Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Interview with Breanne Hull, Educlone. Innovators in E-Learning Series

Finding new ways to engage students and create engaging e-learning experiences is a continual challenge. Welcome to an interview with Breanne Hull, Educlone. The Educlone learning platform features an interface designed for rapid development of distance learning (elearning /mlearning) which uses a drag-and-drop approach.

1. What is your name and relationship to elearning?
My name is Breanne Hull and I've worked as a public school teacher, an instructional designer in educational software, and as a training and eLearning consultant. I am currently the co-founder and CEO of Educlone.

2. What is Educlone?
Educlone is the eLearning platform that I wished I had as a teacher. Individual accounts for public school teachers are free, and it's a place where they can create their own online learning just by clicking and dragging boxes around. It's so simple that it's almost hard to explain. Our goal is to make is simple for teachers to create their own engaging, dynamic online learning.

3. How is Educlone different?
We thrive on simplicity. While some teachers are comfortable with the current eLearning interfaces that are out there, some are not. Unfortunately, this prevents many teachers from giving eLearning a try. Our interface doesn't look like it was built by a room full of engineers and computer programmers. It looks like it was built by teachers, for teachers, because, well, it was!

It's eLearning, made easy. We also avoid content development and just focus on making our platform easy and intuitive to use. So many educational software companies spend huge sums of money on content development. They make sure to meet every objective tied to every standard for every state and territory. A teacher ends up with this district-mandated pricey software that contains tons of superfluous content and, ultimately, wastes time instead of saving it. Educlone leaves the teaching in the hands of the teachers. They develop their own content with their own special flair, tied to their specific state and local objectives. Once the lesson is created and recorded in Educlone, students go through the lessons at their own computers, at their own pace. This leaves the teacher free to use class time to actually help the students who need it, with one-on-one attention, without having to stay after school or hold the other students back.

4. Where will Educlone be in five years? In 20 years? (E-Learning Queen realizes these seem to be rather crazy questions, but "the Queen" thinks we've problematized ourselves by thinking in short-term and medium-term solutions, and that we are stuck in this year's technology -- rather than thinking in broad-brush principles…)

Educlone will be wherever teachers and trainers want it to be. What we have created is an organic, living, breathing ecosystem that responds to the needs of its users. If a feature is requested, then we add it. Otherwise, we leave things just as they are and avoid over-complication. I want teachers to feel like this is their technology. No more having things handed down from administration that they are forced to use. If they want it to be complex with more features, than it will be. If they want to share lessons with other teachers across the miles, then it will be done. If they want students to create lessons and learning experiences for each other, then we'll throw that in. Otherwise, we'll leave it as it is - clean and simple. I want Educlone to feel like a comfy living room that educators can really spend some time in, creating valuable learning experiences.

strong>5. How are you transcending the tendency of today's LMS's to create an education garden rather than a factory?

I'm not sure who it was, but someone at some point decided that putting a book on screen is online learning. I've taken online courses, recently, that were like, "Read this paragraph. Ok, now read this paragraph and see the attached stock photo. Now click the 'next page' button to read the next paragraph." Seriously???

Technically, since reading a book is a form of learning, then putting some form of that book online could be considered "online learning." But come on, people. If I can tap one button on my little phone and see, oh, I don't know… an immediate live feed of Times Square, then surely we can leverage technology in education to do more than throw text up onto a screen! In that same vein, software that helps teachers to automate tasks related to school and classroom management are great - but is that really managing learning? I'm not even sure that Educlone should be considered an LMS. We're not trying to create an online school, and we're not aiming to automate administrative tasks like taking attendance. Like a garden, Educlone offers itself up as an open space to create and grow ideas. We focus on allowing teachers (and their students!) to create really interactive and engaging learning experiences. We also focus on giving teachers really clear and immediate feedback on how students are doing throughout the lesson.

6. List your top 5 books …

That's a tough question! I'll just list the three that I'm currently most interested in. Those are Drive by Daniel Pink, The Habit of Thought by Michael Strong, Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

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