Monday, 3 December 2012

Elearning - Future

I see the future and it's online: "Supermajorities of young Americans have a positive view of online degree programs. More than three-fifths of 18-30 year-olds say that online education is now comparable in quality to in-person classes, and almost 70 percent believe that online degrees will be just as recognized by employers as traditional degrees in a few years. Even more young people – well over 80 percent -- have a favorable view of hybrid programs that combine online classes with in-person instruction." 2012 Innovation Summit at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C

Friday, 30 November 2012

Google's Open Source LMS Cloud Course

Probably a little old, but I wanted to share what a fantastic tool Google’s open source LMS called CloudCourse is. I imagine this includes integration with Gmail, Google Calendar, Maps, etc. In addition, Google’s app engine lets you develop online applications easily and for lower cost than you would in the past. A couple of features of Google’s CloudCourse are listed below:
  • CloudCourse allows anyone to create and track learning activities. CloudCourse also offers calendaring, waitlist management and approval features.
  • CloudCourse is fully integrated with Google Calendar and can be further customized for your organization.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tips to Foster a Creative Learning Environment

E-learners are often infamous for losing focus while taking online learning programs. So, how can this learning content be made more interesting and appealing? How can an online course creatively drive participation and engagement? Let’s look at a few low cost-effective ways to make most out of a remote learning experience:
Make use of kinaesthetic learning tools – Most learners have a kinaesthetic style of learning. (Also read learning styles) and for them, classroom trainers often set up a colourful classroom to help kinaesthetic learners better focus. Currently with online learning, the balance seems to shift to auditory and visual learning. It probably would be a good idea to equip online learners with a tangible stress-reducing toy to occupy their hands while they learn.

Foster a sense of community – A new group of people always feel a little more eased out with the help of icebreaker sessions. This fosters a sense of community in them. With social media in vogue, how about having a Twitter ice breaker – that is introducing yourselves in not more than 140 characters?

Participation and interaction tools – In a recent elearning program, I was asked to interact on a forum by introducing myself including why I was doing the course and speak about my hobbies and interests. Later on, we had to indulge in group conversations and questions and answers. This kind of learners’ participation enriches the program in itself.

Emotional content – Trainers often integrate stories and humor into their delivery. The stories and jokes are effective because they add emotional content and bring the lessons to life. They also relax the facilitator and the participants and contribute to a stress-free, learning-friendly environment.

Create additional visual stimuli - A way to offer supplemental visual stimulation during an online learning experience would be to provide some type of eye candy, something that doesn't require much focus or attention, like a spinning top or a mood ring. Tools such as these would function much like doodling, whereby they engage the subconscious mind in an activity that doesn't distract the conscious brain from the learning at hand.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Basic Techonology Characteristics While Considering An E-learning Solution

Online learning is all about technology. An e-learning package is successful only when its characteristics make the learner’s and instructor’s experiences enjoyable. Technology should be as seamless as possible for the learner and instructor because nothing dampens a new e-learner’s enthusiasm more quickly than technological glitches. An instructor’s drive to work online also gets killed if h/she has difficult to use software. Regardless of whether your focus is academic or corporate, there are four basic technology characteristics that you should look for while considering an e-learning solution:

Programming Languages - Programming languages provide a great deal of flexibility and freedom to the developer when creating online learning. The most common programming language for online learning is Hyper Text Mark Up Language which is better known as HTML.
Authoring Packages - Most authoring packages are visually oriented so the learner doesn't need to know any coding. The software performs the coding "behind the scenes." All the instructor needs to worry about is placing the correct information in the right place. Some authoring packaging languages include Macromedia’s Dreamweaver.

Learning Management Systems - These systems are specifically designed to track the performance of a multitude of learners. They can be academically focused like Blackboard, e-College, or WebCT, or more focused toward corporations like Docent, Saba etc. 

Content Management Systems - A CMS is mostly instructor oriented that helps him/her to catalog, track, and manipulate content used in online courses. A CMS is effective when large numbers of instructors are all focused on developing courses and have a desire to reuse content in a variety of courses.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

5 Alternatives to Open Source LMS - Moodle

In one of my older posts, we saw that Moodle is one of the most preferred Learning Management Platforms in the open source environment (click here to read post). Moodle is more often than not the first to be uttered when people are asked what the open source Learning Management Systems (LMS) options are. Undoubtedly Moodle is a great option – but it’s not the only option. Let’s briefly look at open source alternatives to Moodle. I would encourage you to visit these sites separately as well to explore more.

Dokeos-  is a well featured LMS suite that offers content authoring, learning management, video conferencing and assessment tools. This is a great way to synchronise HR management such as Oracle and SAP.
Sakai  - is a collection of open source tools developed by a large number of universities to provide a supplementary learning environment suitable for on-campus courses and distance learning courses. It is a preferred platform after Blackboard in universities and for online courses.
Docebo - used in corporate and higher education settings. Offers support for a number of different learning models and is compatible with SCORM 1.2 and 2004. It offers interfaces to external systems such as video conferencing and HR systems.
ATutor - is more of an open source LCMS that also offers LMS tools. The “A” stands for Accessible and it has excellent support for key accessibility standards as well as support for SCORM, IMS etc.
OLAT - A well featured system in its tenth year of development. It recently has been the winner of the “IMS Learning Impact ‘Leadership Award’ 2009 for best open source learning platform.”

Monday, 12 November 2012

Open Source LMS

In my previous blog, we spoke of Second Life and Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs). These days the most common open source platform used for it is Simulation Linked Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (SLOODLE). SLOODLE is a free and open source project which integrates the multi-user virtual environments of Second Life® and/or OpenSim with the Moodle®. Using Sloodle, you can:

·         Upload presentations in Moodle, and have them displayed in Second Life with the Sloodle Presenter
·         Create quizzes in Moodle, and have students complete them in Secondlife using Sloodle quiz chairs, and the all new Sloodle Scoreboard!
·         Create and award points on your scoreboard for quizzes and role-play activities.
·         Submit homework assignments in Second Life, and grade them using the Moodle Gradebook
·         Distribute Virtual items to the class using a web based interface.
·         Record and bridge Student / Teacher chat sessions in Second Life and have these automatically archived in Moodle Chat

Friday, 9 November 2012

Second Life and Virtual Learning Environments

Learning has reached a new dimension through the use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) or more commonly referred to as Second Life. Here is a great introduction to Second Life as a teaching/learning tool. Go on and get your own avatar!

Friday, 2 November 2012

LMS - a Tool or a Strategy?

LMS as it is commonly known – so what really is it? Is it a strategy or a tool or a solution? How does a customer look at LMS? What does a customer look for in an LMS system? In my opinion, more than just looking at it as a mere tool that automates tasks and increases effectiveness of the training department, it is a solution that the customer seeks, a strategy that blends into a much larger picture of a process. No doubt LMS is still a software but it is not merely a tool to achieve something but rather a complete exercise in itself which needs to become an integrated part of an entire learning process in more ways than one. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

LMS Popular Tools

Found an interesting infographic on learning management systems in today’s market – the most popular options measured by a combination of their total number of customers,  active users and online presence.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Get Your Education For Free: Top 5 Open Learning Platforms

Say you have a full-time job, or a part-time one or are a home maker looking to learn new things to begin a career. Do you feel the need to step up your knowledge? With the vast internet resources, it probably gets easy to do that. But when it comes to getting the job that is just right for you, you might need to streamline what you really want to learn and showcase that on your profile. There are a number of online learning courses that you can take up but most of them will probably come with a cost. You might just end up spending a lot of your time and money in just figuring out what is the best way to educate yourself. With the vast internet resources available online, there is more than one opportunity that you can have to widen your understanding and increase your knowledge base. Let’s take a look at a few online free virtual schools that you can use to your benefit.

We all are familiar with but very recently TED has diversified into using engaging videos on TED-Ed to create customized lessons. You can use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or even create lessons. They have an interesting section called flip – where you the teacher can flip his/her own lesson to add more to the existing content and customize it for the class. Ted Ed has about a total of 131 videos and 9468 flips. Each lesson on TED is recorded by an actual educator and an animator. Know more about TED Ed by watching this video.

With a library of over 3000 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, Khan Academy offers you short and captivating videos in varied subjects to increase your understanding.  Before you can begin focused study on your major, you must first complete your general education—introductory maths, modern civics, and some general sciences. The Khan Academy offers these fundamental courses—Algebra, Macroeconomics, Chemistry—as well as more advanced fare, like Cryptography, Cosmology, and Finance. The site even features educational resources that will get you into a real degree program with lessons on how to ace the SAT, GMAT, and California Standards Test.

Open Culture provides the tangential cultural experience to transform you into a well-rounded academic. Links here lead you to 500 free courses in Literature and Philosophy, alongside Hitchcock movies and film noir.

The NROC is an online database of coursework, contributed by leading US academic institutions, with a strong focus on the most fundamental building blocks of a higher education—that is, all the stuff you forgot from high school. Algebra 1, College Prep Physics, and a litany of AP courses are all available for free, as well as general education subjects like Non-Majors Biology, Introductory Calculus I, and Statistics for Social Sciences. While you won't find video lectures here, NROC offers complete and extensive courses including notes and homework.

Math may get all the glory for being the "universal language," but its melodious derivative is a close second. Music theory, a staple of the liberal arts education, explores the mechanical underpinnings of music itself. Teoria offers a bevy of online tutorials, exercises, and analysis of both modern and classical composition for anyone willing to listen.
However, it is important to keep in mind that none of this work will get you an actual college degree, which, in some job interviews, is still valued as a genuine credential.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Blended Learning in Distance Education

I came across this wonderful blog that speaks about the beauty of blended learning and its advantages. Many distance learning institutes offering weekend classes are resorting to this model of education.
Read full article by Michael Spencer below:

Let’s start with a definition. What exactly is blended learning? Here’s a great, generally useful definition found on the City Prep Academies website that clarifies the term: “[Blended learning] integrates face-to-face classroom time with online learning (facilitated at all times by a classroom teacher), combining the effectiveness and socialization of the classroom with technology-enhanced online materials.”
What makes blended learning especially appealing is that it provides students with courses that wouldn’t otherwise be available; teachers get near-instant student assessments and the opportunity to provide their students with individualized instruction. It gets students up to speed and on track, challenging talented students and engaging individual learners in differentiated instruction. What’s more, the technology component inherent in a blended learning environment isn’t merely an attractive distraction, but an integral approach to acquiring knowledge and engaging in curriculum that’s simply second-nature for today’s 21st-century learner.
Now, with some general idea of what blended learning means—essentially a blend of the best of in-classroom and online, technology-enhanced learning—let’s look at several different specific areas of rapid change in education and see what they add to the mix.

1. SaaS, or “School as a Service”. Yes, normally this acronym means Software as a Service. But apply it to schools and some of the key elements include: an engaging media library of learning objects and experiences, instant feedback from lots of content-embedded assessment, enhanced student profiles, customized learning experiences driven by “smart recommendation engines” and online student support services tailored to individual student needs. School as a service? Sounds like a great mindset and model and it certainly only adds to improving our schools by ensuring student-centric learning.

2. Apps. There are literally thousands of educational apps for the iPod, iPhone and iPad available on the Apple site. Some states are launching digital curriculum aligned to history textbooks. Students can use apps to learn about the National Gallery in London, they can watch and learn with mini-movies from BrainPOP apps, do battle with an app called Multiplication, use Netter’s Anatomy Flash Cards, or even improve on their important test terms with the SAT Vocab Challenge. With apps perfectly suited for bite-sized, handheld learning experiences that connect students to the real world, we’ll begin to see what digitized textbooks, and digitized learning really means for students.

3. Edmodo. This learning platform feels a little like—and could easily be positioned in one’s mind as—the Facebook of Education, with some Twitter elements thrown in. Brilliant, and probably why Edmodo is growing at a phenomenal rate: in the 2009-2010 school year, Edmodo experienced 10X growth to outpace all other players in its category. With several thousand sign-ups per week, the company projects they’ll hit the 1 millionth-user mark by December 2010. That’s 499 million to go and not bad for an education-specific platform directed mainly at students and teachers.

4. Credit Recovery. Using online learning to assist at-risk students to recover missing or flunked credits that would otherwise impede them from graduating with their cohorts is a great idea, and there are several companies that have not missed targeting this segment. The main concern here is rigor. Do the online courses have the rigor offered by something on the order of a small-class sized, intense summer seminar at a well-regarded university? Or are they a diploma-mill style money machine for capitalizing vultures? The truth lies closer to a positive outcome when students and schools use known or trusted entities that show results.

5. City Prep Models. City Prep Academies is a blended learning service provider to schools and districts. You might think of it as a hands-on consulting firm to “21st-century-ize” a school district, they offer help with education management, operations human resources, budgeting and finance, compliance and accountability. As other education consulting firms assist in developing next generation secondary schools, more in-class and online learning blends will follow.

6. Content Going Mobile and 1 to 1. An interesting trend: content companies such as Discovery Education are increasingly branching out into the mobile learning arena, creating apps that take direct advantage of the mobility of cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices. For example, the U.S. Geography by Discovery Education app is designed for middle and high school students. With videos, interactive games, a global competition and sharing, users can explore various regions of the country and learn about different aspects such as bodies of water, cultures and major cities. But think about it: this is 1-to-1 learning at its best. The learning goes to the student, the learning is personalized, the learning is tailored to what the student wants to know and where that student wants to click. All of this can be tracked and assessed.

7. Deeper Learning. Are we really dumbing down our kids with video games and increased Internet time? Student can drill down on a subject and come out an expert; a mom can educate herself and know more than her child’s doctor might know, a teacher can present the world to his students—quite literally.
If we’re excited and responsible in how we use technology for learning—then, like never before—the future of education is ours to create. And with blended learning helping to individualize a student’s learning experience, it all makes sense.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

eLearning and Learning Management Systems

The term "electronic learning" or more commonly called "eLearning" is used often but it is important to understand its true meaning. The term refers to learning anytime, anywhere beyond the barriers of time and distance. In today's world, where jobs need to be done while budgets are limited, eLearning is a progressive solution to the use of technology for training, or for delivery of just-in-time information, or for guidance from experts.

People have different learning styles and have different learning needs. The VAK theory looks at three broad learning styles:
1. Visual Learners - who learn through seeing
2. Auditory Learners - who learn through listening
3. Kinaesthetic/Tactile Learners - who learn through hands-on doing and touching
(Take a quick learning style test here)

It sometimes gets hard to purvey these learning styles in a traditional classroom setup. The main essence of eLearning lies in its delivery and content. eLearning can suffer from some pitfalls such as boring slides, minimal interaction between student and teacher and monotonous speech. However, the beauty of an effective creative learning management system is the creation of learning environments that are conducive to learning styles as well as makes for a fun learning experience!

eLearning could be web-based training (WBT), CD based training (CBT), internet based or intranet based. It can include features such as audio, instant messaging, email, animation, video, app sharing, shared whiteboard etc. All this could be done through building virtual environments to enhance social interaction. Due to the limitations of face-to-face interaction between the learner and the teacher, it is critical to keep the learner engaged. Imagine a virtual guide or a mentor who works as a partner to take the learner along their online journey. It works as a great tool for keeping the learner's attention and also gives the learner the feeling that s/he is not alone in his/her learning journey. This is exactly what Data-Core's proposition is - to be able to deliver a perfect blend of technology and creative LMS.

Out of the various Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS) platforms (e.g. Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard etc.) a good LMS will work as a software application for administering, documenting, tracking, reporting and delivering education content either through self-service or self-guided services. Learning Management solutions must be tailor-made based on the business and training needs of an organization. Learn more about a complete LMS practice adopted by Data-Core Systems Inc.

Friday, 28 September 2012


I recently read an article on the principle difference between classical Vs modern education. I remembered my school days when every year I was dumped with tons of books and made to carry a school bag that was heavier than what I weighed! 
Of course, we still do rely on books for education but there has been a paradigm shift in the way education is perceived by all in the present day. Education techniques today emphasize more on an individual’s needs and capacities, more on informal education and applied learning. A student’s learning style is one of the biggest factors for the education system to stylize the learning content and make it more comprehensive and progressive. Electronically supported learning, more commonly called eLearning includes all kinds of electronically supported learning and teaching.   When I say eLearning, it caters to a wide and varied audience. It’s the core to numerous business plans and a service offered by most schools, colleges and universities. More so, with the evolving Web 2.0, eLearning is evolving as well to a degree significant enough to warrant a new name – eLearning 2.0

Monday, 17 September 2012


Hello everyone,

So here I am with my first blog! I am Paramita (pronounced as 'Paromita') and I'm from India. Since the name is long and hard to pronounce, I have had a myriad of nicknames like 'Paro', 'Parameter', 'Barometer' and the list just goes on...sigh! Well, fortunately the meaning of my name is quite profound - it means being virtuous. Paramita was also the name of a Hindu Goddess of music and knowledge.

I have diverse interests in music, art, culture and new trends and my blogs will mostly be a collection of things that interest me. I will be posting my thoughts and more on this page with time.