Daniel Staemmler

Things about eLearning, Educational Technology, and more…

Problems and Obstacles with Online Learning (2/4)

Before going into detail on some criteria for selecting appropriate learning content, here a quick outline of problems and obstacles that learners might encounter when learning online. Once learners utilizing new information and communication technologies, they might encounter two fundamental problems. On the one hand this is the problem of orientation and on the other of cognitive overload.

Disorientation of Users

The problem of users disorientation is closely tied to his navigation behavior in structured network systems online. As such, for instance, the Internet in its entirety is referred to with its many individual web pages containing different content (text, graphics, video, animation, etc.) that are linked with each other.

Due to the depth of information it can be hard for the user to identify his precise position within the variety of the content presented, and secondly to actual determine his state of his learning progress. Therefore the problem of orientation is very closely linked to cognitive overload. An obvious conclusion is to put more emphasis onto the structure, in a sense of predefined navigation, in order to minimize the users orientation problems in online (learning) environments.

This seems contradicting, since a certain degree of disorientation can be considered very useful for discovery-based learning. A strong pre-structured navigation sequence results in a user behavior, which is rather determined form the outside than self-determined. Due to this determination individual learning differences are not taken into account, more so those of a third party/ person (e.g. designers, programmers, etc.) who sketches out learning paths. It is rather desirable, that the learner can choose independently from several options available the one who will unlock the learning content for him. For students with no or little experience in learning with new media, it is advisable to offer a predefined learning path which helps them to orient themselves. Good mechanisms to support the learners orientation are for instance tables of contents, indexes, maps, and “fish-eye” perspectives which highlight important parts and reduced the unimportant in size or faded color.

Cognitive overload

Mentioned earlier, there is a correlation between the disorientation in online (learning) systems and cognitive overload. This problem occurs because the user always has to keep in mind and remember the system learning/ working in. Meaning the user must constantly be aware of: “Where have I been already? What did I already read? How and in what way did I get there, what kind of information do I still have to look into and how can I get there?” Storing all this information has nothing to do with the actual process of information acquisition and processing learning content. However, a quiet large part of memory capacity is needed to store this secondary information and demands additional attention.

Part I: E-Learning: Choosing the right Learning System and Learning Content
Part 2: Problems and Obstacles with Online Learning
Part 3: Particular Design for Online Courses (coming soon)
Part 4: What is Interactivity and Interaction? (coming soon)

Filed under: eLearning, , ,

Choosing the right Learning Management System and Learning Content (1/4)

Part I: The right choice of Learning System and Learning Content for Online Learning

The constant flow of information steaming off of new discoveries and achievements in our society as well as new insights in everyday situations call for innovative learning strategies. Especially in the health sector knowledge as a resource increasingly gains importance. The demands on health services is to promote the development of new solutions for knowledge transfer. Great opportunities and possibilities arise for apprenticeships, education and trainings with the so called new technologies and the Internet.

Why E-Learning?

The shift of educational and training activities from the classroom and face-to-face teaching into the virtual space and an online course increases the flexibility for all participants. Especially in hospitals where many employees need to be up to date with their level of knowledge, is the organization and coordination of training and working hours necessary. Online courses once available, can be accessed from any computer or mobile device (e.g. smart phone) at any moment in time.

E-learning or teaching and learning online is nowadays, as one form of knowledge transfer and knowledge acquisition, part of many areas of continuing education. The term e-learning stands for electronic teaching and learning utilizing one or more computers, laptops or mobile devices which are usually connected through a network. Online learning can be open on the Internet and self-directed or staged for a specific user group in a walled off space. Such a closed and secured  learning environment can offer students specific and didactically prepared information, e.g. who are highly relevant to professionalism at work. In addition there are a variety of application scenarios aimed at different target groups. The latter range from school children to students to professionals who see themselves constantly faced with new requirements and regulations in their everyday work.

Technical Requirements

The technical requirements for the implementation of online courses can be met and fulfilled relatively quickly. There are a variety of fee-based learning platforms (e.g. Blackboard and Clix), and free open-source products (such as Moodle and ILIAS) to significantly simplify the administration of course content and management of users. Once installed on a computer that acts as a server, the learning materials can be set up. Searching for and choosing the right system demands to carefully think about which requirements need to be met.

Part I: E-Learning: Choosing the right Learning System and Learning Content
Part 2: Problems and Obstacles with Online Learning
Part 3: Particular Design for Online Courses (coming soon)
Part 4: What is Interactivity and Interaction? (coming soon)

Filed under: eLearning, , ,

Top Lists in the Field of Learning

Often I come across lists of free learning tools and those you have to pay for. However, they always produce a lot of retweets on Twitter. So here is a list of lists that refer to learning tools and in addition blogs that I came across:

Feel free to add to this list in the comment box below. Additions are always welcome 🙂

Filed under: Education, eLearning, Web 2.0, , , ,

Baby Boomers & Generation X is so yesterday. Millennials are next!

I came across this very well put together video a little while ago. It is about the generation that is moving into power as you read this: Generation We.

In 2015 in America (I believe the U.S. that is) 74 Million people are considered to be part of the population group Baby Boomers. They have been born between 1946 – 1964. This group is followed by the Generation X which incorporated all those born between 1965 and 1977. In the eBook “Generation We” by Eric Greenberg with Karl Weber the Generation X group is considered “… a politically and socially conservative cohort that has struggled to define itself against the vast and dominant Boomer group it followed.” I this makes me part of this group. I never considered myself to struggle with my place in society nor feeling suppressed by my parents generation.. However, the new Generation are the Millennials born between the years 1978 till 2000. What this generation has to deal with and what their opportunities are is shown in the video below.

Eric Greenberg is using the online social networking to promote the Millennials as the  Gen(eration) We and to activate members of this section of the population. This generation will be more diverse than any other before (White 63%, Hispanic 18%, Black 14%, Asian 5%).Their education is good and who would have guessed that, they will are also the most wired ones. Interested in more about Gen We? Take a look in to the above mentioned eBook.

All these facts and predictions are of interest when we take a look into online learning and the ease this generation is using technology in the educational field. Generation X needs to shape up to find the right ways to cater towards the next generations needs. a simple PowerPoint presentation based in a flash widget and maybe some underlying sound does not seem to be enough anymore. More so the opportunity for learners to interact with each other and the content itself while learning. Rearranging content while discussing and arguing for the right solution seems more the way to get cognitively involved than simply absorb some fixed and inflexible content.

Filed under: Education, Social Networks, , ,

More Trends and Predictions

I know, I know, there are a lot of trends and predictions being published and released right now. After all it is this time of the year to reflect on what happened and to predict what might be.

However, I just received the wwwtools for education newsletter with a nice assembly of “Trends from 2006, Projections for 2007… and Beyond“. Graeme Daniel put a nice list of notes and trends in education together. He split these different areas up into the following categories:

  • Highlights: Technology in education, 2006,
  • Technology 2006,
  • Forecast for Technology, 2007,
  • At the hardware trade shows,
  • The iPhone – Rising Star of Macworld?
  • More mobile and wireless trends,
  • Converging technologies: Computers, TV, Video and Net,
  • A mixed bag (e.g. Web 2.0, Nanotechnology),
  • Just for fun, and
  • Books.

Enjoy once again the trends of 2006 and predictions for 2007. If you want to sign up for the wwwtools for education newsletter you can do so by clicking here.

Filed under: Blogging, Technology, Web 2.0, , , , , , ,

Informal Learning

Jay Cross just published his “Presentation: No more tachers, no more books” (mp3 only) that he gave at Training Solutions Conference & Expo, held in Denver on October the 24th 2006 online. For all of you who like to look into the informal way of learning I would recommend to listen into his talk.

Filed under: Informal Learning, , , ,

New Brandon Hall Report Highlights Employee Orientation and Interpersonal Skills Training

Brandon Hall just publishes a new report how organizations like McDonalds, Microsoft, Health Partners and Bank of America organize pleasant work environments for their employees. The report features 21 case studies on 99 pages and in addition to “high-profile companies” it also takes a look a the vendors who create their content.
A free excerpt is available and contains the table of content, introduction plus one sample case study and an excerpt of one course. The full report is available online for $345 and can be ordered here.

Filed under: Corporate Learning, , , , , ,

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