My blog has been neglected for awhile, but after encouraging learners on NZATD’s eLearning Essentials programme to start blogging, I thought I should resurrect mine.
Well, 2014 certainly is my year! It started with a new role – after being with Bupa Care Services for just over three years, our HR team was restructured, and I was lucky to be given a new role, as Development Advisor (ie learning and organisational development). This was very exciting for me – it provides new opportunities for growth and learning – and I LOVE learning new skills and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I also love working at Bupa – they have very high expectations of their staff and support us to become exceptional in our fields.
Earlier this year I participated as a learner on a two-day facilitation course with five Bupa managers. Following on from the course, the six participants met to discuss how we could keep this learning going – not just for ourselves, but also for others at Bupa. We came up with a number of ideas, one of which included seeking feedback from others in the group around facilitation when the opportunity presented it. I got this opportunity when I was asked to co-facilitate NZATD’s Intro to eLearning course with Nigel Young of Kineo Pacific. Three of my colleagues gave me some great feedback prior to facilitating and as a result, I was very happy with how the course went.
I think this is a really good example of learning at its best – doing the learning – taking it back to the workplace, practising, getting feedback and doing it. Too often, people attend courses and the learning ends there!
I was also very privileged to be selected to attend a one-year leadership course this year at Bupa as well. Once again, I’m really excited about this too – we attend five one-day workshops during the year and in-between we have coaching with our managers and set actions to work on different priorities. We are supported to try new things and also have the support of our buddies (another person who is also attending the course).
And that’s just my professional life! Very exciting things happening in my personal life too – including a six-week overseas vacation in September/October. Ah, life is good
With the increased popularity of rapid eLearning authoring tools, it is much too easy for someone to create an eLearning module without applying adult pedagogical principles. Clicking is not learning!
I’m sure you’ve all come across this type of “click, next” elearning. I liken it to forcing learners to sit through 50 PowerPoint slides. Boring, and definitely not engaging the learner. Fortunately, not all eLearning is like this.
Traditional methods of creating eLearning are effective when they are well designed and engage the learner, but an even more effective way of designing eLearning is using “pull” learning techniques (versus “push” learning techniques).
What is Push and Pull Learning?
Push learning in relation to eLearning, is linear, inflexible and simply “pushes” out everything we could possibly want our learners to know on the topic. It assumes that our learners know nothing of the content, and demands that they click on each slide, regardless of any prior knowledge. We simply “push” all of the content to them.
Is this really the best way to learn – being able to recall something that you read a couple of minutes ago? Does this mean that the learner really understands what they’ve read and will retain it?
Does this take into account adult learning principles, such as recognition of prior knowledge, catering for different learning styles, and allowing learners to be responsible for their learning? I don’t think so!
Malcolm Knowles, an adult educator known for his theories related to andragogy (adult learning theories), says that a successful adult educator recognises that adult learners are self-directed. That is, they know basically what they need to learn at a given point in their career and seek to engage in the process of their learning through active participation.
Pull learning is learning that is able to be accessed by the learner as and when the learner needs it. Pull learning could include (but is not limited to) social media such as discussion boards, You Tube videos and informal learning.
When we create “pull” elearning, the learning content is designed in such a way that learners are not forced to go over content that they already know – they can just access (“pull”) what they need in order to complete an assessment or task. It is a flexible format that enables learners to pick and choose what they need in order to complete the task, and therefore demonstrate their understanding of the topic.
Why not let the learners do the assessment at the beginning of the course? If they pass, they don’t need to complete the course, otherwise they can access only the material that they need to fill the gaps, and then complete the final assessment.
Examples of pull eLearning content could include case studies, scenarios, or simulations – situations where the learners have to think about a problem and work out a solution. Using different learning resources also enables learners to make their own decision about how they want to learn, and takes into account the different learning styles of our learners.
As an example of eLearning that uses pull learning techniques, I’d like to share with you a case study of an online IT Induction course developed for a large organisation.
Prior to the online IT Induction course, a trainer would conduct one on one sessions with each new staff member, on average 1 ½ – 2 hours in duration, and each new staff member would be presented with a large IT induction folder. The IT induction training was “pushed” to the learner (here it is – do it now). The disadvantage of this system was that it was very time consuming for the trainer, and often difficult to arrange convenient times for both parties, which sometimes meant that IT induction training wasn’t carried out as soon as it should.
A blended solution, consisting of an online module, with follow-up from a trainer, seemed to better meet the needs of the learners and the organisation.
The brief was to design and develop an effective online IT induction course for all new staff from cleaners to CEO level.
The challenge was that there was a huge variation in computer skills of the new staff, and also a wide variation in the IT requirements for the vast range of roles.
Building the module
The course was developed with Adobe Captivate, using Audacity for audio recordings, Adobe Acrobat to create printable resources, WimbaCreate and BlackBoard (LMS).
Modules were created for a wide variety of topics, but flexibility of navigation meant that if a person was already competent in a particular task, or if it wasn’t a requirement for their role, then they could skip it.
Different resources were available – learners could read text and print it if they wished, or they could watch a video demonstration. Video demonstrations were followed by simulations in which the learner could replicate the task themselves, in an environment that looked like the real thing.
Learners were given contact details of relevant support people and were invited to contact them if they needed additional assistance.
An online Training Needs Analysis was available so that the learner could self-assess their Microsoft Office needs and forward this to the trainer, which would result in either group or 1-1 training.
After completion of the course (tracked through the LMS) the trainer would contact the learner and request a follow-up appointment (usually about 20 minutes) in which she would confirm that they had understood the topics that were important to their role, and answer any questions.
Some new staff didn’t feel confident in completing an online course, so the option was available for those few, to have the one on one training.
The course was successful because:
- Learners were able to “pull” the learning, at the convenience, when they needed it (just in time)
- They could go back to particular topics later, when the need arose.
- Learners were motivated – it was information that they needed to do their jobs
- It catered for different learning styles – for example, some learners liked to print information off for future reference
Designing eLearning using pull learning rather than push learning techniques is more time consuming to create, but takes into account adult learning principles and focusses on the needs of the learner. Pull learning makes the learning experience more efficient and effective for the learner, and I believe, ensures a better understanding of the learning content.
I’d love to hear what you think about eLearning design, so please leave a comment.
The most important investment you can make is an an investment in yourself! Now this isn’t rocket science and it isn’t anything new, but how often do we fail to treasure and nurture what should be our most precious asset – ourselves!
The Power of Positive Thinking
I went to a clairvoyant recently and I came out feeling confident, inspired and empowered. Whether you believe in clairvoyants or not, the power of positive thinking, of believing that you can do something and following your passion is very powerful. Without that belief you are likely to sit on the fence and watch the world go by, but when you’re motivated and inspired you can achieve great things!
Nurture Your Body, Mind and Soul
In order to be successful we need to be in top condition. Of course, success means different things to different people, but whether your definition of success is having loving relationships, excelling in your chosen field of work, being financially secure, or all of the above, you won’t be successful if you neglect the most important thing – YOU!
Think about this analogy. If you were racing a car, you wouldn’t push it out of the garage on the day of the race, low on petrol, with flat tyres. You’d make sure it was in peak condition and you would have invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears getting it that way. The same applies – invest your time and energy into making you the best that you can be.
Nurture Your Body
You are what you eat. Junk in, junk out. You know what I’m saying. Too much processed food is not good for our bodies, Enough said.
Get moving! Even if you just walk around the block, you’ve done a lot more than the person who is sitting on the couch. For me, taking my dogs for a walk on a beautiful sunny day, through the farmland and bush walks is one of my favourite pastimes! Exercise for the body, feeling the warmth of the sun, watching the dogs playing – nothing quite like it!
Get a health check! When was the last time you went to the doctors? We get our cars serviced regularly, why wouldn’t you give your body the same respect!
Nurture Your Soul
Discover your passions – what do you enjoy doing, what are you good at? Often people are good at doing things that they enjoy (or is it the other way around?). We spend so much time working, if you enjoy your work, do it well, and get paid for it too, then you’re onto a good thing.
Maybe your passion is not your work – it could be a hobby, an interest, your religion or faith. Whatever it might be, follow your passion.
Be kind to yourself – treat yourself like your best friend. Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes, because that’s how we learn.
Feed Your Mind
The brain is like any other muscle, it needs to be exercised – use it, or lose it! Learning new things that interest you is exciting and as well as exercising your brain, can open new opportunities. The more you learn, the more you’ll want to learn.
Don’t Let Past Regrets Ruin Your Life
Life has a way of throwing us curve balls from time to time. When this happens, we do need to take time to recover and heal, but then we need to get over it, and get back to living our lives!
Learn from your experiences and move forward.
Surround yourself with positive people, look after yourself – nurture your body, mind and soul.
Are you investing in you? I’d love to hear your ideas, please leave a comment.
This is a great post by Brent Schlenker, that challenges our elearning standards.
I had a discussion recently with a friend who works for a large organisation in NZ. She was telling me how they have to endure the most boring elearning modules – most of the staff don’t even read the slides, and they click from one to the next until they get to the multiple choice quiz at the end. Doesn’t matter if they fail the first time, they can redo the quiz until the get the required pass. HR is happy – the box has been checked!
Clicking is not learning!
It’s these sort of examples, which unfortunately aren’t uncommon, that gives elearning a bad name. There is some awesome elearning out there, but not enough of it. Let’s spread the word, and all work towards creating good eLearning!
Click here to read Brent’s post:
What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear what you think – please leave a comment!
In my experience as an adult educator, I have found that adult learners returning to formal study for the first time, have often had negative learning experiences at school, and as a result of this, they lack confidence when it comes to studying and learning. These barriers to learning need to be addressed. Being an adult learner is different to learning at school:
- As an adult learner you bring with you many life experiences, and these experiences will be assist you in your studies.
- You will probably be more motivated than you were at school – most adult learners have a reason for learning, ie goals.
- You will find that you have many more demands on your time, therefore planning and time management skills are critical to your success.
- You are responsible for your own learning.
Top Six Study Tips
1. Ask for help
Don’t try to be superman – let your family and friends help you! Don’t be too proud to accept help if it is offered, or to ask for help if you need it.
2. Time management
Most adult learners have very busy lives as they juggle work, family and other commitments with the demands of studying. It is critical that you have a timetable for studying. Get a diary and schedule in your classes. Block out time for regular study and record the due date of your assignments. Do not procrastinate – make your learning a priority!
3. You are responsible for your learning
Learning is a two-way process. Your teachers will impart their knowledge, but you need to make sure that you learn it. You are responsible for your learning, and for ensuring that you understand and process the new information.
4. Be an Active Listener
Being an active listener does not mean sitting quietly, it means to be focussed on listening, taking relevant notes, and asking questions if you need clarification. A Samoan lady that I was teaching once relayed the following story:
She was attending university as a mature adult student for the first time. During lectures she felt intimated by the younger palagi (Samoan name for European people). She didn’t ask questions because she was embarrassed by her pigeon English, and didn’t want to appear “stupid”. She failed her first paper. She described how she made the decision that she would never again allow her insecurities to cause her to fail. She vowed and declared that from that point on, she would ask questions and she would keep on asking questions. She didn’t care if she sounded stupid, or if she spoke using bad English. She kept on asking questions until she completely understood. As a result, she gained respect from the other students, and made friends. But most importantly, she passed her exams. Today, she is very confident, speaks good English and is still learning.
Just imagine how different her life would be today, if she hadn’t faced her fears and had given up on her goals.
5. Take notes, or create mind maps
During your class, or lecture, make sure that you take written notes on important topics. You won’t remember everything that is discussed in class, so it is important that you record the information that you need.
An alternative to writing notes, is creating mind maps. A mind map is a visual representation, and is a good alternative to writing pages of notes. Visual learners often find that mind maps make information more memorable, and therefore easier to recall, that written notes.
Take a look at the video below on how to create mind maps, and check out this article on Mind Maps. (Note, I have no affiliation to this article and video).
6. Don’t Let Your Fears Wreck Your Opportunities
In order to learn we must take risks and try new things. When we try new things we often make mistakes, and we learn from our mistakes. If you are not making mistakes, you are not learning. It is okay to mistakes!
When you first start a course of learning it can seem quite daunting and the end result may seem a long way away. As you progress, you will become familiar with the learning programme and comfortable with your teacher and other students. It is important to have a positive attitude and keep your end goal in sight. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to make mistakes.
It will be worth it in the end!
Thanks for reading this post, and please let me know if it has been helpful to you. Have you any tips that you can share with others? Do you have any questions that I can help with? I love getting feedback, so please leave a comment.
Other posts that may be of interest:
Have you ever said, “I don’t have enough time”? I’m sure you have – in today’s busy society, it’s a commonly heard phrase.
But the truth is you DO have enough time! Just in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s 24 hours in every day and everyone gets the same amount! It’s not that you don’t have enough time, it’s about using your time wisely. You need to identify what is important to you (your priorities) and what your time wasters are.
1. What are you biggest time wasters?
Keep a diary for a couple of days, and note down how much time you spend on different activities. I think you’ll be surprised, as I was, when you realise how much time you waste in non-productive activity. Identifying your time wasters is the first step. The next step is to identify what’s important to you.
2. Identify your priorities
What’s important to you? It may be a number of things – relationships, family and friends, your career, financial security. Make a list of the things that are important to you.
Think about this – at the end of your life, will you look back on your life and say “I enjoyed that ride, I did what I wanted to do”, or will you say “I wish that I’d done _____________ (fill in the blank)?
3. Set your Goals
Put your goals in writing. Put them on the fridge to keep you focused. It’s no use having your goals wandering around your grey matter, writing them down will solidify them.
Tell other people about your goals. Telling other people will make you more accountable (“How are you going with that goal Michelle?”). An added bonus when you tell others is that may offer support, and assist you in reaching your goals.
Make SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic and Time bound. It’s no use saying “I’m going to get fit” – a SMART goal would be “As from today, I’m going to go for a 20 minute walk every day before work.
It all sounds very easy when you put it like that, but as you’ve probably experienced, it’s not usually as easy as it sounds. Often we get distracted from our goals, and end up procrastinating and filling our time with non-productive activities.
4. Stop Procrastinating!
Yes, we’ve all procrastinated at some time, and this is one thing that I’m working on.
An important aspect when trying to overcome procrastination is considering WHY we we are procrastinating. Experts say that most procrastination is borne out of fear. I know that’s sometimes true in my case – I don’t like confrontations, so I procrastinate when I have to do something that could result in a confrontation (like an unpleasant conversation). I remember a book that I read years ago by Susan Jeffers, ” Feel the Fear and do it Anyway “. That phrase has always stuck with me. Now whenever I noticed myself procrastinating – I sternly tell myself to “JUST DO IT” – it’s working!
Think about what causes you to procrastinate. Identifying the reasons that you procrastinate will enable you to think about a solution. It may be that you are not prioritising efficiently – working on unimportant tasks whilst putting aside more urgent tasks.
Implementing a “To Do List” is a useful tool that can help you to prioritise your tasks and keep on track.
“ Eat That Frog! - 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” by Brian Tracy is an inspirational read! I recommend this book if you are serious about overcoming procrastination.
Brian Tracy talks about “Eating a Frog” – an analogy for the tasks that will have the most positive outcome when done, or the most negative outcome if not done, these are usually the tasks that you put off in favour of smaller, less valuable tasks (tadpoles). The first thing you should do at the start of each working day is to eat your biggest frog. From experience, I can tell you that this takes a lot of self-discipline, but if you persevere, it will become a habit.
I’d love to hear from you – what are your biggest time wasters? Any tips you’d like to share?
Other relevant posts:
10 Steps to Improve Your Self Esteem
1. No-one Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent
One of my favourite quotations is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. How true this is! For example, if someone tells me I have an ugly nose, I can choose to believe them, take it on board, and be devastated for the rest of my life because I have an ugly nose. Or else, I can tell myself that I don’t have an ugly nose, and completely disregard what they said! The choice is ours – we can choose to accept or reject the opinions of others.
2. Be Your Own Best Friend
When you make mistakes do you tell yourself you are stupid? Negative talk like this only lowers your self-esteem. If your friend did something wrong, would you tell her she was stupid? It’s more likely that you would tell her not to worry, that everyone makes mistakes. So why are we so critical of ourselves, yet forgiving of others? Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. Cut off that negative self talk and start being kind to yourself.
3. If You’re Not Making Mistakes, You’re Not Learning
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s important to take risks and try new things. When we try new things, we sometimes make mistakes. By making mistakes we learn, and we do it better next time. Just like learning to write – we weren’t born knowing how to write – we practised, made mistakes, tried again – until we could write! Don’t let the fear of making mistakes stop you from moving forward. It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them.
4. Start the Day on a Positive Note
I asked my learners recently, what they did to start their day on a positive note. Here are some ideas:
Start your day on a positive note – do something that makes you feel good!
5. Make a List of Things That You Are Good At
Too often, we compare ourselves with our neighbours, friends and colleagues. There are always people who are better at doing some things than we are. Comparing yourself to others is self-defeating and will only serve to lower your self-esteem.
6. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses
Make a list of at least ten things that you are good at. Some people find this hard to do – they find it easier to list the things that they aren’t good at. Persevere with your list of things that you are good at. If you run out of ideas, ask your friends and family. Once you have completed your list put it on your mirror, or on the fridge – somewhere where you will see it often.
7. Use Positive Affirmations
Write down positive affirmations like “I love and respect myself”. Think of positive affirmations that fit with you. If you have difficulty finding affirmations, have a look at this site for a list of positive affirmations. Write down your affirmations on a piece of card and carry them you – repeat your affirmations regularly If you catch yourself with negative self talk, stop yourself, and repeat your affirmations. Your subconscious will eventually get this message and you will see an improvement in your self-esteem.
8. Surround Yourself With Positive People
Hanging out with people who put you down and make you feel miserable is asking for trouble! Surround yourself with positive, successful people who will encourage and support you, and make you feel good about yourself. If you surround yourself with happy, successful people, you’re more likely to be happy and successful yourself.
9. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Too often we focus on our mistakes, and fail to celebrate what we have achieved. Celebrate your accomplishments – both big and small. Put your certificates and trophies on display, be proud of the great meal that you cooked for dinner, of the 5km run that you did this morning.
10. Take action now!
Don’t wait until tomorrow – start treasuring the unique person that you are, and treating yourself accordingly.
The bottom line is – you only get one life – this is not a rehearsal! Live your life the way you want to – go for your goals! Don’t look back on your life and regret what you didn’t do! Push your comfort zone and live your life to the fullest!
Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you think.
Other relevant posts: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway