that agile project management be used since it maintains an iterative process that is flexible and has a focus on groups of individuals working simultaneously and interactively. This contemporary approach is based upon the revolutionary, highly praised, and successful Agile Manifesto that was introduced in 2001 as a means of software engineering and development.

In Comes the Pareto Principle

Pareto PrincipleOnce the project stakeholders have been identified, the plan developed, and a budget target set, the next crucial step is the identification of the specific tools that will be active components of the eLE. At this point one might want to reflect upon the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) and consider its relevance to the eLE and the educational process. What this principle implies it that it may be found that the majority of learning will likely result from a few of the core tools that comprise the eLE. In other words, escalating expense and resource consumption will probably result as more specialized and niche tools are added to the eLE.

Reflection Point – ““Doing less is not being lazy. Don’t give in to a culture that values personal sacrifice over personal productivity.” ~Tim Ferris

Online Teaching and Learning in Practice

Online Teaching and Learning (OTL) Framework

by Mark Sivy

The current global academic arena is being shaped and led by innovation and online courses, MOOCS, certifications and degrees. Learners, whether young adults who are full-time learners or working adults fitting courses into their busy schedules, are demanding and benefiting from on-demand access to online education. Developing a robust OTL program enables higher education institutions to be competitive, to meet learner demands for online content and collaborative learning, and to address SME and industry needs for employees to have a working knowledge of online learning and operations.

MOOCProgram stakeholders need to realize that a new OTL initiative will take a few years to gain momentum, but once that occurs, rapid growth and development will follow. The following is a summary of the necessary considerations for strategically planning and developing a successful OTL program. Not all items must be implemented in association with the faculty development, but they will be to occur early in the deployment of OTL.

Elements That Facilitate Effective OTL Practices:

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Support
  3. Learner Fulfillment
  4. Faculty Approval
  5. Learning Outcomes
  6. Cost Effectiveness

Infrastructure

To ensure success, the technical, administrative and instructional foundations for an OTL program should be strategically planned to be sustainable and scalable. Common technical aspects include servers and database capacities, load analyses, student information systems, a learning management system, end-user devices, and bandwidth. Administrative backing in areas such as providing financial resources and staff, policy, advising, online library access, and learning object repositories.

Support

Multiple areas of support will be needed. This will involve help desk support for students, professional development and training for faculty, and technical support and maintenance for systems. Very often with a start-up program, support is provided by faculty, teaching assistants and user communities, but this should be supplemented and eventually replaced by institutional support facilities.

Support Services

Solid support services can make all the difference between program success and failure

Learner Fulfillment

Online learners prefer and need responsive and individualized services. This includes not only the learning management system and faculty, but also areas such as advising, registration and tutoring. Effective and frequent communication is a premium in OTL, and thus the learning environment should sustain high levels of communication, social interaction, and collaboration. Student surveys and needs assessments should be performed on a regular basis.

Faculty Approval

At the core of a successful OTL program are the faculty. They should be involved in the program building process from the very beginning. Input surveys identifying faculty needs, learning needs, and technological needs should be implemented. Marketing of the OTL program should begin early, showing the benefits and advantage of how OTL can enhance instruction and the academy. It is also vital to host faculty forums, create faculty focus groups, form communities of practice, and identify faculty champions. A grassroots faculty advancement of OTL is likely to have a much higher degree of buy-in and success than a program that is a top-down initiative. With that said, administrators should acknowledge that OTL can be more time consuming for the faculty than in-person courses.

Learning Outcomes

It’s essential that both students and faculty feel that the quality of OTL is on par with face-to-face learning. If done well, OTL can exceed traditional classroom outcomes. This can lead to better enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

Cost Effectiveness

A well-planned and supported OTL program can increase financial, infrastructure and human resource effectiveness, thus reducing overall costs.

Reflection Point – “The challenge is not simply to incorporate learning technologies into current institutional approaches, but rather to change our fundamental views about effective teaching and learning and to use technology to do so.” ~Donald Hanna

Online Learning Part 6

Online Learning Part 6 – Series Final Thoughts

by Mark Sivy

online learningIn this age of global opportunities due to increased connectivity, greater mobility, and seemingly endless web-based possibilities, intellectual capacity is now being recognized as a nation’s greatest resource. In response, governments and educational institutions should now be seeking to leverage forward thinking strategies and innovative technologies to develop and capitalize on the human resource. Whether changes are being made in public schools, higher education, talent development, or training, the educational processes should be interactive, engaging, and reflective of present and future social and technological trends. A cornerstone of this movement is online education.

At the Core

As a foundation to online education offerings and support, it should be recognized that creating instructional materials is both an art and a science.  As appropriate, design and development staff should incorporate K-12 learning theory (pedagogy) and adult learning theory (andragogy) in the creation of educational content. Additional considerations include:

  • needs analyses
  • stakeholder involvement
  • instructional design – the mechanical / technical aspects of online content creation
  • instructional systems development – the strategic merging of instructional design with learning theory and situational analyses
  • other learning theories such as constructivism, connectivism, and social constructivism
  • web-based learning environment implementation and administration
  • additional web-based learning tools
  • course authoring tools
  • multiple language availability
  • accessibility
  • communication planning
  • media creation
  • project management
  • teaching and learning support

teacher-407360_1280A Broader Sense

Given the current global trends in education, this matter should not a question of whether or not to accept online learning as part of the educational process, but rather how online learning will be incorporated into the local and regional educational culture. For those educational institutions, regions, and countries that want their citizens and country to remain competitive in a global market and economy, online learning should become an integral part of the teaching and learning process.

Reflection Point – “Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.” ~Mark Cuban

Online Learning Part 5

Online Learning Part 5 – Tools

by Mark Sivy

According to the Center for Learning and Performance Technologies, there are currently over 2000 digital technology tools and applications which can be used for education, with most of them being relatively easy to use and free or low cost. Mixing these up as you’re developing different online learning or e-learning lessons and activities or mobile learning chunks can make your instructional design and course more exciting and engaging. Most of these tools can be included in the following categories:

  • calendar Personal Productivity – includes calendars, concept mapping applications, computer utilities, organizers, and accessibility tools.
  • Web Browsers and Related Tools – allow for accessing, subscribing to, searching, aggregating, and reading web content.
  • Web Information – offer the ability to create, post, and read information using websites, wikis, and blogs.
  • Communication Tools – permit both synchronous and asynchronous options such as email, instant messaging, texting, and discussion forums.
  • Documents – these provide for offline creation and presentation of information such as documents, spreadsheets, web designand presentations
  • Public Information – present many forms of information access including but not limited to frequently asked questions (FAQs), tutorials, podcasts, and open courseware.
  • Course Management Systems – enable the creation and delivery of course content as well as interactive participation, social exchange, collaboration, tracking, communication, and grading.
  • Instructional Design and Development – support course content authoring and learning assessment
  • Audio, Video, Images, and Graphics – allow for the creation, review, editing, and presentation of a variety of multi-sensory presentation
  • web browserVirtual Environments – facilitate the interaction of individuals with environments and other individuals through the use of avatars within three dimensional surroundings.
  • Web Conferencing and Web Meetings – allow individuals to meet synchronously using voice, voice and video, whiteboards, and screen sharing.
  • Social Networks – permit the creation of various online communities, and allow for the formation of personal and professional networks.
  • Collaboration and Sharing – provide for common digital work spaces for groups or teams to collectively create, share, and modify content.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ~ William Arthur Ward