Category: E-Learning
How Do I Choose The Correct Learning Management System?

In this article, we’ll provide you with a clear breakdown of LMSs and what you should consider when choosing an LMS which will serve your company’s needs best. It’s not a decision to be made lightly because your entire eLearning ecosystem is built on it.

 

What is an LMS?

Are you new to e-learning and the term learning management system (LMS)? No problem. Your lesson begins now. In a nutshell, an LMS is an online training platform equipped with a diverse range of features to help build courses that promote engagement through incorporating interactive, fun elements such as

  • ‘How to Tutorials
  • Simulations (system processes and procedures)
  • Infographics
  • Drills
  • Gamification
  • Videos and audio
  • Voice-overs
  • Animations
  • Polls
  • Quizzes and assignments (Assessments)

The LMS should be suitable for companies within all industry sectors. It needs to be a versatile solution that covers employee and extended enterprise training needs.

 

Define the learning requirements

The main question you need to ask yourself is, what do I want the users to achieve by participating in this course? The learning requirements will dictate the core functionality and types of applications used to achieve the overarching goal.

For example, an English language training course aimed at trainees worldwide and an advanced fashion designing course for professionals working in the industry will require different apps for the course to be taught effectively.  Key factors to also take into consideration including but not limited to

  • Mobile accessibility

Perhaps you’re teaching a course to employees who live an on-the-go lifestyle; they may not always have their laptops with them or be in an area with WiFi. In this case, it’s vital that the LMS can be downloaded to the mobile device and give the user the flexibility to learn at their own pace no matter where they are in the world.

  • Content compatibility

Content forms the bedrock of your chosen LMS. You need to consider the formatting options the LMS provides, e.g. can course information be delivered in Word documents, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations? Does the LMS facilitate video and audio streaming and provide users with a transcript?

  • Reporting and analysis

Progress and overall performance need to be monitored, interpreted, analysed and reported. You must be sure that the correct data is gathered to provide objective results. Reports should be fully customisable to suit the course performance measurement requirements.

Quantitative data also provides you with a benchmark from which you can gauge whether the course is successful or has specific weaknesses that can be resolved by tweaking the delivery mechanisms.

  • Security and reliability

It would be best if you were sure that the LMS you choose has state of the art security features to protect all sensitive information and content confidentiality. According to the eLearning Industry, “Reliability of the LMS can be judged by understanding its downtime, disaster management, and contingency plans. Your LMS should not ditch your users in the middle of a crucial learning point.” Reliability is vital to keep the trainees’ attention; frequent downtime will cause irritation as well as loss of concentration and interest. 

  • Regular updating

E-learning is a dynamic industry, and the LMS software should regularly update to keep pace with technological advancements.

 

Example of a widely used LMS: Moodle

Moodle is the largest and most used open-source LMS in the world. According to the official Moodle website, “Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments.” The LMS offers the following features

  • Designed to support both teaching and learning
  • Easy to use
  • Free with no licensing fees
  • Always up to date
  • Moodle in your language
  • All-in-one learning platform
  • Highly flexible and fully customisable
  • Scalable to any size
  • Robust, secure and private
  • Use anytime, anywhere, on any device

You may be asking what does open-source mean? Simply put, it refers to freely available software, can be modified and redistributed. Moodle ticks all the boxes!

 

Case Study: The Fio Academy of Skills Development (FASD)

According to Fio’s official website, “The Fio Academy of Skills Development (FASD) team focuses on career building and job creation.

Our vision is based on the strength that can be achieved when cultures and shared skills work together. We provide blended courses to the communities of Alexandra and Soweto. Our outstanding group of driven, caring individuals work hard to provide unique training opportunities to change peoples’ lives in the short term, instil a sense of pride and eventually provide a change in lifestyle/quality of life.

We teach courses such as “Introduction to Learning Design” and “Coordinate Learning Events” to provide skills to apply for starting careers. We deliberately avoid a classroom-only approach since we believe that digital skills should be honed. This is our small contribution to ‘bridge the digital divide’.”

 

Conclusion

The correct LMS should be a central educational ecosystem that allows teachers to develop courses incorporating multimedia elements that work together to actively engage trainees, making them want to learn and benefit from upskilling. It should also include functionality that allows educators to measure progress and overall performance.

As can be seen from the case study mentioned above, e-learning has the potential to bridge the digital divide in South Africa and throughout the world. Welcome to the new norm of learning.

Ready to get started? Speak to a business consultancy that has an e-learning division that specialises in using the Moodle LMS.


Gamification: Play to Learn

“Alright, everyone. It’s time to play a game!” Do you remember the flurry of excitement you felt when your pre-school teacher announced those terrific words? You dropped whatever you were doing and became fully attentive at the prospect of a game at school! Fast-forward 20 years, and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open during another boring slide presentation intended to train and upskill. Which scenario would you prefer?

 

Gamification: Active listening, interactive participation

So, what’s the connection? In both scenarios, the aim is to educate you about a particular topic that will assist your progress regardless of age. Yes, scenario A is when you were a young child, and scenario B is for your profession, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be interactive and fun!

 

What is gamification?

Gamification is a concept that incorporates elements of gaming into e-learning platforms, also known as learning management systems (LMSs). It’s one of the most cutting-edge ways to make your employee training or learner education more effective and engaging.

A study from the University of Colorado found that gamification in e-learning scored higher in fact- and skills-based learning assessments. Retention also improved when gamification was used in the workplace. In the future, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) may also become a regular part of gamification in business.

 

How does gamification in e-learning work?

Gamification is a flexible concept that can be tailored to suit a company’s specific needs. For example, thanks to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, you can run simulations, e.g. place an employee or prospective employee in a scenario that tests their aptitude for key performance indicators (KPIs) of the job description. You could also apply this approach to assessments and/or performance reviews. The game world is virtually infinite and situationally generated as players explore, develop and lead a simulated world.

Gamification also resolves one of the primary obstacles of online learning – participant disengagement. The following quote reiterates the reason for the lack of interest and interaction:

“For those of us who aspire to be original, predictability can be the worst kind of banality.” – James Spader, as Alan Shore, in the television series Boston Legal.

It’s fair to say the majority of us have felt this way at some point in our studies because the lesson format was predictable, one-sided, unable to transfer the emotion of the subject matter.

 

Insight from a gamification expert

We spoke to Dr HB Moolman (PhD – Computer-Assisted Education) to gain a more in-depth understanding of the theory and practical advantages of gamification. He starts by posing two questions, “What makes people across the world play electronic games?  What are the essential elements of gamification?  How can education benefit?” In his words,

Games are about fun and relaxation. This is the standard view when traditional games are discussed.  In sport, soccer, rugby, tennis matches consist of the following essential elements:

  • Competition against an opponent
  • Rules of the game
  • Strategy
  • Points to earn
  • Skills and endurance
  • One winner and;
  • Eventually, a leader board

Computer games utilise these same elements: strategy, rules, beat the opposition, score rewards, compete and measure against others regarding skill and guile.  The strongest and most cunning will prevail. An animated world or virtual environment is often added to motivate and attract competitors. 

In the world of education, an essential element is still “play to learn”.  An experienced educator will always revert to a game to teach their pupils a skill.  Most of us learned about accounting when we played “buying games” as children.  Game elements should be applied when gamification in courses are considered.  Sadly, many so-called e-learning providers today explain gamification as “earning points” and “awarding badges” for your online learning achievements.  

Gamification is about education, and education is about achieving learning objectives. A skilled online educator builds the gamification of a course by using all the above-mentioned elements.  It is about motivation, and the higher level of intrinsic motivation a course developer constructs, the more likely the success of the gamification course. 

 

E-learning success story

 

Case study: Microsoft’s Minecraft: Education Edition

A few years ago, Microsoft came up with an ingenious way to use one of their most popular video games for e-learning purposes: Minecraft: Education Edition. It became a global phenomenon and the best-selling video game of all time.

According to the official Minecraft website, “Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination.”

 

Benefits for educators

  • Immersive experience
  • Collaborate projects with classmates
  • Learn in-demand skills such as coding
  • Personalisation capabilities
  • The ability for work to be documented and discussed in class
  • Communicate in-game learning objectives clearly
  • Create a community
  • A safe, secure environment
  • In-game guides and educational resources

Microsoft has commented that it has a 100-year plan for the game, meaning that it will continue to evolve with society and education dynamics. It’s essentially an e-learning microcosm of our ever-changing world.

 

Conclusion

Gamification is timeless and therefore has the potential to be a robust e-learning format for the foreseeable future. It makes education accessible, engaging, entertaining. Courses can be developed for any subject and age group using state of the art language management systems (LMSs). For example, businesses can offer gamification courses allowing staff to embrace further education training courses. They can learn and develop new skills and refine current competencies, and through this, employees can add more value to your business.

Many of our clients are reaping the rewards of gamification. Are you ready to play the game? Speak to a business consultancy that has access to e-learning professionals today.


The Rise of E-learning and Its Significance In South Africa In 2021

The prevalence of e-learning has increased dramatically over the last year due to the lockdown restrictions caused by the pandemic. Suddenly classrooms and lecture halls were empty; every student was forced to work from home (WFH).

The only solution was to teach via the internet using various platforms that facilitated this endeavour. The increase in Matric pass rates for 2020 is a sign that e-learning can replace traditional teaching conventions. However, is it sustainable in the long term, and what does this mean for South Africa in 2021 and beyond? 

The evolution of e-learning in South Africa

E-learning as a teaching method has evolved due to the advancements in education technology. The University of South Africa has been offering open distance e-learning (ODeL) for many years and has over 300,000 students, but this isn’t e-learning as we know it today. 

 

The difference between E-Learning and Distance Learning

The following is paraphrased from an organogram on MANCOSA’s website.

Location

Online learning endeavours to make sure that the teacher/lecturer and students work together via a digital platform, effectively creating a virtual classroom in which they can interact with each other, so lessons and assessments can be conducted in real-time.

Conversely, with distance learning, students work from home at their own pace without much communication. The teacher/lecturer simply reviews the student’s work.

 
Interaction

The student-teacher relationship is absolutely vital. Some may feel the pandemic forced e-learning upon us, but it can be argued that it expedited the process. Thus, agile-minded education institutions embraced the need for customised learning management systems (LMSs) in South Africa.

 
Intention

E-learning models can be designed to provide various learning methods to prevent student/learner ‘interest disengagement’. There are world-class authoring tools available such as, but not limited to, Adobe Captivate  and Articulate 360 that have the functionality to add videos and animations to offer a fascinating learning experience that stimulates the senses.

However, the beginning of the pandemic put the education sector into crisis mode, and the following months would test our ability to transition into full-scale e-learning quickly.

 

What are learning management systems

Learning Management Systems provide the platform to present e-learning courses to a target audience. E-learning professionals can help you by developing an appropriate system based on your requirements and available budget. Numerous LMSs can accommodate from 5 to more than 100 000 users.

LMS courses can be designed and developed to ensure students remain actively engaged. Courses can be built based on relevant motivational theories and follow a trusted recipe to teach and train online.

One of the most widely used LMSs is Moodle; it has established itself as the open-source learning system of choice for academic institutes, training companies, successful corporates, and many other organisations. Its features include but are not limited to

  • An easily navigable interface
  • Activity based learning modules
  • Extensive reporting and learner progress management
  • Extensive activities  to assess student learning and performance
  • Wide range of content development tools
  • Collaborative learning tools
  • All-in-one calendar
  • Process tracking
 

Why will e-learning continue to increase in popularity?

Online communication methods can be taught to educators

Covid-19  became the reality check for many organisations where traditional classroom training still reigns supreme. Isolated staff and work-at-home strategies needed to be developed quickly to keep teaching skills and knowledge relevant regardless of the pandemic.  

Suddenly e-learning was not a “Digital thing out there” – but a realisation that it offers a solution to bridge the isolation gap and build the necessary skills and knowledge.  Sh!ft reports that face to face training’s retention rate is listed between 8 to 10 %, while the retention rate for e-learning is listed between 25 and even 60%! 

 
Communication, engagement, support for learners/students

A good, supportive facilitator is trained on how to utilise the online platforms’ best functions to keep the lines of communication open to their students. It’s vital talking to, collaborating, challenging, monitoring, motivating and supporting your students to complete their studies on time and achieve success.

 
LMSs allow for a wider audience reach

LMSs are online specific platforms that teach students no matter where they are in the world. It opens an international education opportunity for learners/students and facilitators alike.

Three of the most significant elements that e-learning, particularly in South Africa, satisfies are

  • Principles of teaching (foundations of education)
  • The promises and opportunities of technology
  • Bridging the digital divide (Educational technology)
 

Global News Wire commented that “In 2015, the global mobile learning market was worth just $7.98 billion. By the end of 2019, that number had risen to $27.32 billion. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-growing number of mobile users worldwide, experts predict that the mobile e-learning market will rise to $37.6 billion by mid-2021.

 

E-learning courses available through Fio Academy of Skills Development

As mentioned earlier, there is a considerable wealth and skills disparity in South Africa, and that’s precisely why the Fio Academy of Skills Development (FASD) has been established. “We provide blended courses to the communities of Alexandra and Soweto. Our outstanding group of driven, caring individuals work hard to provide unique training opportunities to change peoples’ lives in the short term, instil a sense of pride and eventually provide a change in lifestyle/quality of life.”

It’s fair to say that e-learning is a long overdue teaching method; its implementation and execution have shown it to be successful over the last year. There is no reason it can’t be sustainable by teaching the necessary skills and offering custom LMSs.


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