Tuesday, May 13, 2008

E-learning at its Very Best

My staff and I are thoroughly enjoying this journey of learning what makes for the best e-learning experience. We read books, journals, blogs and just about anything else we can get our hands on to help us.

What we’re aiming for is a learning experience, using the technology easily available to us today, that is effective (people remember what they studied and apply it in their work and lives) and enjoyable (people find the e-learning courses engaging, interesting and user-friendly).

What particularly drew me to this was a claim I heard the other day from a local education provider about a course being completely online today. My initial thought was that the provider was doing an excellent job of making this course more widely available – one of the primary advantages of e-learning.

Then I happened to run into one of the instructors, who told me that the e-learning course was simply textbook chapters posted online. The students went to the website, read the chapters, took the test, and – voila’ – learned online!

My first response was that this isn’t e-learning. It’s disseminating text over the web, and testing on it. Students might be learning, but it's not the very best we can do in e-learning.

What if, in the early days of movies, this scenario occurred: People crowding into a theatre to see the latest movie, only to see book pages, projected on the big screen. Wow – what an experience! The book was very entertaining, after all, and the big screen offered a way for people to be entertained using the latest and greatest technology.

Sort of like what we’ve been doing with e-learning.

Even for voracious readers, going to the movies presents a different kind of entertainment experience. A well-done movie impacts our minds and our emotions in such a way that we think about the message over and over – sometimes for years.

It’s the power of images, sounds, stories. It’s a power that can’t be replicated in the printed book – although books can be very powerful tools.

E-learning has the same potential – to touch the mind, the emotions and the beliefs of the learner in a way that is much more profound than simply reading a book. It’s much more than just putting facts on the web and testing over them.

It’s learning to use stories, to use visuals, to create videos – all with the purpose of teaching more effective.

That’s e-learning at its best.

Friday, May 2, 2008

e-Training Making a Difference in Senior Care

Last week we had a visit from a person who works in a state office on education. He's got a PhD, and specializes in distance education.

I admit it - I was nervous when I began showing him samples of our online courses, both on our website EasyCEU (for licensed nursing home and assisted living administrators, nurses, social workers and other licensed senior care professionals) and on our aQuire Training Solutions website. We showed him samples of all the ways we've built and designed courses to be delivered online.

Our newest course - the one we're most proud of - is the online nursing assistant course. We've just submitted it for approval, and hope to launch it in the state of Oregon within a month or so.

At the end of the presentation we sat back and waited to hear this expert's opinion. We're not distance learning experts, after all (at least we certainly weren't when we began this journey). We're just passionate about training the next generation of individuals who will care for seniors.

We're passionate in a professional way, meaning we've invested millions of hours and dollars into trying to discover the most effective, efficient ways to train new caregivers.

We're passionate in a personal way, too, since we realize that the people receiving the care are our parents, grandparents - one day (in the rapidly approaching future) ourselves.

We believe we're making a difference. We think, maybe a bit too boldly, that our newest nursing assistant course can contribute to a genuine culture change in the way care is provided in the state of Oregon.

There was a moment of silence, and then the expert commented, "I'm tremendously impressed. Your courses are visually interesting, highly interactive and rich in content. You're doing something that absolutely no one else is doing in this area right now. It will make a difference."

It's an incredibly gratifying way to end the week, believing that what you are doing DOES make a difference in senior care today, and will make a difference in the future, too.

It's exciting, too, because we've only just started out on this journey!