Feathercap: a community-based platform for social and mobile learning

Today I´d like to share with you my third choice for The 10 Tools Challenge.  From a strictly technical point of view, Feathercap is a Learning Management System. However, from an experiential point of view, it is much more than that. Feathercap is a platform that allows for content personalization, peer collaboration and ubiquitous access to information.

When we design training solutions such as courses, workshops, printed or digital documents, we usually ask ourselves what the target audience is, what they need to do with the new information and how we, the instructor, the instructional designer, the SME, are going to present the content. But, we rarely stop to wonder how our learners expect or prefer to acquire new knowledge or skills. Which channels of information and types of resources do they find more useful according to their work environment, habits, etc.? How effective are “traditional” learning materials for today´s students and workers? Or even, is it a course the most suitable solution for the organizational problem that needs to be addressed?

In her post, “5 characteristics of how knowledge workers like to learn at work”, Jane Hart (@C4LPT) provided very useful insights to help us answer these questions and rethink our practices when we design instruction for real world people with real needs and expectations. According to Hart, knowledge workers prefer to learn in the flow of work, continuously, immediately, socially and autonomously.

When I started to use Feathercap a couple of weeks ago, I realized that this “LMS” has been designed with those requirements in mind and therefore, learning content can be organized, managed and delivered in a way that fully meet social, mobile learners’ needs and expectations.

Learning while working

Feathercap allows you to organize your content into an online categorized magazine. You can create different topics and display them as content tiles that learners can explore according to their interests and immediate needs. Every time you add new information to a topic, a green ribbon alerts the learners to it. I find these features particularly useful to make learning an integral part of daily workflow since learners can access information at their convenience, without interruptions or context-related restrictions.

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Access to information without interruptions

Users can start viewing content on a desktop and then, continue from a tablet or a smartphone. Aside from supporting PPT, Word, Excel as well as PDF files as attachments of any course, Feathercap has a quiz builder and offers over 35 pre-built templates. Every template is designed for multiple screen sizes and is highly customizable with multimedia elements.

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Immediate answers

On Feathercap´s landing page, leaners can quickly browse relevant content categories. Even though learning materials are given the generic name of “courses”, you can present the content in a wide variety of ways in order to provide the learners with the information they are looking for. You can upload a short video with a summary of best practices, create a link to a webpage with the latest news on a given topic or distribute a case study attached to a knowledge check (quiz).

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Creating content with others

The content can be edited and updated not only by course authors but also by end-users. Here´s where the sense of community emerges as every participant in the learning process can make a contribution by improving existing content, sharing useful resources and communicating new ideas.

Unconstrained paths for learning

The freedom to explore and select information at the moment of need coupled with the possibility of collaboratively creating content gives learners more control, which leads to higher levels of involvement. Moreover, by providing continuity across platforms, we can respond to learners´ needs leaving behind the constrained conditions of more traditional teaching and learning methods.

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Additional features of Feathercap include:

  • tracking standards as SCORM and Tin Can,
  • Dropbox integration,
  • instant access to an overview of learners activities and progress by means of real-time statistics, and
  • encryption, time limitations and signed URLS to secure content.

This tool has a great potential for responding to leaners’ current needs and for adapting learning content to different information access environments. As I start to experiment with Feathercap, I also see how my role of solitary content creator changes to one of content curator and community manager that can enable really social, cross-platform and custom-tailored experiences.

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