Tuesday, February 07, 2012

e-Learning at the Department of Defence

Greetings from the Australian eLearning Congress in Sydney. The first speaker is Scott Mengel, Education Training and Development Officer, Department of Defence. He started by going back through old learning technology, including "magnetic slap-ups" (words on magnetic strips affixed to a metal wall board) and overhead projectors.

Scott warned of too many Powerpoint slides, with too much content. Defence now uses Learning Management Systems, to deliver training. He is going through some of the lessons learned in preparing content and getting out of the face-to-face paradigm.

Scott used the term "glass-book" to refer to an e-learning course which is a simple translation from a textbook. He described the process to transition from this to a more interactive course format. Some of these techniques are simple and seem obvious (in retrospective), such as having a glossary of acronyms hot-linked to the course notes. As well as pure e-learning, Scott discussed blended learning. As he pointed out this is particularly useful in Defence, where it is important that all the personnel are given precisely the same procedures, but then the local instructor can provide extra local information.

Scott pointed out that Defence produces its training packages to Australian vocational standards. At question time I asked about using generic industry vocational training. He replied that some Defence packages are suitable for civilian and military staff.

Scott said that animations are very effective, but can be expensive to make and can make the presentation look cheap. He questioned the cost effectiveness of video in learning packages. He commented that videos were expensive to make and learners tended to skip over them. Also those on a low speed link may not be able to see them. This is something I will discuss tomorrow in my talk "Work-Integrated-Learning with E-books and E-Learning" (and the Slides).

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