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Understanding the e-Learning lingo

I am sure by now you are trying to wrap your head around all of this jargon that keeps getting thrown your way. Getting to know your Authoring Tools from your LMSs, your MOOCs from your ePortfolios – this can all feel overwhelming is you have no idea what any of that means.

Don’t worry, we are here to help!

It is an exciting time right now, and even though e-learning has been around for a while, it is really starting to take off. We are seeing a huge shift from formal classroom training to e-learning (even blended), learn at your own pace type of training. As these industry changes are happening, it is important to stay on top of what is going on - one big thing is understanding the language. You don’t want to be standing there with this confused look on your face trying to figure out what is being said, you might not be taken seriously.

A Digital Marketing Executive by the name of Sam Alden from HT2 Labs, created this amazing glossary of the top common e-learning terms to know. 

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How do we know we have actually learned something?

Is it right after it was taught to us or is it over time, when we are put in a situation and we recall the information that we learned from our memory.

When we learn a new skill, it takes time to develop that skill, we need to practice and work on it – it doesn’t just develop over night. Learning is about a change in behaviour that occurs as a consequence of thinking. It is a reaction, a response, to a situation in which we pull from our long-term memory.

As instructional designers, we need to develop courses in which we are encouraging our learners to think and to store what they are learning in their memory. So how can we go about doing that?

1. Link new information to old information

Usually, when we are engaging in learning a new skill, we already have a basic understanding – we are looking to develop, to improve on that skill. This makes learning new information much easier, as we not only have somewhat of an understanding but it also means that the learner is interested! By linking new information to old information, it will help to speed up the process in which the learner will acquire the new info and help to retain it successfully in their long-term memory.

2. Practice makes perfect!

It is important for learners to be able to apply what they have learned in different situations as this helps to retain the behaviour in the long-term memory. If you link the new information to old information, it will be easier for the learner to access this new information when needed. We say that repetition is keys when learning, however at the same time it can get rather boring.

To make the transfer of knowledge to new problems and situations effective, the practice opportunities need to be diverse, challenging, and authentic.

3. Encourage Deep thinking

To make the new skill more memorable, it is important to get the learner to think about and reflection and the new knowledge they just learned. Deep processing leads to higher level of retention of information.

4. Make learning more effect, have a scaffolding system in place

Think of toddlers – they learn by watching others. Why is this? Because learning is social. Psychologist Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky thought is that one will perform better and more effectively when one interacts with others and received guidance and support from more ‘experienced performers’. His theory is of cognitive development is based on the notion of Zone of Proximal Development. This is potential development that is created when learners are supported by others. The type of scaffold to be used in a learning course depend on the level of knowledge the learners possess. More novice learners require more support and probably more than one scaffolding type to master the new content.


What are some ways that you, yourself, foster deep thinking? As an Instructional Designer, can you incorporate any of those ways into your e-learning design? 

Source: eLearning Industry 

What exactly is digital literacy? Is it an essential skill?

There are many skills that are needed in order for the 21st century worker to be sucessful, such as: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, information, media, and technology. But what about digital literacy? Should it be considered as an essential skill as well?

It certainly should be since we are living in a digital era! But what exactly does this term mean? Digital literacy is ‘the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills’. It includes knowledge, skills, and behaviors involving the effective use of digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs for purposes of communication, expression, collaboration, and advocacy.

Professor Yoram Eshet, one of the leading researches in digital literacy, says:

Digital literacy involves more than the mere ability to use software or operate a digital device; it includes a large variety of complex cognitive, motor, sociological, and emotional skills, which users need in order to function effectively in digital environments. The tasks required in this context include, for example, “reading” instructions from graphical displays in user interfaces; using digital reproduction to create new, meaningful materials from existing ones; constructing knowledge from a non-linear, hypertextual navigation; evaluating the quality and validity of information; and have a mature and realistic understanding of the “rules” that prevail in the cyberspace.

In Eshet recent published paper, Digital Literacy: A Conceptual Framework for Survival Skills in the Digital Era, he goes further into details about what are the top digital literacy skills needed to survive in the digital era.

  1. Photo-visual literacy
  2. Information Literacy
  3. Socio-Emotional Literacy
  4. Reproduction Literacy
  5. Branching Literacy 

Source: e-Learning Inforgraphics 

What is a storyboard and why do you need one?

You have an idea in mind for an e-learning course, what is your first step? A great first step in the design process would is to create a Storyboard!

Let’s first start off by talking about what exactly is a storyboard. An e-learning storyboard is something that is created with visuals and texts for every screen in the course – a basic game plan of what you want to create. Essentially, it is what you are going to propose to your client, to show them what you want to design and how you want to get their message across. It is a screen by screen document in which you describe what the learner is going to be seeing.

There is no one way to create a storyboard as all e-learning courses are designed with a different purpose in mind. We have to remember that e-Learning courses don’t just magical happen, you need a plan of attack on what you want to accomplish and how you are going to get there. A storyboard helps for you to get this across, it serves as a blueprint for your course – what needs to be researched, analyzed, drafted, and then tested.

This a great article to help you to get started on how to create your storyboard. It provides simple and easy tips so you can create an e-learning storyboard to help you and your clients visualize the e-learning experience you have in mind,

Inspiration is everywhere!

Next time you are out and about, look around you and take mental notes of all of the visual design graphics you see.

Think to yourself: are they eye-catching, does it clearly get its message across, wow that has WAY too much going on, etc. Consider how those same elements can work (or not work) for you.

Take these four versions of the same sign, for example. Each one reflecting different values, from extreme simplicity to using every bit of real estate and several different colors.