Of course I am not the only one reaping, everyone in the office is prepping up for upcoming hot stuff too! Will it be new partnerships or exciting deals? Court the old, welcome the new, cryptic but all will be revealed in due time. Not to mention, our company Retreat is set to take off in August. We hope to reach our destination with full members on-board. But, if all things panned out as envisioned, some of us will embark on different journeys when we depart from Singapore Changi Airport.
Whooo…got the shivers just writing that. Fingers crossed!
…leaving on 2 jet planes if I can help it…
July! We are officially in the 3rd Quarter of 2007. Gosh! After April Fools' Day, there were Good Friday, Easter, Labour Day, Vesak Day, and also Tuen Ng Festival (where we eat rice dumplings to remember this patriotic man from ancient China I think). On a serious note, that translated to 3 months of hard work to complete everything on my plate before I go on my well-deserved break to Down Under.
In the previous issue of this newsletter, I was joking about resting this month’s issue. Some of my team members were so excited that they remembered only the “resting” and not the “joking”! Reality bites! My apologies to my fellow colleagues, but I’m sure they understand that it is essential for me to leave on that jet plane as scheduled. J
Anyway, I promised that things were heating up from July onwards. So without further ado, fingers ready over the left mouse button and connect!
Purchase of the NEW “YOU CAN Create Interactive Web-based Contents in 2 DAYS using Lectora!” e-Book at a click of a button! Fast and easy, all in full- colours glory! Buy now with the updated 2007 features in it!
That’s not all, Lectora Competition 2007 is officially opened! It promises to be one of our biggest yet. Squeeze those creative juices of yours. Start churning out entries. Join us in our search for the next talent. But first, do register with us at:
That's all we can reveal right now. Lots more in the pipeline! Till the ripe time, keep watching this space.
Title: Converting PPT to eLearning
In my previous article, “Converting PPT to eLearning”, I shared about the importance of chunking and sequencing information to ensure minimum effort and yet maximize learning and retention.
In this article, I will talk about how we can achieve the result with other strategies which deals mainly with the presentation of content as well as knowledge checks to ensure understanding and achieving the learning objectives. Although in this article I will refer to my experience with helping teachers creating their eLearning content, it is also relevant to instructors or anyone who is interested in developing their own eLearning content.
As explained previously, when creating eContent, we are not just creating another piece of instructional content. In fact, it has to also “act as the instructor” due to the absence of the instructor when learners go through the content as an eLesson. Thus the presentation of the content needs to ensure learners can easily understand what is being taught. It is also important to ensure that while the content is presented in a manner that is easy to understand, that learners are also motivated to learn. Thus as mentioned in the previous article, we have to also look at how we can ensure high motivational level.
Most teachers think that presenting the information is the easiest part of developing elearning content as they can just copy whatever information they have in their PPT to their elearning courseware. However we have to understand that a PowerPoint presentation is meant to be a presentation (not an eLearning courseware) and thus the content is presented in bullet points and is not self-explanatory. This causes a lot of ambiguity and confusion as the “meat” of the topic being taught is usually in the explanation done by the teachers and not in the bulleted points. Teachers must not assume that learners will comprehend (and achieve the same understanding if not more) by just reading the bulleted points with no explanation in the content nor by the teacher. Therefore I would encourage teachers to elaborate and provide more detailed information to substantiate these main points by writing down some of what they would normally tell their learners in the classroom. Although providing detailed information helps clarifying ambiguous points, this information do not have to be too lengthy. Lengthy and unnecessary information may cause information overload.
If more detailed explanations are required, information hiding strategies are usually used. The more common informational hiding strategies include showing content on mouse over and hiding on mouse out, or showing on mouse click. These may be random or sequentially. Also, pop up windows or alert boxes are also some of the more common strategies to hide information so as not to intimidate learners with so much content and also at the same time allow them to focus. User has control to only proceed to more information when they have absorbed the previous and ready for more. Besides these, information hiding also increases the level of interactivity of the courseware which engages learners (engaging learners is one important factors in elearning).
Before you can proceed with knowing how best to present the information, it is important to know what information type you will be presenting. Understanding information types is important because different information types require different ways of presenting the information to help learners understand the information better and faster. This will also have an indirect effect on learner’s motivation. The easier it is to understand the information, the more confident and thus motivated the learners will be.
Thus, before a teacher start presenting information, the first question that I will ask is to identify the information type of the topic that they are presenting. There are five information types: facts, procedures, processes, concepts and principles. Facts are specific pieces of information for example water boils at 100 ° C. Procedures are set of steps that need to be followed in order to accomplish a certain task. While procedures are specific in nature, processes are generic in nature which teach or describe how something works. Concepts are very specific in nature, sharing a common feature; principles are often referred to as guidelines.
Let me use back the same example that I used in my previous article, the “Circulatory System”. It explains a process on how important substances are transported around the body. When information types are processes in nature, visualization and illustrations are usually the main focus when presenting the information. It is also important to clearly show the linkages within the systems. The visual images will ensure better and faster understanding to increase the effectiveness of the eContent.
Sample screenshot of presenting information visually:
Sample screenshot of presenting information visually
In a face-to-face training, trainers usually throw questions to check learners' understanding, and this is often followed by some feedback by the teachers. This too can be done in an eLearning environment. Pop quizzes can be inserted in between topics with feedback given for each question. It is important to give feedback, not just “great job” or “sorry you are wrong” type of feedback but feedback that is of some relevance to the content. This is especially so when the answer given was wrong. For example, a correct answer can still say “Great Job” but it can also confirm with some detailed explanation or some common misconceptions. The positive feedback would confirm one's understanding, which in turn would boost one's confidence in the topic.
However, when a wrong answer is given, other than providing the learner with the correct answer, it may be preferably to give some sort of explanation, or even prompt learner to revisit the content page before moving forward. The feedback would clarify any misunderstanding learners may have and at the same time reinforces the learning of the content. Especially with the 'experience” in mind that they have gotten it wrong once and an explanation of the correct answer was given, learners would have a better understanding of the content.
At the end of the lesson, a final assessment would usually be inserted to assess whether learners have met the objectives stated at the beginning of the lesson. The assessment does not have to be in the standard style such as multiple choice, fill in the blank or true/false type of question, it could be created in a more interesting way such as a simple game like crossword puzzle or a scenario with role play if appropriate, as long as the it assesses the stated learning objectives.
In the final assessment, learners can also be presented with animated congratulatory remarks, or to be able to proceed to play a game as some sort of reward if they pass or if not, to reattempt the assessment or to revisit the content.
To sum it all up, converting your PPT to elearning is not difficult. It just needs good planning and organization. It starts from choosing a topic, to gathering materials, chunking and sequencing relevant information together and presenting it in an interesting and motivating manner. Checking on one's understanding is also important but what is equally if not more important is the feedback that is given in the checks that are done. Feedback needs to be encouraging, it needs to reinforce the content as well as motivate and maintain the interest of the learners. Finally, give a final assessment to ensure that the objectives are met. All these ensure learners are engaged, motivated and has a positive learning experience to achieve minimum effort and maximum understanding & retention!
Good luck with your elearning conversion!!
Title: eLC reaches out to “Strategic Planning” learning…
In the world of computer-based simulation learning, apart from the 2D/3D equipment-based simulation learning environment, eLC has broadened its portfolio to provide Strategic Planning learning capability using the surreal 3D Virtual Reality simulation environment for the military section --- War Gaming.
Figure 1: Realistic terrain, platform and soldier models
Using the War-Gaming approach, trainees could gain theoretical experience even before they start their actual field-training. Trainees get to experience planning, deployment and execution in a simulation real-time strategy environment, and witness how their planning and execution will result in a “war” setting with real enemy, bullets and mortar flying.
For trainers, they get to see how each trainee plans and executes, and the outcomes of those planning and execution. With both a “replay” and “observer” role, trainers could provide advice in a real and concrete manner for trainees to witness first-hand.
The war-gaming simulation also allows for specific maps to be designed to cater to real-life terrain or to create a potentially new environment. This will allow the trainer to re-create different scenarios to achieve various training goals.
For the organisation, these war-gaming simulations (with the ability to control up to the individual soldier) provide a realistic training environment and serves to prepare soldiers psychologically for the demands of the exercise. 纸上谈兵 (academic soldiering) will be a thing of the past!
Figure 2: A Tactical Team in patrol formation
Figure 3: Fighting is realistic, enemy doctrine can be incorporated
Title: Using Colors with Typography
Previously, in issue 8, we discussed “The Power of Colours”. Let us just do a quick recap.
Warm colours are generally dynamic in nature; it brings out strong impression and even excitement. It is normally use to convey strong emotional feelings and/or draw attention.
Examples of warm colours are:
Red, yellow, orange, black, brown, pink, and gold
Cool colours often calm the content down. It gives you a comfortable feeling and you will feel the reduction in tension while browsing through content that is designed in such colours.
Examples of cool colours are:
Blue, white, green, and grey
In Issue 10, we went into The World of Fonts. We touched on Type Size and Weight, Letter Spacing, Leading and Word Spacing.
Now, let us combine these 2 worlds into one! Take a look at the following examples
Fig A Fig B
With the right mix of colours, the intended meaning of the text are further enhanced!
Now, take a look at this example.
The orange-coloured Title Text and the black-coloured Background displayed clearly the good use of contrasting colours. By applying this principle, our attention is drawn to the title immediately. However, the approach for the content texts is not very well-done.
Although the colour combination gives a very elegant feel, the content is too lengthy and needs a bigger contrast to be read with ease.
The font typeface chosen is serif Typeface, which works well with prints but not with reading on computer monitors.
Can you improved on this article?
Layout with Typography
Have you wondered why do we normally find the first word of a sentence on the left? Have you wondered why do we normally flip a page of a book from the right to the left? In today’s world, almost all types of media use this principle. It has become part of our lives and… we do not tend to question the norms.
There are 4 basic typographic alignments:
Text is aligned along the left margin or gutter, most commonly seen
Text is aligned along the right margin or gutter, for short text, highlighting purposes
Text is aligned along the left margin, and word-spacing is adjusted so that the text falls flush with the right margin, normally used for big chunks of content text
Text is aligned to neither left nor right margin, normally used for Titles, Headings, etc
Let’s quickly put theory into practice. Take a look at the following comparisons:
Fig A Fig B
Let’s look at each of them closer.
In Fig A, the company name sets the left margin for the whole design. Applying the most commonly used alignment, flush left, for the company information, viewer can scan through the information easily. The person’s name and job designation has been separated from the rest of the information by a flush right alignment. This subtle difference will provide much needed clarity.
Fig B, on the other hand, makes use of too many types of alignment. The information is floating everywhere!
By making such a comparison, we can see that, given the same piece of content, a different layout and compositing will create a total different design altogether.
A word of advice – in whatever we do, we are designing. And when we are designing, it’s always best to “Keep it Simple and Sweet”, KISS!