Idea Learning Group

"online-learning" Posts

Attend March’s Collaborative Learning Network

IdeaLearning Group invites you to our monthly series, The Collaborative Learning NetworkEvery month, we curate the latest insights, best practices, and techniques around a different topic related to learning and development. Innovative professionals from the learning and development community are invited to gather, share insights, and collaborate—social learning at its best.

This Month’s Topic: Learning with Social Media

Social media isn’t just for keeping in touch with friends. It’s about connecting, sharing and collaborating. It’s also a powerful way to learn. Compared with traditional learning, how can social media enhance learning? With hundreds of ways to connect online, which resources do you use to help you learn, teach or share with others? Join our Collaborative Learning Network session on March 6 to share your social learning suggestions. We’ll compile a list of all our favorite resources and send it to all participants following the session. Jennie Thede from IdeaLearning Group will facilitate the free session.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM (PST)

Montgomery Park | Suite 103
2701 NW Vaughn St
Portland, OR 97210

Registration is free but is required. Please bring your own examples, stories, and insights to share!

Click here to register.

Introducing Our New Collaborative Learning Network!

We have so many talented professionals in the learning and development community here in Portland, Oregon. Many of us struggle with the same training-related challenges. So we started thinking: Why not host regular sessions where we can get together to discuss these common issues? It would be a great way to strengthen our existing network and meet new people, and it would also allow us to put our brains together to resolve learning-related challenges.

This fall we started the Collaborative Learning Network. Here’s how it works. Every month, we curate the latest insights, best practices, and techniques around a different topic related to learning and development. We invite innovative professionals from the learning and development community to gather, share insights, and collaborate—social learning at its best. It’s free to come, but advanced registration is required.

The topic for our November session was “Transforming Classroom Content to eLearning.” We led a guided discussion based on broad questions, such as:

  • People worry about learner engagement in online learning. What can you do to involve learners?
  • How would you describe an ideal eLearning experience?
  • How would you describe a bad eLearning experience?
  • How can you overcome resistance to eLearning in your organization or with your training audience?

Our participants came from a diverse background with varied experiences. For 90 minutes, we discussed typical challenges related to the topic and brainstormed solutions together. After the session, we compiled the information we all shared and sent a PDF out to everyone who attended.

Our next session is Wednesday, December 5 from 9 – 10:30 a.m. The topic is “Assessing Training Needs: Alternatives to Training Courses.” We often assume that if a training need exists, then a training course is the solution. We’ll put our brains together to explore other ways to teach beyond the confines of coursework in a dynamic, small-group setting.

Hope to see you there. Register today! Join our LinkedIn Group for post-session discussions.

Transforming Classroom Content for eLearning

Although online learning is hardly new, it’s still a bit of a bandwagon issue for some organizations. Some companies feel compelled to go with online learning because it’s “the thing to do.” But for other organizations, it’s a vital mode of learning that can supplement face-to-face-instruction or even stand in place of it.

But we’re not here to debate whether or not elearning is superior to classroom learning. The fact is elearning is here to stay. The demand is growing for mobile training that’s accessible anywhere, anytime. In fact, one of the most popular requests we receive is to transform classroom materials for online learning.

Before starting the process of converting materials, the big question is: what’s the actual purpose of the elearning? Will it replace the classroom training, or will it supplement it? This is a very important question, because it affects the overall direction you take.

For example, the curriculum might require participants to complete a classroom portion first, with the elearning available as a refresher or as a just-in-time resource. In this case, the online course doesn’t need to include every detail from the face-to-face training materials. But if the elearning is designed as a standalone experience that replaces the classroom learning, you’ll need to carefully construct the course so that all the essential details are included—without overwhelming the learners.

Here some of our strategies for adapting classroom materials for a fun, engaging online learning experience:

  • Organize the content in a logical manner for elearning. This doesn’t mean copying the script from the PowerPoint file onto the screen and inserting the “Next” button every now and then. Start with writing learning objectives, and organize your course so that each section maps to an objective. You don’t necessarily need to reveal the objectives on screen. Consider “what’s in it for me?” language to pique their interest. For example, compare these two:

“At the end of this course, you should be able to create your intuitive exercise program using our four-part proprietary method.” versus “How do I create a custom exercise program that’s easy to follow?”

  • Adapt the tone for online learning. If you’re addressing a wide range of learners with various levels of experience, the elearning should be broad enough to engage them all without isolating anyone. Adjust the tone accordingly if you know your audience is primarily made up of either experts or novices.
  • Create content layers. One of the great benefits of elearning is that it easily accommodates people’s various learning modes. People read differently online than on paper; online, they rarely scroll down past the “fold” of the page. Unlike chapters in a book, elearning content doesn’t need to be available on the same level. The essentials should be included in the main content areas of an online course. Secondary information can be discovered through rollover or clickable areas. And third-level content can be organized as PDF files in a resource library for on-demand access. Keep in mind that arranging content into layers doesn’t mean you should bury it; an intuitive navigation design makes it easily accessible.
  • Give learners choices for exploring content. It’s fine to provide a map, but forcing learners down a one-way road with no opportunity for side trips just promotes falling asleep at the wheel. There are exceptions, however, such as when you’re trying to teach a compliance process that must be followed in a particular order.
  • Give learners the chance to practice what they’ve learned. We can’t emphasize this enough. Just like with classroom training, practice doesn’t just entail answering multiple-choice questions. It could be a game, a scenario, or a quest. A good online practice exercise sets up an appropriate context, gives the learners a challenge to solve, and helps connect what they’ve learned to real-life ways they can apply that information.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to give learners feedback on their progress. Although scripted feedback can’t really replace real, live human feedback, try to make it as meaningful and relevant as possible. For example, in a branching scenario that gives learners multiple options, create custom feedback for each option they choose. In other words, don’t just tell them the choice is correct or incorrect, but tell them why.

No matter what your reason is for converting classroom materials to online learning—budget, time, efficiency, or geographical constraints—working with a team that specializes in elearning development will help you create the best experience for your learners.

The Promising Future For Mobile Learning

It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time doing research required much more time and effort than it does today. Now most of us carry entire libraries of information in our bags or pockets. For many of us, LBI—life before the Internet—seems like a faraway memory.

The steady development of innovative mobile devices brings exciting opportunities for mobile learning, also known as “mlearning.” Tablets, gaming consoles, smartphones, and other types of handheld units all offer mlearning opportunities. What makes mlearning especially powerful is that it enables easy access to relevant information on demand and on the go.


The concept of mobile learning has already become ingrained in the minds of the youngest generation. (Just observe the baby who can’t get a magazine to “work.”) Although “digital natives” are easily catching on to mobile learning, it’s not gaining widespread traction in schools yet; with limited budgets, it’s not always possible to implement schoolwide mobile learning programs. Still, 40% of teenagers have smartphones and the number is growing. Think of the possibilities!

For students who do have access to mlearning resources, here’s how they’re using them:

  • Taking notes at school using mobile apps
  • Reinforcing learned content through podcasts, videos, and other supporting resources
  • Taking on-the-spot quizzes to measure knowledge
  • Exploring interactive graphics, charts, and timelines online

Mobile learning is also very promising for businesses. In his “Five Steps to Mobile Learning” article in Learning Solutions magazine, Brian Taliesin reports that by 2013, mobile workers will account for 35% of the workforce worldwide. Naturally, mobile workers will need more mobile ways to learn as the remote workforce continues to expand.

The International University Consortium for Executive Education (UNICON) recently issued a report that outlines some of the promising benefits for business-related mobile learning:

  • Just-enough learning: Provides relevant, easily understood content for time-crunched professionals.
  • Just-in-time learning: Offers convenient, flexible information exactly when it is needed.
  • Just-for-me learning: Allows access to content on mobile devices in flexible ways, which makes it appealing to many different types of learners.
  • Collaborative learning: Facilitates working together through use of texting, as well as knowledge-sharing and question-based forums, which can strengthens interaction between participants and instructors.

Like with students in school, the possibilities for workplace learning are enormous. Imagine a forklift driver with easy mobile access to a loading plan, which was updated after his shift began. Or emergency responders who need up-to-the-minute details that helps them maximize their effectiveness on the job. Or a retail sales rep who can order products for customers on the spot. Some of these technologies are already in place, but there is much more room to grow.

Mobile learning doesn’t need to be intensely interactive to be effective. Remember, the focus is to give learners the information they need when they need it an in easily accessible format. That can mean simple text-based instructions, a how-to video, a map, or a reference drawing. For content managers and instructional designers, it’s important to keep in mind that mobile learning usually draws form existing resources. The strategy is to pull together the most relevant information and organize it in a way that maps to how and when the learners need it. Build in practice opportunities to help reinforce learned content.

What mobile learning resources have you used? What do you find most exciting for the future of mlearning?

NEW BUSINESS Contact us with business inquiries or to discuss your project needs and vision.
CAREERS We always enjoy connecting with talented professionals in the learning and development field.
CONNECT 503.208.3256
LOCATION 2701 NW Vaughn St #103
Portland, OR 97210

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