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Let Go Through BPO for eLearning

February 17, 2014 Leave a comment

BPO: Managing Services & Association eLearning

Associations love their members. Members love professional development opportunities. So, associations strive to provide those opportunities to their members. Sounds like a match made in heaven!

However, many associations are starting to recognize that while members are central to their functions, the deployment of professional development is not an association’s core business. This is particularly true for learning provided over the Internet. As such, associations are beginning to look outside their own organization for help with service management, or outsourcing the business process (BPO).

Companies such as Accenture, GP Strategies and Web Courseworks offer external consulting and implementation solutions to businesses with needs ranging from IT services, training, and recruitment. These companies help other organizations maximize processes in terms of efficiency and quality.

How does that work for associations?

Essentially, an association identifies a need that it lacks the expertise to fulfill in various ways. Let’s say they need to deliver eLearning to thousands of members. So, the association hires experts to provide the services to fill that need.  The key change is that associations are looking to hire external services for managing these processes rather than relying completely on internal resources.

This is BPO at work.  It allows companies and associations to “let go” of frustrating issues and organizational headaches and instead focus on more important matters such as marketing, building your brand, and growing revenue.

What service management needs might an association “outsource” for eLearning?

As noted previously, it is not the central function of an association to deliver online professional development. This is, instead, one of many services they provide to their members.  Many processes go into providing that service, processes that should not cause an association’s time or resources to spiral out of control. Which processes of eLearning, therefore, can and should be handed off to the experts to worry about?

The education side of professional development has always been relatively easy for associations to tackle. However, due to the explosion of eLearning in the past 15 years, education staff members need to have new areas of expertise, particularly in IT-related processes.

SCORM, Flash, HTML5, 508 compliance, etc… The rapid pace of change and innovation for eLearning is making the lack of synergy between education expertise and IT expertise more apparent. This is problematic for associations hoping to successfully and effectively provide quality online learning for their members while minimizing hiring costs and interdepartmental issues.

More associations will consider utilizing BPO to maximize their eLearning and IT processes in a variety of ways. Don’t think about it as giving up cold turkey on an entire eLearning, training, or support department. At its extreme, yes, an association could go that route. Most of the time, however, it would be more likely that management will strike a balance upon determining which functions and responsibilities should remain more internal and to what degree others can be transferred to or shared with highly capable external teams.

Examples of typical processes that can be successfully managed and streamlined by BPO.

An association with eLearning needs, for example, can hire an external company to administer a variety of functions necessary to create, host, deliver, and/or assess the eLearning and the systems that enable those processes. For instance, the external company takes over administration of the association’s learning management system. Compare this to the association itself spending months and money to find a qualified team who satisfy both the educational understanding and IT expertise needed for the job. The BPO company would still work with the association to ensure their needs for the system are met, and the association focuses on more important aspects like their brand and relationship with members. This is what we like to call a win-win situation!

Ranging from simple to more complex, these needs may include:

  • Hosting software (SAAS)
  • LMS administration
  • Support/help desk
  • Content management
  • Project management
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Live training workshops

What makes an association an ideal candidate for using BPO with eLearning?

In general, associations looking to minimize expenses and maximize revenue would benefit from considering this method of managing their services. However, the decision also depends on the capabilities of any departments involved, as well as the availability of resources to be able to make that success happen. Read more…

Proactive, Not Reactive: Strategic with Technology

January 10, 2014 3 comments

A Research Review

“…we abandoned the term e-learning entirely.”

Wow! Bold words grace the second paragraph of the latest research done by Tagoras founders Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele.  In their freshly published (and free to download!) research, Association Learning & Technology 2014, Cobb and Steele analyze how 200 associations report using technology to “enable and enhance learning.”

Click here to find out more about the founders of Tagoras.

Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele, founders of Tagoras and authors of Association Learning + Technology

The authors certainly waste no time in dispensing of e-learning as a term, which may perplex many in the educational technology industry.  However, after reading the report on their research, it is clear that Cobb and Steele subscribe to a broader vision of learning, one that may be enhanced or delivered by technology but that ultimately relies on one other thing to be successful: strategy.

Yep, e-learning is out (at least, for now from the Tagoras vernacular).  What’s in? Technology-enabled learning. Technology-enhanced learning.  Notice that learning remains prominent. Technology remains prominent.  However, these terms are meant to highlight the strategy rather than the technology tools themselves.  In other words, particular tools are indispensable for enabling and enhancing learning, and a wide variety of options exist for associations to employ in educating their members.  While these tools are key, however, they must be planned and used in meaningful and productive ways for associations to successfully educate their members. This means strategy.

Markers of Success

A solid strategy leads associations to success in terms of education. The research shows a “steady increase” in associations’ use of technology for learning.  Are all associations experiencing the same amount of success in this area? If not, why not?  Cobb and Steele use their research to illuminate the importance of strategy in helping associations become “more focused,” “more professional,” and “more significant.”

Eighty percent of associations responded that they were very satisfied (24.7 percent) or somewhat satisfied (55.3 percent) with the overall performance of their current learning initiatives with technology.  That’s excellent news, right?  And in fact, it is, until we look closer at the areas of dissatisfaction identified in the research.

  1. Cost – The financial investment needed to create the materials.
  2. Time – The investment by staff needed to create the materials.
  3. Revenue – The profits/return netted by these associations from offering the materials.

Image credit to doodlehome.com

All three areas above hovered around 50 percent for the number of respondents reporting levels of satisfaction.  Considering the importance of these areas for any association, it is surprising that the number of respondents feeling satisfied overall is a good thirty percent higher.

Certainly costs, time, and revenue are key components of any corporate strategy.  Education is not excluded from this aspect.  Cobb and Steele determined several markers of success from their research that can assist associations in improving their satisfaction with these three areas.  And, no surprise here—all these markers come back to building a strategy.

To achieve success, and thus to increase satisfaction in terms of revenue, costs, and time, Cobb and Steele’s research emphasizes several steps. Here’s our take on the top 3 ways to proactively increase your association’s chances of success and levels of satisfaction.[1]

#1

“Have a formal, documented strategy for their use of technology for learning.”

Image credit to www.ascendantservices.com.While this one is a no-brainer considering our previously stated admiration for developing said strategy, let’s examine the research behind this a little closer.

As the report notes, associations know that education is a source of revenue—it is a part of doing business.  By providing information and services to their members, associations can make money and grow in order to improve those offerings.  Education is a key part of that corporate plan for most associations. Just slightly over 88 percent of respondents reported that their organizations “currently offer technology-enabled or technology-enhanced learning.”  And, 10.6 percent plan to begin doing so in the next year.  These associations hope to generate revenue from these offerings.

Currently, just over half of the associations in this report increased their organization’s net revenue due to education efforts.  However, nearly 70 percent of associations who reported having a strategy for technology and learning also reported increased net revenues from that strategy.  In comparison, only 45 percent of associations without a strategy reported increased revenues.

For example, part of such a strategy may be to ensure a quality product.  Over 63 percent of organizations with a strategy use professional instructional designers, compared to 33.3 percent of those without a strategy.  While admittedly hiring these professionals is easier for larger associations to budget for, it is possible (and necessary) for any strategy to include building and delivering quality to members.

Ultimately, this saves on cost, revenue, and time by being proactive rather than reactive.  Documenting that strategy makes improvements easier to note and implement, as well as identifying areas of success that need to be continued.

#2

“Offer facilitated online courses, gamified learning, virtual conferences, and at least some mobile learning—in general, be more innovative and forward-thinking.”

Variety is the spice of life.  No technology tool should be used simply for the sake of using it, however.  Part of having success is to strategize which types of tools are going to be most useful to your association’s educational goals—but also being open to trying new tools that could prove to be more effective and engaging.

There are numerous studies and ideas circulating on how to build these opportunities, so they do not need to be addressed in detail here.  However, a couple of findings in Cobb and Steele’s research are important to note:

  • Webinars and webcasts are offered by about 80 percent of the responding associations. The only other content delivery tools to command a majority of use are “self-paced online courses, tutorials, and presentations” coming in at 65.5 percent.  Clearly, these particular options are very popular and arguably perhaps the easiest to implement in general.
  • Mobile content is supported by almost 37 percent of associations in this study.  In the 2010 study by Tagoras, the research showed a mere 9 percent. As Cobb and Steele excitedly note for 2014: “Add in those planning to offer a mobile version in the next 12 months, and we’re on track for a majority of associations to make m-learning part of their offerings in the future.”
  • Of the four emerging types of learning specifically asked about by Cobb and Steele (MOOCs, flipped classes, gamified learning, and microcredentials), none have yet to reach above a 10 percent rate of adoption. Though still “fringe” offerings, the authors are optimistic that these will continue as trends that often may come naturally for associations’ strategies.

Image credit to http://intergratedtechnology.com/

Using tools such as these to enhance and enable your association’s educational offerings will help generate engagement for your members, thus leading to improved satisfaction levels by members.  Satisfied members are more likely to continue to learn, thus potentially increasing your association’s revenue from education. Additionally, trying new approaches can open up new and more effective possibilities that were not possible previously.  Assessing the costs and uses of all tools will also improve the budgeting for these efforts, both in monetary value and time value.

#3

“Use a learning content management system (LCMS).”

“While Webinars are often seen as a relatively easy, low-risk way to enter the technology-based learning market, implementation of an LMS is usually a sign that an organization has made the decision to invest significantly in technology to support its learning— presumably because it sees the potential for a positive return on that investment.” (Cobb & Steele, p. 14, 2013).

A key part to developing a strategy is to determine how to deliver and track your educational products for your members—and nearly 70 percent of companies with a technology-enhanced learning strategy use a Learning Management System (LMS), and just under 30 percent use a learning content management system (CMS or LCMS) either in tandem with an LMS or separately.  Without a strategy, that percentage significantly drops to 44 percent of associations that use such a platform.

The report accurately points out that the use of an LMS may be closely related to the budgeting capacity of the responding associations.  Though, it is likely that if an association currently could not afford an LMS, part of their strategy could easily include that as a future, viable goal for supporting their “overall learning initiative.” In the meantime, other means of delivering and managing content are available, though may be lacking the powerful data analysis capabilities of an LMS or LCMS.

Improving your management of content, data, and credentials for your members’ education will lead to more effective ways of determining areas of success and needs for improvement.  Your product offerings will benefit from this as well, which will more likely translate to higher revenue and better allocation of costs and time.

Image credit to LISTedTECH.

LISTedTECH gathered information from over 5600 secondary education institutions to create this map. It shows the most popular LMS for many countries around the world: Moodle, Blackboard, Articulate, and others. Click the image above to access the original map.


[1] Ideas discussed in this post are based on the blog team’s reading of the Tagoras report.  Quotes are taken directly from the report, though their application is paraphrased and adapted from the original recommendations, to emphasize what the blog team feels is important for e-Learning (technology enabled learning) management. Percentages with decimals have been rounded to the nearest whole number where appropriate.

Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Meri Tunison. Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.

Happy HalloweE-Learning?

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Web Courseworks Celebrates Halloween In Style

Our e-learning team here at Web Courseworks wishes you all a very Happy Halloween!  Today the office is full of our cast of characters, hamming it up in honor of the holiday spirit.

    Course development team, ASSEMBLE!! Director of Course Development, Michelle, commands some of her troops:  three of our talented writers and designers show off their costumes.

Course development team, ASSEMBLE!! Director of Course Development, Michelle, commands some of her troops: three members of our talented writing and design team show off their costumes.  Kelsey bravely taped cutlery to herself to really capture the existential crisis of a fork in the road.  Michael sees adventure everywhere he goes, while Tim is always ready for a hockey game to break out. Or a fight. Which comes first, really?

 

jon_will

CEO Jon Aleckson pays a visit to our course development team, and finds it’s a bit wild there! Can Cowboy Will help restore order with his elite design programming skills?

Deciding to lay down the law, Jon decides to make an example of the nearest employee-- ISD team member Steve may not have been the best choice. He may only LOOK like he's cleverly disguised as a casual Friday lawyer, but he in fact holds a legitimate law degree.

Deciding to lay down the law, Jon decides to make an example of the nearest employee– ISD team member Steve may not have been the best choice. He may only LOOK like he’s cleverly disguised as a casual Friday lawyer, but he in fact holds a legitimate law degree. He may not respond well to threats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

michelle-connie-meri-jaime

Michelle finds some more troops to command in the hallway! Connie shows off her inspiration for heading our financial team, though our paychecks don’t typically come in the form of carnival prizes.  Meri finally puts her love of Grease on display, though sadly the soundtrack continues to only play in her head.  Don’t let Jaime‘s smile fool you… this Roman goddess (director) of Content Development is likely hoping that our costume contest later will devolve into a gladiator match in her honor!

 

cereal_killer

Our VP of Operations, Dawn Smith, has a punny take on her ensemble. Who knew we were harboring a cereal killer? Savagery the likes of which the poor Golden Grahams have never seen!

sales_team

Our Sales team continues to show off their WOW! factor with their nods to classic films. Karissa is the most convincing Pocahontas this office has ever seen– she even tamed a wild raccoon to complete her costume! Meanwhile, Jason continues to display his knack for mystery by donning the mask, cape, and heavy burdens of the dark knight himself.  It remains to be seen what effect the caped crusader will have on prospective clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween!!

 


Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Meri Tunison. Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.

 

Tin Can – Sorting Through the Junk

October 17, 2013 1 comment

An Internet Resources Review

There are a lot of exciting things happening with Experience API this year, making our prediction for 2013 starting to potentially ring true—this new open source standard for eLearning interoperability is certainly gaining steam. Colloquially known as Tin Can, the standard makes big promises for the mobility and flexibility of data gathering and analysis. With those big promises, however, come big challenges.

What is lying underneath the fluff and sparkle of Tin Can’s promises? What is noteworthy in terms of achievements so far, and what is still floating around with no answers yet? We dove head-first into the “junk”—the vast array of resources and reviews—looking for treasures. The search yielded some great up-to-date information along with lingering concerns about Tin Can.

What is Experience API (Tin Can) hoping to do?

Mainly, it hopes to appeal to the eLearning masses by offering a simpler, cleaner, and more thorough record of learning activities, both formal and informal. SCORM—Tin Can’s parent standard—still reigns as the widely-used standard for publishing and sharing online educational content. However, Tin Can offers the opportunity to do more, and to do it better as well:

  • better portability for content and data
  • better analytics of a user’s learning experiences
  • more mobile and offline access for learning
  • more tracking of real-world activities
  • recording formal learning activity and informal learning activity

Due to these promises, Tin Can has gained attention from eLearning providers and application companies. Rustici Software helped coordinate programming efforts and compliance for the standard’s code. The company’s President, Mike Rustici, has high hopes for Tin Can’s potential to support “K-12, teachers, mobile developers, web developers, universities, government, education technology, MOOCs, games, and an array of real-world use cases we can’t even imagine yet.”

As it is still a relatively new standard, however, it is still a long way from having the sheer amount and variety of adopters that SCORM has. Tin Can’s promises may be challenging to deliver this early in the process. Currently, some questions remain about Tin Can’s implementation and the implications it has for eLearning.

Why revisit this now?

Almost a year ago, Web Courseworks CEO Jon Aleckson interviewed Michael Rochelle of Brandon Hall and Aaron Silvers of ADL about their excitement towards Experience API/Tin Can. The news of an emerging standard that could improve and surprass SCORM functionality was intriguing to us as an eLearning company. However, at the start of 2013, our team was split on how effective Tin Can would be in delivering on its promises while balancing the costs of implementation.

Version 1.0 was officially released this past April, an exciting landmark for the early adopters who were involved in implementing the early codes and sharing their experiences. The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL), Rustici Software, and a host of contributors from the eLearning community all played an integral role in producing, tweaking, and testing the new standard. This year has brought more examples and information to light due to the efforts of early adopters, but many questions still remain that will be important for programmers, eLearning managers, and others to consider.

Here are four questions that help us get a picture of where things are at for the Experience API/Tin Can standard. Looking through current online literature and videos on Tin Can, the answers seem to be bubbling right below the surface. As adoption of the new standard continues, hopefully more information about these questions will be shared.

#1

How will Tin Can change learning design?

Since Tin Can’s goals support multiple formats of learning, how will best practices for eLearning instructional design be impacted? Epic Learning Group, an early adopter of Tin Can, believes that instructional designers will be free to “think creatively outside of what was previously possible with SCORM.” In theory, that does sound pretty great! There are some underlying questions that need to still be considered in terms of learning design.

One way to consider current learning design principles for eLearning.

“Real-world activities” can be tracked with Tin Can, which may lessen the amount of control an eLearning team will have over the design of the activity environment. Will internal learning design be drastically changed if most activities are external? For example, a content writer/designer may need to focus more on how to lead learners to different external resources and then back again to the module, rather than focusing on how to incorporate content into the module. This could include directing the user out to YouTube to watch a video, and tracking the user’s interactions on YouTube itself to view similar videos before the user returns to the content package. Additionally, the eLearning team has no control over how content is displayed on YouTube or any other external source. How will that impact the design of eLearning modules?

YouTube videos are a popular example of how Tin Can could track informal learning activities. However, efforts to “Tin Cannify” external content platforms such as YouTube are still underway in terms of coding and implementing. This reveals another challenge that could affect learning design—as well as programming efforts. At the very least, this may require the relationship between programmers and the instructional design team to change. Supporting this, eLearning enthusiasts David Kelly and Kevin Thorn note that most of the discussions so far on Tin Can are very technical still. They question, “If the Experience API is the future of learning and performance, and it requires the ability to actually write code, how does it impact the vast majority of instructional designers who do not have coding skills?”

In a broader sense, some questions have been raised about the emphasis of tracking gaining precedence over the emphasis on learning. Learning design should focus on the needs of the audience, rather than the needs of data collecting. Will Tin Can strike that magical balance between the two? Are we “obsessing over the ability to track everything we learn,” as eLearning blogger Mark Aberdour asks, or will this truly lead to a “future of personalised, adaptive, just-in-time learning” as promised?

Read more…

Online Adult Education: The Future is Here Today (Part 1)

August 29, 2013 1 comment

A Preview of Next Week’s Blog Topic

Ever aware of the potential for bettering education for all age levels,  Jeff Cobb  recently shared a thought-provoking infographic via LinkedIn.  Created by KnowledgeWorks , the visual busily and effectively lays out their view of a diverse, meaningful, and innovative “Future of Learning.”

A Glimpse Into the Future of Learning Infographic
Copyright: KnowledgeWorks.org

Cobb’s sharing of this infographic prompted our curiosity about the future of K-12 education.  We then began thinking about how professional associations are really applying these “futuristic” online education opportunities now.

Needless to say, this comparison could be debated and discussed endlessly!  Thus, it is decided:  Our next blog post will focus on strategies for applying KnowledgeWorks’ forecast for learning to today’s associations and their efforts in providing professional development and training to employees.  The future is here today in online adult education.

How does your business embody one of KnowledgeWorks’ futuristic learning methods today?  Or, which change would you most like to continue seeing develop in your professional community?

Ponder these questions over the long Labor Day weekend, and please comment with your ideas.  We would love to hear them.

See you next week!


Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Meri Tunison.  Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.

Business MOOC Perfect for Aspiring Managers!

June 12, 2013 2 comments

Guest Blog written by Jillian Bichanich

I recently took my second Coursera course, “Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part II,” and am pleased to say that in today’s blog I will be able to cover two topics that both will be helpful for managers of eLearning.  First, another review of a Coursera MOOC.  Second, a review of the topics and ideas covered in this course—all which focus on the people of a business.

MOOCsI want to start by saying that I think it’s incredibly important for one to try and further his/herself through avenues of professional development.  Especially when these avenues are free to the end user, like this MOOC was, there really isn’t any excuse.  I encourage aspiring managers, and current managers alike, to look into the business courses offered either through Coursera, edX, Udacity, NovoEd, Udemy, or the many other MOOC providers that are out there and see what courses are available for you to continue to improve your techniques and work.  After taking this course, we at Web Courseworks plan to have a small study group of managers review the materials and collaborate to determine ways to improve both processes and managerial skills within the company.  Other companies may want to look at similar processes.

virginialectureIf you haven’t yet read our last blog post, A Review of a Coursera Course, and if you do not yet know what MOOCs (Massive open online courses) are, they are college level courses open to the public for either a minimal fee, or mainly for free. As reviewed in the last post, I gave Coursera four stars in providing high-quality higher education learning online.  I am also glad to announce that it was not just the course on Gamification that set a high bar.  The course on business growth provided by the Darden Graduate School of Business from the University of Virginia was just as informational and interactive.  The lectures were well filmed and the courses were well-designed and well produced.

The content provided in this course was phenomenal and I would definitely recommend it to any managers of eLearning, or managers/entrepreneurs otherwise.  Truth be told, the focus of the course actually lies on entrepreneurs, but I am thoroughly convinced that most, if not all, of the items covered applies to both.

So, what was covered? What pertains to eLearning management?  What can I share with you?

EdHessWeek one was devoted to the concept that entrepreneurs must grow along with the business.  It talks about the fact that growth requires the right people, and furthermore the right “hiring, training, and retaining of high performance employees.”  Ed Hess, the professor of the course, describes a set of transitions for the entrepreneur (or manager) in the topics of leadership.  What are they?  Well, in matters of leadership, going from a doer, to a manager, to a leader, to a coach/mentor.  Hess talks about learning skills and improving the skills that you have, and using those to then teach others.  You may begin in a position in which you have to keep “doing,” but if the company is successful and finds itself growing, you as a manager need to evolve to do the “leading”.  One must learn to let go and delegate, allow your employees to fail, but continue to give them the tools to succeed.

growthlecture

Key Points in Small Business Growth from the Course’s Lecture

Week two explains the concept and methods to gain high performance and high employee engagement.  Hess again reiterates the importance of hiring “the right people.”  Whether these employees may be programmers, project managers, or members of your sales team, he highlights that skills are not always the most important thing to take into consideration.  Does the applicant fit into your company culture?  Is he/she positive?  Will the hire help you be positive?  Most importantly, do they want to learn?  If you are going to evolve into a coach/mentor, then you need to be managing people who want to be coached.

Weeks three and four continue to talk about creating a system of growth, one that functions independently only to better the system as a whole.  The units discuss building a senior management team and how much a company can lose when the hiring process isn’t a company focus.  He talks about the need to fear complacency within your team.  He tells us that as a business grows, it needs to change and that you can have high performance players, but not necessarily selfish “stars” because this can destroy the company culture.

So again, I encourage you to participate in this course the next time it is offered through Coursera.  Hess presents case studies of management in nursing facilities,  restaurants, and medical machinery and these same ideas/concepts of growth and change apply to management in eLearning as well.  Coursera continues to provide a quality level of online education, and as members of the eLearning realm, we should reward a company when they can show us “best practice” in many different areas.

Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Jillian Bichanich.  Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.

Leading the Learning Revolution: A Review

March 7, 2013 3 comments

LeadingLearningRevI must admit that I was pretty excited to receive a copy of Jeff Cobb’s new book, Leading the Learning Revolution, in the mail recently.  While not necessarily association, or even eLearning specific, Jeff drives home the point that the Learning Revolution is here, and that it’s time to capitalize on it. Although this book will definitely be used as a business class textbook (especially for online courses covering distance education), it reads more like a smoothly written New Yorker article.  As an “education entrepreneur” I see the many potential ways businesses, associations and educational institutions can profit and grow because of the need and current focus on lifelong learning.  This book might show you the way.  I have a great deal of respect for author Jeff Cobb and this review will most definitely expose my personal bias.

The Review:

In the books introduction, Cobb challenges readers to become involved in what he considers a revolution and asserts he has the road map to follow.  Ingredients of this road map include: how to assess the market, creating the business model, appreciating pricing strategies, tips for designing the product, ideas on mastering the tools, well applied marketing concepts, and understanding sustainability and leadership.  Let’s evaluate how well he navigates these business concepts.

Fully Understand Your Market: Chapters 1 and 2

learnearnWhy should you enter the learning market?  Cobb gives you the rationale and footings in Chapter 1.  He outlines the changes happening in the world and their effects on the business of education.  By focusing on the economy of learning, the recent transformation of technology, the ease and accessibility of technology, mass audiences created by the Internet, and other specific topics that relate to the learning industry, Cobb relays why learning is an opportunity open to success and profit.  In Chapter 2 Cobb begins the journey with tips on evaluating the need. He teaches the reader how to make a market assessment, the four steps to do so, and why you should never stop assessing and testing.  Check your theories, and then recheck them.  Highlight new needs and uncover both allies and competition.  Although easier said than done, I agree with Cobb that it is the foundation from which to build from and that leveraging the Google Keyword Tool is where you should start digging.

Determine Your Business Model and Positioning: Chapters 3 and 4

Cobb delivers several compelling stories, some personal, to help you discover a model that you can be passionate about. Thinking deeply about the four business models he details is worth the price of the book.  These models include: P by power of two communities, Flipped, Virtual Conference, and Massive. In order for any model to work, you have to apply accelerant-curvestrategies to stand out, to bring something valuable to the customer. Cobb sites the Steve Jobs theory: figure out what your customers need and want before they can.  Get started by determining how you are going to stand out from the competitors.  In Chapter 4, Cobb highlights that no matter how perfectly you are doing something, there will always be others trying to do it too.  It is imperative to stand out among the crowd.  He gives tips to be “unique,” “memorable,” and “remarkable.”  And he suggests yet another tool, the Accelerant Curve, to plot out your very own value continuum when considering pricing strategies.

Design and Develop Learning Experiences: Chapters 5 and 6

There is “educational junk” available online that may not be worth the free admission.  People are hesitant to even give out an e-mail address in fear of one more daily e-mail flooding their inbox.  Create something worth viewing.  Chapter 5 teaches the basics of instructional design.  Cobb highlights “Seven Rules to Teach and Facilitate By: Position it, Prune it, Chunk it, Stimulate multiple senses, Remember to repeat to remember, Make it active, and Share the responsibility.”  Can you do it?  He’ll tell you how in Chapter 6.  It is here that Cobb shares inexpensive tools that help when developing content.

Stay Connected, Promote, and Convert: Chapters 7 and 8

clienteleBuild a strong audience so that when a new learning need arises, you are automatically the one people go to.  Embrace the process of searching for needs in the industry continually; stay attuned to the needs of your customers.  If lifelong learning is what Cobb is talking about, you can’t stop after development of one good product.  To be successful, be able to change.  These are the topics of Chapter 7.  What to do once you’ve mastered these skills? Promote.  Chapter 8 teaches you how to leverage your efforts and convert prospects to customers.

Execute for Impact and Change: Chapters 9 and 10

Chapters 9 and 10 teach you to first do and then lead.  While some are able to create great plans and ideas, it doesn’t get them anywhere until they take those ideas to action.  Don’t get held up in the “next-big-thing” problem—always wanting to create what the newest demand is.  Develop a product and make it better.  Consistently think about the larger market and how needs will evolve over a lifetime.  Give learners the power to decide what they want and need and who they will reach out to in order to fulfill these desires.  As Cobb puts it, “We’ve got a revolution to lead.”

Jeff CobbWhat to do now?

Jeff Cobb’s book, Leading the Learning Revolution, provides step by step advice to begin a business in the education market online.  The cost of entry to take advantage of the growing need for life long learning continues to drop.  Getting on the road to success takes only a quick read of this book and the decision to passionately apply its advice.

Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Jillian Bichanich.  Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.

Team Predictions for 2013 eLearning

January 9, 2013 2 comments

Year after year, predictions are posted about what is to come in eLearning development.  Experts use polls, percentages, and general trends to forecast what will happen in the upcoming year.  I have been part of this group as in the past I have posted general eLearning predictions based on what I have learned in the industry.  This year, I wanted to do something different.  My team at Web Courseworks consists of programmers, instructional designers, project managers, a sales team, and management department, to name some, and who better to make predictions about 2013 than a team of people whose work delves into eLearning and its related topics every day?  So here it is, 2013 eLearning predictions created by my team at Web Courseworks.

The Future of HTML5 and mLearning

HTML5To my surprise, everyone seemed to be dreaming about HTML5, though the topic of HTML5 brought predictions at all ends of the spectrum.  A few people, such as Kelsey, one of our Multimedia Developers stated that “2013 will be the year that flash developers will need to learn HTML5 as eLearning takes a huge step further into the mobile scene,” and another Multimedia developer, Brian, further predicted that the because “HTML5 will continue to be on the forefront of eLearning,” this demand will drive the development of easy-to-use templates.  Aileen, our Vice President of Business Development, agreed that “Online quick guides that are interactive and responsive to what the user is looking for on the job creates efficiency and maximizes learning beyond the classroom,” so these on-the-spot demands will increase the necessity for mobile and table accessibility.

As to the discussion of who will be most interested in mobile learning applications and benefit the most from mobile learning platforms, Karissa, one of our Marketing Coordinators believed that the adoption of mLearning will continue to “lag except in markets with specific on-the-job training use cases.”  She said tablets are ideal for some very specialized use cases (such as on-the-job training for those in numerous healthcare professions), though while tablets are increasing in prevalence in the workplace, they haven’t yet gained widespread adoption.   ipadShawn, an Instructional Designer on our team, went with only a slightly different position, as he believes that “Opportunities for new customers in health care, government compliance, and finance industries will explode” while “new customers in the defense, federal government and manufacturing/labor industries will all but disappear.”

Furthering the HTML5 and mLearning discussion, Matt, another PHP Programmer thinks that “HTML5 will start to change LMS UX to have more of an application feel rather than just a bunch of web pages strung together.”  On the other hand, Ed, our Product Specialist, felt that instead of HTML5 affecting the user interface, instead “there will be much discussion regarding whether [HTML5] is really the best way to design apps for mobile devices.”  He goes on to argue that this discussion alone will only go to help refine implementation processes, and that more “Tools and frameworks, such as PhoneGap, will also assist with bridging the areas that HTML5 stumbles on.”

Tin Can/Experience API’s Position in 2013

Tin Can/Experience API was another topic that brought some debate amongst the group.  It seems that while our Product Innovation Specialist, Andy, believed that “More LMSs will integrate learning record stores for Experience API,” one of our programmers seemed to differ in opinion.  Craig, a Web Courseworks PHP Programmer, believed thatTin Can API “Tin Can API will lose some of its luster in 2013 as the costs and difficulties of actually implementing it become more apparent.”  Experience API has been at the forefront of a lot of 2012 discussion on the future of eLearning.  I was interested to see the opposing views of the departments, and I will be even more interested to see if the demand will outweigh programming and maintenance costs.

More MOOCs?

Another hot topic of 2012, the future of MOOCs was a theme of discussion for the year 2013.  For those of you who don’t know, MOOCs are “Massive open online courses” that have been developed and opened to the general public—for free.  “Even if MOOCs turn out to be a transitional technology…the concept will contribute a lot to the body of research about the internet as a tool in education,” says Lisa, one of our LMS Support Specialists.  Katie, an Assistant Project Manager, agreed that MOOCs would be “hugely popular and that even higher education facilities that are traditionally class-room based will move toward more online education.”

If more MOOCs are developed, what will that mean for the Instructional Designer?  Well, Tim, an Instructional Designer here at Web Courseworks, believes that it will lead to an increased “need for large-scale instructional design as more universities, and other educational facilities will follow the examples of Harvard and MIT and start to create their own MOOCs”—that would make sense as commonly classroom-based courses will need to be converted to something accessible online.  It may mean, that universities will have to outsource and/or hire more personnel—will this bring more business to eLearning development companies?  We’ll find out.

The General Opinion for 2013

So what exactly did the team of Web Courseworks decide for the year 2013?  A real certainty about one thing:  that with Technology comes great unknowns, and that as demands for eLearning change, so will the products that make it happen.

2013

Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Jillian Bichanich.  Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.

2012 eLearning Predictions and How to Cope

December 28, 2011 5 comments

With 2011 nearly behind us, I’d like to look ahead to the New Year and share my predictions for the eLearning industry and how to cope with the changes.  As is constant in the technology field, I believe eLearning will continue to evolve and change to better meet the needs of upcoming tech-savvy generations. I’ve divided my predictions into three categories: eLearning Management, eLearning Design, and eLearning Technology.

2012  Prediction How to Cope
eLearning Management
eLearning Groups Formalize Position Credentials – Movement takes off to qualify various positions within eLearning.  eLearning Master’s degrees proliferate. Get over your reluctance to invest in professional development. As Patti Schank says, “It’s your brain and skill set and your employability at stake.” If you’re in the technology field, it’s all about change.
eLearning Integrated into High School Curriculum  – Idaho is on track to became the first state to require high school students to take at least two credits online to graduate following a board vote to incorporate eLearning into the curriculum. More states will follow suit. Stay young. Make a commitment to enroll in an online course in 2012.
eLearning Design
Professional Development Courses Integrate – Integration of formal discussion threads with social media platforms. Read more about my thoughts on Social Media vs. Formal Education. Reach out to the silo that controls your social media to collaborate and connect to formal courses.
Declining Interest in Tutorial Format – More emphasis on performance support tools (at least to supplement tutorials). Stay ahead of the curve, establish community to promote process mapping and come up with different ways to assemble just-in-time information.
Rapid eLearning Morphs for Tablet Use – Alternatives to Articulate gain speed. Alternatives to PowerPoint conversion emerge, watch for an app to do this.
LMS will Synch and Control Tablet – Picture a teacher synchronously turning the page for all students. The paperless classroom gains ground. Sit back and enjoy formality of all learners being on the same page in live classroom.
Online Micro-Lectures Impact eLearning Design – Resources like Khan Academy will continue to impact the design of formal eLearning and advances in learning object indexing. Think short, learning nugget. Develop ways to sell this concept to the non-believers.
Technology
Game Development Platform Chaos – Chaos will continue as online game developers seek alternatives to Flash as their development software of choice. Development tools like Unity will be the benefactor. Dedicate one project to using an alternative platform in 2012.
HTML 5 Struggles to Replace Flash in eLearning – Flash will continue to dominate as the quality eLearning development tool of choice. Read more about my thoughts on Flash vs. HTML 5. Chill, do not react unless someone wants to invest in your foray into HTML 5 as a replacement to Flash.
LMS Satellites Grow – Corporations and associations contract with SaaS-based companies for eLearning initiatives. One size LMS does not fit all initiatives. Get over it. As long as it’s in the cloud, its ok to maintain more than 1 LMS for your educational initiatives.
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