Monday, July 21, 2014

Example 3: Asynchronous Training

In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.

My proposal for this asynchronous training request is to create a series of short training videos that simulate the safety procedures needed. A video is the best approach when demonstrating step-by-step processes because the user experiences the audio and visual components. Each video will be approximately 10 minutes in length, or less. Shorter videos keep the learner engaged and make better focal points. “People can remember complex material better if chunks of information are grouped into spatially related locations” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, p. 155). Each video will show real employees demonstrating step-by-step processes and focus on one function before introducing the next. The videos will be created using the technology because it will allow employees to take the training at their own pace.

Once the training videos are created, the videos will be placed on the CMS that the organization uses. “More than half of the course management systems available today are either open source, meaning that adopting organizations can download, install, and modify the software for their own needs without payment of a license fee, or are otherwise free to educational institutions” (Simonson, p. 184). The CMS will allow the employee to launch the training from any access point and offer the capability to pause and start, as the employee may want to take notes.

In lieu of an official assessment or evaluation, I would create a game to test the learner’s knowledge. The game would mirror Jeopardy and give the learner a chance to win points for each correct answer given. I would create a game board and the categories would mirror the training video modules. For example, if the first training video is about “metal fabrication”, the first category of the game would be as well. Each category would consist of 7-10 questions or scenarios related to that category. If the employee answers correctly, they receive the points allotted to the question. If answered incorrectly, the point value is deducted from their total score. The employee would have to earn a specific amount of point for a passing grade. I created a similar game for a customer service course at my organization and it has been extremely successful.

Gaming in education is taking off and has been quite effective for those who have ventured out and used it. Julie Brink, Director of  viaLearning states that, “Research has shown that gaming, in the right context, can be just as, if not more, effective than traditional e-learning. It improves problem-solving, creativity, risk assessment, and risk taking” (Freifeld, 2012).  Julie provides valid points as to why gaming is valuable.

  • Gaming uses multiple intelligences for learning (logical, special, linguistics, intrapersonal, kinesthetic, music). 
  • Games are immersive, engaging and motivating through new technology and interactions. 
  • Gaming provides another means of performance support and, when woven with other training, can give learners a competitive edge. 
  • Gaming provides just-in-time learning.

For additional support, employees will be asked to participate in a discussion board. “As a learning aid, discussion forums have shown to stimulate critical thinking, improve communication skills, foster a sense of community among students, and encourage collaborative problem solving” (The discussion board will pose additional content related questions or scenarios and employees will be asked to demonstrate their understanding of the material. The discussion board will also be used for employees to ask questions as well. If an employee has a question about the subject matter, an administrator will monitor the Q&A section and respond accordingly.

I believe the solution to this training need is multi-dimensional. Multiple tools are needed to engage the learner and test comprehension.

Freifeld, L. (2012). Game-based learning for the corporate world. Retrieved May 25, 2014 from

ProBoards. (2014). Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Distance Learning Mind Map

Defining Distance Education

In this fast paced and constant changing world, one thing remains certain - people want more bang for their buck. Businesses have to remain competitive to attract customers. The educational field is no different. Over the years, distance learning has become more popular as people search for efficient and productive ways to acquire knowledge. Distance learning, also referred to as e-learning, virtual, or remote learning, has different definitions based on who you ask. My definition of distance learning is - learning that allows the flexibility of being outside the traditional classroom. This type of learning takes place remotely, as you are not working directly with your classmates and teacher, in an effort to increase efficiency by reaching mass learners at one time.

Now, in reading through text resources and viewing videos in my Distance Learning class, I have found that my definition is not too far off from other documented responses. Dr. Michael Simonson, Professor of Instructional Technology and Distance Education, states that distance education is "formal education in which the learning group (teacher, students, resources) are separated by geography, and sometimes, by time." Dr. Simonson goes on to say that "technology and instructional media is used to link resources to the teacher and learner and we must adapt and adopt this new approach to learning." I like this definition because it incorporates the "how" which is the use of instructional media and technology which is the most important component of distance learning.

Technological advances have allowed distance learning environment to grow leaps and bounds over what it was centuries ago. I was unaware that the concept of distance education has been around for centuries. In my mind, it was still a fairly new concept but innovation has brought it to the forefront of the educational field. Technology allows for learners to connect and utilize resources at the same time but from different access points. Unlike traditional classrooms, learners have the flexibility to learn at their own pace and take more responsibility for what they learn. The two-way communication is still present; however, learners no longer have to rely on the teacher to provide the answer. The answers now reside in the instructional media, resources, classmates, and Internet.

Innovation is another component that drives the successful nature of distance education. More institutions are promoting and rewarding innovative ideas so the bar of excellence continues to be raised. Instructional Designers now have more freedom and options when designing content and the learner is the beneficiary. Each year brings a new technological resource that is more groundbreaking than the previous version, and allows you to do more with less.

I believe that distance learning will continue to evolve and attract an innumerable amount of individuals who seek personal and professional growth. If you think about it, the next generation of learners are born users of technological gadgets. I feel that they will be the next wave of innovators who take distance learning to the next groundbreaking level and possibly redefine distance education as we know it today.


Laureate Education. (n.d.) Distance education: The next generation [Video file]. Retrieved from


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My name is Jenea Smith and I am pleased to have you all visit my blog. Feel free to review and make comments on the material I post here. I look forward to learning with each of you!