Monday, September 21, 2009

Rapid E-learning: Some Learning

I experienced my first rapid e-learning! And I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Before I pen down my experience, I am eternally thankful to Tom Kuhlman for his inputs on his blog. At anytime during my work, one would find me literally glued to Tom’s blog posts, experimenting with all that he has taught on rapid e-learning with PowerPoint. Thanks to Tom for turning around my impressions about PPT. Long Live PowerPoint! Long live Tom!

My assignment was to create a short e-learning course on a Microsoft tool, FxCop. This is a tool that “polices” rule violations in code. With the help of this tool, programmers will be able to make flawless pieces of code and also ensure its maintainability and consistency.

I would like to share how I went about creating it and the lessons I learnt during the process and thereafter.

Customer requirement: To create an e-learning course on FxCop. The course had to be rolled out within a time frame of 3 weeks and not more.

Audience: Developers whose nature of work involved coding.

  •  Short time frame: 3 weeks
  • Non availability of any rapid e-learning tools
  • SME availability: Quite limited almost NIL
In short, no tools, no budget, no time, no guidance (I am the sole instructional designer in the organization.)

My Approach

As soon as the content PPT was passed on to me, I arranged for a quick discussion with the SME. To save his time and mine, I recorded the discussion we had on the content, his expectations, and all other details about the project. To record this, I used Audacity. It proved beneficial. Each time I had a doubt, all I had to do was play back our conversation. I would highly recommend this approach for all such SME discussions.

Following this, I quickly checked the content for gaps and flow. In discussion with the SME, these were addressed. One suggestion I have for any budding instructional designer is to never rely on SME completely for support on content. It is advisable to remember that to a SME, the course is only one part of his “KRAs”. Expecting him/her to support you on a full-time basis is going to disappoint you. As a best practice, it is always better to collate all your queries to your SME and discuss them in one shot. Remember to record these sessions too. Saves time, big time! This way, you don’t have to worry about taking notes too.

In addition to these SME discussions, I also constantly researched on the topic on the Web. This helped me understand the tool better. Some of the forums on the tool had discussion threads on some challenges that developers face and how the tool helps. I converted these snippets of information to “Did you knows”. These were nuggets of information – I would say “nice-to-know-information” – about the tool.

This was a value addition to the course. I hear that learners were delighted with such information apart from the main content. Following discussion threads in a forum will also help you draft assessment questions. You can make a case study of the problem being discussed and pose that as a question to your learner. Of course, as always, consult the SME before you publish these questions.

With able guidance from Tom Kuhlman’s blogs, I also created some pop ups and quiz pages. It was sheer delight learning them and applying them.

Due to the limited time and lack of any guidance in terms of reviews (on instructional designing), I published the course in a shape that appealed well to my SME and other stakeholders. I managed to meet the time frame of three weeks.

However, I was keen to get comments from e-learning experts. I got some great relevant comments. I shall share them in my next post.

How was your first rapid e-learning experience? Do share them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Web 2.0 -Making the World Smaller

I was just observing a video that Tom Kuhlman had posted sometime back in his blog. The video was created by Common Craft. Simple video, great concept covered in simple terms. I loved it.

However, my thoughts went in a different direction. As the world grows larger in terms of technology, opportunities, innovations, this concept of Web 2.0 is actually bringing all of us closer. The tone is more about collaboration, about being inclusive. There is an urge to share knowledge. Help and Be Helped seems to be the undertone. For example, I have a way to share whatever I bookmark. At the same time, I get to see others' bookmarks too. I read some blogs. My blogroll tells others what other blogs I follow. In turn, I also get to connect to blogs of another set of goes on. Isn't it amazing!

Need information on where you can find the best of books on e-learning? Try tweeting and lo! in no time, you end up with more than what you asked for in the form of tweets from various followers.
Web 2.0 has truly changed the way we function. The world is certainly getting to be a better place than what it was before. We are getting connected, getting closer. For those who stand aside and watch the world pass by, I would say that what they miss is larger than what they can imagine. Just step in and be part of this amazing, collaborative, helpful world of Web 2.0!