Introduction to Blended Learning

Blended learning is a combination of offline (face-to-face, traditional classroom methods) and online technology based elearning, both integrated together so that one compliments the other, creating a new, hybrid method of teaching.

 

 

Blended learning is composed of self-pacing and live training. So, for example, a student might engage in learning within a real-world classroom setting, while also later completing online multimedia coursework to supplement the lesson. This is highly convenient as the learner is able to work at their own pace outside the classroom and only has to physically attend class for a limited time. It has been suggested that students who complete online coursework followed by interactive, face-to-face class activities have an enhanced learning experience.

Blended learning is often also referred to as ‘hybrid’ learning, and it can include many forms of online education environments. Tools and platforms that complement blended learning include LMSs and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Some organisations use blended learning as their primary method of teaching, while some may only use it on rare occasions.

Instances of Blended Learning are usually made up of around three components:

  • Traditional in-person, offline methods facilitated by an educator
  • Online methods and learning materials, including pre-recorded material from an educator
  • Independent study issued to build upon skills

While traditional education tends to mainly deliver material through lectures, blended learning lectures can be filmed ahead of time, so the student can watch on their own time at their own pace.

Examples of Blended Learning

One of the major benefits of blended learning is the ability to create an online resource within your LMS (learning management system) that learners can refer to before and after live training sessions.

Completing online learning activities before live training can help learners prepare, as such activities will introduce the content, and could include reference reading, watching videos or answering a pre-course questionnaire to assess the learner’s abilities.

Based off these activities, instructors can identify areas that need to be focused on during the classroom-based training session, or in other areas of the course, allowing the educator to tailor it to the learners’ needs.

This also ensures that learners will enter live training sessions with the same knowledge level on a topic, meaning that the instructor will not have to cover the basics, therefore saving time.

Learners can also complete exams or quizzes, and submit assignments for the course instructor to assess, aswell as being able to give feedback online via the course.

Additionally, online group chats can encourage learners to discuss the content of the course – forums are also a great way for learners to discuss any live sessions.

 

Related Articles:

https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/creating-blended-learning-content

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/blended-learning-getting-started/0/steps/7848

https://edtechnology.co.uk/Article/the-impact-of-blended-learning

 

 

6 Steps to Implementing a Gamified eLearning Environment

When designing elearning content, considering the motivations of the learners will significantly increase the effectiveness of knowledge retention. Yu-kai Chou refers to gamification as “Human-focused design” as opposed to “Function-focused design”. This means that rather than focussing solely on just delivering the learning content, gamification is concerned with how content can be delivered so that the participants will retain and engage with it. This is perhaps the most important step in using gamification for elearning: thinking of the users first.

 

 

A plan is important during the implementation of gamification. It is crucial to think about the business objectives, intended behaviour, learners themselves, and so on. Here are 6 steps towards gamifying your content…

 

1. Define Goals

Before gamifying your content, make sure you define success.  Otherwise, it will be hard to determine when – or if – success is achieved. Your business will have objectives, possibly multiple, and whether they have been achieved will be evident in the results of the gamification. It is important to address business needs, and not just use gamification needlessly to support content that is inapplicable to the organization or the learner.

Once it is established what the learners are to take away from the course, these expectations must be clearly communicated – the learners must know about the course and understand its purpose. This could be in the form of a tutorial, for example, so that they are able to recognise the goals.

 

2. Understand The Context

Certain gamification techniques are suited to different courses and/or learners, while some may not be so suited. There are many different elements that decide which gaming features will best suit the tailored needs of learners. For example, the degree of employee motivation may affect how rewards are integrated into the gamification, and what rewards may be best suited.

Always consider how a given gamification technique will work within specific content, too. For example, introducing a point system may not motivate learners much if there isn’t a leaderboard, or if their user profiles aren’t visible. The goal of gamification is to appeal to a learner’s desire to compete and achieve, in addition to learning. When these points can be seen by co-workers, it gives a sense of public accountability to continued learning.

 
3. Structure The Experience

Researchers from the University of Toronto found that when milestones are in place, learners view the overall learning objective as more achievable, which helps motivate them to get started. The longer an online course, the harder it is for a learner to build up enough motivation to start.

It is effective to set the content up in stages, milestones, or ‘levels’, as recommended by research. One benefit of breaking a course down into easily digestible parts is that it can be identified where learners may get off track, leading to a better understanding of the users. Another benefit is that it will be easier to edit the course to make it more effective.

 

4. Game Elements

Following this, different gaming elements including badges, avatars, achievements, leaderboards, and so on are added to the eLearning course, creating an engaging and interactive experience.

Interactive gamified learning experiences help boost knowledge retention. This could include techniques like flip cards, quizzes, puzzles, matching, and discussion boards. A timer could also be added to any lesson or content type as a means of turning any learning experience into a gamified one.

It must be ensured that gamified eLearning is fun – for many learners, collaboration, competition, rewards and scores are important to be sure that they are motivated to continue.

 

5. Use Reward Systems

As mentioned, it is beneficial to reward learners with points, badges, certificates, prizes and more. Badges are visual rewards earned as learners progress through the course or content – they help display progress and make progressive learning more visible. It is effective to provide a place where learners can display badges to maximise the social effectiveness of gamification, such as a leaderboard.

While rewards like badges and points have no financial value, learners can still be motivated to work hard to acquire them. This is an example of intrinsic motivation, where the learners aren’t learning to receive something tangible, they are working to acquire new skills and knowledge. On the other hand, be warned, because although intrinsic motivation works for some, others may have extrinsic motivations. This means that rewards like gift cards and money can often drive short-term motivation. However in many situations, extrinsic rewards actually decrease motivation overall.

Finally, if your organization doesn’t necessarily want to gamify a course, you could instead create giveaways, offer discount codes, or give learners feedback, e.t.c. This can add significant value to your LMS.

 

 

If implemented effectively, gamification can propel businesses and its employees to maximum success. These steps should help guide your implementation of Gamification into your learning content.

 The Benefits of Gamification – and the Science Behind It

What are the benefits of gamification?

Who doesn’t like being rewarded for their hard work? Awarding badges, certificates, or points, can result in an improved, more engaging learning experience. Gamification in eLearning has become increasingly popular as not only does it make the learning experience more effective, it motivates individuals to reach their end goal more quickly — and feel more satisfied when they get there. But beware, some of the elements of gamification produce extrinsic motivators and will only work for short periods of time. Consider using intrinsic motivators such as empowerment and meaning; these are the Duracell motivators that play the long game. Gamification Octalysis.

But what many people may not realise is that there is an exact science behind why gamification in eLearning is so effective. Dmitri Mendeleev (Russian Scientist who first published the Periodic Table of Elements) was even one of the first scientists to use gamification to complete an educational task.

benefits of gamification

So, what is the science behind gamification in eLearning?

When we play games and are rewarded for our achievements, even if it is simply moving to the next level, our minds our stimulated and hormones are released. These hormones are called endorphins, which are also released during exercise, and they bring on feelings of well-being and enjoyment. Because of these endorphins, learners experience accelerated motivation, excitement and sense of accomplishment when learning, making the gamification experience more effective and memorable.

Benefits of Gamification In eLearning

So now that we know the science behind it, below are the key benefits of employing gamification strategies in your organisation.

1. Better experience and knowledge retention

Gamification in eLearning creates an exciting effective, informal learning environment, allowing learners to practice real-life situations and challenges, adding an interactive element to your eLearning courses. This creates the feeling of immersion, which captures the attention of learners and motivates them to succeed. When learners feel positive about their learning process, they become active participants rather than passive observers. As a result, Gamification in eLearning boosts knowledge absorption and retention by blending learning with the production of endorphins, and therefore successfully committing information to the long-term memory.

2. Versatile Applications

Gamification can be used to fulfil a variety of learning needs including product sales, induction and onboarding, customer support, awareness creation, and compliance. Even a subject matter that may be complex or dull can be absorbed more efficiently, because learners are actively participating in and enjoying the learning experience. Gamification can also cater to the needs of every individual. Working against personal benchmarks, being recognized for a job well-done, offering training narratives – gamification provides everyone, and not only those at the top of leaderboard, with the potential to improve their performance.

3. Provides Objective Data about employees

eLearning allows employers to easily measure how well their employees are progressing through the learning process. Gamification can show, in an unbiased and objective way, who is performing especially well, and who might need a bit of a wake-up call, eliminating the need for guesswork and assumptions. Gamification can essentially act as a means of constant and automatic data collection. This can be data about anything in your organization – sales reps productivity rates, internal knowledge usage rates, and more. Such data can be extremely valuable, even though it can be overlooked.

5. Allows for Automatic Feedback

Just as it is important for employers to monitor the progress of employees, it is equally as important for these employees to receive constant, up to date, and automatic feedback. Gamification is a great way to do so. For example, by using leaderboards, it is possible for employees to see how they are doing compared to other individuals and teams in the organization, or to benchmarks they had set for themselves previously (with the caveat mentioned earlier!). Feedback allows users to consistently understand how well they are doing and what they can do improve, and therefore is one of the most important elements of gamification.

This article should give insight on why you should evaluate gamification and the benefits of gamification for eLearning, the science behind it, and how it will benefit both your learners and your business.

Gamification and Game-Based Learning: What’s the Difference?

Gamification and game-based learning can increase learner engagement and training success, but there are key differences between the two that need to be understood to ensure that you adopt the appropriate strategy for your training.

Game-based learning can be defined as the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation.

Gamification is the act of adding game elements to a non-game situation, with the potential to turn routine, mundane tasks into refreshing, motivating experiences.

 

gamification
Gamification v.s. Game-based learning

Basics of Gamification & Game-Based Learning

Gamification is the process of applying game based elements or mechanics to existing learning platforms or content to increase the engagement, motivation and interest of the learner. The game mechanics can be applied in the form of achievements, rewards or recognition, awarding badges on completion of assessments, and more. These elements increase learning ability through increasing persistence, goal orientation, learning by repetition, and through collaboration with peers. Gamification can make the learning experience more motivating and engaging for the learner but be careful when you are designing elements of gamification; intrinsic motivation is the key to motivation and more often than not a badge or an award only motivates extrinsically and therefore is short lived.

Game-based learning is the integration of a fully-fledged game or simulation to achieve specific learning objectives through the path that the game lays out. Often an immersive experience, it allows learners to think logically, plan strategically, and move ahead towards the goal. The learning content is integrated within the context of the game, and retention of the learning material is also higher due to the entertaining nature of the game.

Features

While game-based learning does use many of the gamification strategies such as awards, level ups, etc, gamification itself cannot be equated to game-based learning. Recognising the different elements and tools used for both gamification and game-based learning will differentiate the two strategies and assist in choosing which to use.

Gamification involves:

  • Scoring mechanism/badges/awards
  • Levels
  • Leaderboards/Quests
  • etc

Game-based learning involves:

  • Rules of the game
  • Storyline
  • Avatars
  • Levels
  • Leaderboards/Quests
  • Simulations
  • etc

Which one should I use?

Game-based learning requires a lot of effort and time because the content must be designed to fit within the game elements, and also must be devised in such a way that the learners are made to learn but simultaneously have fun. So, you need to choose the right game approach for the given content, then consider the programming effort for the learning.

Possible across all custom learning, gamification offers a solution when you want to simply increase the fun element and engagement level of your training. By adding game elements to the course, you can make the learner more participative and involved with the concepts being presented. The learners are kept interested in continuing their learning through being presented with awards, level ups, and so on.The game mechanics and element that will benefit the custom learning course the most should be implemented for optimal success.

So…

While it is evident that gamification and game-based learning are related, they are essentially two separate entities.  However, it is also certain that both are excellent tools for increasing learner engagement and motivation.

 

Related articles:

https://www.bunchball.com/gamification

https://www.edutopia.org/blogs/beat/game-based-learning

http://thelearningcounsel.com/article/why-game-based-learning

Introduction to Microlearning

 

Forget extensive employee manuals and tedious training videos – microlearning is becoming more and more frequently used to supplement eLearning courses – and for good reason.

But before jumping headfirst into the microlearning pool, it’s critical that the basics are understood so that you can effectively use microlearning to your advantage, achieving sustained results from the get go.

 

 

What is microlearning?

The basic concept of microlearning is to provide educational/training material in short segments of typically around 3-5 minutes (or even shorter). This helps learners to focus on the ‘essentials’ of that area of learning and improves their ability to retain the knowledge or skill.

 

What makes microlearning effective?

Making sure that the segments of the learning course are divided into smaller chunks is key to effectively delivering information in the microlearning format.  For example, rather than an informational video lasting an hour, covering a wide variety of information and topics, dividing this into shorter individual videos or combining with other types of content can be more effective. Learning is most effective when information is bite-sized, focused, and can be absorbed at any time, on any device. Therefore, microlearning must also be efficient and engaging to be effective. Microlearning must adapt to integrate the knowledge required for optimal learning, and ultimately drive employees towards success.

 

Types of microlearning

Microlearning enables material to be delivered through various forms of media, examples being…

Short Videos

There are generally 2 types of videos you can use for microlearning: animation and live action videos. Both involve the creation or use of characters and both tell some kind of story. This style of microlearning allows learners to connect with the content more effectively, using high-impact visuals to reinforce ideas.

Game based learning (gamification)

Nuggets of microlearning can be delivered through game based learning, which presents the information in a game-like format, making the learning process fun and engaging.

PDF Documents/eBooks

Interactive PDFs or eBooks present information in smaller, more manageable amounts. Rather than reading lengthy documents on your phone or tablet, the content is more visually appealing and manageable.

Infographics

Infographics use minimal text and appealing visuals to convey key ideas, helping information to be digested rapidly.

 

Benefits

Among the many benefits of microlearning, one is that it allows learners to absorb knowledge more rapidly through a range of formats which are suited to modern technologies. Large volumes of text, for example, are difficult to consume on the smaller screen devices, therefore bite sized information is more suited to the technology of today.

Another benefit of bite sized learning is that courses are cost effective to develop and to update as needed and allow for variation and customization. Also, because Microlearning teaches new skills in short and focused segments, this allows businesses to focus on the skills that would most benefit their employees and the organization as a whole, meaning employees are able to spend less time sitting in training rooms.

 

For more benefits of microlearning, be sure to check out upcoming posts

 

Related articles…

 

https://www.edapp.com/microlearning/

https://blog.anderspink.com/2016/10/what-is-microlearning-and-why-it-matters/

https://www.talentlms.com/elearning/microlearning