Elearning superstar: Christopher Pappas

Not often do you get to speak to the owner of the World’s largest eLearning network but this week Elucidat had the pleasure of speaking to E-Learning Superstar Christopher Pappas.

Elearning superstar: Christopher Pappas

In this post Christopher will touch upon finding trustworthy sources for learning news, the essential requirement for HTML5 and the growing importance of responsive design in the industry.

Christopher will also touch upon continued support for Cloud based LMSs, the value of learning Gamification and how to speed up production using collaborative tools.

You can find out more about Christopher and see his ventures in action via the hyperlinks dotted about in this post and from his flagship E-Learning industry website.

1. How did elearningindustry.com begin? What experience did you have in the industry prior to setting up the website?

I started as an online Learning Community Manager in 2007 and have been actively involved in serving many online eLearning communities since then. After receiving several requests from fellow eLearning professionals for an independent online eLearning community I decided to move forward and create eLearningIndustry.com.

Now, elearningindustry.com has evolved to an online community of more than 270 big-name eLearning authors. Our members can post their eLearning articles that deal with eLearning concepts, eLearning software, free eLearning resources, reviews of eLearning books, etc, and reach more than 200,000 eLearning readers!

2. No doubt, you are a busy man. However, what is your primary goal and how are you working towards achieving it?

Our network consists of 8 eLearning sites, not to mention that we are in the development process of 2 more! So, being the founder of the largest eLearning network is not an easy task!

I need to have a total awareness of all the eLearning technologies that are going to evolve in the future, as well as the eLearning products and practices that are helpful to eLearning professionals and learners today.

Also, I need to have a firm grasp on SEO, eLearning platforms, Internet and social media marketing, etc. As such, I have to be efficiently knowledgeable about every aspect of the eLearning industry!

At the same time, I am the community manager of the Instructional Design and E-Learning Professionals’ Group, which is the largest LinkedIn group of professionals involved in the eLearning industry, with over 73,000 members. So, being the community manager of such a group I get the chance to interact daily with eLearning professionals gaining an insight on their needs, concerns, desires and visions.

I have always wanted to get the opportunity to help people realise the benefits, the dynamic, and the potentiality that eLearning offers as I believe it is the future of education. By saying people I refer to eLearning professionals, vendors, organisations, institutions, etc. This is my primary goal. This is my passion. So, by also being an eLearning consultant for major eLearning companies (including eLearning software and custom eLearning content development) and for institutions I believe that I am getting closer to achieving my goal.

3. What excites you most about what you do and the effect your work has?

I am a social person who loves to share knowledge, listen carefully, and learn. Thus, my excitement lies in continuing every day communication and collaboration with eLearning professionals across the globe. My true inspiration is my desire to share and learn from the members of the eLearning community and I am not the only one. Several eLearning professionals have the same desire!

To provide the eLearning community with high quality and informative content that is relevant, timely, well researched and presented is my day-to-day operation. Of course, to create content effectively, you must be able to devote a great deal of time to finding out what readers want to learn more about, and drawing attention to topics that they may not even be aware of as yet.

However, this is not something I do on my own; it is much more a collaborative work, a constant interaction and communication with each member separately. In our network, we highly encourage members to contribute and share their knowledge, experience, and points of view. We managed to have our blog ranked 1st amongst the Top eLearning blogs worldwide and we are proud to have some of the Top-Notch eLearning Professionals in the eLearning field, sharing with the readers their knowledge, wisdom, experience and inspiration.

4. From your own overall experience in the field of eLearning Industry could you tell me what you feel is a main concern for eLearning professionals?

The eLearning Industry is volatile, innovative, and competitive. Or, in simple words exciting! Though exciting, eLearning professionals often feel overwhelmed by the constant changes and the new data, either these concern eLearning concepts, tools, software, etc. So, how do eLearning professionals stay-up-to-date and, most importantly, competitive?

The truth is that they can find the news, innovations, and everything they need to know of, in the web, in the newspapers, the newsletters, etc. Everything they need is already out there!

However, eLearning professionals have limited time to research and find up-to-date, valuable, trustworthy, and relevant information concerning new trends, software, companies, jobs, etc. That is why we created elearningfeeds.com, where they can find a great variety of such invaluable information, which is key for their projects and their prosperity, based on the Top eLearning Blogs. In addition, once per week (every Tuesday) our members receive the best eLearning news and articles in their inbox – spam free, by subscribing to elearning-weekly.com.

5. Responsive design is a new trend. Do you think Responsive Design should be adopted by the eLearning industry?

With responsive design learners are able to access eLearning on a range of devices, such as tablets and smartphones, and still get the same high value educational experience (see more about responsive design here). Better yet, responsive design can enhance the eLearning experience which is now more flexible and can literally happen anytime, anywhere. Can you consider how convenient that is!?

Research shows that the sales of mobile phones and tablets far exceeded those of computers for years 2013 and 2014. Predictions for 2015 seem to also follow this trend. So, I would suggest eLearning professionals take this aspect into serious consideration while designing and developing their next eLearning course or online training event!

6. How do you think e-learning is going to change over the next few years?

We could talk for hours on this subject; however I will be brief. It seems that Cloud Based LMSs will dominate since they are secure, have low initial costs, are easily accessible (anytime, anywhere) and do not require storage space on devices.

In addition, Mobile Learning (mLearning) along with Responsive Design will definitely rise in the next few years. If I tell you that a recent survey showed that 88% of its participants said that they absolutely need mobile learning capabilities for their tablets, you can imagine where the future of learning is heading! Moreover, I would advise eLearning professionals to get familiar with HTML5 eLearning authoring tools such as Elucidat, because it is likely to become an invaluable technology within the eLearning Industry, thanks to its versatility and its variety of features.

Another new trend with great potential is content reusability. We need to allow eLearning professionals to convert documents, videos and audio to web and mobile compatible formats, by converting certain content without losing its validity, power, and meaning.

Last but not least, providing the greatest possible user experience (UX) should be the primary goal for every eLearning professional and a more learner-centric approach is imperative if we want to design and develop authentic eLearning experiences. Did I say I would be brief?

7. What is the most important change in the eLearning Industry that you’ve witnessed in the last couple of years?

I am really excited about the changes that are happening, and those that are still to come. Learning is more versatile and flexible than ever before, and all signs point to the fact that it will become more and more accessible and interactive over time.

Having said this, I would say that gamification is in fact the new buzzword of the eLearning Industry. Gamification is the use of game thinking and mechanics in a non-game context. And not without reason, since when it is wisely implemented, it increases learner engagement and motivation. Your readers may find this free ebook valuable How Gamification Reshapes Learning.

Secondly, I would say it is social learning. It is a proven fact that learners acquire knowledge and new skill sets better when they interact, cooperate, and communicate with each other. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that social learning has made an explosive entrance in the eLearning Industry and several LMSs incorporate social learning tools.

Last but not least, it is micro-Learning. Micro-Learning enables learners, either students or employees, to more easily absorb and retain the newly acquired knowledge, through eLearning modules and activities that are bite-sized, and hence more manageable and “digestible”.

8. What would the ideal eLearning authoring environment look like for you? What requirements are needed to make the grade with you?

Taking into consideration the above answers I believe that the ideal eLearning authoring environment should be Cloud based (such as Elucidat). Taking advantage of the convenience, the simplicity, and the accessibility that cloud based environments offer can really add value to the overall eLearning experience.

In addition, the eLearning authoring environment should be multi-collaborative. An eLearning team should have the chance to collaborate with their team members without time and geographic limitations, and at the same time, to coordinate properly their eLearning design and development process. In other words, the eLearning team members should be able to effectively collaborate on the same eLearning project in real time and simultaneously.

Last but surely not least, the ideal eLearning authoring environment should incorporate predesigned instructional design templates. That is templates that have been created based on the instructional design models and theories and follow the respective ID principles, practices, and norms. In my opinion, this is extremely important for busy eLearning professionals that have to develop effective eLearning courses at the speed of light.

What do you think? Do you share Christopher’s views over the future of the industry? What do you think are the most important recent changes in E-learning? Share your thoughts in the comments box below, we’d love to hear what you think.

Interviewer Joe Burns is a Support and Presales advocate for Elucidat. Joe’s role is to help people easily implement mobile learning strategies and create inventive, future-proofed resources. ‘Having worked with many of the archaic desktop based software to produce materials in the past, I recognise there is a need for intuitive and rapid new tools.’

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