Cheap & Cheerful eLearning
December 18, 2014 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I’m looking for an eLearning alternative to training 250 folks in person (because of logistics, shifts etc). The material is a 20 slide PowerPoint deck, and I’d need to track that each user has completed & understood the deck – I’m assuming using a test (I’d also need to limit folks skipping through & asking their buddy for the answers). Anyone have any experience doing this/ have recommendations for free tools to achieve this goal? The users in question are split between Macs & WinXP/7 boxes, but all have access to a local SharePoint site.
posted by forallmankind to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It is hard to imagine a technology fix for people asking their friends answers offline.

If you think the potential for cheating is very high, you probably need to stick with an in-person training. If you have managers on board, it could be something like "you go into this room with a non-internet-enabled computer and can't come out for 30 miuntes" or however long you want people to spend on the task. Although that would probably annoy people more than just taking the course in person.

If the training is useless busy work, then embrace the cheating/slacking and just let it be what it will be ... people who do find some value will go ahead and find it.

If the training is in fact objectively important, then help people to see that value so that they intrinsicly want to learn the material rather than cheating. You need some buy in here. How is this going to help them do their jobs? For example, if we were switching to a new software system and I would need to either learn to use said system or get fired from my job, you can bet I would not need any multiple choice test at the end of a Power Point to learn it. You could just send me the slides and I would do it. So, get people to realize what the value of this training is so that they want to learn the material rather than slacking or cheating.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:43 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites] offers free sites for this kind of thing.
posted by nkknkk at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can I assume you don't have an LMS?

If you have Webex (or LiveMeeting, Lync, etc), you could have a presenter record the presentation, guiding the viewers through the deck. Then, email the video out to all users. (Note, record in the program, don't point a camera at the computer screen.)

Then, set up a quiz/test on one of those free polling sites. Require they input their name and/or email as a field and click a box that certifies they haven't cheated (there are official wordings available online.) Email the poll/quiz out to all users. I think there are poll sites that will 'grade' the assessments for you. There's probably a way to program something to cross reference email addresses against the list of those required to take the assessment as well, but this can also be done by hand, obviously.

It's not foolproof, but it is basically free.
posted by Flamingo at 1:08 PM on December 18, 2014

Also, if you do have webex, etc. you can set up sessions where the 250 (or whatever fraction can make it) can call in and watch the presentation, and (ideally) participate. (Audience participation in the way of polls, multiple choice questions, etc. will keep them engaged and learning.)

Then do whatever you need to for the assessment.
posted by Flamingo at 1:10 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have done a lot of e-learning, both via online college classes and when I had a corporate job. When I did have a corporate job, one of my personal criticisms of the courses was that we had some multi-guess test at the end and we needed some minimum score to pass, but the materials -- which were relevant to my job -- did not remain accessible to me after I took what I typically felt was an incredibly stupid test. The way it was designed emphasized that all that mattered was passing the test and having the test score on file so you could keep your paycheck. Given that this was information I really needed in order to do my job properly (and stay in compliance with federal law so my employer would not get big fines, etc), that really made me crazy.

Since it sounds like this is training for employees, I will suggest that if this information is important to their ability to do their job, you should make the power point available as a free reference after the course. Material I referenced regularly in order to do my job properly was material I eventually did learn, whether I tried or not. At some point, you just remember it instead of looking it up for the umpteenth time.

If you want evidence they "completed and understood" the deck, you might consider having them write a one sentence summary of each slide in their own words. It would be labor intensive to grade it all, but would be far better proof of completion and comprehension than the more easily scored multi-guess test.
posted by Michele in California at 1:12 PM on December 18, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you all for these useful answers.

I do have Webex, don't have an LMS, & the content is security training (use of passwords, protecting client materials etc)
posted by forallmankind at 2:08 PM on December 18, 2014

If you do a test, please make a test of what you want them to take away from it. It's really frustrating to sit through a training to get tested on details that don't matter just to prove you sat through it. Even the most conscientious learner isn't going to remember how many password related attacks happen every year according to some Forrester report.
posted by advicepig at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

limit folks skipping through & asking their buddy for the answers
To reduce this (you will never eliminate it), you should have a large number of questions for each topic and randomize who gets what smaller number of questions, trying to keep the difficulty the same. Also, randomize the order of the questions.
posted by soelo at 2:40 PM on December 18, 2014

I've been teaching adults since the mid-90s and have been an e-learning specialist for over a decade. It looks to me as if you're being put in a very-hard-to-win situation.

Echoing Cathy Moore, is training the best solution?

1) Do your students need to learn some new information?
2) Do they need to actually change and improve their behaviour on the job?
3) Are your bosses just looking for "training" that can be checked off so that you all can kinda sorta collectively CYA?

For example, if your organization requires that people must create new passwords every 2-3 months using arcane rules and not allowing any repetition, you're probably getting a lot of passwords left on post-it notes. All the training in the world probably won't change that behaviour.

But assuming that you really do need training (although your organization can't support you with professional authoring tools or an LMS), here's my recommendations:

1) For this kind of compliance training, test first, then teach if needed. Some people will already know this material, so don't make them click through what they know before they can answer a question. Ask a question and if they get it right, they go to next question. If they get it wrong, teach the concept and let them try the question again.

2) If the learning doesn't need to be sequential, I agree that randomized order and/or pulling from a large pool of questions will reduce cheating. However, this sort of functionality is usually only found in more expensive tools.

I'd recommend trying out iSpring QuizMaker (free 30 day trial, on sale for $297 right now -- that's CHEAP for e-learning tools!) or the free version. I know that the full version does a great job with a huge number of randomized questions from a pool, but I'm not completely sure about the full capabilities of the free tool, which is more about converting PowerPoint to Flash/HTML5.

You should be able to provide pretty good feedback for wrong answers on any of the questions in QuizMaker, so this should support the test-and-train approach. If you try it and like it, do your best to sell your boss on buying it for you. Spending $297 (or $397 after the sale) for a reliable tool that's made for the job, versus taking up hours of your time to ad-hoc some solution with "free" tools, is a better use of your company's resources.
posted by maudlin at 5:27 PM on December 18, 2014

And yes, DEFINITELY make the PowerPoint original deck AND a shorter job aid (one page max) available as job aids after training. If students share those out so that their friends "cheat" by looking at the job aid to figure out the test, they're actually learning from this "cheating". Hey, feel free to distribute the job aids before the training, too. You want people to be thinking and learning, even if they think they're getting one over on you.
posted by maudlin at 5:36 PM on December 18, 2014

There's a new site that might do exactly what you want - it called EDpuzzle and as long as you can make your training into a video format (which would be easy to do with Screencast-o-matic) it seems like it'd work. Bonus - you can track whether people have watched the whole video, not just that they've answered quiz questions correctly.
posted by leitmotif at 6:40 PM on December 18, 2014

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