UX: Lessons from Higher Education

In the late 1990s, colleges and universities across the United States, started to purchase subscriptions to learning management systems, such as Blackboard. At the time, the idea that an instructor might be able to post course outlines, assignments and articles online in a “virtual classroom” and even facilitate online dialogues was transformative. What few colleges and universities anticipated at the time was the extent to which user experience or UX would change over the coming decade and how quickly these early learning management systems would become dated.

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Setting the Stage for Change

Anyone who has raised children knows that routine is an essential part of any household. Indeed, as much as children love surprises, whether or not they realize it, they also love routines. When routines are broken, the consequences can range from minor protest to total dysfunction. For this reason, parents frequently spend a great deal of time keeping established patterns in place (e.g., set mealtimes and bedtimes). When change is necessary, good parents also take precautions (e.g., explain why the change is happening). Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that most adults, whether or not they realize it, also enjoy routines—even if and when the routines in question were established by someone else and are not necessarily in their best interest. Routines, after all, are safe and predictable. When they are broken up, children and adults alike are confronted with feelings of uncertainty and more often than not, they are confronted with new challenges that they may or may not be prepared to face. Continue reading

The Evolution of Games and Training

As discussed in several recent posts, gaming continues to impact education and training on a myriad of levels. Indeed, gaming is not only seen as a way to introduce learners to key concepts and hone technical skills but also as a way to keep our brains in top shape, making us better able to grasp and apply new concepts in context. The growing applicability of gaming in the training field has much to do with the evolution of digital games over the past decade and our growing understanding of the role imitation and simulation play in education and training.
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Training Essentials for the Manufacturing Sector: Part 2

In the manufacturing sector, training was once primarily carried out informally and on the job. Often with little guidance or oversight from managers, new workers were trained by more experienced workers in a model that might be best described as an informal apprenticeship. Today, across the manufacturing sector, formal training programs are being established, often in partnership with other local colleges. In other cases, manufacturers are creating company-based schools to ensure that training is part of their organizational culture. In short, the manufacturing industry is not only formalizing its training programs but also undergoing a cultural shift with regards to training. As part of this shift, a growing number of manufacturers are also adopting learning management platforms. In our first post on training essentials for the manufacturing sector, we examined three key reasons why training matters in manufacturing. In this post, we examine three additional training essentials for manufacturing: Job Safety Analysis; Machine Guarding and Operation Safety; and Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC). Continue reading

eLearning Authoring Tools

How do you author your eLearning content? Do you use a collection of different tools such as PowerPoint (storyboarding), Audacity (audio), Snagit (capturing pictures and videos), Photoshop (image manipulation), or do you draw upon one main authoring tool from the many that are available? This article will cover some of the authoring tools and how to choose between them. Continue reading

Training Essentials for the Manufacturing Sector: Part 1

In the manufacturing sector, training was once primarily carried out informally and on the job. In short, it was a sector where new workers were often expected to learn the ropes from experienced workers on the shop floor, often with little guidance or oversight from managers. Today, a growing number of manufacturers are developing formal training programs and in some cases, even developing company-based schools and/or formal partnerships with local technical colleges. The manufacturing sector is also increasingly embracing new models of delivery, including the adoption of learning management platforms. Below are three reasons why training is essential for the manufacturing sector.
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Closing the Digital Divide One Step at a Time

Recently, President Obama announced plans to connect thousands of low-income Americans to the Internet with the roll-out of a new program designed to bring Internet access to Americans living in public housing. ConnectHome is an extension of the government’s already established ConnectED initiative.

President Obama’s announcement coincides with the Council of Economic Advisors’ new report on the digital divide. Recognizing that at this point in time the digital divide is likely a cause and consequence of existing economic disparities, the report states:
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eLearning TrendWatch: APIs

One of the most important and challenging situations facing learning professionals today is the integration of the LMS with other systems, applications, and platforms. This is typically achieved by utilizing an API or application programming interface, a set of tools, routines, and protocols that can be used to facilitate communication between applications as well as allow programmers to come up with new applications that work within the context of the platform in question. Continue reading