Tony Karrer has taken the initiative to revisit a question asked in a previous post, about First eLearning:What advice would you give to someonenew to the field of elearning?
This question is worthy of being asked twice.
I admit that I lurked on this one - for a few weeks.
My observation of teachers starting into elearning has shown that the usefulness of their experiences in the early stages can vary considerably. This is often because of ad hoc approaches to their so-called upskilling.
This post outlines the areas of need I believe are essential for a first elearner. They are listed roughly in order of importance, but all are essential.
No skill is too rudimentary to acquire:
Learners who are willing to put in the time, pursuing a grounding in these basic skills, on their own or in a course designed along the lines given here, will be well on the way to coping with elearning.
At first reading, some of these skills may appear to be too rudimentary. If absent they will lead to faltering at the early stages when the elearning apprentice should be building on higher skills, as a student or as an elearning instructor.
All of the skills listed here are those an elearning instructor may well need in helping a student learn the same skills, and so must form part of the elearning portfolio.
Here's my To-learn-list for the Elearning Apprentice links to sections:
(Relevant information lies in a link at the start of each header.)
Pre-requisite 1: Why a knowledge of short-keys?
As basic as this skill may seem, it is essential for any elearning apprentice to have a practicing knowledge of the rudiments of using short-cuts on the keyboard. Without these skills, working with the mouse on pull-down menus would prove tedious in the extreme. Short-keys are powerful key-strokes that find universal use on a huge variety of software.
Pre-requisite 2: Why file management?
File management skills are essential for e-tidiness. As much as these seem old hat (back to basics and all that) ignoring their essential worth can mean confusion, and even some real headachy problems for the apprentice elearner later on.
As well, fundamentals such as knowledge and understanding of file dimension and file size, and the distinction between the two, are part of the ABC that an elearning apprentice must follow.
Pre-requisite 3: Why netiquette?
Basic communication skills are often overlooked. Elearning apprentices need those skills if only to assist with their own learning. For anyone intending to use their elearning skills for the instruction of others, netiquette is a life and death necessity.
Pre-requisite 4: Why search engines?
Being able to search effectively using a database or web search engine is another fundamental skill. It brings into play pre-requisites 1 and 2, and is the bread and butter of the elearning researcher.
Pre-requisite 5: Why study the URL?
Understanding the structure of a URL and what it means to the technician is key to understanding how links operate in web-based elearning today. An introductory knowledge of how a URL can be applied utilises a direct application of file management skills.
Pre-requisite 6: Why an image authoring tool?
An in-depth knowledge of an image authoring tool is not required and could well be a waste of time. I’d recommend that this be a part of an introduction, but not a major component. It can provide significant useful transferable skills.
Designing images and attempting to make a simple animation can give an elearning apprentice the feel of how these tools work. Much of the fundamental theory of how they function is also transferable. Some authoring tools are more complex to use than others. The simplest is probably the most efficient to use in terms of time spent learning the basics.
For instance, creating an animation in PhotoShop ImageReady involves much the same principles as in Flash. ImageReady is more likely to convey the principles with less angst and in a much shorter space of time, and so prove more effective. It may be that a suitable Web2.0 tool can convey the same transferable skills.
The emphasis is on the transferable skills.
Pre-requisite 7: Why an html editor or html writer?
Once again, there are a lot of transferable skills that can be acquired from a good introduction to html writing/editing, without having to learn much at all of the hypertext markup language (html).
A good WYSIWYG that permits the learner to appreciate layout as well as functionality, can open up a cornucopia of valuable skills.
Building html in single pages on a server with relative links to images and other pages on the same server can also provide invaluable practice in file management. Building html in single pages with absolute links to Internet sites can be a useful skill for the elearning instructor.
Pre-requisite 8: Why skills in LMS or VLE?
The application of the aforementioned skills come into their own when an elearning apprentice operates, hands-on for the first time, a learning management system or virtual learning environment, such as Moodle. These applications are the bread and butter of elearning instruction.
In the unlikely situation where the elearning apprentice does not have the opportunity to use one of those applications, building a blog and actively using it with links, uploads, downloads and embeds can cover many of the skills required. Participation in challenges, such as the past Comment Challenge, can provide the elearning apprentice with many far reaching skills and ideas for life-long elearning.