STEP UP your ELEARNING game with these 11 terms
Here at Penceo, we know what it takes to build an excellent eLearning platform that is both user-friendly and easily updated and maintained. Being a social media marketing and communications agency, eLearning is one of the pivotal services we offer our clients, as there is nothing more integral to eLearning than communication and social connectedness.
We want to give our clients the very best, and that means providing them with the tools required for them to voice their needs with regards to one of our specific areas of expertise. The concept of eLearning is one of those areas, so our team of specialists at our Penceo head office in Geneva, Switzerland, have put together a list of essential terms to know when you’re considering creating an eLearning platform for your organisation. Once you know what it is you want to offer learners, you can safely entrust the task of designing, constructing and implementing your eLearning platform to us!
So, sit back and read through this guide to essential eLearning terms to give yourself the vocabulary and understanding you need to find out exactly what it is you want your platform to provide and achieve. Are you looking to educate your staff on certain topics? Is the aim for it to be an educational opportunity which you open up to your fanbase? eLearning is known to be a cost-effective, adaptable and versatile method of transmitting knowledge to staff, students and any other interested parties, and if your organisation isn’t using it yet, it should strongly consider it!
Starting with the essence of eLearning, we’ll explore types of learning and how these translate into the active creation of an online learning platform tailored to your needs, so you know how to communicate your aims during the creation of a platform. We need to know what you need, so we can help you best.
1. Blended learning is an approach combining the use of online educational materials and online interactions with a traditional classroom-based setting. If your organisation wishes to run workshops or training days alongside the eLearning platform, then achieving a balanced blended learning environment is your goal. Whether you only do one workshop every six months to a year, or whether you wish to have a quarterly content recap session to maintain your organisation’s high standards, we can help you design your eLearning platform to accommodate the desired rhythm.
2. Active learning involves a high level of participant contribution to the educational process. Group discussions, hands-on activities, interaction through examples and the frequent encouraging of participant questions are all part of the active learning process, whereas in passive learning settings the students are simply lectured at. This constant feedback and communication loop between the educator and learners provide a clear picture of the learners’ levels of understanding of the topic. On an eLearning platform, in the logistical sense, this can mean having discussion forums, quizzes, submission portals for assignments, a catalogue of student email-addresses to encourage interconnection, and more.
3. Synchronous learning is involved in learning events, either online or offline, which see a group of students come together at the same time to follow a course. This can be in a traditional classroom setting, in a virtual classroom where participants meet at a set time for discussion and learning, on Skype or through other means of direct communication.
4. Asynchronous learning, on the other hand, is learning that is done at the pace of each individual, without a dedicated time set for live discussions or lessons. Both have their merits, and many eLearning platforms use a combination of the two to encourage both the independent review of information and the sense of togetherness that comes with being part of an actual class of students. We know how to organise and streamline all types of learning, and you can rely on Penceo to advise you on the most effective learning for you if you contact our Geneva agency with your details and basic aims at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Microlearning, as the name suggests, is the process of breaking down learning into bitesize pieces through micro-dosing the information into many logical topics. It has been shown to encourage maximum engagement, as the satisfaction of finishing any given lesson encourages participants to continue. A lesson which takes an excessive amount of time to complete can be discouraging, and the loss of motivation renders the learners less capable of retaining the facts they are provided with. Its effectiveness is linked to the human brain; our grey matter can generally retain information when it is presented in small doses of up to 5 bits of information at a time and commit these bits from short-term to long-term memory with relative ease. Overwhelm this system, however, and you begin to see a loss of information before it can be committed to long-term memory. This brings us to the term cognitive load, and therefore straight into the UX-focussed section of this blog post!
6. Cognitive load refers to the total mental effort required for a person to process information. When creating eLearning resources, you don’t want your content to create an excessive cognitive load, as every time your learner has to stop and figure something out when they are processing the information you provided, they are losing motivation and therefore interest in your content.
At Penceo, we know how to structure lessons and include graphics, quizzes, videos and more to minimise cognitive load, apply different learning types as suited for each organisation, and provide users with a positive, rewarding and effective learning process. Together with you we will find out exactly how to keep your users interested by focusing on your aims, the UX and the UI! Keep reading to find out more about these concepts.
The concept of UX, or User Experience, is a significant factor in eLearning. You want the content to be as accessible, engaging, effective and enjoyable for the user as possible, and you want the platform to be easy to navigate, smooth to operate and user-friendly in all regards. The User Experience is dictated by the User Interface, or UI. It refers to the product the user interacts with, such as the website as a whole, the mobile application, the video player or other systems used to provide content to the user. Without a solid UI, you won’t have a good UX, and your content, no matter how well-written or interesting, will not be enough to keep users on your platform. At Penceo we approach eLearning holistically, meaning that we look at all aspects and ensure an all-around experience for users that is tailored to their needs and leaves them feeling positive about their eLearning experience. Good UI, and therefore great UX, results in a much higher completion rate for eLearning courses and helps users retain much more of the information presented to them during the course. Our teams in Geneva, Switzerland and Krakow, Poland, are particularly well-versed in UI and UX, and we constantly collaborate with our clients to make sure they get exactly what they want out of the eLearning platform, with our know-how to guide the way to the most successful version of their ideas. The next set of words in our essentials list all refer to the UX and UI aspect of eLearning, giving you the best tools possible to know what you want.
7. Content library: a resource pool including videos, infographics, quiz questions, informational pdf documents, assignments, etc. from which you can easily create new content for a course (e.g. add quizzes, add a downloadable homework sheet). Having a solid content library is key to providing users with a good experience on your eLearning platform, as e.g. randomised quizzes from a pool of questions for users to practice with are an excellent tool for engagement.
8. Gamification refers to the application of gameplay elements and mechanics to typically non-gaming activities. Everything from earning virtual badges for meeting set goals, levelling up through collecting experience points and competing with other users are ways in which tasks can be gamified in eLearning. As well as encouraging participation and instilling a sense of accomplishment for every virtual badge earned or lesson completed to obtain points, it provides users with a sense of enjoyment in their learning process. With our brains becoming accustomed to the instant gratification brought by our fast-paced society, gamification gives eLearning an edge where it might otherwise be at risk of losing user interest in the long-term rewards of learning.
9. Instructional Design is the development of learning experiences as well as learning materials to help students both acquire and apply the learned knowledge and skills. Instructional design is firmly rooted in theories and models, and this know-how is applied to the design and development of content, starting with an assessment to determine the aims of the course. The core questions of industrial design are A) what can the learner already do, B) what do we want the learner to know and to be able to do once they’ve completed the course, and finally, how do we get them from point A to point B in as smooth, engaging and successful a manner possible. At Penceo we know instructional design, and we will optimise your eLearning platform using all the latest angles, theories, and perspectives.
10. Learning paths are vital to the user experience in eLearning, as they set out a path for the user to follow in order to reach the aims of the course in a structured and logical manner, setting our course goals and lesson goals. Better yet, a personalised learning path provides users with an opportunity to track their personal goals, view their achievements and meet their own needs, because ideally, users would be able to create their own learning goals. Having a varied learning path which breaks down content into easy to oversee chunks of information with frequent quizzes and other learning tools increases information recall and helps users develop their skillset at a realistic pace, fostering a deep understanding of how to actually use the skills and therefore getting the most out of your investment in eLearning.
11. mLearning is learning done on hand-held electronic devices such as tablets and mobile phones, either through applications or dedicated mobile websites. The approaches for eLearning and mLearning differ, with eLearning involving users who sit down behind their computer to commit to their learning, meaning lessons of up to 20 to 30 minutes can flourish, and mLearning often taking place whilst on the go, meaning a shorter lesson time is required. It is also, evidently, optimised for the smaller screens and there is less content per page or slide, as to not overwhelm the user.
You’ve reached the end of the 11 essential terms for stepping up your eLearning game, and we hope you are feeling well-informed and more capable of knowing what it is you want your eLearning platform to provide for your users. Our aim was to arm you with terms that would allow your organisation to internally discuss your eLearning needs, allowing you to benefit the most from setting up an eLearning platform once you’re ready to work with an agency such as Penceo.
Having a more educated workforce in the specifics of your field means having a more powerful organisation, capable of tackling all the challenges and intricacies of your niche. When all your staff or members are trained, there are no weak links, and the internal machinery of your business will run more smoothly because of the common understanding of the tasks at hand and the know-how to achieve said tasks developed by your eLearning courses. Don’t hesitate to contact us at our Penceo head office in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss your needs.
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