Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My review of the #Encore #mlearning app

I recently attended this Kineo event. I had originally intended to produce a Storify from this event, but there were several different event hashtags in use throughout the day, so I rapidly gave up on the idea – sure I could’ve manually added the tweets but you know how it is…

Instead, over the next few posts I’d like to share with you a few tools and platforms that @DonaldClark referred to during his session, starting off with ‘Encore’.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of anything that can be done minimise the forgetting curve and automate the process of ‘forcing’ the act of recall around a subject so I was pleased to see Donald highlight ‘Encore‘.

In a nutshell, it’s a Moodle plugin that can be used to synchronise with a free app. The plugin is configured with certain content reminders / frequency etc and then pushes those to the app allowing a steady drip-drip-drip of ‘tasks’ directly to the employees / students mobile device.

Encore showing an alert on an iPhone Encore showing an alert on an iPhone

The FREE demo involves undertaking a SCORM piece of eLearning with a Moodle, completing  a ‘self assessment’ using Moodle’s inbuilt assessment tool which then unlocks the ‘Encore’ plugin. At this stage you can select to receive the automated ‘tasks’ by email or the Encore app (see below)

'Tasks' showing within the Encore app ‘Tasks’ showing within the Encore app

As sound as the principle is, there are a few areas where I feel some improvement could be made. Having spoken to Learning Pool (the company behind the app) they were very vocal about their desire to receive feedback so I going to speak to them at the end of the 3-week ‘demo’ that is available and relay this feedback onto them.

Firstly (and this is not a criticism, just an observation) but if you’re not using Moodle (or possibly Totara?) then this obviously isn’t for you! Hopefully other LMS/VLE providers will latch onto the idea though??Despite this being a Moodle extension it’s not freely available. Having spoken to Learning Pool they said that even if your Moodle (possibly Totara?) isn’t supplied by them that that the Encore extension could probably be purchased from them.The Encore app is only available on iOS and Android, with Windows on the roadmap but a definite ‘No’ to Blackberries (possibly a stumbling block for corporates who currently use BB?Whilst the end user has the option of receiving the reminders via email or the app for me this still relies on (assuming that the organisation is wishing to tap into the mobility of the employee / student)  the end user having a smartphone. I’d like to see the option of using SMS as a delivery channel. Sure, some of the more media rich activities may not be accessible to feature phone users, but as I see it, at present, none of it is accessible to feature phone users.Some of the activities I undertook in the trial period were just tests of short term memory (see below), which for me, weren’t the best examples of spaced activation of learning, however I think with some thought around reflective questions (possibly with the option for ‘free text’ responses) and short videos there could be a real opportunity for this app to serve as a ‘trigger’ for deeper thought and processing.An example of a 'task' within the Encore app An example of a ‘task’ within the Encore app

All in all, I think this is a great step forward in terms of demonstrating that mobile learning can be and is so much more than responsive ‘click next’ elearning.

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