History is filled with unsung heroes. Everyone knows about Thomas Edison and his contribution to the world. Yet few people know Christopher James Kelly. While Edison was busy building his light bulb, it was Kelly who decided to create electrical outlets. Without Kelly’s contribution, Edison would have just been standing there holding his cord with no place to plug in his lamp.
The elearning industry has its very own unsung hero, Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer. Dr. Oppelbaumer is a pioneer in the elearning industry and has committed his life to advancing online education.
I recently interviewed Dr. Oppelbaumer and asked him to present five practical tips to help you succeed and grow as elearning professionals.
Tom: You have made many contributions to our industry. Which one do you think has had the most impact?
Dr. Oppelbaumer: In the early days, learners would start an elearning course and just sit there on the first screen and wait for something to happen. We found that we created these really good courses with many screens and a lot of information, but no one thought about how to get the learner from screen one to screen two.
While my colleagues sat around trying to figure out what went wrong with their ADDIE model, I looked out the window and noticed an arrow pointing down the road. That’s when I suggested we place a next button shaped like an arrow on the screen. Elearning has never been the same since.
You’ve been looking at emerging trends in elearning. Where do you think the industry is going?
There are many interesting things happening with technology. I am very impressed with the social media tools. For example, years ago we were much more disconnected. That’s not the case today. With tools like Twitter and Facebook, I can be kept up to date on the most important advances in human history.
I see a lot of potential in all of the important data created by these social media tools. It will help us create elearning that is better targeted to meet the real needs of our learners.
I’m also excited by what I see with virtual worlds such as Second Life. I think it is a great platform for people whose social skills were developed by playing video games.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the elearning industry?
Buy a thesaurus. People don’t want to waste time, so it is critical that they find value in your courses. What motivates and engages learners is when they know that the content is perspicacious. You need to move beyond words like "nice" to describe complex information. It’s all a matter of how sapient you are. Using the right words tells your learners that this course is serious and will not waste their time.
Also, it never fails that you’ll waste hours crafting your mission statement without access to good words. And as we know, it is critical that all training and elearning teams have a clearly defined mission statement.
For example, we were struggling with our own statement, until I pulled out my thesaurus and found the right words. By the way, you are free to use our statement so as to not waste your own time.
We exist to provide elearning content that is both rational and emotional by applying adult learning principles. We achieve results oriented achievements through proper alignment to the organization’s performance initiatives and by leveraging the existing expertise within the organization to develop innovative elearning courses that help our customers meet their needs.
In the presentation below, Dr Oppelbaumer shares the types of wisdom and insight that you can only get from a seasoned professional who’s been in the industry from the very beginning.
If you want to learn more about Dr. Oppelbaumer, he has a soon-to-be released book, Using Your Brain & Heart to Make This World Smart. I’m sure that it will be beneficial and full of his no nonsense approach to elearning.