Lessons Learned at the E-Learning Guild Annual Gathering
In March I was fortunate enough to attend the E-Learning Guild Annual Gathering in Orlando, FL, with a couple of colleagues. As our library is moving away from one-shot face-to-face sessions and more towards scalable online instruction, this seemed relevant.
We were the three lone librarians in a conference filled with hundreds of instructional designers from the corporate, non-profit, and consulting sectors. These are full-time e-learning professionals, experts in presenting online content, designing for online learners, and assessment through online mechanisms. We can certainly learn a lot from them.
For one, I’m finding that rapid e-learning tools are fantastic, and there are plenty of them out there. You don’t need to learn Flash or XML to create engaging, dynamic online presentations. A lot of libraries are already using screencapturing software such as Captivate and Camtasia, but not too many have started exploring the more broader world of e-learning tools. At my library we already have Articulate, which is a big one, but I learned about other options such as FlyPaper, Raptivity, and Lectora. These products can be on the expensive side, but there are often academic discounts, and you can always get a trial to test them out and see if they’re worth the money.
Second — which should come as no surprise – designing instruction for online learning is far different than designing for face-to-face sessions. Fortunately, there is a lot of research out there on how to design effective online instruction. Check out Empowering Online Learning, Making Sense of Online Learning, the Online Learning Idea Book, and the E-Learning Handbook. It’s worth taking the time to learn about good design; read up on the challenges, opportunities, and best practices for creating quality online learning experiences for our students.
If you are involved in developing online instructional materials, I highly recommend attending a conference geared towards e-learning professionals. In addition to the E-Learning Guild Annual Gathering, both DevCon and DevLearn are taking place this year.