Friday, 30 November 2012

Google's Open Source LMS Cloud Course

Probably a little old, but I wanted to share what a fantastic tool Google’s open source LMS called CloudCourse is. I imagine this includes integration with Gmail, Google Calendar, Maps, etc. In addition, Google’s app engine lets you develop online applications easily and for lower cost than you would in the past. A couple of features of Google’s CloudCourse are listed below:
  • CloudCourse allows anyone to create and track learning activities. CloudCourse also offers calendaring, waitlist management and approval features.
  • CloudCourse is fully integrated with Google Calendar and can be further customized for your organization.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tips to Foster a Creative Learning Environment

E-learners are often infamous for losing focus while taking online learning programs. So, how can this learning content be made more interesting and appealing? How can an online course creatively drive participation and engagement? Let’s look at a few low cost-effective ways to make most out of a remote learning experience:
Make use of kinaesthetic learning tools – Most learners have a kinaesthetic style of learning. (Also read learning styles) and for them, classroom trainers often set up a colourful classroom to help kinaesthetic learners better focus. Currently with online learning, the balance seems to shift to auditory and visual learning. It probably would be a good idea to equip online learners with a tangible stress-reducing toy to occupy their hands while they learn.

Foster a sense of community – A new group of people always feel a little more eased out with the help of icebreaker sessions. This fosters a sense of community in them. With social media in vogue, how about having a Twitter ice breaker – that is introducing yourselves in not more than 140 characters?

Participation and interaction tools – In a recent elearning program, I was asked to interact on a forum by introducing myself including why I was doing the course and speak about my hobbies and interests. Later on, we had to indulge in group conversations and questions and answers. This kind of learners’ participation enriches the program in itself.

Emotional content – Trainers often integrate stories and humor into their delivery. The stories and jokes are effective because they add emotional content and bring the lessons to life. They also relax the facilitator and the participants and contribute to a stress-free, learning-friendly environment.

Create additional visual stimuli - A way to offer supplemental visual stimulation during an online learning experience would be to provide some type of eye candy, something that doesn't require much focus or attention, like a spinning top or a mood ring. Tools such as these would function much like doodling, whereby they engage the subconscious mind in an activity that doesn't distract the conscious brain from the learning at hand.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Basic Techonology Characteristics While Considering An E-learning Solution

Online learning is all about technology. An e-learning package is successful only when its characteristics make the learner’s and instructor’s experiences enjoyable. Technology should be as seamless as possible for the learner and instructor because nothing dampens a new e-learner’s enthusiasm more quickly than technological glitches. An instructor’s drive to work online also gets killed if h/she has difficult to use software. Regardless of whether your focus is academic or corporate, there are four basic technology characteristics that you should look for while considering an e-learning solution:

Programming Languages - Programming languages provide a great deal of flexibility and freedom to the developer when creating online learning. The most common programming language for online learning is Hyper Text Mark Up Language which is better known as HTML.
Authoring Packages - Most authoring packages are visually oriented so the learner doesn't need to know any coding. The software performs the coding "behind the scenes." All the instructor needs to worry about is placing the correct information in the right place. Some authoring packaging languages include Macromedia’s Dreamweaver.

Learning Management Systems - These systems are specifically designed to track the performance of a multitude of learners. They can be academically focused like Blackboard, e-College, or WebCT, or more focused toward corporations like Docent, Saba etc. 

Content Management Systems - A CMS is mostly instructor oriented that helps him/her to catalog, track, and manipulate content used in online courses. A CMS is effective when large numbers of instructors are all focused on developing courses and have a desire to reuse content in a variety of courses.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

5 Alternatives to Open Source LMS - Moodle

In one of my older posts, we saw that Moodle is one of the most preferred Learning Management Platforms in the open source environment (click here to read post). Moodle is more often than not the first to be uttered when people are asked what the open source Learning Management Systems (LMS) options are. Undoubtedly Moodle is a great option – but it’s not the only option. Let’s briefly look at open source alternatives to Moodle. I would encourage you to visit these sites separately as well to explore more.

Dokeos-  is a well featured LMS suite that offers content authoring, learning management, video conferencing and assessment tools. This is a great way to synchronise HR management such as Oracle and SAP.
Sakai  - is a collection of open source tools developed by a large number of universities to provide a supplementary learning environment suitable for on-campus courses and distance learning courses. It is a preferred platform after Blackboard in universities and for online courses.
Docebo - used in corporate and higher education settings. Offers support for a number of different learning models and is compatible with SCORM 1.2 and 2004. It offers interfaces to external systems such as video conferencing and HR systems.
ATutor - is more of an open source LCMS that also offers LMS tools. The “A” stands for Accessible and it has excellent support for key accessibility standards as well as support for SCORM, IMS etc.
OLAT - A well featured system in its tenth year of development. It recently has been the winner of the “IMS Learning Impact ‘Leadership Award’ 2009 for best open source learning platform.”

Monday, 12 November 2012

Open Source LMS

In my previous blog, we spoke of Second Life and Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs). These days the most common open source platform used for it is Simulation Linked Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (SLOODLE). SLOODLE is a free and open source project which integrates the multi-user virtual environments of Second Life® and/or OpenSim with the Moodle®. Using Sloodle, you can:

·         Upload presentations in Moodle, and have them displayed in Second Life with the Sloodle Presenter
·         Create quizzes in Moodle, and have students complete them in Secondlife using Sloodle quiz chairs, and the all new Sloodle Scoreboard!
·         Create and award points on your scoreboard for quizzes and role-play activities.
·         Submit homework assignments in Second Life, and grade them using the Moodle Gradebook
·         Distribute Virtual items to the class using a web based interface.
·         Record and bridge Student / Teacher chat sessions in Second Life and have these automatically archived in Moodle Chat

Friday, 9 November 2012

Second Life and Virtual Learning Environments

Learning has reached a new dimension through the use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) or more commonly referred to as Second Life. Here is a great introduction to Second Life as a teaching/learning tool. Go on and get your own avatar!

Friday, 2 November 2012

LMS - a Tool or a Strategy?

LMS as it is commonly known – so what really is it? Is it a strategy or a tool or a solution? How does a customer look at LMS? What does a customer look for in an LMS system? In my opinion, more than just looking at it as a mere tool that automates tasks and increases effectiveness of the training department, it is a solution that the customer seeks, a strategy that blends into a much larger picture of a process. No doubt LMS is still a software but it is not merely a tool to achieve something but rather a complete exercise in itself which needs to become an integrated part of an entire learning process in more ways than one.