I need to teach and grade from my little hole avoiding their little hole.
April 30, 2009 10:23 PM   Subscribe

I need to create web based learning modules and need some advice.

Is there some industry standard for a program that will allow you to intergrate some form of content presentation, followed by a quiz, that will then report the scoring back by individual?

I am putting together training sessions, but some of the training is for relatively few people that live on opposite ends of the state and everyone is under major travel restrictions because of money, so web-based seems the way to go. I can throw a ppt up, I could do survey monkey, but those two options together don't really give me the integrated, cool solution I need.

We use contribute to do basic web stuff and then we have both a web group to do substantial changes and a "decision support" group that can make us databases, however, they don't communicate very well so what we get either works great but is hard to navigate and ugly, or its beautiful but doesn't really do anything. So, I am looking for something that I can just either link to or grab in some way to not have to involve everyone in the company to do this.

We might possibly also have use of a polycom system but, that seems like more trouble than its worth for the kind of content I am delivering.

Does anyone have any advise on training using web based content? What do you think about it? Is there anyway of making sure they are actually interacting with the content rather than just hitting go and walking away? I mean, I guess that is just making sure that the questions are detailed enough to ensure compliance. What do ya'll think?
posted by stormygrey to Work & Money (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if this is what you want, but as a distance uni student for one uni, and a research assistant for another, both of these institutions use Blackboard. Blackboard has a forum component, as well as the option for running quizzes. One of the means that lecturers use to make sure students interact on the forum is to make that part of the overall mark, something like, 3 posts per week on topic or replying to topic of at least 100 words, sort of thing.
posted by b33j at 12:55 AM on May 1, 2009

SCORM is the industry standard here. There is much on the web. I've used docebo in the past, not too bad, but being free you get what you pay for.
posted by mattoxic at 2:42 AM on May 1, 2009

LON-CAPA is similar to Blackboard, except it's open-source, utilizes shared resources (so you don't have to generate all content yourself!), is a billion times more flexible, and unlike Blackboard doesn't suck goat heinies for the person setting it up or the people using it. Seriously, Blackboard is crap. It kinda sorta does what LON-CAPA does, but 99% of what Blackboard is for is hosting files like lecture slides, and in terms of usability, cost, flexibility, etc. it just plain sucks. LON-CAPA can do things like generate a unique exam or quiz drawing from a host of available questions, and grade it, so that each person doing the module gets a completely different set of questions and randomized answers. Even if students look over each other's shoulders there's little possibility of cheating. It's garnered a pretty respectable pile of awards over the years and honestly, after using it as an instructor, I really missed it after leaving the institution. It's currently in use in a range of universities, community colleges and high schools, and has even been adopted by some major publishers (a bonus, because last I knew they only made modules for Blackboard and it's clones).

I know one of the lead guys who works on this system (actually, his name is Guy. We were undergrads together at Michigan State U, where this was developed.) Check it out. It requires a dedicated server, but aside from hardware costs the system will run you exactly zero dollars out of pocket, and you can develop as much content as you desire. Having other people's content there to build off of is just a major bonus.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:40 AM on May 1, 2009

Tom Kulhmann's Rapid E-Learning blog is a great resource for ideas on increasing interactivity, learner engagement and retention. His Rapid E-learning 101 post is a good place to start. It's a corporate blog for Articulate (one of many, many, many rapid e-learning design products), but has a pretty wide scope and is definitely more focused on effective instructional design than product-shilling.

Is web based learning effective? It can be. Most of the training I design is web-based and asynchronous, but effective for our widely distributed employees. Making sure your learners interact with the content is a function of your course design -- if it's your standard powerpoint with 3 bullets/slide, then yes...they're probably going to walk away and then come back to say "Oh crap, there's a quiz?" If you can build in some interactivity that requires them to engage with the course, it'll be a huge step in the right direction. Better Than Bullet Points is a good resource on creating effective online training, and the E-Learning Guild has a ton of resources and decent discussion forums as well.

I typically develop courses in Adove Captivate or Presenter (with PowerPoint, but it allows you to create assessments directly in the learning module) and publish them in Connect Pro, but either of those tools can be used for standalone SCORM-compliant content creation as well. We've seriously considered moving away from Connect Pro to Moodle which is an open-source, more BlackBoard-esque learning management system. None of these are free (except for Moodle, but that's learning management -- not course development), but they're at least free to try temporarily.
posted by ThatSomething at 7:39 AM on May 1, 2009

Are you looking for asynchronous (something the students can do whenever) or is it synchronous (live presentation via web)?

For synchronous stuff, Adobe Connect I've seen used a lot and is a good tool for screensharing and so on. But it's not free. I haven't seen it used for quizzes but there may be an add-in or feature. Adobe has fairly good documentation on their sites.

WebEx is another option I've seen used. I believe some of the solutions they offer let you do polls, which could be used as quizzes.

Elluminate is another seminar tool, which appears to have a quiz option.

Blackboard is an LMS -- it'd be more suited for a course offered over several weeks. Moodle is the most common opensource LMS I've heard of, but again may take some time to setup.
posted by ejaned8 at 7:47 AM on May 1, 2009

There are a lot of tools by which this can be accomplished. The central division is between authoring tools (Word, PowerPoint, HTML-editors, screencasting software, etc.) and hosting solutions (an LMS, a CMS, a website of some sort). The third piece of the puzzle, in your case, is reporting. LMSes accomplish this by offering their own quiz creation and delivery tools (tied to a course grade book) and/or by offering the ability to host SCORM-compliant learning modules, which can be created by many different authoring tools. Some LMSes have their own content-creation tools, but these tend to be far less powerful than the stand-alone variety.

Several LMSes have already been mentioned, so you'll want to check those out. But it would be best to decide what your needs truly are first, because LMSes, if you're installing and hosting your own, take a non-trivial amount of time to setup and maintain.

Many content creation tools (e.g. Adobe Captivate) have the ability to create quizzes. Besides SCORM reporting method, some of these can also report scores via email. In the case of Captivate, a little tinkering can override that email functionality and make it write to a database instead. That gives you some of the advantages of an LMS without all the overhead and expense. Send me a message if you want more details on that.

As for your last question, the only way to ensure accoutability is to have an assessment of some sort. You can stick it at the end, or you can intersperse the questions throughout the material (if your tool supports that, of course, and most do). Ultimately, you can't force people to learn. You can just provide the resources and, if necessary, include some sort of assessment.
posted by wheat at 11:45 AM on May 1, 2009

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