The Latest Rapid E-learning Tools – Too Much of a Good Thing?

7 Jun

Recently I was really fascinated by this tweet from Andy Jones:

For a number of years, I’ve been creating training materials with rapid development tools (mostly Captivate). The “creation” process has been fairly organic, in that over time I have developed a sense of what works well and what simply doesn’t.

During the same time, rapid development tools have vastly improved, especially from a developer’s perspective. What seemed like a distant possibility years ago, seems fairly simple to do and achieve these days.

But Andy’s tweet raises an important point, are rapid development tools guiding developers down the wrong path? A path to standard design templates and stock photos of office staff – e.g. bland and boring e-learning.

My recent experience suggests that the answer could be yes.

This week I have been reviewing a couple of e-learning modules created in Captivate. One module took the standard project template approach and was stitched together by the aggregator tool. Unfortunately the result was an uneven table of contents that made it virtually impossible for the learner (me) to navigate through the course.

The second module had a more hierarchical structure that I could easily navigate through. However, parts of the content, clearly created in PowerPoint and imported into Captivate, seemed like a mishmash. This resulted in the module not only having an uneven look and feel, but gave me a disjointed learning experience.

So, as rapid e-learning tools have improved vastly over the years, why haven’t learning experiences?

Are the tools the problem? Or is it the developers?

Perhaps it’s both. Rapid e-learning tools have been developed so anyone can use them. That’s great, I’m for user-friendly software. But the result, is often the creation of an end-product that is learner unfriendly.

So what is the answer?

Maybe we (L&D departments) should stop buying into the “game-changing” marketing of rapid e-learning tools. While the tools are easier to use (and do amazing things), not everyone can create amazing learning experiences from scratch (despite the array of design templates and stock photos available).

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