Rich Media in eLearning
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What is the advantage of including rich media experiences within eLearning? Why include video and audio at all? Does it perform better than traditional alternatives? Constructivism argues that interactive activities in which learners can play active roles better motivates and engages participants. Do we not learn far better when we discover things for ourselves than if we are simply taught them in a linear environment without the benefit of context? There's little question we like to be in control of our own learning, both the quantity and pace of it.
Therefore, it is natural to expect that self-directed, interactive learning including video and audio would improve the learning outcome. More emphasis must be placed on engaging learners in the process of learning, rather than simply regurgitating the correct answer for the reward, whether it be a tick, a smiley face or a high distinction.
Interactivity and creativity are vital factors in winning the learners attention and interest in learning. So much learning is now done, as the connectivists would tell us, through nano-learning or taking "bite size chunks" or learning from Google, Wikipedia or simply surfing the net. It's now almost impossible for most younger people to sit in the one place and take in an eLearning course that is linear, flat and which presents without challenge or interaction.
In this module, the opportunity to embed both video and audio into a traditional rapid eLearning module has led to a number of interesting challenges. This project seeks to offer a bridge between traditional eLearning and bespoke media rich eLearning by using a simple interactive element created in Articulate Quizmaker. In this case, participants are informed of the fact that they will be tested immediately after watching and listening to the media. This information alone will engage them deeper into the subject matter. The media runs also for a limited time (around 8 - 15 minutes), and is available to view within the course or on the web, or can be downloaded to play at a more convenient time. The question is "Does the addition of rich media add anything worthwhile to the learner in rapid eLearning?".
Whilst constructivism is a useful theory for more traditional training, it may be limited in terms of the learning environment of 2011. Siemens proposed a theory of connectivism, where “connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired and the ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. Also critical is the ability to recognise when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday” (Siemens, 2005, para. 24). Siemens is concerned with learners knowing not just “what and how”, but where to acquire knowledge.
Both the principles of connectivism and constructivism influenced the creation of this eLearning module, for the following reasons. The majority of the subject matter featured in this course is legislative in nature and therefore contains a certain amount of linear and rather dry content. Reason dictates that the eLearning module focus on what needs to be done to comply, and the exact steps it takes to do it. This is important for compliance today, but how ensure the learner actively engages with the information so they may comply tomorrow, next week and next year?
With this in mind, could the learners (who must complete 30 hours of CPD per year) become accustomed to using short, dynamic media for the purposes of learning, rather than the traditional hours spent in a workshop, seminar or on an eLearning course? In this case, the module offers not only the information but introduce the learners to dynamic and real life scenarios through which they may relate on a personal level to the content.
The traditional learning theories are by no means obsolete, they simply must be considered from the perspective of the most rapid change in technology and information systems in history. The learners must understand, as Vaill put it in 1996, that learning is now simply a way of being. The YouTube phenomenon may have influenced our learning in this way, as the videos are under 10 minutes in length and bring with them an expectation that the content will be highly condensed and satisfying to the viewer.
This project uses rapid eLearning software to attempt to hold the attention and capture the imagination of learners using video, voice, sound, images, and mouse driven interactive touch points.
The project features the Engage and Quizmaker software from Articulate. It incorporates:
- slide transitions
- Questions and Answers
- music / Audio
- voice over
The philosophical perspective for this module is pragmatism, which Driscoll described in 1994 as the “middle ground” between constructivism and empiricism. It partners well with connectivism, as John Dewey explained in 1938. He believed that learners must adapt to both one other and to their environment. In this case, he would probably not have imagined podcasts and eLearning, however the philosophy of first considering the experience of the learner aligns well with Siemens notion that learning now is more about using the context, in this case technology, to liberate the learner from the knowledge itself by creating an external bridge “to” it.
Using these philosophies as a guide, this module focuses on problem solving and fosters interactive learning. Rather than simply listing the legislation and demanding rote learning, learners will be able to apply their existing knowledge to real life questions posed by their contemporaries in other face to face courses. This will prepare them more readily for on-going compliance (Cohen and Gelbrich, 1999).
Carver et al (2007) offer a model for eLearning instruction called “Experiential eLearning”, using as its basis experiential education, which involves learning activities in which the student is directly engaged in the phenomena being studied (Cantor, 1997). Carver et al present a taxonomy of experiential eLearning which consists of six “types” and, when combined with Gagné’s model, serve to provide a framework on which CPD1 can create a quality learning intervention which serves both the needs of the individual learner and the organisation as a whole.
In this case, the “type” most suitable is the Type 5 eeLearning, which is problem based/service learning. This type centres on a course created around real problems in an actual organization. Learners participate vicariously in a constructed experience in order to learn how to most effectively accommodate the changes in legislation brought about by ASIC.
The power of this model for eLearning is in its offering of an explicit, highly credible learner centred instructional model based on learner engagement and competence (Carver, 1996). These theories have been combined with Gagné’s instructional events and utilised in this case.
Types of Knowledge
The learners are concerned with two questions; what do I need to know and what do I have to do? Gagné and Yekovich (1993) would describe these questions as addressing declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge respectively. Declarative being knowledge of facts, theories and objects, with procedural being knowledge of how to do something (ibid).
Declarative knowledge predominates in this course. The learners have existing knowledge, and therefore will inform the manner in which the scaffolding occurs (Vygotsky, 1986). Learners will need to absorb the principles and responsibilities, responsible lending guidelines and what is listed on new information statements.
Procedural knowledge required by the learners in this program comprises how to approach the NCCP regulations and submit an application, in addition to how to best set up a website for SEO.
The approach taken in the course is a mix of guided discovery and expository instruction. Given the time restrictions (the learners count their time very much in terms of money and lost income) they may not have much patience for guided discovery methodology, however according to Mayer (2002) it has been proven to result in better long term retention and transfer. This is achieved by providing the learners with real documents as a reference for the assessment questions, and can be found in the attachments section of this module.
However successful this method may be, the finance industry is well known for wanting a more explicit and expository approach. Mayer maintains that expository instruction does not encourage learner to actively think, but it is effective in ensuring that the rule is learned (ibid).
Instructional Events - Gagne
Gagné’s nine expanded events (Smith & Ragan, 2005) informed the instructional events as follows:
1. Gaining attention – Case studies of Australian statistics on Money Laundering.
2. Informing learner of objective/s – Audio introduction, learning goal and objectives.
3. Stimulating recall of prerequisite learning – interactive fact checker, existing legislation versus NCCP Act and broker video interview.
4. Presenting the content – NCCP Video, SEO Podcast, Interactive AML/CTF slides.
5. Providing learning guidance – Module breakdown summaries, course outcomes, quiz introductions.
6. Eliciting performance – Learners can be invited to participate in a constructivist style synchronous webinar to role play potential pitfall areas (Stollings, 2007). Also, they may be given the opportunity to complete the eLearning module in a group and then workshop the results or collaboratively share results and quiz outcomes.
7. Providing feedback – Quizzes feature immediate informative and motivational feedback, both utilizing subsequent practice opportunities (Smith & Ragan, 2005).
8. Assessing performance – Formative and summative assessment throughout the module. Interpret and extrapolate solutions in various ways during the program to embed concepts and procedures.
9. Enhancing retention and transfer – Automated function of invitations to complete additional case studies post completion - once a week for one month, to scaffold and support on-going retention (Gagné, 1985).
Advantages of Media in eLearning
- Allows learners to watch and listen repeatedly
- Enables random content access - skipping, fast forwarding, etc
- Studies show it increases attention, involvement and learning (Hannafin, 1985)
- Allows student to self pace
- Delivers a more palatable learning experience for those with different learning styles - Visual, Auditory, etc
- Delivers a dynamic, more human experience as learners view others approach to their learning problem.
This module delivers an eLearning program using contemporary instructional design methodology, which will provide learners with an engaging and effective solution to the problem of regulatory compliance. The nature of the training, demands a constructivist approach, which will be partnered with aspects of connectivism when marrying content with delivery methodology. This approach offers flexibility, dynamism and interactivity in achieving the desired learning goal and objectives.
Learners will apply declarative and procedural knowledge to a structure guided by Gagné’s instructional events. The pragmatic philosophy will offer delivery of rich media such as video and audio, in addition to making these elements available over a variety of platforms, ensuring the learners are able to interact with the content whenever they wish and from wherever they are.
Cantor, J. A. (1997). Experiential learning in higher education. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education.
Carver, R. (1996). Theory for Practice: A Framework for Thinking about Experiential Education, Journal of Experiential Education, May/June 1996 (Vol. 19, No. 1).
Carver, R., King, R., Hannum, W. H., & Fowler, B. (2007). Toward a model of experiential e-learning. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3, 247-256.
Cohen, L. and Gelbrich, J. (1999). "Module One: History and Philosophy of Education". Retrieved September 4, 2011 from Ohio State University website: <http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/module1.html>.
Dewey, J. (1938) Experience and Education, New York: Collier Books. (Collier edition first published 1963)
Driscoll, M. P. (1994). Psychology of learning for instruction. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Gagné, R. M., (1985) The Conditions of Learning and Theory of Instruction. New York: CBS College Publishing.
Gagné, E. D., Yekovich, C. W., & Yekovich, F. R. (1993). The cognitive psychology of school learning. (2nd ed.). New York: HarperCollins.
Hannafin, M.J., Empirical issues in the study of computer assisted interactive video, ECTJ 33(4), 1985, pp. 235–247.
Mayer, Richard, E. The Promise of Educational Psychology Volume II: Teaching for Meaningful Learning. Pearson Education, Inc., New Jersey, 2002.
Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning
Smith, Patricia L. & Ragan, Tillman J. (2005). Instructional Design, 3rd, Holboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
Stollings, L. (2007). Robert Gagné’s nine learning events: Instructional design for dummies Retrieved on 10 September 2011 from: http://sites.wiki.ubc.ca/etec510/Robert_Gagné%27s_Nine_Learning_Events:_Instructional_Design_for_Dummies
Vygotsky, L.S. (1986) Thought and Language. Boston: MIT Press
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