Based on the results from the eLearning Guild’s recent survey “Getting Started with e-Learning 2.0”, it’s clear that the learning environment is changing. Organizations are struggling to redefine their learning strategies to accommodate more collaborative, user-focused approaches. What is “e-Learning 2.0,” and how can you reflect these tenets in your instructional design?

There are many interpretations of what “e-Learning 2.0” even means. If we broadly categorize it based on its “Web 2.0” predecessor, eLearning 2.0 means increasing social interaction, on-demand learning, and user-contributed content. So what are some practical ideas to reflect these?

As an adjunct college professor, I have been teaching online for the last six years. Since then, my “classroom” has been a laboratory where I’ve experimented with various e-learning 2.0 approaches. In addition, as Creative Director at Digitec, I’ve been able to implement e-Learning 2.0 techniques for corporate and association clients. In this first installment on a series, I want to discuss some simple, low costs ways to engage your learners and implement some of the most effective Web 2.0 features into your learning strategies.

•Discussion forums: Low cost, low tech and simple to implement, the return on investment from discussions puts it top on my list. Learning is social, and often, we feel that in implementing eLearning, we lose interaction; however, a well constructed discussion forum can add and create real-time context and encourage connection and peer-learning. When you use the forum to elicit feedback from your learner, they can reflect on the learning experience, contribute content and connect to their peers.

•Ideas: If you’re responsible for sales training, post the forum as a question to your learners to share their most successful “solution sales” technique or story. Often, these learners will be happy to brag and contribute their stories. This allows those learners to apply the learning objective in a contextual “reflexive” way, personally connecting with the content. This contribution also allows students to learn from one another, connecting with their peers and the content. You can also add forums to enable students to post their questions on the topic. Hopefully, common questions can be answered by your staff, once rather than numerous calls or confusion. A very practical technique to share with your learners is that a learner can often post a question and subscribe to that forum, so that they will be automatically notified when their question is answered.

•Tips: Make sure that someone monitors the discussions to assure that learners aren’t communicating incorrect answers or deviating from the accepted policies. Also, to encourage use, it’s important that someone responds to posted questions. It’s a good idea to subscribe to the forum yourself, to ensure that questions don’t go unanswered.

Next post, I’ll be discussing how to use video in your eLearning 2.0 designs.

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