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A “Must Have” Guide for eLearning Instructional Design!

Marina Arshavskiy (2013) Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses

If you are designing eLearning courses, you will find many informative texts on the subject out there. However, there is currently none as authoritative a guide as Marina Arshavskiy’s Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses. The guide has been penned by a professional instructional designer who has many years of real life field experience.  The book offers readers theoretical concepts in eLearning design as well as practical approaches and industry best practices to making the theory work successfully in the real world.


The author has done an excellent job of taking a complex subject like instructional design for eLearning, and decomposed it into logical parts so readers can progressively learn to crawl, walk and then sprint through the subject matter. Each part covers specific elements of the subject, neatly divided into appropriate chapters. The four parts of the book include:

Part I – Basic Elements of Instructional Design

Part II – Designing Instructionally Sound ELearning courses

Part III – Interactive Elements in ELearning Courses

Part IV – Advancing Your Skills

Although beginners to this subject are encouraged to review each part sequentially, there is nothing to stop you from horning in directly into the Part or Chapter that perks your interest most. Because of the way the author has laid out the text, you can glean as much benefit from the materials by diving right into the topics you want to learn more about.


Those aspiring to embrace instructional design and those that have recently embarked into the subject will equally find great value in the book. However, savvy professional instructional designers will also find its contents extremely helpful and insightful – especially as a handy desk guide or quick review reference resource.


While an authoritative text, the materials are delivered in a non-authoritarian style. The author speaks to the readers in a very informal, personable way that makes reading through the text easy and simple to follow. It approaches each topic in a non-academic tone, which is what makes the content so relevant to the real world.


A picture truly paints a thousand words! True to the essence of the subject being discussed, the author makes liberal use of visual aids, including graphs, tables and diagrams throughout the book. The book contains plenty of resources – including questionnaires and checklists – that readers will find extremely useful in building instructionally sound eLearning course materials. This single characteristic makes it a guide worth reading, even if you are unfamiliar with the subject and just starting off into the grand world of instructional design.


Unlike many other texts on the subject available today, Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses has been written with the “real world” in mind. Packed with examples from real-life, mostly based on the author’s extensive professional experiences, this book literally guides you step-by-step through the complex process of creating powerful, engaging and impactful eLearning course materials.  Each chapter starts out with a set of realistic learning objectives, giving you a primer of what to expect, and ends with exercises meant to reinforce the learning objectives.


Whether you are aspiring to become an instructional designer, a novice instructional designer struggling with the basics of the subject, a veteran looking for a handy desk reference guide, or a human resources professional designing professional development training programs for employees, you will find everything you need to know about eLearning course development within the covers of this book.

Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses is a “must have” guide for eLearning instructional design that you can’t do without!

Kate Oslansky is an eLearning project manager at a major eLearning corporation in the Washington Metropolitan area. She has been involved in the field of instructional design and eLearning for over 20 years. Kate is constantly searching for new and innovative eLearning and leadership ideas, and is especially interested in improving organizational performance.

Six Uses for Augmented Reality in Primary and Tertiary Education

Image: Eric Rice
Image: Eric Rice

Educators have taken to exploring the educational possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR) in the classroom and the very real opportunities afforded by this sense-expanding technology. A generation in love with gimmicks, AR has taken the public fancy. The cutting edge technology has been gradually working its way into our collective conscious through such hi-tech marvels as Google Glasses, AR business cards, and the GE Smart Grid. As AR gains recognition, however, educators are finding that this form of pseudo-realism technology can be applied toward a higher purpose: enhancing the educational experience. The use of AR in the classroom is nothing short of a revolution in our learning culture.

At a basic level, there is no doubt that the use of AR in education adds a layer of attraction to a student’s studies. Knowing that coming to classes means a chance to play with cool hi-tech toys means that students are less likely to play hooky or skip first class on Monday after partying hearty. Students who have AR in the classroom actually enjoy coming to school—they are motivated.

Memory Aid
Furthermore, since AR involves a number of senses, students will by definition be more engaged in their studies. In one study, AR was used for specific learning activities, for instance problem solving. The technology applied to these lessons provided for a level of interactivity that had not previously been experienced by the students. As a result, the lessons were pleasurably engraved on their long-term memories. (1)

AR is nothing if not flexible. Augmented reality spans the generation gap and can be employed with students of all ages, making it useful for preschool, elementary, high school, college, and postgraduate studies. AR also has a wide application in that any and all subject matter can be enhanced with AR technology. In addition to this consideration, AR can be used to tie seemingly disparate subject matters together.
For example, students studying The Diary of Anne Frank might “travel” from Frankfurt, where Anne was born, to Amsterdam. They can “tour” the attic hideaway of the Franks, and see what route Miep Gies might have taken to bring food to the residents of the Achterhuis. Students can “walk” past Nazi Brown Shirts and “converse” with them in German. They can see the indigenous flora and fauna of the areas in which the story takes place. They can “experience” a gas chamber.
The use of AR in this study unit would offer an interdisciplinary exercise melding social studies, history, geography, biology, literature, German language studies, and more, in a way that would impress upon the minds of the students, the entirety of the Anne Frank story forever. This type of study breaks the tidy mold of compartmentalized studies and offers a potent delivery system for learning retention.

AR system software is portable and easy to install in just about any setting. Using the software is as easy as walking and talking. There is almost no learning curve to the use of AR, while AR itself can be a bridge to enhanced learning and learning retention.

Independent Problem Solving
AR changes the learning culture so that instead of acting as compliant sponges for teacher-imparted information, students perform as scientists. Acting as researchers, students investigate topics with an open mind and with an eye toward building knowledge and solving problems. Cook examined this aspect of augmented reality in his 2010 work, Augmented Contexts for Development (ACD) which expanded on Lev Vygotsky’s seminal education theory, Zones of Proximal Development (ZPD). (2)

In his work, Cook described how architecture students created a “vlog” to record their impressions of a field trip. The students employed physical as well as digital representations of structures at one and the same time, synchronizing these tools to better inform their interactions with the subject matter and with each other. The students pooled their combined knowledge from this exercise to round out their perceptions of the material, answering their own questions as they arose, from examining AR overlays and experiencing situated visualizations.

Sense Substitutions
Haptic interfaces can offer tactile feedback for blind students or those with vision impairment. An example of such an interface is the Haptic Lotus, a handheld device shaped like a flower. The petals open and close to offer clues about the environment. Sound-rendering systems can be used to change visual data about locations and objects into aural information. Those students with hearing impairments, on the other hand, may experience the sounds and rhythms of music by way of color visualizations set to the beat of a song.

Once upon a time, augmented reality was seen as the newest futuristic technology. Something for fun perhaps, with little application to real life situations or need. Over the past decade, however, AR has begun to prove its worth as something that can add texture and context to our everyday lives and enhance and augment the learning experience. As educational institutions increasingly promote the use of AR, educators will expand their own knowledge of this technology and learn new ways to use this adaptable, engaging, and multipurpose tool in the classroom.

Varda Epstein is a journalist and researcher specializing in education and a Communications Writer for Kars for kids, a car donation charity whose proceeds underwrite educational programs for children and adults. Write to Varda at

(1)  Luckin R, Stanton Fraser D. Limitless or pointless? An evaluation of augmented reality technology in the school and home. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning. August 2011; 3(5): 510-524.
(2)  Cook J. Mobile phones as mediating tools within augmented contexts for development. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning. 4 October 2010; 2(3): 1-12.

Is Online Education Going to be Free in the Future?

* Money
Image: Tax Credits

One effect of computer and Internet technology is the dramatic change in the way students communicate, learn and interact with their peers. This change paved the way for online education. Over the years, online education has gained enough ground for becoming a mainstream educational approach in the overall learning process.

The Trend of Free Online Education

In order to seek online education, students from around the world pay a specific amount of money to register for a program and take the provided courses live or recorded. There are assignments to complete and tests to assess students’ progress. Once the program completes, only the passing students get their degrees. Today, the main approach of online education is changing as well. There are a few companies, offering online education for free. In the beginning, very few of such services existed teaching a limited set of concepts to online students ranging from secondary to higher education levels. But presently, due to the active involvement of professors of internationally renowned universities, that are offering complete university courses online for free, it is inevitable to suppress the idea that the future might hold an opportunity for free online education.

Limitations of Free Online Education

From the successful response to the free online courses, one point is clear that the idea of free online education is acceptable to the people worldwide. However, the idea is rather impractical. Firstly, these free of cost courses do not offer a degree in the end. This is because of no thorough way to assess the real progress of such a massive student’s body. The idea behind introducing such free online courses was generally to expand the horizon of delivered knowledge. By seeking solely the certificates from the instructors, a student cannot apply in a traditional education system. Furthermore, online courses need a lot of investment to arrange for the required resources. Therefore, the companies offering online courses need a way to generate revenue to balance out the content generation expenses. Therefore, such services cannot stay absolutely free of cost forever.

Business Models for Free Online Education

Various business models are under consideration to generate revenue out of such massive open online courses.

Free Education Models

One business model is to use these courses for advertising. The idea is that the courses get sponsored by companies. This means that the students enrolled in a course would become the target audience of promotional campaign messages or banners. A second business model is that various companies buy these online courses and train the internal employee free of cost. Furthermore, these sites can seek commission by serving as a matchmaker between the companies seeking qualified team of employees and the outstanding students looking for jobs. Such approaches serve to keep the education free.

Non-Free Education Models

In the non-free business model, the advertising approach would be such that the first part of the course would be kept free. In order to complete a course, the student will have to pay a small amount of fee. It could also be that the students completing a course pay a fee to get the certificate. Alternatively, the course is free but to acquire a degree, students would have to pay a small amount of fee. Thereafter, the students would have to take a test in order to qualify. The idea of free online education is fascinating, yet, not entirely possible. It can, however, serve as an effective tool for advertising a course at an affordable price or help the student body get in touch with the employers. In case a company manages to keep up the motto of free online education for the welfare of students worldwide, it is not likely that all online education would be free in the future.

About the Author: Trever P. works as a professional writer for a college paper writing service at where he consults students on how to appropriately structure their essays, research papers, and dissertations.

20 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know About

Apple with USB cable pushed in

Here are twenty tools that you can use to help you plan and teach your class. Some tools are good for organizing your class and others are good for organizing online projects. Some of the tools are good little teaching aides. The list is in no particular order, and many of them could be used by students too if they were technologically literate.

1 – Animoto

This allows you to create video-based lessons and presentations for your classroom.

2 – Capzles

You can use this to gather various media such as videos, images and documents. It makes teaching in a modern classroom a lot easier. It is also good for online projects.

3 – Creaza

This tool allows you to brainstorm, edit videos, edit audio and create cartoons. You can do all of this in order to prepare for your classes and present your class to your students.

4 – Educreations

This is an online tool that teachers and students can use on their iPad. The teacher my create videos on certain topics. The students and the teacher can show off their knowledge via this tool.

5 – FunBrain

This is full of a collection of fantastic educational games. It is good for teaching students reading and math.

6 – Glogster

This is a social site where the students are allowed to mix up photos, videos and music, so that they may show them off to their friends. It is good for teachers to encourage creative student projects.

7 – Google Docs

A teacher can store documents online and share presentations and spreadsheets. A teacher can share this information with other students and teachers.

8 – Khan Academy

A lot of teachers use this tool because it is full of science, math and finance quizzes and lectures. Teachers use this tool to supplement their usual classroom materials.

9 – MangaHigh

This is a math tool that has lots of resources for game-based learning.

10 – MasteryConnect

MasterConnect allows you to track and analyze various elements of your students’ performance.

11 – Mentor Mob

This allows teacher and students to create learning play lists. These are a collection of very high-quality materials that students can use to study and that teachers can use to teach.

12 – Planboard

This is a great little lesson organizer and planner.

13 – Prezi

This allows teachers to build presentations so that they may teach their students more easily. It is an online tool that allows you to save your presentation online.

See our recent article


14 – QR Codes

QR codes are known as quick response codes and are the newest trend in education.

See how to use them


15 – Quizlet

This allows a teacher to create learning tools for their classes and for their students.

16 – Teachers Pay Teachers

This tool allows teachers to create learning tools and then sell them on to other teachers. You can even share your lessons if you like. It gives teachers access to a few high quality resources.

Read more


17 – TED-Ed

This is a place where teachers can find inspiration. It also has quite a few videos which are organized by subject. It has materials to help you teach your students a wide variety of subjects.

18 – Timetoast

This allows students or teachers to create timelines. The timelines can be used to plan projects and track the progress of projects.

19 – Wordle

This is good for language classes as it allows you to create word clouds.

20 – YouTube

There are plenty of tutorials and TV shows on YouTube which can be used to teach students things via video.

Alice N. Alice is a writer for top essays services review website. She contributes articles to educational portals and blogs.

5 Ways to Stay Organized and Focused as an Online Learner

Woman getting organised

The modern student’s life is tied to technology, but sometimes technical challenges can disrupt study plans. Students who spend hours researching and working on their computers know how difficult it can be to stay focused and organized. The temptation to check Facebook or browse Buzzfeed can be hard to resist. A hard drive crash or a lost USB storage device can be devastating. Luckily, the Internet community has banded together to provide students with ways to survive and resist the pitfalls of technology.

1. Backup it up!

That’s right, you gotta back up that data, boys and girls. If your hard drive crashes, you will be lucky to recover your information at all, and even then, it could be days or weeks before you can access it. Backing up your data is absolutely necessary, whether it’s to a separate hard drive or to an online cloud storage unit like Mozy where you can get 2GB totally free . The cloud storage unit offers even better protection under the grim circumstance that your computer should be stolen.

2. Show a little restraint.

When using your computer in class or for research, it is easy to become distracted by the millions of entertaining titbits floating around the Internet. I secretly suspect that even professors get distracted by their favourite blogs and YouTube videos, but I have no proof to support this. If you feel like you need some help avoiding the temptation of Facebook or other sites, you can download restriction software that will temporarily block certain sites from your browser. There are a different options for PC and Mac users, but SelfRestraint and SelfControl come highly recommended.

3. Take a break.

You over-achiever, you! Okay, so even if you’re not an obsessive perfectionist, you might be up to your eyeballs in a last-minute project or other time intensive study session. One of the most important things about studying and researching is to take breaks. It sounds a little crazy, and maybe too good to be true, but it’s the truth. Without rest, your brain will cease to function properly, and your quality of work won’t be as high. Using a timed break application can keep you rested and focused, but it can also help you keep track of your time investment. Focus Booster for Mac and Tomighty for PCs can help you

4. Get organized.

There are a lot of ways to get organized, but one of the newest organizational sites on the Web is called MySocialCloud. (Those of you who are addicted to Facebook and Twitter, beware! This site allows you to merge notifications from both sites!) This site allows you to save passwords for all of you accounts, but it’s real stand-out feature is its organizational web browser bookmark tool. Students can bookmark course Websites and articles, which makes keeping track of online research content extremely convenient.

5. Drop it.

Once again, cloud storage comes to save the day! Dropbox is a file sharing and storage cloud system that allows you to share and edit files between other users. This is a great tool for collaborative projects, but it’s also an alternative for USB devices and email attachments. Students who don’t have access to a printer in the dorm room or the apartment can move their documents to Dropbox and access them from a campus computer lab. You never have to worry about losing important documents again.

Kate Willson is an energetic education writer who specializes in college life. She shares her many tips for students and recent grads at You can reach Kate by leaving her a message in the comment section. She loves hearing from readers!


Is Online Education the Future or the Last Resort?


In a recent episode of All Things Considered, NPR highlighted the University of the People, an online institution that claims to be “the world’s first, tuition-free, non-profit, online academic institution.”  It helps individuals like Naylea Omayra Villanueva Sanchez who, due to a motorcycle accident, can neither physically attend nor financially afford a university education.

Sounds dreamy, yes?  In the words of one commenter, “the concept tickles peoples (sic) utopian fantasies.”  This is perhaps why it didn’t take long for the generally unruffled comment thread generated by NPR faithfuls to get a little derisive—even rightfully so.

Surviving without profit

UoP isn’t actually the first non-profit online institute—Khan Academy beat them by three years in 2006.  Since Khan and UoP, numerous institutions have sprung up, including for-profit Udacity and Coursera and non-profit edX, a venture by MIT, Harvard, and other leading universities.

It seems, however, that this pie in the sky is having trouble manifesting.  Despite partnering with Hewlett Packard and Yale, UoP is catching heat for going back on its promise for a free education.  Starting in September, new students of UoP will pay $100 for every final exam.   Even its supporters are concerned.

“How are we going to make this work, while keeping it tuition-free and not having any onerous fees that would at all restrict access to the world’s poorest of the poor, yet at the same time keep the organization growing?” asks Dalton Conley, New York University’s former dean of social sciences.  Conley goes on to quote Shai Reshef, the founder of UoP, “We’re not the future of higher education, we’re the last resort.”

Philip Altbach, head of the Center of International Higher Education at Boston College, says, “[It’s] a nice idea,” but adds a caveat, “I think it’s a bit half-baked at this point.”

Plagiarism in the online eLearning community

Altbach cites another difficulty with massive online learning: plagiarism.  “How, for example, will you figure out that the admirable woman in Peru is taking the tests herself?”  (Note: one commenter proposed biometrics.)

Coursera has recently come under fire—by its own students, no less—for such cases of plagiarism found in peer-graded essays.  Laura K. Gibbs, a lecturer teaching online courses at the University of Oklahoma and a student of Coursera’s fantasy and science fiction class, lamented the incidents on her blog.

(In case you’ve forgotten, here’s TeLS’s previous infographic and article on 10 types of plagiarism.)

eLearning has a disadvantage in that instructors don’t always look at students’ work, but their students also hail from across the globe.  Many universities boast eclectic student backgrounds, but not all institutions remember that some students plagiarize because they don’t know it’s culturally unacceptable.

“If we really are trying to teach the world, including people from other cultures,” says Coursera professor Charles Severance, “we have to take a responsibility to educate people about plagiarism, not just vaporize people for it.”

A ghost-writer comes clean

If Daphne Koller’s sense that plagiarism doesn’t happen more frequently than in regular classroom environments isn’t enough for some skeptics, they might consider picking up a copy of The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat by ghostwriter-come-clean Dave Tomar.  After feeling alienated and cheated out of a quality education at Rutgers, Tomar wrote papers for cash at bachelor’s through doctoral levels.  What’s more, he sees himself for what he is—“Even if I can rationalize what I’m doing, I can’t take any pride in it…I’m trash”—but also sees everyone in the college institution as a “co-conspirator.”

Tomar goes on, “When I started doing this job, I was so angry over my university experiences and just over the direction of our culture in general….  We are so deeply entrenched for a lot of economic reasons in this cost structure where colleges have inflated their costs so dramatically, but the return on it is completely static.”

Perhaps University of Michigan and Coursera professor Eric S. Rabkin feels a similar cynicism after years of deep entrenchment in this kind of dollar-signs culture.  “I’m not interested in proving this could substitute for the University of Michigan,” he says. “What I’m after is seeing if we have a way of capitalizing on a large group of people with smart software and a clever system that can make a community that has guidance and can teach itself.”

Kay Winders is presently the resident writer for, where she researches the best way for people to pay off their debts without damaging their credit. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing, the beach and gardening.

eLearning by the Numbers: A Comparison With Everyday Life

eLearning is no longer the exception – it’s the rule. With more than 30% of training hours delivered online, companies who waste the opportunity to become more capable with online training are saying goodbye to more than revenue – they’re writing off employee satisfaction and innovation. As you contemplate using online training to accomplish your organization’s goals, keep these metrics in mind.

  1. $130,000,000,000 is not just the amount of money spent on fastfood in America, it’s the size of the American training market. Few people know that the training sector is bigger than the video game, book publishing or recorded music markets.
  2. While companies blow $53,000,000,000 on on travel and lodging costs for traditional, in-person training every year, Americans spend that many minutes on Facebook every month. Lost productivity on both sides!
  3. Can you believe companies spend $1,014 on each employee’s training each year? That could pay for groceries for 4-5 weeks for the average family.
  4. If you connect your employees to online training, you’ll do more than save money on travel – you’ll save energy and reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. Online training uses 90% less energy than in-person training – coincidentally also the percent of the world that is right-handed.
  5. 61% of parents have spied on their children’s Facebook accounts (probably good parenting!), which is the same proportion of mandatory or compliance training that is currently conducted online – saving both parents and companies considerable time, energy and headaches spent resolving bad behavior.
  6. On average, employees spent 40.1 hours in training in 2010 – time that could be reduced with online, self-paced training. Or, you could spend the same amount of time walking across the Golden Gate Bridge 59 times.
  7. Online training improves employee retention by demonstrating your commitment to their continual improvement and satisfaction. Companies who use online training experience a 40% decrease in turnover rates – the same proportion of 9-1-1 calls in NYC that are pocketdials.
  8. With the $38 in savings per hour per employee you’ll achieve by using interactive online training instead of traditional training, you can buy a waffle maker.
  9. Two Rabbits / Zwei KaninchenEvery 3-5 years, 50% of employee skills become outdated. Meanwhile, the average rabbit lifespan will have come and gone – while your organization falls behind its peers unless you invest in training.

eLearning is more than a quickly expanding industry and more than a promising alternative to traditional in person skill training. It’s a cost-effective, efficient, engaging way to provide the training that you and your employees need.

Ben Graziano is a content developer at OpenSesame, the world’s marketplace for buying and selling online training courses. Ben is a senior at Babson College and loves soccer, hiking and weight liftin

5 Amazing Apps for Teachers Who Love iPads

Technology and teaching go hand in hand. Now that apps are a part of most people’s daily lives, it’s only natural that teachers gravitate to some of these advanced applications for their smart devices. Teachers also have a fond relationship with eReaders and tablets, such as the iPad, because it makes things like lesson planning and note taking so much simpler. So what apps have teachers frequently enjoyed? There are actually many useful apps on the marketplace today, and while not all are free, these are some applications that are worth every cent to make teachers’ lives that much easier and more productive. Take a look at some of the apps that were found to be favourite the most by educators.

1. Note Taking
Used by teachers and students, Evernote is an app that makes note taking a breeze. The beauty of this dynamic app is in the functions. You can create different sets of notes and access from just about any device, including your smart phone. You can also clip information from sites, connect to drawing tools like Sketch, email your ideas and sync information with all of your devices in just a few steps. For so many reasons, this little tool has helped teachers create more intricate lesson plans, develop comprehensive discussions and just save important information to share with other teachers and students.

2. TED Videos
Want to learn something or just spark a conversation with your students? You can do it with a wonderful app that’s all about TED. TED Talks is a one-of-a-kind app that allows you to view talks from some of the world’s most well-versed and fascinating individuals. Teachers like using TED Talks to start discussions in the classroom but also just to research new information on different topics, leading to new ideas for lesson plans and just adding interesting points for lectures.

3. Whiteboard Fun
Another one of teacher’s favourite iPad tools is Screen Chomp, which allows you to work with a white board, recording what you do and also narrating. It’s an amazing tool to help show students exactly what you want them to know and you can save your files online and play on a student’s site or allow them to download the file to their computers. For online leaning, this is a dream tool. EduCreations is another whiteboard app that is also a favourite among educators.

4. College Search
Students and teachers alike can always use more education tools. For students, teachers can be a gateway to finding out new information for all kinds of degree programs and colleges. For teachers, upgrading a certificate, learning something new or getting into a graduate program can be a lifetime goal finally achieved. There are some incredible apps and sites to find information on colleges, such as College Board’s MatchMaker app or College Data. Other sites such as or also provide monumental information on different programs and financial aid, which is also important for getting back into school.

5. File Sharing
Apps like Dropbox can make file sharing and file access so simple it’s magic. Dropbox allows you to create any file and save to a hosted a folder, which you can share between all of your devices, from iPad to computer, from your iPad to another teacher’s computers. You can specify what kind of access you want for different folders and keep them private or shared, specifying who to share it with and what you want shared within the folder. Dropbox allows teachers to keep files secured all in one place and you can share any file with a class as well. In addition, if you’re writing up some amazing new idea on your iPad, you can quickly share it with your desktop computer or even your school computer for ease of access.

8 Ways to Make Friends In Your Online Classes

Make Friends online

Just because you’ve taken the non-traditional academic route by going to school online doesn’t mean you can’t still bond with your classmates and form meaningful friendships with them. Even though students engage in online discussions and talk in chat rooms every week, they don’t have the luxury of sitting in a classroom where they can meet dozens of interesting people. Making friends in online classes can be just as difficult and daunting as trying to motivate yourself to study, but it can be done and here are eight ways to make it happen.

Full Text: 8 Ways to Make Friends In Your Online Classes | Online Classes.

4 tips for getting to grips with technology

childs play sign

Having trouble grasping new technology? Go about it like a kid.

Whether we are just starting out with e-learning technology or have been taking distance education courses for years, we are always faced with a constant stream of new technology to understand and utilize in order to get things done. Many of us grew up with the internet, and many others watched it grow and slowly begin to change our daily lives. This is something that, once in a while, we mention to our kids. Trying as hard as possible not to sound like we’re lecturing about walking ten miles to school in six feet of snow, we say that, even just fifteen years ago, there was no iPod. This is something that your kids could really care less about, as they pore over their own tech gadgets, learning processes and finding features that you never even knew existed.

So, how is it that kids can learn new technology so quickly? It can seem so complicated for us to break down, and our kids seem to pick up a never-before-seen gadget or game and learn the thing completely within the hour. When it comes to learning new technology, this is actually no fluke. The way a child goes about learning technology is very different from the way an adult faces it. And, we have to admit, there is something to be said for how quickly kids can grasp tech nuances. With that in mind, if you want to forever change the way you see new technology, take a cue from the children in your life, and try things a little differently.

First, start with an open mind. This is the most important difference between the way adults and kids look at technology. Kids start from a place of openness and slowly learn new technology as its very own entity. Adults start with a mindset that is automatically trying to define something new by comparing it to what they have seen and experienced before. This is the first way to limit yourself when it comes to learning new technology. Next time, don’t box in a new product or method by trying to characterize it. Simply approach it with a completely open mind, and you may begin to find ways to use this technology that you have never considered.

Second, explore. When you approach technology with an open mind, you need to forget everything that you already know. Instead of automatically trying to find the area for search, or data storage, or video-making, pretend that you have no idea what this product is actually supposed to do. Just explore it, instead, and it will present itself to you, rather than the other way around. It is by exploring that we are able to truly learn.

Third, let the technology teach you. You don’t need a user manual for technology to present itself to you. The best way to learn is by doing. So simply allow a program to walk you through its intended use. This will make you more connected with the technology and more able to use it with finesse and ease. Instead of figuring out what you want to do with the technology and then learning the processes for those one or two goals, you will be able to learn so much more by exploring and learning from the technology itself.

Finally, play. You can’t learn if you’re not actually interested in what you’re doing. If you’re learning a new technology, try to generate some form of challenge in what you’re doing. Maybe you simply want to beat your own best score in a new game, or maybe you want to figure out how to do footnotes in the fastest way for your writing style. Challenge yourself to do your best, and you will be mobilized to use the technology to its fullest capabilities.

While there is no way we can completely erase our adult natures and grasp technology with exactly the same ease as a child, the most important thing is not to let yourself feel overwhelmed by it. Simply let go, explore, let it teach you, and have fun, and you’re sure to have an experience with new technology that you’ve never had before.

About the author: Kristie Lewis is from construction management degree. You can reach her at:


How much does one hour of eLearning cost?

It’s not uncommon for any type of educational or training course to be made up of one hour sessions. This is also the case for modern eLearning courses designed to leverage technology to assist with the learning process

Students attend these sessions, participate and do their best to retain the information being presented to them, and then once the hour is complete move on to other activities in their life.

But just how long and how much money does it take to create that one hour course? A lot more than many would think!

A study in 2010 was conducted by the Chapman Alliance that polled 249 eLearning instructors that discovered just how much time and money was going into preparing these one hour learning sessions.

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Time Spent Preparing

An interesting part of the study is that they asked participants to break down how much time they spent preparing for a basic one hour eLearning session. On average, instructors spent a total of 79.1 hours preparing into these different categories:

  • Front End Analysis: 7.88 Hours
  • Instructional Design: 10.88 Hours
  • Storyboarding: 9.03 Hours
  • Graphic Production: 8.66 Hours
  • Video Production: 3.49 Hours
  • Audio Production: 5.47 Hours
  • Authoring / Programming: 13.42 hours
  • QA Testing: 5.12 Hours
  • Project Management: 5.08 Hours
  • SME/Stakeholder Reviews: 5.59 Hours
  • Pilot Testing: 3.43 Hours
  • Other: .96 hours

It’s clear that significant time is spent preparing for an hour long eLearning session. I was most surprised to see the low time spent on Video Production. My only assumption would be is that most instructors are not using video often in their courses and thus spend less time on it.

This is especially interesting to me given the popularity of video on the internet and how often individuals turn to YouTube for Visual Instruction and to learn how things are accomplished.

How Much Does This Cost?

Spending 79.1 hours preparing for a single hour of course instruction is going to have significant costs related to it. The survey participants estimated that in total, creating a one our basic learning session costs them in total around $10k dollars. That’s a significant investment that should require organizations to be sure that these courses are re-usable to help decrease the cost impact over time.

In contrast to this, the study shows that a single hour of Instructor-Led Training costs slightly less than $6k. This is significantly less of an investment than an eLearning course.


An hour session of eLearning takes significantly more time and money than many would expect. Instructors and eLearning Authors spend hours and thousands of dollars creating the material that students quickly learn during these courses. With the time and cost requirements to create learning as high as they are, it makes the investigation of blended learning approaches an attractive option, especially if the learning courses are not being created for large scale implementation and for repeat courses.

About the author: Dan Hinckley is technology enthusiast who works with LeanForward, an elearning solutions company, and George Mason University.

Source Citation: Chapman, B. (2010). How Long Does it Take to Create Learning? [Research Study]. Published by Chapman Alliance LLC.

Flipped Class Explained

What is a Flipped Class?
The flipped class is a relatively recent model of classroom learning popularized over the last 20 years by teachers such as Professor Eric Mazur of Harvard University, Colorado high school teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, and Salman Khan of the online Khan Academy. Flipping means turning the traditional classroom model upside down. Instead of lecturing in class and assigning students exercises to do at home, teachers of flipped classes record instructional videos, post them online on YouTube or their respective school portals, and tell their students to review the video lesson at home.

The next day in class, students work together to solve exercises based on what they learned in the video lesson. Teachers encourage students to work with each other in class to solve problems or complete exercises, and intervene only to provide guidance or to answer questions. The model is that of self-guided student learning rather than traditional top-down, lecture-based classes.

Tips for Online Courses
Teachers who use the flipped class model can make the most of its strengths by:

  • Keeping the end goal in mind at every stage of the course design
  • Explaining the concept and benefits of the flipped class model to students at the outset to avoid confusion
  • Utilizing video from news sources or from other teachers, especially if they’re experts in the topic or if they’re recording a site visit relevant to the course material
  • Setting up social media sites such as Facebook or Google Groups pages to encourage students to meet and continue the class discussion after hours
  • Experimenting with different technologies to see which work best. Teachers may choose to “screencast,” or record the activity on their computer screen, accompanied by voiceover narration. This technique is useful for making video lectures or for giving feedback to students about their electronic assignment submissions over the Internet, suggests the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
  • Flipping the teacher, suggests the New York Times. Have students create their own videos about the course topics and post them on a school blog.

Some proponents of flipped classes report that they inspire students to take ownership of their own education. They are no longer the passive recipients of a lecture, but rather active participants in learning. They’re encouraged to discuss problems and exercises with each other before coming to the teacher, which sparks lively student debates and encourages deeper involvement with the subject matter. If students have questions that are too hard for their peers, the teacher steps in and provides guidance, but then steps back again and allows the class to resume its brainstorming.

The result in many schools is a dramatic improvement in test scores. This model ensures that when students have questions about homework material, they are in a classroom where they can ask the teacher instead of their parents or roommates. It gives teachers more time to answer those student questions and to interact with them one-on-one.

Some college students have voiced criticism of the flipped class model, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Students say that they feel cheated, especially when they pay thousands of dollars for tuition only to find that sometimes their course lectures are available online for free. This model makes heavy use of the Internet and can make students feel isolated and robbed of a truly collegial experience with classroom peers. It has also been criticized for penalizing lower-income students who don’t have ready access to the Internet.

About the Author: Allie Gray Freeland is Editor-in-Chief of Connect with Allie on Twitter @educationonline or