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Chapter Members Give E-Learning Presentation at UNC Conference
2003, Q2 (June 25, 2007)
Ann-Marie Grissino of Keypoint Consultants, Jennifer Raisig of IBM, and Frances Wirth of whizID Instructional Design, all members of the Carolina Chapter, were invited to provide a presentation to professors, instructional designers, and IT staff at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Teaching and Learning with Technology Collaborative (TLT) conference in Greensboro. The conference, showcasing the best and brightest uses of new technologies in university education, boasted over 300 attendees.

Using their expertise in e-learning design and development, the STC trio discussed what works, offered tips, and answered questions about designing, developing, and implementing effective self-study courseware.


Whether learners tote backpacks or briefcases, academic teachers and corporate trainers face similar challenges implementing e-learning solutions. In this session, three professional instructional designers/technical writers shared their in-the-trenches experiences designing and developing award-winning e-learning courseware for corporate clients.

The presentation consisted of three sections:
  • From podium to 'puter
  • Keeping them awake
  • Did they really get it?

From podium to 'puter

Frances Wirth began by stressing the importance of preparatory work, and decisions that should be made before any work on an e-learning project even begins.

She analyzed the anatomy of a course and identified the core components of an e-learning course. She went on to dissect an e-learning page, and highlighted the following essential elements and considerations that e-learning design needs to accommodate.
  • Identification screens with course description, target audience, and topic outline.
  • Navigation both within the specific course and globally across all courses within the curriculum.
  • Signposts that orient the learner as to his or her location within a course or module. Signposts should indicate the progress within each module, for example, Page 8 of 16 tells the user that he or she is halfway through the course. A slider bar could also be used.
  • Standardized text for repeating elements, such as objectives, summaries, and introductions to assessments.
  • Wirth emphasized that time spent planning up-front pays off tenfold in development time, reworking and retrofitting, expense, usability, and effectiveness.

Keeping them awake

Jennifer Raisig stepped up to discuss how to keep the learner focused on the learning goals. She stated that e-learning designers must motivate the learners and grab their attention from the start. Some motivations include advancement, better job performance (more money), or safety on the job.

The course designer should incorporate interactivity that engages the learner and prevents the dreaded "Read-and-Click-Next" syndrome. To engage learners, instructional designs should provide content in creative ways, such as using discovery methods to present material, incorporating leading questions before content, or basing content on scenarios or games.

Other creative methods include incorporating video or testimonials from experts, adding anecdotal stories that capture users. attention, examining case studies, using scavenger hunts, and promoting information retrieval with pop-up quizzes.

Jennifer emphasized the importance of designing e-learning that entertains while it teaches. In the corporate world, learners. time is limited and e-learning competes with many other tasks. To succeed, e-learning must engage the audience and make them want to learn.

Did they get it?

Ann-Marie Grissino concluded the presentation by discussing methods of online assessments. She began by stating that e-learning success could come in a variety of ways:
  • Correct answers in course, which are tracked possibly for certification
  • Improved performance on the job
  • Correct or efficient use of the product or software
  • Reduced support calls

In addition to incorporating learning theory in content delivery, Ann-Marie encouraged designers to take the following learning preferences and modalities into account when creating assessments:
  • Holistic: Enable the student to recognize how a quiz fits into the entire course contents. List it in the contents.
  • Sequential: Enable the student to complete modules step-by-step and immediately take quizzes after each content chunk.
  • Analytic: Enable the student to assimilate and then retrieve content details through engaging assessments.
  • Experimenter: Simulate the environment or present case studies for learners who learn through experimentation.

Ann-Marie advised e-learning authors to accommodate multiple learning modalities: auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. In fact, she promotes using them all with audio narration, displayed captions, and content that requires learner action.

She concluded the session by encouraging developers to use assessments to evaluate the course itself. If they didn't get it, why not? Use the information to improve the course. End of article.

Contact information

Ann-Marie Grissino, Keypoint Consultants, amgrissino at keypointconsultants dot com.
Jennifer Raisig, IBM Corporation, jraisig at us dot ibm dot com
Frances Wirth, whizID Instructional Design, wirth at peoplepc dot com

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