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The Best eLearning Projects of the Year

The annual DevLearn Conference and Expo, which took place earlier this month, featured presentations by some of the most talented eLearning professionals in the world.

While I’ve never attended, I was able to help send a multimedia specialist to this event several years ago. He worked on a team I managed at the time, and returned to the group armed with new tools and excited about new ideas for our eLearning projects.

Unfortunately, time and budgetary constraints make conference attendance difficult for most of us, but organizations like The eLearning Guild, which coordinates DevLearn, do a lot to include those who can’t make it to the venue in person. In addition to virtual attendance options, there are also many web-based resources. DemoFest is just one example.

DemoFest 2012

Designers submit their eLearning project proposals and are selected to present in a roundtable format at the conference. It’s a contest that showcases “a wide variety of solutions to common eLearning challenges,” along with “information about the tools, technologies, and processes” that made them happen.

DevLearn conference attendees vote on their favorites in different categories, such as “Best Soft Skills Course” and “Best Course Using Social Media.” Here’s a quick look at recent winners in the “Best Academic Course” category:

  • Curation! How We Made a 6-month Course in Less Than a Week from Ben Betts (2012): Submitted by the eLearning company HT2, this project addresses the compressed timetables designers are often given to develop new courses. The social learning tool Curatr are used to “build an effective online course in less than a day using resources from all over the Internet.” By working with existing content and social learning strategies, non-linear learning environments can be developed that are also mobile ready. You can sign up for a free demonstration of the system online.
  • I Need to Level Up! Gamification in Action from Ben Betts and Simon Croom (2011): This collaboration between the University of San Diego and HT2 addressed the needs of students enrolled in hybrid, graduate-level courses focused on supply chain management. Students, often working in the field already, primarily interacted with content online, but weren’t actively sharing “the wealth of experience in their respective industries.” This project integrated social components and gamification techniques (i.e., points, levels, awards) to motivate students to become contributors as well as consumers in the course.
  • Mobile Learning for Health Care Workers, from Inge de Waard and Carlos Kiyan (2010): A combination of web-based tools (many free to access) and WiFi, “allows heath care workers in Peru to get continued medical education through two types of smartphones.” This project from the Institute of Tropical Medicine filled a need for “access to medical information and knowledge,” the lack of which was negatively affecting the care of patients suffering from HIV/AIDS. Social media platforms, a learning management system, real-time communication tools, and downloadable apps and content all played important roles in this educational project that also allowed students to connect with each other.

To find out more about all of this year’s winning projects, a webinar is scheduled for November 28th. Registration is free and open to the public.

What about Your Best Projects?

There are many challenges in designing and delivering eLearning opportunities that are engaging and effective. As instructors and course developers, we can learn from each other in a world where the projects we take on have increasingly short deadlines and the technologies available are more sophisticated than ever. How are you sharing your successes and lessons learned?

David Lindenberg, one of this year’s DemoFest participants, wrote about his experience. According to Lindenberg, who didn’t win in his category, “The best part is not about winning the contest. It’s about having three hours of exposure to talk about your work to many different people in [your] field. You get a chance to explain your thought process, talk about development tools, and discuss the effectiveness of your work.” Receiving peer feedback in this kind of forum, designed for encouragement and sharing, can also help you improve your projects.

Whether you decide to submit an entry to DemoFest 2013, present at another conference, publish an article, or write a blog post, consider adding your knowledge to the field. You may even want to organize an eLearning showcase event at your school or organization. Embrace the opportunities available to both learn from others and help those new to the process.

Image credit: Jay Cross, Flickr, CC:BY