With many offices and schools still closed due to the pandemic, e-learning has boomed and is becoming the norm for employee training and student learning. We’ve covered e-learning trends before, however in this blog, we will focus on ten e-learning terms you should know in order to better understand these trends and help you create your own e-learning content.
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photo by Andrew Neel
1. E-Learning Authoring Tool: software that allows you and your team to create e-learning content. Instead of creating everything from scratch, an e-learning authoring tool has templates and media assets (graphics, images, audio) that you can choose from to create a course. Also, some authoring tools have plugins that allow you to upload and edit existing educational content you may have (Powerpoint presentations, webinar videos, etc…) into the program. Authoring tools and Learning Management Systems (see below), are becoming more advanced and are able to adjust their view based on the type of device on which the learner accesses the content (laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc…).
2. Learning Management System (LMS): a software platform that lets you develop, organize, and administer e-learning courses as well as measure the engagement and effectiveness of your training courses through time spent on a course, testing, and other tracking tools. With the ability to gauge a learner’s progress, each LMS is able to help identify learner strengths and weaknesses with the subject material as well as preferred learning style. These platforms also have the ability to host group study sessions and other virtual e-learning experiences.
3. Gamification: the idea of using game design elements to create engagement and entertainment for learners in an e-learning course. Some game design elements include: a point system, rewards, leveling up, and other forms of positive feedback. Gamification helps make e-learning fun and creates a sense of accomplishment for learners. In fact, learners say that gamification makes them feel more productive and happier at work. Games have also been shown to help learners understand concepts and retain knowledge better.
4. Instructional Design: the process of identifying areas where learners can improve and then designing and developing content to address those areas. Instructional designers analyze the data fromtracking information provided by Learning Management Systems, to design e-learning content that is more effective, for example adding a gamification or visual element to increase engagement and learning retention.
5. Subject Matter Expert (SME): an expert in their respective field. Subject matter experts work closely with instructional designers and other members of the e-learning course development team to create helpful e-learning content. SMEs help define educational goals in a subject matter and the necessary skills and information a student should take away from a course.
6. Storyboarding: creating a visual blueprint at the start of the e-learning development phase that shows the steps a learner will need to take in order to complete the course. It highlights design elements (visuals, text, audio, etc…), learning activities, and learning goals for each step. This is an important document that keeps everyone on the team on track and working towards the same objective.
photo by Marcus Winkler
7. Blended Learning: a blend of in-person and online training. For example, an e-learning training course may first need to be completed before an employee needs to come to the office for face-to-face training. Virtual learning supports in-person classes as well as the other way around. As we eventually shift out of the pandemic, this may become a popular learning strategy.
8. Micro Learning: delivering e-learning content in specific, small bursts of information (e.g. a short paragraph with an image, a short video, an audio clip, etc…). With micro learning, users can choose what segments they want to learn and when they want to access it in bite-sized information that is easy for the learner to digest.
9. Social Learning: learning with others in a collaborative forum. During the pandemic, peers have been able to stay connected and learn from each other using e-learning platforms that host discussion forums, video conferencing, and other forms of social learning. Social learning helps provide learners with immediate, human feedback.
10. Synchronous Learning vs Asynchronous Learning: synchronous learning is when e-learning is provided in a simultaneous participation format, for example: a live presentation by an instructor at a specific time for whichall online learners must log in at the same time inorder to participate and comment. Since all the learners are online at the same time, they can engage and share ideas with each other immediately. Asynchronous learning, in comparison, is self-guided and the student can access the e-learning content based on their own schedule. Feedback can be provided in asynchronous learning–in the form of messages, comments, etc…–but is generally not as immediate as synchronous learning.
photo by Avel Chuklanov
From the above terms, hopefully you were able to gain better insight into what it takes to create e-learning content and some of the thought process behind it. Storyboarding is done to help plan out an e-learning course, authoring tools are used to create the content, and LMS software helps manage and administer the e-learning.
Instructional designers and subject matter experts utilize learning tools like gamification and social learning to help users have fun and engage with the content. As the world moves out of the pandemic, companies and schools will continue to use e-learning in a fully virtual or blended learning environment. E-learning is here to stay.
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