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Kirsty Chadwick

Kirsty Chadwick

As an experienced educator, public speaker and leader, Kirsty Chadwick has spent almost two decades involved in the field of education. Founder of The Training Room Online, which designs and develops innovative tailor-made e-learning material for the corporate, industrial and private sectors, Kirsty has trained, developed and inspired people across three continents.


Kirsty is a leader in the field of education. She has coached, mentored, trained and led teams of educators, as well as spoken internationally on the subject of incorporating technology into training in both the corporate world and in industry. Kirsty’s experience in the corporate environment gives her unique insight into the challenges of training within a business context, as well as an understanding of the vital role of employee development within commerce.

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Shared knowledge is the future

Tuesday, 26 February 2013 16:40 Published in Skills Development
Shared knowledge is the future

Shared, open knowledge is increasingly being made available worldwide through e-learning. This is something that could make a great impact on the accessibility of tertiary education in South Africa if implemented by our schools and universities. The increased use of techniques like “lecture capture” and the possibility of degrees that don’t require students to attend a single class have the potential to make tertiary education available to more people than ever before.


“Lecture capture” simply means capturing video footage of live lectures and broadcasting them free over the internet. Anybody can attend these lectures virtually over the internet via a number of universities’ websites. Harvard University was one of the pioneers of this type of free access to world class learning and has been offering free broadcasts of lectures for five years which, in the online world, is a very long time.


Harvard is now one of the “edX” universities, which include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley. EdX, a non-profit enterprise founded by MIT and Harvard, offers a number of free online courses to students across the globe. At the same time, it uses its online platform to research how people learn and how technology is transforming – and can transform – campuses around the world. All you need to take an edX course is a computer and an internet connection. MIT’s first edX course, Circuits and Electronics, had an enrolment of over 150,000 people from 160 countries.


Students who complete this course and others like it receive “certificates of mastery” but don’t qualify for full degrees or diplomas. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get a full degree online. The American University of Wisconsin now offers a recognised degree that doesn’t require any class time unless practical components must be completed for the degree to be awarded. The University of Wisconsin is the first university to organise “massive open online classes”, or MOOCs, into a bachelor’s degree.


Introducing initiatives like this into the South African learning landscape could open up higher learning to a far wider audience. Open knowledge is the space to watch in the digital realm right now.

E-learning trends: What to expect in 2013

Monday, 28 January 2013 15:29 Published in Skills Development
E-learning trends: What to expect in 2013

By 2015 e-learning will have a global value of $107 billion according to market researcher Global Industry Analysts. It’s predicted that in 2013 digital learning is going to be increasingly mobile, opening it up to a wider local audience. In South Africa, 2.4 million people only access the internet via their cellphones, and e-learning developers are increasingly cognisant of this fact. Just as technology is shaping and changing the way we work, shop, and even meet our partners, it is going to increasingly change the way we learn, too.


“Gamification” is the current buzzword in the business world, and its roots lie in e-learning. It was first mentioned in relation to learning at the 2010 TED (Technology, Education and Design) conference by British technology theorist Tom Chatfield in a presentation headed “Seven Ways Gaming Rewards the Brain”. Put very simply, he discovered that harnessing what keeps people coming back to video games would make e-learning more compelling and successful.


In 2011 US gamers spent $17bn on video games and it’s estimated that the average American gamer spends up to 10 hours a week gaming. These kinds of figures make a compelling argument for using the principles of gamification in e-learning design and it’s likely to be the biggest trend in e-learning in 2013.


The fact that failure isn’t possible is one of the most compelling things about video games. If you don’t succeed, you just keep trying until you do – because you know that, ultimately, you will win. This kind of attitude, when applied to studying, boosts confidence and helps people persevere because grasping difficult new knowledge becomes more of a challenge and less of a chore. Expect to see more experience bars in e-learning courseware, which make learners’ progress “concrete” and reinforces it.


Expect to see more e-learning developers to realise the importance of interactivity, too, with built-in games, animations, sound clips and other multimedia making the material more immersive. The learning of the future is going to resemble a video game more than a textbook. Some argue that “generation Y”, having grown up in a “screenified” culture, will demand this kind of learning material as they will no longer relate to the type of teaching their parents experienced.


In my next piece I look at how social learning and learning on the go will influence learning in 2013.

E-learning: game on!

Thursday, 06 December 2012 16:04 Published in Skills Development
E-learning: game on!

Good e-learning and video games have a lot in common. They’re both designed to be fun. Both platforms are immersive, allow players to track their progress easily and reward them when they do well.


“Gamification” is a bit of a buzzword in the digital sphere and in the business world, too, right now. Essentially, it means using the principles behind gaming in non-gaming contexts to make them more fun.


E-learning’s biggest development since its inception in the 90s is that it has become an immersive experience. Where it used to be known for boring “click-through” screens, it’s now a dynamic, immersive, multimedia platform. Gamification can take e-learning to the next level and make it an even more interactive experience.


In a groundbreaking presentation at TED 2010, British technology theorist Tom Chatfield discussed the “Seven Ways Gaming Rewards the Brain”. Among them were the top three elements from the gaming world that apply to the e-learning sphere: experience bars, multiple long- and short-term aims and rewards for effort.


Experience bars in games track a gamer’s progress steadily, with every positive action on their part levelling up steadily. In e-learning students monitor their own progress and when they can actually see it grow in the shape of a bar their accomplishment takes on a more concrete shape – literally.


In terms of long- and short-term aims, Chatfield writes: “You break something down into many parallel tasks. You don’t just to say to someone, do 5,000 sums, or 100, or even 50: you create a whole spectrum of larger and smaller objectives that help people take ownership of their progress, and keep them feeling they are progressing and succeeding – as well as targeting particular sets of skills.”


One of the most useful gaming principles one can transfer to e-learning is that of reward for effort, says Chadwick. Many students have the negative experience of being punished for failure in their school career. As in a game, good e-learning material should rather reward and reinforce. Learners don’t fail. As Chatfield puts it, they simply “haven’t succeeded yet”.


That’s exactly the philosophy behind good e-learning. Everyone succeeds.

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