Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Big Question: big impact learning examples: and why they work

In the Big Question launched by Tony Karrer this month, he wonders what the success factors are of our successful learning projects? Why did they have an impact and why do we think it worked? He also links to some great eLearning examples: : Elearning samples and eLearning Examples. There are a few more to be found via eLearning Case Studies on the eLearning Learning site.

This is my list of factors that optimize eLearning or mLearning projects and ensure impact:

Management related
Strategic planning: if possible participative planning with all motivated stakeholders (only the motivated one's, see also a bit further on why I emphasize this).

Scalability: you need to plan ahead, also to scale up any potential successful project. It will also make your complete plan stronger.

Sustainability: as I work a lot in low resource areas, I have listed 12 sustainability issues.
Monitoring and evaluation throughout the course: identify measurable indicators that you will monitor throughout the course and which fit your strategic plan. Evaluate the course formatively (allows you to tailor to possible problems from early on, increasing chances of success) and summatively (the later is essential for scaling up the course).

Put in a time-line: but also put in time for readjustments (really, do it, give yourself time to create an impact).

Go ahead with the right (read motivated and strong) executive persons: Nigel Barlow made a wonderful presentation pointing out four sponsor styles, the spectators (enthusiastic, but they sit on the sidelines and as such they do not pave any ways), the walking dead (totally non-supportive executives, trying to bring these people around is probably a waste of time), the obstructionists (they can be supportive, if the project fits their hidden agenda) and last, but the only ones you want to start with: the players (players are willing to invest their time, money, and resources). So work with players even if you have a small project, it will increase your chances of success enormously. Working with players will most likely result in success stories which will attract the interest of some spectators and obstructionists. At our institute, a key player is Lut Lynen. She offers support and motivation, which leads to success. For non-profit or government eLearning projects it might be a good idea to involve the respective Ministry/ies from early on. This way you increase the chance of future scalability and/or support for future similar projects

Learner and content related
Motivate by clarification (clear framework): Provide very clear reasons to the learners on why you provide content, ask feedback, or give assessments prior to any course module. This will allow learners to put them n the right meta-cognitive mindset. Be rigorous, if you provide learning objectives, link them to real and tested learning actions. If you are unsure about what learning actions can be taken with which social media, reread Bloom’s digital taxonomy I wrote about earlier.

Take into account your international learners: culture is a motivational factor, catering to it will influence the project positively (this is what I take into account for our international elearners).

Use the right learning affordances no matter what technology: choosing a clear learning purpose and goal before choosing technology is essential. No matter how hyped a technology is, if you only use it for hype’s sake the learning results might be poor. Do not plan ‘an iPad project’, but plan ubiquitous learning which might benefit from a wifi/3G mobile device with a large screen because that fits the learning that will be build.

So why go for big impact?
Big impact will pave your way to scaling up projects and open doors for collaborative projects with strong partners.

Great book on the subject: Beyond e-learning by Marc J. Rosenberg