A lot has changed in e-learning with the use of Web 2.0 and later Web 3.0 technologies. Technology and human-cognition patterns are married together to create improved learning experiences. We have inevitably stepped into the knowledge management era with e-learning. How did we achieve this phase? By enabling small and medium sized companies to keep abreast with latest in technology; both learning and performance technologies.
Best practices in business and innovation indicate the need to organize knowledge using e-learning. True innovation in companies only occurs when they are in an organized chaos! That’s right! An effective learning management system is agile to your immediate learning and development needs. While looking deceptively complex in terms of data, it is natural and accessible in terms of information. Sceptical? Read on to find how e-learning using the right LMS can help you grow as a person and business.
The use of web-based technologies to collaborate and perform is no longer an option. Services that have a mobile application presence and an interactive website are preferred over traditional brick and mortar businesses. The idea is to stay “in sync” and connected at all times. It also means that consumers demand constant updates. Universities recognize this trend and offer courses that mandate the use of technology tools to get tasks done. Regardless of the learning environment of the learner (online, hybrid, physical) an e-learning environment is inevitable. Since learning is a social activity and cognition is often distributed, a medium that moderates knowledge exchange and provides meaningful feedback is not only motivating but enables efficiency in teaching and learning (provided instructors receive sound professional development of these tools).
Best Practices: Features that enhance online learning
The following are the top ten e-learning features that enhance the quality of learning in an online/hybrid learning environment:
- Writing excellence for content development (using verbs and adjectives that appeal to 5 senses)
- Eliminating learner isolation
- Encouraging and moderating COP (Communities of Practice)
- Learning 5.0 (interacting with fellow online learners in 5 ways, private chatting, group chatting, public forums and discussion threads, publishing audio, publishing video.
- The feeling of being somewhere, a sense of place when in a learning environment: providing online accommodation for language setting. Educating users of culture-etiquettes in order to create a positive and trust-worthy learning environment).
- Moderator/instructor training: innovation in use of multimedia (appeal to 5 senses)
- Invite to publish or add to the learning materials
- Modify assignment questions according to the competency of the learners
- Pedagogical intervention over informal learning systems. For example, some knowledgeable blogs provide meaningful and creative information to users but they are not grouped or shaped by competency level, comfort level or learning style of the user. As a result they lose valuable learners, who would have developed knowledge together by discussing the ideas in the blog.
- Using e-Learning templates by McCombs and Vakili (2005): Psychological Principles, Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000): Community of Inquiry Model, Brown and Adler (2008): A Circle of Knowledge Building and Sharing.
- Implications for strong vs. weak ties between online collaborators: Stronger ties between collaborators lead to biased knowledge sharing (Facebook). Weak ties between collaborators lead to stronger ties between the contributor and their opinion.
- Interactive online communities: interacting in multiple ways.
Here’s what Top 10 e-learning Content Development Companies (2014) are doing too.
Circle of Knowledge Building and sharing for Small and Medium Sized Companies
With the growing trend towards constructing new knowledge within social groups and “communities of practice” the tools for developing and managing technology is ambitiously pursued. These are absolute must haves for knowledge management in an LMS:
- Private space for private chat between facilitator and learner (e-learning tool: Joomla! chat extension)
- Group space for teams to collaborate with facilitator (e-learning tool: private group chatting rooms).
- Publish space to publish blogs, comments and videos (e-learning tool: public forum space within website).
- Performing space to collaborate and exchange ideas for teams.
- A space for e-learning workshops/videos developed for learning and facilitating using latest e-learning viewlets.
The above application of training tools is a comprehensive view of how technology is (and ideally should be) used in schools, universities and corporates (private and government). It is also a direct application of the Circle of Knowledge Building by Brown and Adler (2008). It has all the tools and online settings needed to create an “Open Knowledge Exchange Zone”.
The Gamified Knowledge Management
In order to encourage the establishment of an “Open Knowledge Exchange Zone” to create an online learning community, relevant website tools are used with pedagogical inferences. Motivation to perform in the desired format and direction is provided my “gammifying” the LMS. The registered users in the LMS, gets a user name and an avatar. The user is awarded performance points for each activity:
- Registering completely (in order to get qualification and aspiration information of the user and determine their topics of interests).
- Commenting on an article on the website
- Commenting or providing feedback to someone else’s comment or question
- Sharing personal views and experiences (exchange ideas)
- Watching videos and listening to audios published on the website
- Add to the concept of game-based learning
- Publish their own videos, animations and audio relevant to the topic
- Provide review of a game-based event organized by the company
Psychological Principles in E-Learning Management
The Psychological Principles presented by McCombs and Vakili (2005) can be applied to an LMS as:
Cognitive and metacognitive factors: The learning and transfer context for learners is highly defined to create learner-centric course experience.
Motivational and affective factors: Feelings of patriotism, unity and the drive to “make a mark” on the globe motivate learner pride and sense of accomplishment. These feelings are intrinsic and work in the favor of achievement motivation. Creativity and contribution to discussions will be highly rewarded thru gammification features of the LMS.
Developmental and social factors: Discussions and resources that encourage benchmarking with international best practices will contribute to performance and growth of the online learning community.
Individual-differences factors: Respecting diversity is the key feature of a successful LMS. A rich mix of nationalities, cultures, languages and expertise will add to the depth and breadth of knowledge developed. Popular questions can be converted into short personal and professional development courses. Experts within the online community can teach the novice and promote associative learning.
Small and medium sized companies are now expecting a higher level of technology competency from new graduates. Research indicates that the best way to teach the use of a technology tool is to incorporate it in the instruction. E-learning environment developers are aware of this advantage and are increasingly embedding multi-media and artifact development tools in their instruction systems. E-learning is no longer synonymous to distance learning only. It is a direct emulation of LIVE learning or working environments that accommodates a variety of learning needs. With the pervasive presence of these tools in commercial websites, the need to gain knowledge and expertise is important for learners to achieve competency in the digital age. Great implications for these needs are placed on educationists and education technologists. The design of effective e-learning experiences is the only way to achieve advanced e-learning tools competency.
Effective knowledge implementation comes from effective knowledge management – a need that can be fulfilled by a competent LMS.