Making learning materials fit to go online

Many Learning Providers recognise an urgent need to ‘upgrade’ their learning materials so as to make them more engaging, interactive and accessible on-line. Some ‘buy in’ whole packages but few realise that with the vast array of software tools available, even existing  paper based coursework can be adapted by the staff that use it, with very little IT knowledge or training and little or low cost.

It is fairly obvious that by digitising paper based learning resources; the coursework can be used more dynamically in a class or training room and then made accessible to learners outside of the centre through a VLE or internet platform.  This would immediately be beneficial to all stakeholders but with a requirement to deliver a significant percentage of courses on line by 2015-16, it will soon become essential.

Adding narration to a boring Power Point presentation and saving it as a video, may seem ‘cutting edge’ use of technology to some practitioners, but if it started out as a boring presentation it will be just as boring with a voice added and certainly won’t stand up to the expectations of learners.  Any more than populating a VLE with PDF hand-outs, staff might just as well ‘hand them out’.

Long before the FELTAG report, myself and former colleagues at the RSC, were raising awareness of and demonstrating how teachers and trainers could make classroom delivery engaging and interactive with the minimum of IT skills or training. But as important the same principle applied to teaching and learning materials, widely accepted as being at best ‘boring’ at worst ‘ineffective.’


In a recent consultation with a learning provider specialising in high level engineering we demonstrated to teaching staff, a range of quick fix, user friendly authoring tools with which they could transform documents to interactive quizzes, images into video, drawings into animation, documents into e-Books. They could still keep the paper of course. I understand that it has now been introduced into staff CPD.

In another staff development programme, myself and colleagues demonstrated a few authoring tools to engineering tutors, followed by an hour of hands on training to convert their own course materials into something more engaging.  They were pleasantly surprised that at the end of an hour, they had unexpectedly digitised a ‘chunk’ of a lesson and could see the potential of ‘doing it themselves.’

Finally. A learning provider, frustrated that 32 page induction booklet could only be shown on their VLE as a PDF, asked for suggestions. A typical A4 document full of text, web addresses to essential information and enhanced with some cartoon drawings on the cover and some pages inside.

The bulk of the document was converted into an e-Book, therefore the web addresses became ‘live’ as did links to on-line information including videos on Health and Safety etc. and the cartoon drawings were animated. We showed one of their staff what tools were used, spent a little time showing him how to use them and they now have a fully interactive and engaging induction package made available 24/7 through their VLE and they haven’t had to print any more booklets.

Colin Gallacher
Learning Technology Consultant


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