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Once again, let us all countdown to the big celebration as Singapore is turning 45 this year. eLC is proud to have helped out in the NDP event and volunteering our services in any way for the upcoming event to be a success.

 

Generosity in sharing and helping one another is what we cultivate in the company. You should not be hesitant to drop us a mail at editor@elc.com.sg on any e-learning related issue. We welcome any opinions to improve ourselves in this learning environment. Read on below to have some thoughts on Instructional Designing, Technology and Designing extras.

Hard work pays off! We will be heading down to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for our yearly company retreat end August 2010. It is the time where we leave our laptops, work and stress in Singapore; having only fun and enjoyment for the holiday.

 

This year would be my first retreat in this company and I am looking forward to get along with my fellow colleagues, staying in the same hotel room and having a fruitful time to get to know one another better.

In a face-to-face training, content is adapted to the profile of the audiences; exercises are changed and rearranged where necessary. As for e-learning, it is a solo activity. Its design has to be spot-on to hook the learners, sustain their engagement, create valuable learning and carry them through to the end. If it fails in any of these, it will be a total switch off and nothing is learnt through the e-learning course.

 

Why have learning design?

 

Learning design offers a blueprint for instructional designers to shape presentation of learning content and create the conditions to improve performance and effective transfer of knowledge. Good training is about addressing performance needs, which is to define and meet learning objectives effectively. Effective learning design helps create engagement and leads to intellectual connection with content to build practical, valuable skills which can be immediately applied in relevant situations.

 

Learning design is a critical factor in assuring a good return in learning. It ensures that performance gaps are adequately met and learning is sustained throughout the duration of a learning event. If this is not done in e-learning environment, courses are better off taught in the form of a book or manual.

 

When no or poor learning design occurs, there are inadequate consideration of the cognitive and emotional dimensions to learning. Learners will be confused with the whole chunk of information as they struggle to understand the knowledge.

 

Creating good learning design

 

I will be reviewing one of the approaches to illustrate good learning design, Roger Schanks Goal-Based Scenario (GBS). It is a term used by Roger Schank to describe his approach for learning-by-doing. This approach poses both opportunities and challenges. A well-written goal-based scenario will be a rich learning experience, which draws in learner through engaging storylines and scenarios.

 

Example of a learning-by-doing approach

Learning Design

 

Introduction

 

Learning design brings order to information chaos. It tailors content to the psychological and affective needs of the audience, optimising the effectiveness of that content in producing learning experiences. If learning is successful, performance will improve and thus it is always important to have a good learning design to fulfill the objective of trainings.

 

For the purpose of explaining the learning by doing approach, I will use the game based simulation (commonly known as serious game) that eLC has developed. This game focuses mainly on critical thinking and leadership training. Even though serious game may give the impression of entertainment as it is a game, its primary purpose is definitely not for entertainment. The development of the game is determined by the objectives set out for the learner to achieve. Lets take a look at how this game was designed following the 6 guidelines to build a good goal-based scenario.

Title: Features of CourseMill 6.0

 

CourseMill version 6.0 comes with a lot of wonderful features and flexibilities to help you deliver, manage and report on your online training. With CourseMill version 6.0, you can have a Learning Management System without breaking your budget.

 

One of the interesting new features of CourseMill version 6.0 is its ability to support mobile learning (MLearning). The product touts support for popular Smart phones such as the iPods, iPhones, iPads, Android and Palm WebOS devices. You can also use CourseMills newest style sheets to quickly modify courses with the latest Web 2.0 look and feel. With these features, now students can take courses on the go by accessing them directly from their iPhone/iPod, Android, Palm WebOS, Garmin Nuvi, Maemo Tablet and most smart phones (excluding Blackberry).

CourseMill version 6.0 also provides some improvement in the Student Management modules such as Customisable User Data, Curriculum Prerequisites, Enhanced Report Cards and Enhanced Bulk Registration.  

Below are details of the new features:

   

a.  Customisable User Data:

Expanded user data lets you create custom categories for filtering reports, special enrollment requirements, or targeting coursework to groups.

   

b.  Curriculum Prerequisites:

Add and enforce curriculum prerequisites.

c.  Enhanced Report Cards:

Report cards now include the number of credit hours.

d.  Enhanced Bulk Registration:

Bulk registration lets you add more user data such as contact information, organization and coursework history.

e.  Enhanced Web 2.0 Interface:

Quickly modify interface colors, terminology and logos to match your companys brand by taking advantage of CourseMills use of style sheets. Students and instructors experience greater ease of use and faster load time with the new Web 2.0 intuitive interface.

Other major and important modules in Learning Management System are the Administration and Reporting modules. CourseMill version 6.0 has also integrated a new features and improvement on these modules. They are as follows:

 

a.  Personal Calendar Integration:

CourseMill integrates with popular calendars such as Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo, Google, Lotus Notes, and iCal.

   

b.  User Role Configuration:  

Define responsibilities by assigning rights based on the users role in CourseMill.

c.  Automatic Data Archiving:

CourseMill performs automatical archival, making it faster to run reports.

d.  Metadata Search:

Students can search metadata to find courses quickly and easily.

e.  Discussion Board Monitoring &

     Approvals:

Administrators and reporters can read and approve posts prior to publishing to all board participants.

   

f.   Advanced Quick Search:

Quickly find whatever youre looking for by filtering your course, curriculum and user lists using various search terms.

   

g.  System-Wide Announcements:

Create your own system-wide announcements for all your users to read upon log-in.

   

h.  Online Audit Trail:

Administrators can keep track of changes made to course, curriculum, gradebook, and student information. Access the    online audit trail to see who has been working within CourseMill,the changes he or she has made, and the log of events that have occurred.

CouseMill version 6.0 Learning Management System is the most affordable and easy to use learning management system. It provides everything you need to meet the critical online training needs. In addition, CouseMill version 6.0 is easy to manage and hassle-free to implement across your organisation with all the basic and enhanced Learning Management System features.

Title: The Animation and Interactivity Principles in Multimedia Learning

Computer animations are now commonly used in Multimedia-based education to provide visualisations of dynamic phenomena that involve change over time. However, does the animation facilitate learning? Does learner learn more from animation than from other modes of presentation in terms of memorisation and comprehension of the fundamental or functional model?

What is Animation?

According to Schnotz and Lowe (2003), animations can be characterised to three different levels of analysis: Technical, Semiotical and Psychological. Technical level refers to the technical devices used to produce and carry dynamic signs.   With the advanced in technology in the computer graphics industry, the distinction between an object captured by a camera and an object generated by a computer is becoming harder and irrelevant to learners. Semiotical level refers to changes of graphical elements in an animation. Psychological level refers to the perceptual and cognitive process involved when animations are observed and understood by learners.

Shown below is an example of using animation to show how to fold a box.

What is Interactivity?

 

There are two kinds of interactive concept, control and interactive behaviour. Control behaviour is the capability for learner to act upon the pace and direction of the succession of frames. For example, pause, play, rewind, forward and direct access to certain frame. Interactive behaviour refers to the capability to act on what will appear on the next frame by performing action on parameters. In this case, animation becomes a simulation of a dynamic system in which some rules have been applied on.

Screenshot for Control Behaviour

Screenshot for Interactive Behaviour

Screen Shot of Flight Simulation.

(photo taken from   http://www.volny.cz/havlikjosef/historyenglish_combat.htm)

Usage of Animation

 

According to the Betrancourt and Tversky (2000), there are three guidelines on when and how animations should be used to improve learning. They are:

1.           To support the visualisation and mental representation process.

2.           To produce a cognitive conflict.

3.           To enable learner to explore a phenomenon.

 

The usage of animation to support visualisation and mental representation is no substantially different from the usage of graphics. However, animation can provide a dynamic phenomenon that is easier to visualise and is providing a better representation when the situation is not easily observable in a real space and time scale. Another case where animation is useful is when it is practically impossible to replicate a learning situation either because it is too dangerous or too costly or when it is not inherently visual in a case such as electrical circuit or representation of forces.

 

Animation offers a visual phenomenon to explain certain theory that is not explicit in nature. For example the theory of juggling, there are several animations that can be used to show how the theory is applied. However, according to Kaiser, Proffitt, Whelan and Hecht (1992), although learners know the theory and have seen the animation, it is not necessary that they will be able to replicate it in real situation. Thus, a scenario that includes groups of learners viewing and discussing the animations could improve learning as it encourages learners to make their notions explicit.

 

When an animation is used, learners will better understand and memorise the phenomenon if they are given the chance to interact with the animation. When there is a high level of interactivity with a learning objective, animation could become a simulation experience for learner. For example, in flight simulator, learner is able to interact with the animation.

Animation and Interactivity Principle

 

However , Byrne, Catrambone and Stasko (1999) found that the benefits of using animation with oral commentary were equivalent to the benefits of using static graphic with written text. The difference lies in prompting learners to make predictions on the behaviour of the system; the learner who saw the animations with oral commentary had a better understanding of the device. Two explanations that may account for this is the way human perceive and process dynamic information.

 

Whatever function animation serves, it may not always make much difference over static pictures in facilitating learning, even when representing the dynamic phenomena. What makes a difference is the interactivity principle. There are several levels of interactivity, such as letting learner have a control over the pace and direction of an animation. Learners who are able to control the animation and manage their cognitive resources have an improved perception about the material than learners who have no control at all. This may overcome a certain number of perceptual and conceptual obstacles. New information can be processed and integrated progressively in the mental model when the presence of pauses in the animation or segmentation is in order. This enables learners to process the continuous flow of animation without perceptual and conceptual overload.

 

As a conclusion, animations are attractive and intrinsically motivate learners, but they are hard to perceive and conceive. Besides, there is a chance that learners do not get any benefits from studying the animation compare to the static graphic as it requires a heavy cognitive load. So, when is animation being used? Below are two conditions that illustrate how learners can benefit from an animation:

1.When the concept phenomenon depicted is dynamic and it can be assumed that learners would not be able to infer the transitions between static depictions of the steps. Mayer, Heiser and Lonn (2001) have shown that learning is impaired when non- relevant material is added.

2.When learners do not have any mental model of the phenomenon, animations might prove to be beneficial. Learners form a better understanding through the animations.

 

Reference

 

Betrancourt and Tversky (2000). Effect of computer animation on users performance: a review. Le travail Humain, 63, 311330.

 

Byrne, M. D., Catrambone, R. & Stasko, J. T. (1999). Evaluating animations as student aids in learning computer algorithms. Computers & Education, 33, 253278.

 

Hegarty, M. (1992). Mental animation : Inferring motion from static displays of mechanical systems. Journal of experimental psychology : Learning, Memory and Cognition, 18 (5), 10841102.

 

Mayer, R.E., Heiser, J. and Lonn, S. (2001). Cognitive constraints on Multimedia learning: When presenting more material results in less understanding. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 187198.

 

Schnotz, W. (2002). Enabling, Facilitating, and Inhibiting Effects in Learning from Animated Pictures. Paper presented at the Dynamic Visualizations workshop, Knowledge Media Research Centre, Tbingen.

 

Schnotz, W., & Lowe, R.K. (2003). External and internal representations in multimedia learning. Learning and Instruction. 13, 117123.

 

Zacks, J., Tversky, B . & Iyer, G. (2001). Perceiving, remembering, and communicating structure in events. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130, 2958.

Melissa Ooi
Deputy Editor
eLC

Contributed by: Melissa Ooi

Contributed by: Kim Lee

Contributed by: Jinnie Ong

Here I end off our sharing session and hope these articles have given you a better understanding of creating fun, innovative and effective coursewares for all. Do stay tune for more interesting newsletter at http://www.elc.com.sg or write in to editor@elc.com.sg to share your views.

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