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What is it?

Any form of learning through electronic media, such as the internet, web apps, or other means. The most effective eLearning is almost always highly interactive, challenging, and engaging.

Why is it important?

Too often, eLearning content is thrown together without much thought as to how effective it might be for the learners. It is no longer enough to place a PowerPoint deck with narration online and then quiz learners. Instead, effective eLearning uses an individualized approach that challenges learners to solve real work-related problems. It also presents a consistent message to all learners. And when done well, it is both economical and an effective use of resources.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Every successful business strives for constant improvement and growth. Training is an important part of achieving those goals. eLearning, while important, is not a panacea for every training need. At times it makes more sense to hold training in a meeting room. At other times it may be better to watch a training video.

What does eLearning provide? When it is done well, eLearning delivers an individualized experience to each learner, one that molds itself automatically to each learner’s needs. Someone who is already proficient in the content need not be bored; those who are new to the content need not be overwhelmed. Learners should be challenged at an appropriate level so they can solve real-life problems that they encounter in the workplace.

Well-designed eLearning starts learners out with the same set of challenges, using case scenarios and similar approaches. And it aims to bring all learners to the same level of proficiency. However, it allows more experienced learners to progress quickly, and for those who struggle, it gives extra time and levels to ensure a complete grasp of the material.

This process does not require a lot of money to create, but it does require expertise in creating eLearning. Just as you wouldn’t hire someone who has never popped the hood of a car to fix an engine problem, you want to make sure that eLearning expertise is brought to bear to ensure money and time are not wasted and that the learning is effective.

References

About Joe Ganci

Photo of Joe Ganci

Joe Ganci leads eLearningJoe, LLC, a custom learning company. He has been involved in every aspect of multimedia and learning development. Joe holds a computer science degree, and he writes books, research papers, and articles about eLearning. He is an award-winning eLearning guru, and he consults with clients and delivers keynotes and classes worldwide. His mission is to increase employee productivity with engaging eLearning experiences that really work.

Term: eLearning

Email: joe@elearningjoe.com

Website: elearningjoe.com

Twitter: @elearningjoe

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/elearningjoellc/

What is it?

A hierarchical model that classifies the cognitive processes of learning into increasing levels of complexity and abstraction. Bloom’s Taxonomy was proposed in 1956 by a team led by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom.

Why is it important?

Bloom’s taxonomy remains highly influential as a framework for scaffolding instruction and articulating learning objectives. Often depicted as a pyramid(Armstrong 2010), it represents a progression from lower-order to higher-order thinking skills:

  1. Remember: Recall facts or basic knowledge
  2. Understand: Explain ideas or concepts
  3. Apply: Use knowledge to address novel contexts
  4. Analyze: Make connections among ideas
  5. Evaluate: Exercise judgment and defend decisions
  6. Create: Develop new or original work

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Bloom’s Taxonomy informs the development of effective employee and consumer-facing training programs by helping facilitators to:

Identify the type(s) of knowledge required: The taxonomy divides knowledge into four domains: factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive. Understanding the types of knowledge a training program seeks to impart informs the development of relevant content and instructional strategies.

Target the appropriate level of learning for a given audience: Lower-order cognitive skills are prerequisites for the development of higher-order skills. For example, learners must first be able to recall and understand industry terminology before they can correctly apply those terms in written and verbal communication.

Articulate the desired outcomes of a training program: Various sources have mapped action verbs(Shabatura 2014) to each level of Bloom’s taxonomy to support the development of learning outcomes that are well-aligned with instructional goals. Clear outcomes ensure learners understand the purpose of the training and how it will help them perform specific tasks, which can boost engagement and persistence. By first articulating the tasks and behaviors a training program will address, instructors can design relevant activities and assessments, making the training experience more efficient and effective.

Allocate time and resources for training: More complex cognitive tasks require more time for instruction, more opportunities for practice, and more robust support for learners.

Evaluate training: By considering the level of learning and intended outcomes of training programs, evaluation instruments can more accurately assess their effectiveness and return on investment.

References

About Joy Adams

Photo of Joy Adams

Joy K. Adams, PhD, is an e-learning instructional designer and adjunct instructor of geography with 25 years of experience in higher education. Her specializations include Universal Design for Learning, digital accessibility, faculty development and training, inclusive pedagogy, and active/applied learning.

Term: Bloom's Taxonomy

Email: joy.adams@gmail.com

Website: elevatedlearningdesignllc.com

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/joykadamsphd/

What is it?

The theory and practice of supporting self-directed learners, typically, but not exclusively, adult learners.

Why is it important?

Learning is best when it is directed, supported, facilitated, guided, and designed to be appropriate to the context of the individual learner.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

The term andragogy, which most often refers to the theory and practice of supporting adult learners, was coined by German educator Alexander Kapp in 1833 and popularized by American educator Malcolm Knowles in the 1970s(Kurt 2020).

Andragogy is situated on the learning continuum between pedagogy, where what is learned and how it is learned is teacher-determined and directed, and heutagogy, where what is learned and how it is learned is determined solely by the learner. In andragogy what is learned is determined by the teacher, and how it is learned is directed by the learner(Anderson 2006, p. 4).

Understanding the learner’s role in learning is essential to effectively, efficiently, and successfully designing learning. The learning content must be appropriate to the context, and position on the continuum, of the individual learner. And it is not necessarily dictated by age or stage of development of the learner.

There are several key principles that differentiate andragogy:

  • Role: the instructor functions more as a guide on the side, rather than as a sage on the stage. Learners want choices and options and consider themselves equal partners in the learning process.
  • Environment: collaborative and less formal.
  • Learning: learner-centered and experiential in nature, taking life experiences and prior knowledge into account, rather than being didactic and focused on knowledge acquisition or content-oriented.
  • Methods: deeper learning and engagement methods, include problem-solving, case studies, role-playing, simulations, project-based activities, self/peer evaluation, and group or paired activities.
  • Curriculum: designed to support applied learning and experience (including mistakes) that is practical and immediately relevant to the learner, i.e., what the learner needs/wants to know, rather than a standardized curriculum determined by society and/or educators.
  • Motivation: Rather than being driven by external pressures to learn, the drive to learn is directed and sustained by the learner’s own internal motivation. Learners assume active responsibility for their learning.

References

About Alexandra Pickett

Photo of Alexandra Pickett

Alexandra M. Pickett gives leadership and direction to SUNY (State University of New York) Online Teaching. She is the former director of the Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence, and the former associate director of the award-winning SUNY Learning Network. Working with 64 SUNY institutions, she has directly supported or coordinated the development of over 6,000 online faculty and their online courses. She has also taught Introduction to Online Teaching in the Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology (CDIT) master’s program at the University at Albany.

Term: Andragogy

Email: Alexandra.Pickett@suny.edu

Website: online.suny.edu/onlineteaching/meet-the-team/alex/

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/alexandrapickett/

What is it?

The extent to which content is available, understandable, and usable by all, regardless of disabilities or impairments such as sensory, physical, cognitive, intellectual, or situational.

Why is it important?

Accessibility equals usability for (almost) everyone. If people with disabilities (PWD) cannot use your product, they might not tell you, but they will tell everyone they know. They’ll also compare it to a competitor’s product that is accessible. Many countries have mandated that products and their documentation must be accessible. Some, like the United States, require it on government websites, for companies doing business with the federal government, or public access. Others require it for everything.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

If your content, product, or building isn’t accessible, you’re ignoring as much as 25% of your audience(CDC 2020). And that audience, globally, is exceptionally loyal and has disposable income of close to $2 trillion USD(Donovan 2020). Additionally, making your product more accessible helps everyone, not just people with disabilities, which makes it more marketable.

Incorporating accessibility can be daunting at first. It helps if accessibility is incorporated during design (and it costs less than trying to retrofit or remediate later in the process). It also helps to include people with disabilities during all phases.

Even if you’re starting after product design has begun or is completed, you may still incorporate aspects of accessibility to make your products usable by people with:

  • Sensory disabilities: sight, hearing, and more
  • Mobility and physical disabilities: need assistance while walking, can’t use a mouse, and so on caused by an accident, disease, or disorder
  • Neurological disorders: ADD, ADHD, cerebral palsy, dementia, learning (dyslexia), muscular dystrophy, and more
  • Intellectual disorders: diminished cognitive development
  • Invisible disabilities: chronic pain, arthritis, diabetes, sleep disorders, and more

Things to consider:

  • Color contrast ratio: test to ensure that text can be read in bright light and by people who are colorblind.
  • Alt text: add to images, and create transcripts for videos.
  • Semantic markup: apply to help those using screen readers (assistive technology that reads documents) and people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Tab order: verify that it is logical (press TAB to move through the page). This helps screen-reader users, those with cognitive issues, and those who do not use a mouse.

These items often help people without disabilities, too.

References

About Char James-Tanny

Photo of Char James-Tanny

Char James-Tanny works in technical publications at Schneider Electric. She has over 40 years of experience as a technical communicator. She has spoken around the world about accessibility, social media, web standards, collaboration, and technology. Char is currently involved in the accessibility initiative at Schneider Electric, helping various teams make their products more accessible for employees and customers. In addition to the links shown below, Char can also be found on Mastodon (@charjtf@a11y.info) and Spoutible (@charjtf).

Term: Accessibility

Email: charjtf@gmail.com

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/charjtf

Facebook: facebook.com/CharJTF