Meeting eLearning Development Targets with Limited Capacity

I was at the eACH Conference last month and a common problem I heard from many eLearning companies was that of a ‘limited team capacity’. These teams or L&D departments aimed to serve thousands of their internal customers but they had to develop many courses in a short time. I realized we have all faced this ‘limited team capacity’ problem at some point or the other.

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Based on my experience of eLearning domain in the last 7 years, here are three ways I have seen our customers address this problem. It has helped them maximize their internal team capacity and at the same time deliver courses based on the business demand.

1. Templatization
You don’t always have to build your eLearning course from scratch. You can create a library of templates that can be reused and customized. This will standardize the quality of eLearning content and also save time and effort.

However, building your own template library would take time. If you need something quickly, there are many paid or free templates available online.

2. Rapid eLearning
Rapid eLearning is the production process of creating e-learning courses quickly and effectively. It usually doesn’t involve using complicated software or programming techniques.

Rapid eLearning is a tool- based approach that can be used by an Instructional Design team. This approach helps lower the development cost and allows you to put together a course quickly.

Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, GoMoLearning, and Raptivity are a few popular rapid eLearning development tools available in the market.

3. Partnering with an expert
Sometimes it’s sensible to partner with an expert company that can act as the extension of your in-house team. The development tasks are handled by the partner, allowing your internal team to focus on the core tasks like communicating with SMEs, gathering the training content, etc.

Choosing a partner that is a one-stop-shop for all eLearning needs is a plus. The partner company should support various tools and technologies and should not be limited to any specific technology. Ask for references and work samples in advance that demonstrate the quality and variety of work they can produce. The right partner can complement your team and give you a cost-effective option.

How did you handle your “limited team capacity” problem? Do share your thoughts through comments below.

About Us
Harbinger Interactive Learning is a learning technology company. We offer cost effective learning solutions with resources across different technologies and skillsets.

We offer course development services in Custom Flash/HTML5, Lectora, Storyline, Captivate etc. A partnership with Harbinger can help customers build high quality eLearning/mLearning courses cost effectively and stretch their development capabilities further.

eACH 2016 Reflections

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eLearning Alliance of Canadian Hospitals, popularly known as eACH, is a much sought after conference amongst the eLearning fraternity of the Canadian hospitals. eACH 2016 was a grand affair and having attended it on behalf of Harbinger Interactive Learning, I must say that there is no way an eLearning professional not return home inspired to make a difference after attending it. The conference created an amazing atmosphere for all participants to network, engage, learn and grow as eLearning professionals. With so many experts under a single roof, the wealth of experience gained is always priceless.

The vast amount of knowledge shared around learning technologies and information deserves a special mention. Just to give the readers an idea of the conference sessions, it included workshops on some interesting topics like:

  • An Introduction to Storyline, By Tracy Parish
  • Better Than Bullet Points, By Jane Bozarth
  • Building a Strong Foundation, By Cindy Plunkett
  • Interactive Video for eLearning Designers, By David Anderson
  • Digital Storytelling: Making Educational Videos That Speak to the Learner, , By Sarah Dewar, Sharon Navarro

With so much to catch up on, I could only attend couple of sessions, but even those were immensely helpful and informative, as the speakers and topics were top notch.

Another big attraction was ‘Show & Share’ where a few eLearning developers showcased their innovative designs to the attendees. The designs included game based courses, scenario based modules, responsive designs, mobile apps etc. The examples were so good that it must have inspired many to implement some new techniques and strategies in their company’s training this year.

The exhibit hall which was very decently arranged, had significant traffic and there was much interest in our booth. Since most visitors had used Harbinger’s flagship eLearning tool Raptivity in the past, they were already familiar with the product side of Harbinger’s business. We had Todd Kasenberg, Interactive Learning Thought Leader and a Raptivity champion, join us at the booth. This time we were exhibiting the services side of our activities, which is customized development of learner centric trainings. Unlike most other vendors who were LMS companies, we stood out as being a service provider. Visitors to our booth appreciated the screenshots of our work and the live samples. Most mentioned that they would like similar quality of eLearning at their organization too.

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Other vendors in the exhibit hall were helpful and informative. I wouldn’t deny that the Harbinger team learned a lot from them.

It may seem unnecessary to talk about, but being a foodie, I can’t miss talking about the food. We were taken care of very well, and so were our tummies. The delicious breakfast items, lunch and ingoing shots of caffeine kept our engines fueled throughout.

As a concluding note, exhibiting at eACH provided Harbinger with an opportunity to interact with other eLearning professionals who are serious about advancing in their field. The networking opportunities were tremendous and the talks were insightful and relevant. All in all, a great event!

Approaches to Adaptive eLearning Design

Adaptive e-learning Design

In my last blog, I introduced you to the concept of Adaptive eLearning Design (AED). Today, I’ll talk about a few approaches we follow at Harbinger to create AED based courses for our healthcare and pharmaceutical customers.

These approaches are easy to follow and implement and designed to ensure great ROI.

1.    Design Models

The most commonly preferred approach is incorporating the AED strategies while designing the course.

It could either be implemented through Strategic Chunking of the software simulations or through a Flipped Classroom model. In Strategic Chunking, the design is instructionally chunked into several self-contained small units so that it becomes easy to implement changes across the required unit rather than disturbing the whole system.

In the flipped approach, you could design the system in a way that there are multiple short instructional videos for people to see. The training content doesn’t include many activities or interactions. This part is handled in the training room. So, the amount of changes to be done in the content reduces.

2.    Show Me, Try Me, Test Me

An interesting paradigm that could be followed for creating AED is by carefully modifying the typical Show Me, Try Me and Test Me model. These three steps should ideally be followed in a sequence for a perfect AED enabled system. On a higher level, it involves showing something to the learner and then letting them try it themselves and finally, testing them on what was shown and tried.

 Here are some tips for designing Show Me – Try Me – Test Me:

In Show Me, the system needs to be designed in such a way that it incorporates multiple closely knit images that give the illusion of a video. It is adaptive in the sense that you could simply change the image when required without recreating the complete video.

Try Me can be considered an analogy to ‘Learning by Doing’. In this particular model, the course is heavy on instructions. This approach performs best when the instructions are textual and not audio/video based. That enables you to just replace the instruction text quickly when demanded and need not get into the cumbersome process of re-recording audio/video.

 3.    Training Instructor Guide

Another approach that you could choose for AED is, opting for training with your eLearning partner. In this approach, partner provides you with an Instructional Guide Manual of the system and also trains you at the end of the project delivery. The training would be on the package design as well as maintenance. In such cases, strategically selecting a rapid authoring tool that is not complex and can be easily operated by your team is the key. We have been designing such instructor guides for our customers which they have found useful once they own the responsibility of maintaining the content.

Apart from the above options, if companies have limited resources and budgets, they may even ask for an annual maintenance contract (AMC) with their eLearning partner. AMC works best when there are constant changes planned.

These changes could be at an instructional design level or simply at screen level. They key to a successful AMC is a partner who is willing to go an extra mile to understand the changes you are anticipating in future as maintenance. The partner team should be able work out a strategy for a cost effective AMC based on your needs.

Many of our clients prefer going the AMC way due to the complimentary instructional and authoring skills we bring in.

Each approach has its own benefits and limitations. The best suited approach can be decided after a thorough analysis of client requirements and expectations. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. I would love to know your thoughts. Do share your comments below.

Why Pharmaceutical and Healthcare should NOT stick to traditional eLearning?

traditional_learningYes, you read it right. You would always find me advising this to all my healthcare and pharmaceutical customers. You might have a different argument, but read on for my viewpoint and we might reach a common ground.

Not very long back, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies used to invest heavily in classroom training to train people on various business applications like SAP, iREP Veeva systems and process automation tools like Delta V. These systems are generally developed and implemented across any company over a period of few years.

With advancement in technology and processes, companies took to traditional eLearning practices to train resources on these systems. As a part of the traditional eLearning practice at these companies, content development is generally outsourced to eLearning partners due to the volume and complexity of the content. Now, the point in consideration is that since these systems keep evolving over time, their features and training requirements are bound to change too. So, when it comes to training new hires on such systems, change seems like the only constant.  With the frequent changes, the turnaround time for content updates in that case becomes a key challenge. As a result, content becomes obsolete faster as compared to it being developed. This also impacts cost along with timelines.

In this scenario, it makes sense for every healthcare and pharmaceutical company to NOT stick to traditional eLearning anymore. It’s time to move to Adaptive eLearning Design (AED)!

AED involves courses designed in a way that content can be easily, quickly and frequently updated without impacting other related elements. The content change can then be handled even by the companies directly rather than eLearning partners. Harbinger’s AED approach has successfully designed such solutions for many healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. And the results: great ROI

The next obvious question is – what does AED do to create and maintain this constantly evolving eLearning content? For that, stay tuned for my next blog post about AED!

eLearning for Medical Education

The Medical Industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with new research, technologies, and techniques being developed almost daily. However, along with the development of new medical technology, the industry of medical education is being hard-pressed to keep up. Traditionally, medical education has relied on experienced faculty training, student-patient interactions, and internships. However, considering the pace of development of medical technology, it’s only a matter of time before direct physical learning and interaction may become prohibitively difficult to employ.This isn’t exactly comforting for the patients, or even for the students themselves. However, interactive clinical case studies and surgical simulations in eLearning, are quickly gaining popularity as an efficient and cost-effective means of imparting education on new medical technologies.

As a matter of fact, medical students are themselves more interested in virtual systems and interactive case studies than in traditional methods of medical education. Case in point, systems such as the Dental Anatomy Software allow a dental student to explore accurate tooth anatomy and detail at their own pace of understanding, instead of having to look at 2-dimensional drawings and imagine it in 3 dimensions! This saves a lot of time and energy for both the student and the teacher, and also results in the student gaining a much more solid base of fundamental understanding. Virtual surgery simulations and virtual patients are helping to provide the same understanding-through-experience at a more advanced level of medical education as well.

That isn’t to say that medical technology is best learned through virtual experimentation alone. Hardly! The importance of watching a star surgeon performing a difficult operation is invaluable. However, with eLearning, the student can watch a video of the surgery being performed anytime they want to rather than having to depend upon the luck of the draw to be picked as an assistant for that surgery in real life. Every student gets an equal opportunity to watch the operation, learn from it, and if needed, watch again – as opposed to waiting for an almost exactly similar surgery to be performed again!

Watching videos of a surgery can only help so much, and cannot match the experience of performing the procedure yourself. Let’s face it – nobody’s that perfect! Like most humans, even medical students sometimes have to learn from mistakes. However, medical students have no margin for error in real life. With interactive virtual patients and virtual surgeries come the inevitable new trend of the eLearning industry – gamification! The instructional technique may be called ‘gamification’, but don’t be fooled! It has been proven that with the proper controls and environment, this technique results in an exponentially higher assimilation of content and performance as against application of the instruction learned through traditional methods.

To summarize, the medical industry is one of the few industries in the world with many bleeding-edge technologies being developed. Instructing students about these technologies needs to be done in a bleeding-edge manner as well – and that is what eLearning and ‘gamification’ accomplishes with ease!

Many medical schools and healthcare centers are now more than willing to adopt these modern educational techniques. Some of these early adopters of eLearning are now refurbishing themselves by moving the learning modules on mobiles devices like tablets and smart-phones. Harbinger has been working with several medical centers to transform conventional medical courses into interactive online modules.

Please mail us to setup an online meeting with Harbinger and experience the advances in medical education.