Usability in eLearning November 25, 2008Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: Design, Development, eLearning, InstructionalDesign, Learning, Tools, Training, Usability, UsabilityTesting
In looking back at all the posts I’ve written, I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned usability and usability testing more. Usability testing is a critical process that too often gets skipped due to lack of time and/or resources. I decided to gather some of my favorite resources related to usability and present them here. I hope they save you some time, effort, and money. (And please chime in if you have recommendations!)
But first… Why is usability important in eLearning?
UsabilityFirst.com has a great explanation of why usability is important:
From the user’s perspective usability is important because it can make the difference between performing a task accurately and completely or not, and enjoying the process or being frustrated. From the developer’s perspective usability is important because it can mean the difference between the success or failure of a system. From a management point of view, software with poor usability can reduce the productivity of the workforce to a level of performance worse than without the system. In all cases, lack of usability can cost time and effort, and can greatly determine the success or failure of a system. Given a choice, people will tend to buy systems that are more user-friendly.
A-ha! So if we develop learning materials/solutions that aren’t usable, well, you get the idea. And usability doesn’t just apply to online courses; it applies to job aids, performance support tools, learning 2.0 tools, and pretty much anything else that we introduce to our learners. We should at least take the time to do interviews and small focus groups with actual users before rolling anything out to a mass audience. Thankfully, there are great tools out there to help you take things a step further. Take a look at the resources below. You may want to consider creating a more formal usability testing strategy when deploying learning solutions (if you don’t have one already). Your learners would probably appreciate it. 🙂
- 5 Ways to Get Usability Testing on the Cheap (Article)
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Book)
- The Design of Everyday Things (Book)
- CrazyEgg.com – Visual analytics and heatmaps (Web site)
- UsabilityFirst.com (Web site)
- Focus group resources (Web site)
- Focus groups – how to run them (Web site)
- Conducting usability interviews (Web site)
I’m new to eLearning – Where do I start? November 18, 2008Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: Conferences, Design, Development, eLearning, InstructionalDesign, Learning, LMS, Tools, Training
I held a Breakfast Byte session at DevLearn for people new to the eLearning field. Here are some miscellaneous tips and tricks I provided during this session to help get people started off on the right foot:
- Know that the term “eLearning” has an ambiguous definition. Personally, I consider eLearning to be the intersection of learning and technology, where we help people do their jobs more effectively and more efficiently. But you’ll probably hear at least 25 other definitions floating around out on the web. 🙂
- The best thing you can do at conferences (like DevLearn) is meet people and exchange contact information. Make an effort to meet experts and meet newbies. Stay in touch with these people after the conference. Learn about them and learn from them.
- Don’t be intimidated. There are hundreds of other people that are brand new to eLearning.
- Assemble a list of eLearning blogs. Read them often. Just ask around for suggestions. Get set up with an RSS reader, like Google Reader, and begin to read blogs on a regular basis. Our field has an incredibly active blogging community, which can also serve as a support group for you (see the next tip).
- Start a blog about your eLearning adventures. Use blogger.com or wordpress.com to sign up for a free blog. Write blog posts on a daily or weekly basis. Talk about the successes (and roadblocks) you encounter. Trust me, you’ll see the value after a few short weeks. Blogging helps in several ways: First, it helps you reflect on your experiences and organize your thoughts. Second, you are putting your thoughts on display for other professionals to see (and they will chime in to give you feedback).
- Become familiar with the eLearning Guild’s Research reports. You can find these on eLearningGuild.com. They are fantastic. Skim them to find what you need; you don’t need to read them in detail.
- Always try eLearning tools before purchasing them. This applies to authoring tools, simulation tools, Learning Management Systems (LMSs), etc. Don’t be pressured into buying something unless you want it.
- You can take several different paths in the world of eLearning. The main paths that stand out to me are: Media, Writing, and Programming. Select the path you prefer, and then surround yourself with individuals that offer the skills you do not have.
- Contact me. I will do my best to give you a hand! (Just leave a comment below.)
Helpful web sites and blogs:
Corporate Learning Trends and Innovations 2008 November 16, 2008Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: Conferences, Design, Development, eLearning, InstructionalDesign, Learning, Training
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Arriving right on the heels of DevLearn, the free (and 100% online) Corporate Learning Trends and Innovations 2008 conference begins this week! The conference, which runs November 17-21, features some of the sharpest people in the learning and technology world. A quick glance at the agenda shows Jay Cross, Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Tony Karrer, Clark Quinn, George Siemens, and many more. Very cool.
The goal of this conference is to "…explore new developments, track emerging opportunities, network with other learning pioneers, and deal with topics you don’t find at the conferences you have to travel to."
Check out these links for more information about the conference:
- Corporate Learning Trends and Innovations 2008 web site
- List of events (Note: All times are Pacific.)
- LIVE Elluminate sessions
- Discussion forums
DevLearn 2008 – Day 3 Recap November 14, 2008Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: Blogs, Conferences, DevLearn, DevLearn2008, eLearning, eLearningGuild, InstructionalDesign, Learning, mLearning, MobileLearning, Training, Web 2.0
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Today was the final day of DevLearn, and technically, it was only a half-day. I presented Session 702: Virtually Anywhere: A Case Study of Mobile Learning at Qualcomm, along with Barbara Ludwig. (The slides are below; I’ll try to get the handouts posted soon.)
Because I wasn’t able to learn much new info today (I was a bit preoccupied with my presentation and getting to the airport on time), I will defer to two bloggers who did manage to post today. Surf on over to read Clark Quinn’s blog and Brian Dusablon’s blog for updates on Day 3 of DevLearn. And again, don’t forget the other DevLearn bloggers mentioned in this list.
While I liked all of the sessions I attended, I have to say that I enjoyed the people at DevLearn more than anything else. This was an incredible event for networking. I can’t even begin to list off all the people I met (my apologies), but please know that I enjoyed meeting each and every one of you!
DevLearn 2008 Bloggers November 13, 2008Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: Blogs, Conferences, DevLearn, DevLearn2008, eLearning, eLearningGuild, InstructionalDesign, Learning, ProfessionalDevelopment, Training
In case you’re not getting enough DevLearn 2008 coverage, here’s a list of awesome bloggers who are writing about their experiences here in San Jose:
- Jay Cross (also here)
- Brian Dusablon
- Josh Goldman
- Kevin Jones
- Tony Karrer
- Mark Oehlert
- Clark Quinn
- Brent Schlenker
- Wendy Wickham
Did I accidentally leave you off the list? If so – I’m sorry! Please add a comment with a link to your blog.
DevLearn 2008 – Day 1 Recap November 13, 2008Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: BlendedLearning, Conferences, Design, Development, DevLearn, DevLearn2008, eLearning, eLearningGuild, InstructionalDesign, Learning, mLearning, ProfessionalDevelopment, technology, Tools, Training, Web 2.0
Day 1 of DevLearn 2008 kicked off today with a great keynote from Tim O’Reilly (@TimOReilly), where he walked us through the Web 2.0 movement and how it has impacted learning and training. Here are some of the notes I took during his keynote:
- We should always try to follow the “alpha-geeks.” These are the people who are constantly hacking and studying things in unconventional ways. They are often the ones who come up with the most innovative solutions and they tend to have the most fun. If we follow their fun stuff, it’ll usually lead us to innovation.
- Tim started Make magazine and Maker Faire as a tribute to the alpha-geeks, and to promote their activities.
- The idea of Web 2.0 was introduced to re-energize the tech world after the dot com crash. Web 2.0 was a renaissance that soon took on a life of its own.
- Web 2.0 harnesses collective intelligence; this data is the new “Intel Inside.” Check out the O’Reilly book: Programming Collective Intelligence.
- Web 2.0 is about finding meaning in user-generated data – meaning which may be hidden from plain sight.
- Web 2.0 for the enterprise means turning your company data inside out for everybody to see (or paying a startup/vendor to do it for you).
- Good quote: “The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” – William Gibson
- Tim also spoke about machine learning and patterns. He recommended A Pattern Language and Air Guitar.
So, given all these changes, how do we teach the right skills? Follow these steps.
- Follow your own pioneers and alpha-geeks.
- Turn them into mentors.
- Provide self-starters (tools) with access to the best online references.
- Show, then do, with reinforcement from small successes.
- Study success stories carefully, then don’t assume they are easy to emulate.
- Stop fondling the hammer and focus on the house.
I also attended the following sessions. I’ve included the notes I took in each session:
112 – Mobilizing Tests: Building & Deploying Assessments to Cell Phones (Robert Gadd)
- Slides available here.
- Why use mLearning? Because we always have our cell phones on us. On average, corporate workers will return an email within a 4-hour time span. The same workers will, on average, return an answer to a text message with 6 minutes.
- OnPoint Digital’s mLearning system works with all major phone platforms (iPhone, Blackberries, and Windows Mobile). The system also allows people to choose their preferred modality for receiving communications (ex. by voice, text message, etc.).
- The OnPoint Digital system looks impressive and it sounds like the cost is reasonable.
202 – Work Literacy – A Key to e-Learning 2.0 Success (Tony Karrer)
- (After briefly meeting her at lunch, I was able to sit next to Wendy Wickham in this session. Very cool!)
- Handout / slides available here: http://tinyurl.com/workliteracy
- Things have changed drastically in the world of information systems. How can we keep up? Our brains are wired to seek out more information, but a barrage of information can ultimately reduce our IQ. We currently aren’t adapting well, given all the new information that is available during this day and age.
- Darwin quote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” We need to adapt.
- For knowledge workers, work and learning are inseparable. We are always learning.
- We are making a transition from information workers to concept workers.
309 – Learning 2.0 and Workplace Communities (David Wilkins)
- Slides available here.
- Case studies of ACE Hardware, Intel, Cisco, and more. All examples showed an overall community using social media, rather than the occasional blog or wiki.
- The idea of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is antiquated; we are all SMEs now. All of us can contribute useful information to the overall community.
- As we use more social media, our roles will change to be social media architects, where we will build and nurture learning environments.
- Using one-off tech tools does not a add up to a social media strategy. Using WordPress doesn’t make your organization “2.0.” A bigger view is needed to make sure you build up a community within your organziation that can communicate and function on its own.
A-ha! Moments of DevLearn 2008 November 12, 2008Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: Conferences, Design, Development, DevLearn, DevLearn2008, eLearning, eLearningGuild, InstructionalDesign, Learning, ProfessionalDevelopment, Tools, Training
Did you learn something at DevLearn this year that opened your eyes? Did you learn something that could make your life easier or save you time?
If so, please add a comment to this post and share your thoughts. This will help us share our great experiences with those who couldn’t make it to San Jose this year.
So, what did you learn?