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Monday, May 19, 2008

Episode 54--E-Learning, Don't Get and F! Guest, Sue Tresetti of Taylored Solutions

Taylored Solutions Inc. is a 5 year old woman owned (WBE certification) custom technology solutions company based north of Pittsburgh, PA. Susan Tresatti the president of Taylored Solutions Inc. has been in the technology field for over 20 years. 11 of those years were working for a Fortune 500 company (5 as a Senior Programmer/Analyst – 6 in Management.) 3 years she worked for Seton Hill University as Manager of Academic Computing. And the rest of those years prior to starting Taylored Solutions Inc. she was a consultant working with 1 person offices to Fortune 500 companies. I have a Bachelor degree from Point Park University and a MBA from Seton Hill University
I am not a member of ASTD but I was asked for the last two years to speak at their annual conference on e-learning infrastructure which is how I got started in e-learning.

ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) is the world’s largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals. ASTD’s members come from more than 100 countries and connect locally in nearly 140 U.S. chapters and 25 Global Networks. Members work in thousands of organizations of all sizes, in government, as independent consultants, and suppliers.
What is eLearning? By 2006, nearly 3.5 million students were participating in on-line learning at institutions of higher education in the United States.
Goals of e-learning
E-Learning lessons are generally designed to guide students through information or to help students perform in specific tasks. Information based e-Learning content communicates information to the student. Examples include content that distributes the history or facts related to a service, company, or product. In information-based content, there is no specific skill to be learned. In performance-based content, the lessons build off of a procedural skill in which the student is expected to increase proficiency.

ASTD estimates that U.S. organizations spent $129.60 billion on employee learning and development in 2006.

Old Wikipedia definition
According to a definition provided by Wikipedia, a free, online encylopedia,
"E-learning most often means… to facilitate and enhance learning through the use of devices based on computer and communications technology."
Current wikipedia definition

Electronic learning (or e-Learning or eLearning) is a general term used to refer to a form of learning in which the instructor and student are separated by space or time where the gap between the two is bridged through the use of online technologies.

eLearning programs are utilizing the latest computer/electronic-based technologies, the internet and intranets, email, discussion forums, PDAs, and mobile phones, as well as the familiar CD/DVD-ROMs to disseminate knowledge to today's workers.

Why electronic-based training?
Train more people without breaking your travel or venue budget with our easy-to-use virtual classroom
Transfer existing content into an online format and make it more accessible
Extend the reach of your training department without adding headcount

Reach internal or external audiences, anywhere in the world. Now you can offer live and on-demand training without wearing out your trainers or breaking your budget.

eLearning can be a very effective method of training if constructed properly! It is self-paced and self-directed. You can simulate nearly any process. You can get up-to-speed quickly and effectively, and if designed well, can be stimulating and fun!

Airline pilots use electronic-based training programs every time they climb into a flight simulator to log flight time and to hone their skills.

eLearning yields great learning gains and has many advantages over "live" training alone.  Consistency of learning
 Less delivery variance
 Increased training comprehension
 Higher content retention
 Faster learning curves!

Blended Learning
Blended Learning has often been referred to as the "Ultimate Learning Experience." Because learning is a social experience, trainees can benefit from enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructors to bring a freshness to learning with anecdotal examples and immediate answers to inquiry, especially where time and information is critical. This, combined with a well-constructed, self-paced CD or online training program to maintain consistency, generates a greater return on the training investment because of increased retention. Marry this with built-in accountability and feedback, and instructors will see measurable increases in understanding, productivity and efficiency.

Obstacles to Learning
The primary objective of corporate or industrial training is to transfer knowledge and years of valuable experience from subject-matter experts to learning minds with the net result of producing well-trained, motivated, and productive employees that become valuable assets to the company. However, we often see subject-matter experts that are very accomplished in their field but have difficulty translating their expertise into a format that is conducive to learning, especially if they are not trained educators. Let's look at a few of the obstacles faced by many trainers…

• Learning Styles. Adults have different learning styles. For real learning to take place, they need the curriculum delivered in a format that is conducive to their particular style. I have watched mature grown-up students, sweating and fidgiting because they couldn't grasp the concepts presented and inwardly assumed they just didn't "get it," when the real problem was the instructor's inability to present the material in a way that was conducive to their particular learning style. Sometimes the instructor would delve into the details without explaining the broad picture or how those elements integrate one with another.

• Delivery Variance. No instructor teaches the same way every time and often will teach different material. This leads to delivery variance. The material needs to be presented in a consistant manner, utilizing various media, and in a manner that can be assimilated easily and quickly.

• Learn at Their Own Pace
. In addition, questions will arise in a trainee's mind because he or she didn't "get it" the first time because their attention was temporarily focused elsewhere, such as while taking notes. Meanwhile, the instructor is moving on and important information is missed. eLearning allows the trainee the freedom to learn at their own pace. They are free to review it multiple times until it is theirs.

Reluctant to Ask Questions. Many times a trainee is reluctant to ask questions because he or she is trying to make a good impression and doesn't want to be caught asking "stupid" questions.

• Other Obstacles to Learning. Other obstacles to learning are boredom, misunderstandings of the way the instructor presented it, how to relate the material to their job, or a myriad of other reasons.

Well-designed, self-paced electronic/computer-based training programs, in company with an experienced mentor, can remove obstacles to learning. Good eLearning programs capture the combined knowledge from the best minds in a company and put that information into a training format that is easily understood by anyone wanting to learn.

We are a society spilling over with facts. Information overload is rampant, but the quality of that information should be measured by its receptability and usability.
Many technologies can be, and are, used in e-Learning, including:
classroom response system
collaborative software
computer aided assessment
discussion boards
Educational Management System
educational animation
electronic performance support system
hypermedia in general
learning management systems
MP3 Players with multimedia capabilities
multimedia CD-ROMs
text chat
virtual classrooms
web-based teaching materials
web sites and web 2.0 communities

Susan Tresatti
Taylored Solutions Inc.
(724) 234-2669

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