Tuesday, September 8, 2009

eCube shutting down


The hosting provider of eCube has informed me that they are going out of business and will shut down operations by 31 Dec 2009. I need to move this blog to a new hosting provider if I want to continue with this blog. Not sure if I will. eCube was meant to be a team blog and it has served its purpose. eCube will shut down after December this year... unless someone volunteers to run this blog.

PS: I am allowed to change my mind. December is still far away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What is One Hour of eLearning?


Karl Kapp provides a great resource for measuring how long does it take to create one hour of elearning content. It is the ultimate question about elearning development.

Karl's post comes at an opportune time when I as part of a task force trying to determine exactly this, across different types of elearning content. At this time we are stuck trying to demystify what is one hour of elearning content and the various levels/types of elearning content.

Would love to hear from you what you consider one hour of elearning, what are the different levels of elearning and how do you classify them.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Unofficial eLearning Salary Survey 2009


Launching the Unofficial Salary Survey for eLearning / Content Development Jobs in India for year 2009. There's nothing official about this survey. The survey is not based on responses by companies but based on responses provided by you, the employee. This survey is not associated with any organization. The survey is anonymous.

This survey is for you if you are an Instructional Designer, Project Manager, Graphics designer, Flash Programmer, Tester, Editor, Trainer, SME, or any other role involved in developing elearning or any other form of training content in India. This year I also attempt to find out how the economic conditions have impacted the salary hikes this year?

Visit Learn and Lead participate in the survey. Answer a few simple questions. I will publish the findings on Learn and Lead and here sometime in August.

Related posts:

Unofficial salary survey of elearning/content development jobs in India – 2008

Unofficial salary survey of elearning/content development jobs in India – 2007

Monday, June 22, 2009

Inviting Writers for eCube


Starting July, you have the chance to win a surprise gift from eCube each month for next three months. All you have to do is write a post on eCube on anything related to training, learning and education. I'll be giving away one free gift each month for posts on eCube*.

Some suggested areas on which you are write a post:

  • Designing better instruction

  • How to write for different audiences

  • Writing scenarios, dialogs

  • Tips on different type of scenarios for various types of content

  • Project management in instructional design projects

  • Extracting content from SMEs, interviewing SMEs, best practices of involving SMEs in a project

  • Tips on different types of interactivities that can be included in our courses

  • How to learn content

  • Collaboration tips for instructional design projects

  • Selling your design idea to stakeholders

  • Tools for rapid elearning, rapid protoyping

  • LMSs and issues of deploying elearning content

  • Creativity, thinking out of the box

  • Leadership, people mentoring, training and developing instructional design teams

  • Instructional design theories and practices

  • Industry trends in elearning and content

  • Any news about companies that might be of interest to the eCube community

  • Anything related to training, learning and education

Send me an email at manishm at ecube . co . in to register on this site. I will approve your first post before it is published live.

* Fine print:
- There must be at least 4 posts in the month for anyone to be eligible for the gift, even if all four posts are written by one person.

- Your gift will be shipped free within India only.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

eCube LinkedIn Group now 500+


The eCube LinkedIn Group membership quietly crossed 500 a few days ago. The group is 518 members strong as I write this. This is an open group of learning, training and education professionals. Do join in the conversation ongoing there.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Solve a Business Problem or Create a WBT?


I had an interesting chat conversation over the weekend with a budding instructional designer.
ID: I wanted to discuss about Instructional approaches

ID: Suppose there's a client who says " they have been using ILT that has not been successful, their mentors are not motivating enough& nw wants to change it to a WBT.......and target audience are senior &middle level managers well versed with sales, dealing with retailers etc.....

And I've to give them 2 approaches.....do u hv any ideas?

Me: why is their ILT not successful?

ID: their mentors are not motivating enough

Me: why do you believe wbt will be motivating?

ID: hmm.....It would give them the space of doing the training at their own pace and on their own

after all they are senior managers..who might not like to be trained

I mean not support trainings

Me: basically your instructional strategies need to remove the problems they are having with ILT

so if the mentors/trainers are boring, the WBT has to far far more interesting and interactive

ID: Yep.....

Me: so you have the answer...

unless i understood the question wrong

ID: and with just this information and the fact that I've to develop 2 approached based on level 2 interactivity.....

I needed some ideas

See.......ok, can you list down types of approaches......

one can be scenario based, case study based.....

dialogue based

Me: you should know more about the users, job profile is one, what about their other characteristics -- gender, age, race etc.

Me: also what kind of industry are they in?

ID: they are in sales industry

all senior and middle level managers


Me: basically sales guys travel a lot, they don't like to attend training

do they have PDAs etc.?

which country are we talking about?

ID: India

Me: what access do they have to computers and Internet?

ID: broadband

Me: from home?

ID: yes


Me: so the company is expecting the sales guys to take training from home?

ID: anytime they are free.......

Me: they are never going to be free

ID: they are senior level and middle level managers!

Me: are you expected to solve the business problem or just create a WBT?

my response will be different in each case

ID: just create a WBT

Me: :-)

Now I know this person is a budding, relatively junior instructional designer and probably is just doing what she has been asked to do. There was a sense of déjà vu for me. I know many a times, the client appears to be very clear about what they want and wants the vendor to "just create a WBT". Not all clients want to have a business problem discussion with the vendor. And not all instructional designers want to solve business problems. They are happy with creating a WBT and getting on with their jobs. Unfortunately that's a lose-lose situation for both clients and instructional designers.

My advice to instructional designers is to stay focussed on solving the business problems. Sometimes creating a WBT might not be the solution, even though that's what your company may have been contracted to do. Focusing on solving the business problem will help you add value in your interaction with the client and that will in almost all cases eventually lead to more business.

And if you are a client outsourcing a learning content creation project, my suggestion would be that you work with the vendor and collaborate on solving the business problem. There is no harm in having raking up more brains to solve your business problem. And if you are sure that WBT is indeed the answer to your business problem, then provide that information to the vendor so they can do justice to your project.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Instructional Designers Community of India - FAQs


This post is written by Rupa Rajagopalan

Hello All,

This post has answers to frequently asked questions about the Instructional Designers Community of India. This is relevant to all those who want to be a part of the Instructional Designers Community of India.

Please take time to read through the questions and answers.

Now here are the FAQs:

What is the Instructional Designers Community of India?

The Instructional Designers Community of India is a non-profit community for learning professionals or anyone interested in the field of Instructional Designing.

What is the goal of the community?

The goal of the community is to:

  • Actively promote Instructional Design in India

  • Create a vibrant platform for collaborative learning on Instructional Designing

  • Build a thriving community of learning professionals

Who can be a member?

Anyone who is interested and involved in design, development, and delivery of learning programs is welcome.

Is there a member registration fee?

No. There is no fee currently. However there will be a nominal fee once the community is registered.

How often will the community conduct meetups?

There will be a meetup once in a month only in Bangalore. The community will cover other locations in future.

How do members in other locations participate and learn what is happening in the community?

After every meetup, the minutes of the meeting will be published. If possible, video recordings will also be made available. Webex online meeting is also being considered as a possible solution.

What activities would the community undertake?

The community would primarily focus on sharing information about Instructional Designing.There would be expert talks, workshops, reviews, discussions on blog posts and articles.

How can I contribute to the community?

You can share your knowledge in Instructional Designing by conducting a session or delivering a talk. Everyone and anyone interested can send proposals to the volunteers.

The topic could be anything related to Instructional Designing or any other aspect of learning and development.

Here are some clues:

  • You read an interesting blog post and want to talk about it

  • You saw an interesting e-learning course and want to discuss it

  • You are very good at using an e-learning tool and want to introduce the tool

  • You want to conduct a short workshop on a particular topic in Instructional Designing

  • You are an expert learning professional and want to share your experiences

Will there be online activities?

Yes. The community is planning to conduct free webinars, online forums and discussions.

Does the community have a website?

This is in progress. Please expect an announcement soon.

Does the community have a mailing list?

The group in Linkedin would be the mailing list for the moment.

Where do I get news and updates about the community?

Watch out the blog: The Writers Gateway.

How do I join the community?

Please join the group in Linkedin.

Who do I contact for any queries?

Please contact any one of the following people:

Where will I get announcements about the meetups?

Please check the group in Linkedin and the blog: The Writers Gateway.

In case you have a question that is not in the list, please feel free to leave a comment or mail me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What color pen are you?


This post is written by Taruna Goel

What color pen are you? This is a question that Dan Roam asks each of us. His book "The Back of the Napkin -Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures " offers a refreshing view about visual thinking skills. If it helps, this book is ranked as the number 5 in the business book of 2008 category by Amazon. To get a teaser of what's in the book, click on the napkin for some engaging nuggets on visual thinking. Learn about how to solve any problem with a picture, the 4 steps of visual thinking, the 5 focusing questions, and the 6 ways we see (and show).

And as Dan puts it, “Solving problems with pictures has nothing to do with artistic training or talent….” “Welcome to the whole new world of looking at business.”
To catch a glimpse of Dan, what's inside his book, and his plans for the next book, check out Dan's
blog. This blog contains a link to the video capture of Dan’s session with Microsoft. I saw it and its quite inspiring.

I have been doing visualization skills training for instructional designers for years and have definitely improvised it from where we were…but there’s lots to do. After this video, I want to apply some of the stuff shared by Dan and maybe include the video/elements from his blog/book as self-learning and include some of the concepts and examples/techniques during the classroom session…. As you can note…. I am meandering right now… but I am clearly inspired :)

BTW, what color pen are you – the black pen, the yellow pen, or the red pen?
I keep oscillating between black and yellow...
Watch the video to find out!

Monday, March 23, 2009

7 Tips to Write in Plain English


This is a guest post by Cynthia Rankin. Cynthia Rankin is an American who lives in Chennai. She is married to an Englishman, Stephen Rankin. While in England, Cynthia qualified as a TESL instructor and learned to teach English with a British accent. Coming back to America, she helped develop a TEFL teacher training program where her students taught Vietnamese boat refugees in Massachusetts. She became a Fulbright Scholarship candidate: her proposal was to analyze Business Indian English. At Towson University in Maryland, she got her Master's in Professional Writing and began publishing articles on Indians in America. She taught various English courses at Harford Community College.

The Rankins missed the kaleidoscope of life in India and moved to Bangalore as trainers. They moved to Chennai and shifted into their beach flat on December 23, 2004, three days before the Tsunami hit. Cynthia continues to write and develop training material for business communication, technical writing and cultural orientation, but most of all, she likes to learn from others.

How to Write in Plain English

Some think that the way to show that they are intelligent and educated is to make to the length of their words, sentences, and paragraphs as long as possible. They learned this technique of academies in university when they read badly written text books. It was also a good technique to bulldoze the dozing professor who marked their papers.

In the real world, business people have to say what they mean. Here are some tips to help you in your business communication. Remember, many people to whom you write have English as a second or third language. Even if English is their first language, they may speak a different dialect and live in a different culture where the same words may mean different things. Read these tips before you send that email, that letter, that memo.

  1. Less is more. The fewer words you use, the better chance your reader will understand what you are trying to say. There is less chance your reader will misinterpret your message. So before sending your message, play a game. See how many words you can take out of each sentence without loosing the main thought. Remember, you are not writing literature here. Lose the adverbs and adjectives. Fewer the words the readers have to keep up in the air until they get to the end of the sentence, the better they will understand what you are trying to say. They will read faster and find it more enjoyable.

  2. Before you do anything else, find actors. Even if you are writing the most dry business communication, you are still writing to a human being. Now all people like stories. No matter what you write, remember this concept. In all stories, there are characters. Make sure you don't use passive sentence unless you have to. Think. Who is responsible for the action in that sentence? Be specific.

  3. If you have good actors in your sentences, then you have a good start for the rest of your sentence. The next stage is to think about the action. What is the actor doing? Be specific. The team did not conduct an investigation. They were not in front of an orchestra. They didn't conduct. What did they do? Look at that nasty -tion word. That will be your clue. Yes, they investigated. When you say that the team conducted, you have an empty verb that your reader has to juggle. This is a word that does not give meaning.

  4. But if you use the verb "investigated," then you have to say what they investigated. See why people like using language that covers the truth? The verb "investigated" requires you to reveal to the reader what they actually investigated. Imagine if more government bureaucrats were required by law to write like this.

  5. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, sweetheart. Now play another game with your message. See how many words you have where you can find a simpler word-usually one with only one or two syllables. Get rid of Latinate words-those ending in -tion. If you have cleaned up your empty verbs, you may not have so many long words left over. English is a special language because it has about 800 Anglo-Saxon one syllable words. That's why pop music works well in English.

  6. Now see if you can make your sentences shorter. Every sentence is a thought. When the reader gets to the period or full-stop, he breathes a sigh of relief. He can stop the juggling of your words. They should all make sense. Beware of too many prepositional phrases in a sentence which you are writing in your memo for your boss in the afternoon on the computer from the office. Confused yet? That's prepositional phrase overload.

  7. You guessed it. If shorter sentences are better, then shorter paragraphs are better. Your paragraph should make one point. If you make another point, then you make another paragraph. When the reader looks at your memo and sees one paragraph that is as big as the page, her eyes glaze over. You'd be surprised how many sentences you can murder. Look for sentences where you have repeated yourself. Look for sentences that need to really be in another memo.

I'll stop here, and see if I followed these tips!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Views on Good Writing...


This post is written by Sonali Malik

Tony’s article took me back to my school days when we used to write essays as part of the English subject. In school, we learned about the basic grammar rules - using correct grammar, not making any grammatical errors, and everything around it. However, I do not remember any of our English teachers teaching us any ground rules about “good writing” or “how to write good English”. While writing, our only focus was to write “correct English”; not necessarily “write well”. In fact, we never formally learned the rules of good writing. I remember that I always used to write very long sentences, though grammatically correct; however, I was never taught about ‘brevity’ or its importance in writing.

I learned new rules about “good writing” while learning about instructional designing at the workplace. Here, I learned more about how to write short yet effective sentences - that which also conveyed the correct meaning and the context. I believe one of the reasons of this change was also because:

  • we were now “in business” (i.e. writing for a business purpose),

  • writing for an American audience (unlike in school when we only learned British English and simply used to write correct English to pass exams),

  • we had competition (with peers) to write better

  • we were trained on the rules of how to write better (through various training/workshops in instructional designing)

Our Comfort Zones

I think for “writing good”, one has to constantly be in practice and try to write better. If you stop writing, you lose touch and may not be able to improvise on your writing or do better. One of the reasons we do not strive hard to better our writing is to remain in our comfort zones.

I recall one of the effective workshops on instructional designing that I attended in my initial days at the workplace. The workshop was conducted by one of our senior instructional analysts. She gave us a small piece of writing and asked us to rewrite it using the instructional designing principles. When the participants got back with their work, about 90% of them had not done many changes to it except making it “slightly” better or change the way it was organized. This is simply because everyone wanted to remain in their comfort zones of not making too many changes to the given writing.

“I write this way, it’s understandable, so its fine!” one may think. But this doesn’t work too well. We need to constantly learn and practice ways of writing better.

Writing for Skimming

I liked Tony’s ideas about writing for skimming; however, I am not completely sure about whether or not we, as writers, should always write for skimming. Not all reading is “Skim, dive, skim” type. There is information that sometimes needs to be read at length. We should be clearly able to demarcate “when” and “when not” to write for skimming. And when we are writing for skimming, the pointers that Tony mentioned in his writing are worth pondering over.

Rubrics for Good Writing

Now the bigger question is, “what are the rubrics of good writing”. The rubrics for good writing are not easy to define. Every writer has his or her own style. The way one writer writes may be liked by many people while the writing of some other writer may not be liked even though both the writings are grammatically correct. There are no set rules to say “yes, this is good writing”. In my view, while writing, if we at least take care of the following points, we’ll be close to writing well:

  • Be clear about the objective of your writing

  • Organize your ideas before you start writing

  • Write one idea per paragraph; do not clutter too many ideas in one paragraph

  • Brevity: see if you can make your sentences short while still conveying the meaning

  • Take care of grammatical issues (missing commas, subject verb agreement, pronouns, punctuation, and so on)

  • Most important: proof read your work before finalizing

Am sure there would be several other rubrics that could be identified and defined for writing better; here I have presented what I thought were one of the most important ones.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What is Good Writing? - My View...


This post is written by Taruna Goel

This is my response to Manish's question posted on e3cube ponder.


Tony Karrer talks about Good Writing in his post http://elearningtech.blogspot.com/2009/02/good-writing.html. Would you like to share your experiences on eCube about this?

You can also find this response on my blog.


Tony Karrer blogs about Good Writing here. Tony has interesting views on the topic and I agree with many points. The question, 'What is good writing?' often comes up in many of my discussions with budding writers and seasoned instructional designers. There are multiple rubrics that are used to grade writing. I designed one in my current organization and used it to assess and calibrate the writing skills of all authors and designers. Automated systems are also making their presence felt. And we have rolled out a certain application too. However, if you notice the criteria across writing rubrics - many items in the list don't match. Sometimes, items contradict. Therefore, there are no fixed 'rules' about good writing. But we all recognize good writing when we see it!

In this situation, how do I define 'good writing’? I say that a piece is well-written if it meets its objective. For example, if I need to write an essay about the role of media in the world today – it should have an introduction, a few body paragraphs, and a conclusion to do justice to the nature of content. But if I need to write an ad copy about the same thing – shorter is always better!

I agree with Tony on writing for skimming. But skimming is nothing new. Since the inception of web, editors and reviewers have been stressing about brevity. And not only the web, we almost always skim through much of other material including newspapers, journals, books, and manuals. Do you remember the last time you read the manual that came with your digital camera, word-by-word? Guess not.

Therefore, if your writing is aligned to its purpose, to meet the objective, it is good. I would just look at some of the traditional principles of instructional design and use those as factors to be considered when writing anything! Two things that help me define how I want to write include:

  1. who is my audience (audience analysis)
  2. why should they read the piece of information/what do they want to achieve out of it? (task analysis)
When I align my writing to the specifics received by answering the questions above, I am likely to write well. Applying principles and rules of grammar and punctuation and an ability to write using Global English are things that further add clarity to my writing. But I don't believe that a grammatically-correct piece of writing is 'good' until it helps the reader achieve what it meant to! So there's my story.

But if you are interested in more...here’s an interesting link to explore on what makes good writing. This is by ‘Teaching That Makes Sense’.
What is good writing (HTML)?
What is good writing (PDF)?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Examples of Award Winning Entries: Best Use of Games in Learning


As Brandon Hall calls for entries for 2009 awards, it lists examples of last year's winners of their site. You can view the examples on their site. In this post I review the best use of games in learning.

Best use of games for learning

With all the talk games in elearning (my homophily syndrome), I initially read the category has Best Use of Games in eLearning. On reading the write-up about the entry I realized that the entry was titled Best Use of Games in Learning. Of course, how stupid of me, I thought.

The best use of games for learning category has an example from Accenture. This entry is an example of Accenture basically using games in instructor led scenario. The participants form teams to run a business unit as a simulation. The teams were formed with participants from different functional areas. There is a fair bit of technology solution involved. Accenture has created a computer-based planning tool to assist each team's decision making process. The data in this tool matches closely the data that the participants will deal with on the job.

I remember playing such games in some of our training programs. These are always fun to play and really enhance learning and retention of concepts. I think Accenture's use of a computer-based tool that has data that matches real life data closely is a great idea. And the fact that they make teams of participants from different functional areas also enhances the learning that the participants experience just by interacting with each other. The 10 page case study document is definitely worth a read.

Related posts:

Review of Best Custom Content

Review of Best Innovation in Learning Technology

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Examples of Award Winning Entries: Best Innovation in Learning Technology


As Brandon Hall calls for entries for 2009 awards, it lists examples of last year's winners of their site. You can view all examples on their site. In this post I review the best innovation in learning technology.

Best innovation in learning technology

This example presents an interesting authoring tool. I have seen and worked on similar tools, including those in my organizations. What I really liked was the simplicity of the interface of RapidIntake's Unison tool. Some cool features are automatic conversion of media formats into Internet friendly format (mp3, Flash video, jpg etc.), tags for media assets, chat with others who might be working on the same course. They have clever SaaS pricing models too. For example you get source files for your course only if you are a Pro member.

Of course, there is more to building an elearning course, especially if you are a vendor for custom content. The customer will always want something else and there is much work to be done in building assets outside a tool like this one. Notwithstanding this, I really like this product.

Note to self: Thought innovation in learning technology category was about LMS or something like that. Need to volunteer to be a judge in this category too.

Related posts:

Review of Best Custom Content

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Examples of Award Winning Entries: Best Custom Content


As Brandon Hall calls for entries for 2009 awards, it lists examples of last year's winners of their site. You can view all examples on their site. Over the next few posts I will post my comments on the award winning entries. I start with Best Custom Content.

Best Custom Content

Watch approx 4 minute video of the award winning custom content. I like the introduction to the course, very emotional. Rest of the course is however just a regular elearning course with next and previous buttons and the regular suspects of controls, nothing that you haven't seen before if you've been in this industry long enough. The central portion of the screen presents the content in a series of narrated animation. The media presentation is, well, ordinary and standard. Nothing new in the interactivities either. So if you're expecting something new and brilliant, either in instructional design, strategy or just slick presentation, you'll be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why Instructional Designers Should Play Games?


This post is written by Rupa Rajagopalan

Has it happened with you that you saw a movie and wondered how the director visualized the amazing scenes?

Has it also happened that you checked out an e-learning course and wondered how the Instructional Designer thought of the visuals, animations and interactivities?

Well, it has happened with me an umpteen number of times. I just keep thinking what gets into people’s heads that they think so creatively.

Designing E-learning course just like movie making requires lot of creativity and innovation. An Instructional Designer has to visualize every screen of an e-learning course and get the graphic designers and programmers in the team to implement it exactly the way he/she visualized.

Doesn’t this remind you of a movie director, who visualizes every scene of a movie and gets his actors to enact it exactly the way he visualized?

The Instructional Designer has to work with the available content, strategize and present the content in such a way that it appears new and interests the learners.

The movie director has to work with common themes and strategize to present the theme in such a fashion that it appears new and interesting to the audience.

Now both the Instructional Designer and the Movie Director have to be really good at visualizing. This is critical both to the movie and the e-learning course.

What do you think a movie director does to improve his visualization skills?

Watch a lot of movies, read novels, etc.

Now what do Instructional Designers to do work on their visualization skills?

Check out other e-learning courses and what else?

Apart from checking out and analyzing e-learning courses, an Instructional Designer must also play a lot of games.

Most people think playing games is a waste of time. But then it is not true for an Instructional Designer at least.

Just as in a game, visuals and interactivities are crucial to an e-learning course too.

So here I list the three reasons why Instructional Designers should play games

Three Reasons Why Instructional Designers Should Play Games

Reason 1: Games have loads of visual strategies

I seriously believe games give you lot of visual strategies much more than any other sources. If you keep playing games, you get an opportunity to see different visual designs and then when you get to design e-learning courses you can use similar ideas.

For example the other day I had gone to Subway and I really hated the sandwich the chef out there made. I thought he was not trained. He did not know the combination of sauces that would make the sandwich taste good.

And then I thought of this as a business case for e-learning. Suppose Subway management decides to go for an e-learning course for all chefs in Subway. Let’s say the management wants something visually appealing, something interactive and engaging.

I could just visualize the following:

Virtual customers, virtual kitchen and virtual ingredients. Customers order a customized sandwich. The chefs drag and drop the ingredients on the sandwich in the right combination depending on customer requirements. For every correct sandwich they gain points. For every wrong sandwich they lose points. The chefs' objective is to gain maximum points by making right sandwiches.

If it is a low budget course, you can use just images and simple animations. If budget is not a constraint, this can be a simulation.

Now this strategy is inspired by games as follows:


You could use this strategy when learners have to learn something by rote.

The bottom line is to identify good strategies while playing games and use in e-learning.

Reason 2: Games show ways in which you can encourage audience participation

Most games require mouse clicks or pressing arrow keys. But then it doesn’t get monotonous because the context and objective of the game is different every time. In the given context the whole act of clicking and pressing gets very interesting and exciting. When you play games you get to know how to use existing interactivity models in different contexts and for different purposes.

For example in the game called Dreams, you simply click to find the differences between the two images as shown below:


The interactivity model used above is simple and basic, yet the objective and context of the game makes the play interesting.

Likewise in the game below, you just have to mouse over the faces that show up. The challenge of the game is to mouse over maximum faces that show up within a time limit.


As you start playing the game you get addicted to it.

The bottom line is when you play games you get to know how to innovate on existing interactivity models.

Reason 3: Games show ways in which you can engage the audience

People love playing games and they get so engrossed that they forget time. Games can just engage anyone and everyone. So what is it in a game that engages people?

The answer is simple. It is the challenge in the game that engages audience. People want to badly reach the objective of the game and this sustains their interest.

I guess e-learning courses must also have this element of challenge which will engage the learners during the learning process and games will give you ideas on how to make your e-learning courses challenging.

With this I end my post here and leave it open for discussion

Please check out some online games here and let me know what you think:

Big Fish Games

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Flashback of First Year of eCube


The first post on eCube was written on 10 Feb 2007 and we approach completing the first year of eCube. And end of a calendar year is always a good time to reflect on the year gone by. So here's a flashback of activity on eCube in 2008, and well, close to its first year of inception.

Started off as an experiment to use Web 2.0 tools for collaborative learning by reflecting on our experiences, eCube has in the last 11 months or so has had 86 posts by 20 authors attracting 175 comments. This blog has managed to clock more than 11,000 views in about 6,000 visits.

Top 5 viewed posts/pages on eCube have been:

1. Directory of elearning companies in India - eCube

2. The second Working/Learning blog carnival - Manish Mohan

3. Gagne's Events of Instruction - Some Thoughts and Views - Taruna Goel

4. Design- Human Centered Design vs Activity Centered Design? - Anamika Biswas

5. Instructional Design: Two Questions - Sandipan Ray

I also want to mention Login Vs. Log In. While this is at close 6th place, Login vs. Log In appeared in many search results. There are a lot of people searching for the correct usage of Login, Log In, Logon and Log On. This post is at close 6th place.

Authors who contributed with most posts on eCube are:

1. Manish Mohan

2. Taruna Goel

3. Anamika Biswas

4. Sonali Malik

5. Anjalie Choudhary, Rupa Rajagopalan and Viplav Baxi

Some posts also attracted fair amount of conversation in the form of comments. Top 5 posts with most comments were:

1. Gagne's Events of Instruction - Some Thoughts and Views - Taruna Goel

2. Instructional Design: Two questions - Sandipan

3. Do We Need Instructional Designers for Technology Content Projects? - Manish Mohan

4. Do Instructional Design Training Programs in India Need a Revamp? - Rupa Rajagopalan

5. Design- Human Centered Design vs Activity Centered Design? - Anamika Biswas

6. What would you like to do better as a Learning Professional? - Sonali Malik

Google Analytics provides the following statistics:



The eCube community also thrived on Facebook (153 members) and LinkedIn (181 members at last count and growing).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Quick Tips to Create Software Product Tutorials


This post is written by Rupa Rajagopalan

A software product tutorial essentially helps users work with the features of the product. So it is mandatory that tutorials have concise and precise tasks and steps to work with the product. Most importantly software product tutorials must be help users achieve something by using the product.

Things you must do before you begin

#1 Explore the product and its features thoroughly

#2 Try working with the product features yourself

When you must start writing product tutorials

#1 When you know everything that you need to know about the product

#2 When you know the product and understand why users must use the product

#3 When you are very sure of the features, the tasks that you can do with the features and the steps for each of the tasks

Quick Tips to Create Software Product Tutorials

Tip 1

Create end to end software product tutorials.For example here is a tutorial that teaches you to create realistic water reflection using Photoshop. As you can see this tutorial helps you achieve something using Photoshop and that is why this tutorial is an end to end tutorial.

Tip 2

Always start with a brief description about the feature and add details such as why users must use the feature. For example in this tutorial on MS Word, there is a short audio text which mentions how the track changes feature is useful when you revise and make changes to a document and when that document has to be used by many others.

Tip 3

List what you are going to cover in the tutorial at the outset. This must cover all the tasks that one can do with the product feature. For example in this tutorial on MS Word, all the tasks that one can do using the Track Changes feature have been listed as learning objectives in the first page.

Tip 4

Disclose the end result of the tutorial. For example in this tutorial that helps you create your first PowerPoint presentation, it will be a good idea to show a complete presentation at the outset and guide the learners to create that specific presentation. This way the users would find the tutorial object oriented.

A good example is this photoshop tutorial which shows you in the begninning the photo effect you can create following the steps in the tutorial.

So the user is very clear about what he/she is going to achieve by taking the tutorial.

Tip 5

List the tasks in a logical order. The sequence of tasks must lead users to the end result. For example the logical order of some of the the tasks to create a PowerPoint presentation are:

  • Create a New Slide
  • Change the Layout of the Slide
  • Add Text
  • Add Images
  • Insert Slide Notes
  • Add Animations

Here the order of the tasks are very important.

Tip 6

Write precise instructions. For example Click on the word and choose Copy from the context menu is not a precise instruction. What the writer meant was Select the word, right-click and choose Copy from the context menu.

Tip 7

Make sure you write the button or tab names exactly the way it appears in the product. I have spent hours searching for buttons and tabs suggested by tutorials and which I could not find in the product.

Tip 8

Make sure you write the steps for each task logically and correctly. For example to the steps to create a new presentation in PowerPoint are:

  1. Select File -> New from the Main Menu.
  2. In the New Presentation Task Pane , choose Blank Presentation.

Tip 9

After you write the tutorial, follow the instructions you have written and execute the tutorial. This will help you identify the errors.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

eLearning Events Calendar


Tom King has put together a Google Calendar for elearning events for the year. Tom is a technical advisor, consultant and presenter on corporate elearning and elearning specifications/standards.

View the elearning events calendar here.


Suggested Reading


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