<br />Sian Murphy Post Graduate Certificate in E-LearningAssignment: Exploring Learners’ Needs’December 2009<br />Conten...
Exploring learners needs assignment 1
Exploring learners needs assignment 1
Exploring learners needs assignment 1
Exploring learners needs assignment 1
Exploring learners needs assignment 1
Exploring learners needs assignment 1
Exploring learners needs assignment 1
Exploring learners needs assignment 1
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Exploring learners needs assignment 1

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Exploring learners needs assignment 1

  1. 1. <br />Sian Murphy Post Graduate Certificate in E-LearningAssignment: Exploring Learners’ Needs’December 2009<br />Contents TOC o " 1-3" h z u Learner Profile …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………3Characteristics …………………………………………………….……………………………………………………………………………3Why am I considering e-learning? ........................................................................................................6What barriers do I have to overcome? .................................................................................................8Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………9Reference….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….10 <br />Learner Profile<br />For the purpose of this assignment I will use business directors who have attended the training academy on a two week residential course and recently began trading within the travel industry.<br />As I documented in my learner characteristic's file within Skydrive I have a mix of students in both sex and age (average 40+). They all have a variety of experience ranging from no experience at all to having been in the industry for years. Some have a background in education, business, banking and others being immigrants who are starting their own business within the UK. This final group of students have to be given special consideration when devising and delivering any course as they may require additional assistance with second language English skills. The computer proficiency is mixed ability and is established prior to attendance. We do this via a Learners Needs Assessment (LNA) which tests their skills and ability, and if needed gives external pre- course training solutions. This is something we have to consider when delivering e-learning on a large scale from Head Office to ensure inclusivity. <br />Characteristics -Geographical Profile<br />Logistical needs (how, when, how much will it cost to attend etc) are paramount as our agents come from all over the UK and Ireland. They can have several usual places of work and therefore have a need for flexibility. This is one of the main drivers in my decision to build e-learning into their ongoing learning. The learners are setting up new businesses, something that is already time consuming and costly, the ongoing learning they require should not exacerbate this. Accommodating their learning by introducing an e-learning programme could;<br /> a) Engage them in continuous learning. Some of the agents have not been in a classroom or any learning environment for many years and often have negative memories of instructional learning or have been on many training courses and do not see their relevance. Because of this they do not feel they want to participate in the formal learning experiences offered by tour operators.<br />b) Give them the opportunity to remain connected to the academy but be able to self–pace, or pick up and drop sessions as business needs allow. This is essential in a flexible learning environment.<br />c) Cut cost implications. Being able to take part in learning from their desk and not have to organise the logistics of attendance at Head Office will enable more agents to participate in more opportunities for learning at no extra cost to themselves. <br />Characteristics - Learning Styles <br />Using the student group featured on my Skydrive entry “learner’s Characteristics” as research, I have determined that using the VAK model test of learning styles, my students have mixed learning styles. Relying on just one indicator to learning styles is foolish, as Kenyon (2009) points out “they are good rough indicators of 'type' but do not go into detail.” I would agree with this point have introduced sessions to accommodate each learning style and moved away from a lecture style format. <br />Learning style recognition must also be accommodated when creating an e-learning experience. All subject matter experts (SME) must ensure that content is inclusive and delivers a variety of tasks that will challenge all styles of learning/processing. As Clive Sheperd in the e.learning Age journal (Aug 2009 edition) “trainers should be encouraged by the fact that the virtual classroom is not so different to the real one” he continues, “you have slide shows and can visit websites or demonstrate applications. You can run break out sessions, brainstorm with a virtual whiteboard or conduct polls, quizzes and discussions.” <br />Characteristics - Motivation <br />As Petty (2004) suggested theorists such as Maslow believe that one method of making a student want to learn is by satisfying their hierarchy of needs. My students have common motivation, the incentive to succeed in their business. Using Maslow, many of their lower needs such as safety within the learning environment and socially belonging to a learning group have previously been met at the residential course. It is their higher order learning needs that the e-learning programmes would be aiming to fulfil. This can be met in the two final stages of Maslow’s diagram as illustrated below by dnux (2007). <br /> Diag.1<br />Using Maslow and the need to achieve mastery and self actualization, my learners want to be accepted as subject specialists within their field whether that is long haul, cruise or ski etc. This will only come from additional deeper learning and improved self confidence in their abilities. Meeting these needs within an e-learning context could be achieved by running synchronous or asynchronous specialism courses that reward and discuss progress to build confidence and in turn encourage the learner to take on new and more difficult challenges. <br />This idea of providing agents with e-learning that meets their geographically/monetary constraints matched with inclusivity by ensuring the learning applies differing learning styles alongside managing their motivations and expectations is one I am determined to introduce into the institution I work in.<br />Why I am considering E-learning? What are my drivers? <br />The agents I am referring to receive training on a wide variety of subjects whilst on the training course. After graduation there is no ongoing support. My decision to implement e-learning is to provide professional development and therefore aid their success. <br />The following are to be considered prior to e-learning implementation: <br /> Diag.2<br />I am considering e-learning to meet the logistical needs/constraints of the learners referred to in p.3. E-learning would allow me to, as concluded in the recent whitepaper produced by Citrix Online (2008) deliver “key training messages across time and space, retaining the ability to interactively engage adult learners” and therefore “not only can trainees participate from the convenience of their desktop, but trainers can easily increase the frequency of their classes.” Allowing learners to choose when and where to learn gives them flexibility to learn, which will not only increase their chances of participation but will also increase their own responsibility to learning and make them more active/independent learners. <br />Giving a learner choice in their learning is mostly recommended for andragogical learning and originates from the humanistic method of teaching which I do tend to favour as a trainer. Petty (2004) concurs with this theory and states that “student choice ensures ego involvement, and students will be highly motivated” <br />However is it right not to direct learners at all?<br />As learners on the PGCEL discussed on the forum, chaos and serendipity do have their place in learning however in this example I do feel that offering some form of structure to the learning and allowing the learners to dip in and out of modules would be more beneficial to their learning, as they are still new to the industry. <br />The final reason I am considering implementing e-learning for the agents is to maximise the use of our company intranet system as a tool for the agents to find people in similar situations, with similar needs. This was highlighted during George Siemens’ Connectivism webinar (Oct 2009). My aim is to have a training forum page where agents have their own space to pass on information and knowledge, be active in the construction of their own knowledge, but also to be able to establish a network where they can distribute ideas and learning.<br />Having reflected upon my own teaching practices I use a very loose form of connectivism in my own teaching. I tell the students that they do not need to know everything about every destination/product. However they do need to know where to gain the required information (e.g. Gazetteers, TTG Knowledge). As George Sieman (2004) lists as one of his principles “Learning may reside in non-human appliances” i.e. computers, i-pods even old fashioned brochures!<br />Using a forum/social tool has its dangers and critics. Inaccurate/incorrect information on Google/wiki is a major flashpoint. It is easy for someone who has a headache to refer to Google with their symptoms and within seconds obtain a diagnosis. What if they missed a symptom? What if they went on to incorrectly self prescribe? In my own arena an inaccurate description of a destination could result in a customer complaint or a compensation claim costing the agent. <br />Using the forum as a social site will also add to Siemens’ ideas on belonging to a community as discussed in Oct 2009 webinar.<br />Having established themselves as a group of learners already this medium could allow expansion into a Facebook style tool for the agents to be able to continue their learning by making the forum an “aggregate tool” as described by Sieman in which they can pool their collective knowledge. Not dissimilar to what we as PGCEL students are doing on our forums and blogs/skydrive, passing links, documents and ideas in a relatively informal environment.<br />I do believe that the forum must grow organically and as Chris Daly (2009) writes these tools give” opportunities for learners to express their own points of view, explain issues in their own words and <br />formulate opposing or different arguments have always been related to deep-level learning...social or community software can deliver this.” <br />As with any decision to use a new learning tool it needs to take into consideration all the drivers of those involved. Alongside the learner’s drivers and illustrated in diagram 2 the company/industry also have needs. <br />Time constraints-Implementing e-learning would initially mean taking someone off the training rota to design and develop. However long term, we could have several courses running asynchrously at differing times for a multitude of agents thus enabling the academy to keep up with the changes within the industry in both process and legislation by producing rapid e-learning content that could be e mailed out. Assessment of understanding is limited in this example however the head office enquiries on the subject would give indicators of understanding and participation.<br />What Barriers do I have to overcome?<br />From my first blog 28th Sept 2009 I have expressed my frustrations at the barriers I am facing.<br />INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS- <br />Having previously worked for a forward thinking, innovative boss I am now facing the biggest hurdle of my professional life, Although I concur with the argument recently debated at the Oxford Student Union, that the e-learning of today is essential for the important skills of tomorrow, my company does not (Neither does the Oxford Union as the motion was lost 90 to 144). I have maintained that in order for the company to have a motivated, skilled workforce it needs to educate and train them so they can keep up and compete on a level platform with other agents. How do I intend to overcome this particular barrier? One way would be by producing facts and figures on bottom line business benefits such as costs, value adding and efficiencies, or by trial running short courses and feeding back reaction and evaluation. Maybe a combination of them both. <br />LEARNERS BARRIERS – <br />A learner barrier I will have to overcome is subject relevance and interest. Is it suitable to train soft skills online? I believe why not. I do feel some sessions can not be fulfilled on line. Health and Safety could be a true blended learning experience by demonstration video with call outs etc and then a face to face catch up by line managers thus ensuring learning has occurred.<br />Live interactive dialogue can give immediate feedback to supplement video of traditional tools such as role plays and can therefore act as formative assessment opportunity comparable to classroom based feedback. <br /> I would ensure students remain engaged in the learning by including high levels (every couple of minutes) of interaction and involvement either via chat rooms or verbal communication. This was encouraged throughout both George Siemens’ and Michael Hendersons’ webinar with learners from the PGCEL.<br />Conclusion<br />I do believe that as e-learning becomes more prevalent it will become more of a communication tool between learners and trainers and between learners that in the past has not always existed. <br />It is not a question of replacing any of the traditional theories or teaching practices, I conclude that the barriers and needs facing e-learners are similar in many ways to those of the traditional learner. They still have motivation and content issues but sometimes some of the more practical needs are easier to satisfy and therefore give opportunity for deeper learning.<br />ReferencePetty, G (2004). A Practical Guide Teaching Today. 3rd ed. Cheltenham: Nelorn Thornes Ltd. Shepherd, C (2009). Live Online Bridges the Gap. E.learning Age, August edition. Citrix Online (2008) Five Keys to Getting Started with Interactive Online Training. 1080 Group,LLC elearnspace. (2004). George Siemens Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [Online] Available at: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm. [Accessed 7 October 2009] Daly, C, (2009). All Together Now. E.learning Age, September editionMaslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.(2007).[Online]Available at: http://www.dnuxminds.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/maslow [Accessed 19 Nov 2009Siemens, G. (2009) Postgraduate Certificate in E-learning Elluminate SessionKenyon, S. (2009) Pedagogy and Practice: Learning on-line Forum, 27 October 12.13<br />

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