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Shifting it Online: An Example of Successful eLearning Resource Design

Keen to help businesses upskill employers and give learners across Aotearoa New Zealand access to flexible online learning opportunities, eCampus NZ worked closely with the Eastern Institute of Technology to shift their Certificate in Business Accounting Support Services to an online environment. We’re thrilled that our hard work has been nominated for an award in LearnX’s Best Shift it Online eLearning Resource Design category. Thanks, LearnX!

The Certificate in Business Accounting Support Services helps learners gain critical skills in managing the accounts of small to medium-sized businesses with topics that include tax, legislation, payroll and technical calculations.

At the start of the project, the team had plenty of questions. How can we support educators in monitoring and supporting learners to learn difficult concepts and calculations online? How can we support learners to realise success in a course that is based on complex calculations and concepts? What design strategies can be employed to keep learners engaged while learning about Goods and Services Tax and Payroll? How can the instructional designers help learners become fluent in cloud-based accounting applications while also working within the course?

In addition, the team was faced with the challenge of weaving a real-world context and narrative throughout the course.

“The main goal for this project was to situate the learner in a workplace context. We asked questions such as: When and how would the learner use this knowledge in a workplace? What challenges would they face? Who would they likely interact with?” says eCampus NZ Learning Designer Craig Agnew.

Using a swim lane model, instructional designers identified three key areas that the learner would ‘travel’ in and out of. Learners have a virtual office where they are assigned tasks and resources, a library in which they can explore concepts, and visit a client’s place of work to undertake activities.

This real-world context is nested alongside technical concepts and resources.

“By situating the learning into a workplace context, we are making the learning more realistic and applicable. We know from the principles of andragogy (adult learning) that adults learn best when the learning is problem-centred rather than content-oriented and when it has immediate relevance to a job or their personal life,” says Craig.

Throughout this project, the team proved that creativity and innovation are key to leading-edge eLearning Design – but a huge budget isn’t.

“We didn’t have an enormous budget to create a 3D immersive virtual world and send all our learners VR headsets, so had to go for a more low-fidelity version. We did this by incorporating a range of techniques to build scenarios that the learners could interact with. One example was the use of bubble diagrams, a technique borrowed from video game level design, to help us visualise the flow of the scenario’s narrative,” says Craig.

“My main takeaway is to not be too hasty in defining words such as ‘immersive’. It doesn’t have to mean using the most expensive, cutting-edge technologies – there are lots of potential solutions if we’re crafty enough and use a bit of ‘number 8 wire’.

We’ll find out more about the awards we’ve received at the official announcement during the LearnX Live! Virtual Summit & Awards Show on September 17th 2020. Register now and celebrate with us and over a thousand Learning and Development professionals from around the globe!

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