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E-learning 101

This 3-part article appeared in eLearn Magazine in June, 2010. It helps make sense of myriad e-learning solutions.

If you’re anything like me, you have plenty of experience with face-to-face training, but are drowning in the wake of online (or blended) learning tools.

Uncomfortable with this sinking feeling, I set out to educate myself, while mindful of the need for learners to work with new material on their own and at their own pace. I wanted to identify the best ways for face-to-face trainers to add e-Learning to their repertoire, without the assistance of a fancy IT team or investing tens of thousands of dollars.

To this end, I searched for software tools with relatively low-costs, minimal learning curves, and a focus on lively and interactive tools consistent with best practices in brain-based learning techniques.

To make sense of the myriad of eLearning solutions available in the marketplace, I broke them down into four categories that help explain the e-Learning process:

  1. Authoring (course development and creating your content)
  2. Games and add-on tools (games and interactions to reinforce and/or teach)
  3. Conferencing (connectivity tools used for webinars and synchronous learning)
  4. LMSs (learning management systems to administer and track training)

To help you remember these four components of e-Learning, perhaps this little mnemonic will help: Any Goofball Can Learn!

In this three-part series, I offer a description and overview of each category as well as an explanation of: 1) the role they play in enabling online experiences; 2) criteria you might use to choose among the vendors; and 3) a few reputable, cost effective solutions for each.

Part 1: Online Learning Overview and Course Development Tools

Part 2: Games and Interactivity

Part 3: Tools for Web Conferencing and Learning-Management Systems

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