GUEST COLUMN | By Peter Bray
Keeping students’ attention in presentations is always a challenge, particularly in large lecture halls and online courses. But there are several trends in 2012 that will help professors who are willing to try new things.
The Ubiquity of Social Media and Mobile
In today’s world, using social networking as a part of everyday conversation is becoming the norm. The question, however, is how faculty members will use it to engage their students? Setting up class wikis and Facebook groups is not enough. Today’s learners expect their courses to utilize their preferred communications channels. For instance, a vast majority of students use social outlets like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on a daily basis so sharing e-Learning through these means is a huge bonus for this information-now audience.
For example, there are e-Learning tools, such as Snap! Empower®, that allow users to easily share presentations on social networking sites in one click, truly harnessing the power of social media. This is particularly powerful for remote and distance learning classes. I expect these channels to be increasingly leveraged in 2012. Optimizing for channels is not enough. The mobile device (iPhone, iPad or other tablet) is replacing the notebook. Students will be viewing coursework on their mobile devices; are you optimizing the experience for them?
More Engaging, Interactive Content
Today’s students have high expectations. They want courses that are easy to navigate, interactive, engaging and, above all, fun. They expect e-Learning content to not only provide them with new insights and information, but dazzle and excite them along the way. Ordinary, mundane e-Learning courses are sure to disappoint and leave them wanting more. And when they are bored, they aren’t paying full attention to the content. It is not enough just to put the presentation or lecture online.
Some of the latest rapid e-Learning tools make it easier than ever to add a variety of interactivity to e-Learning courses. Faculty members striving to connect with their students should search for e-Learning solutions that use Flash animations, videos and narratives, and don’t require the need to learn complex programming. This will create new and exciting opportunities for learners to become active participants in the learning process, not just regurgitate information. When courses are engaging, it makes it easier for students to retain the information presented.
With the uncertain, fragile state of today’s economy affecting everyone, including those in the fast-paced e-Learning industry, faculty members are finding it increasingly difficult to stay ahead of the curve while operating within tight budgets. Budgets are always tight, but the good news is the rise of low-cost solutions for authoring content for teaching.
Faculty members can do more and it will cost much less as the pricing of the e-Learning market is getting an overhaul. Professors should seek out lower cost alternatives. Anyone, regardless of budget or skill, can develop custom, exciting presentations and courses.
Peter Bray is the chief marketing officer of Trivantis, a provider of innovative e-Learning software, including Snap! by Lectora PowerPoint to Flash software and Snap! Empower Flash interactions builder. Free trials of both rapid e-Learning solutions can be found at www.SnapbyLectora.com.
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about mobile learning, now that HTML5 has gained a little more popularity, as well as responsive design frameworks are in beta. Any thoughts, or is this more geared towards 2014-2015?
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You mention (correctly) that “students will be viewing coursework on their mobile devices; are you optimizing the experience for them?” yet recommend that “Faculty members striving to connect with their students should search for e-Learning solutions that use Flash animations” ???
Good luck with optimizing your flash animations to work on mobile devices …