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Short Bursts of eLearning February 2, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , ,

Several people have written about their predictions for eLearning in 2008. Many predictions are the same as last year: more use of open source LMSs (especially Moodle), more use of immersive learning simulations (games), the continuing rise of eLearning 2.0 tools, and more use of mLearning. I agree with these predictions for the most part, but one prediction has really stood out for me. Jane Hart submitted her predictions to Kineo this year – and I really think she’s on target. Jane predicts that we’ll see more "short bursts" of eLearning:

(We will see)…more embedding of these “short bursts” of e-learning into the workflow for performance support – really making them “just-in-time” and “on demand”

I see the industry moving further away from the traditional course model and more toward this on-the-fly model (which basically means job aids and electronic performance support systems). Sure, this is related to rapid eLearning (using simplified tools that are aimed toward non-techie developers), but we’re providing support to the learner at the time of need instead of placing the final output an LMS. I won’t say this is a revolutionary idea, but it’s an idea that makes sense and it feels like a natural progression in the evolution of eLearning. I think many of us assumed that the longer an eLearning course takes to build the more effective it’ll be. Of course, we know this isn’t true, and I think we’re ready to flip this idea on its head. Sure, tracking usage of these short bursts may be an issue because they’ll operate outside of an LMS, but as long as it helps the learner, should we care?

Good prediction, Jane. I’m anxious to see where this goes.



1. Tom Kuhlmann - February 2, 2008

I’ve been calling these “coursels” for a few years (course morsels). When I work with the client I try to help them see th elearning less from a tracking/management perspective and more from the perspective of the learner.

For example, if I supervise an employee and need to have a quick pull up session to go over some performance issue…in essence I am providing training…however, I am tracking this. Why can’t we do the same things in a virtual sense?…Online, so we can create an artifact that we can use again or blend into more formal training later.

2. Erik Lord - February 7, 2008

I agree this is a good move to make. Context-sensitive training/assistance can not only be more effective but also allows more ‘buy-in’ overall by the user. We find many learners just dread hours-long LMS sessions. Allowing a user to ‘get to work’ and be able to call up training as-needed can be more effective.

However, the LMS still provides critical components for tracking the learning usage, effectiveness, and learners’ usage…

So a key is to not replace LMS content with EPSS-like modules (or ‘coursels ;-)) but to integrate them. Ideally there should be a somewhat seamless method to call up a context-relevant training module but have it launch from, or at least communicate back to, the company LMS.

The trick is, how to do that!

3. B.J. Schone - February 7, 2008


You’re right – the tricky part is figuring out how to track this info. The control-freak in me wants to track every little piece of usage data. But I wonder if we need to let go at some point and spend time analyzing and measuring outcomes rather than usage data. I have a feeling this will be debated quite a bit in the next year or so…

4. Gary Hegenbart - February 14, 2008

I completely agree with Jane’s predication and have long thought that the true strength of eLearning is just-in-time, or embedded training in small chunks. I’ve been advocating for this type of learning for a long time, but management still seems to want courses. Maybe it’s the tracking they want or maybe they need something more tangible.

I think there are ways to track usage, even with an LMS, but haven’t found anything yet that is seamless for the learner. One way of tracking is to use web stats. Web Trends and other similar tools can give you some information about how “coursels” are being used.

Web 2.0 technologies also offer ways to track usage. I have seen it implemented, but I’ve thought long and hard about how to make it work. Someday it will happen.

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