Tag Archives: Rapid e-learning

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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The Future of Instructional Design – New Questions for an ID to Answer

24 May

Recently I read a blog post by Tony Bates on an instructional design workshop (Just ID) at the University of British Columbia (UBC). It’s a fascinating read on how Instructional Designers in BC view the challenges facing their profession and its future directions.
Check out the post here:
Tony Bates Blog Post
For me, the most interesting point that Tony Bates made in the post regarded what he called the “elephant in the room” – namely the “the design of campus-based learning experiences when much can be done online.” I would argue that this elephant is also applicable to corporate training/adult education. As more learning technologies (e-learning, screencasting, mlearning, virtual classroom etc … ) become part of the training culture, Instructional Designers will have to develop the tools/models to make decisions about the most appropriate mode or modes of training.
At the moment, these types of decisions are seemingly made with just the budget in mind. But what happens when we begin to think about putting the interests of learners first?

Stickmen, speech bubbles and e-learning

29 Mar

In the world of e-learning to train staff on new/upgraded computer applications, I often  face the problem of bland screen shoots and dull “Click … ” captions.

Sometimes I wonder whether another grey/blue screen will simply blur the learning experience into nothing  and result in the learner drifting off to sleep infront of their PC.

So what can be done?

Too much distraction will only dilute the content – will the learner be able to recall the process steps involved or only remember the crazy graphics? My guess would be crazy graphics everytime.

So how can I engage the learner at the right level – not too little and not too much? For me, the answer is to keep it simple both with content and with design.

Content needs to be to the point. A rambling paragraph of text won’t engage the learner. So try to keep the original purpose of the content without the extra words. Bullet points certainly help – both in reducing word count and in getting the key information across.

Design should also be simple. Recently I’ve been using stickmen and speech bubbles to bring my e-learning alive. The stickmen were originally hand-drawn, as were the speech bubbles. The result is a simple, no-frills screen, that still manages to get the key information across without bland screenshots or dull captions.

The power of rapid e-learning tools

6 Jan

The number one reason why a rapid e-learning tool such as Captivate is so powerful, is the ability of an instructional designer to react immediately to any requested changes.

For example, one month after completing a video created in Captivate, my SME contacted me about a quick change. The change was needed immediately because the video was due to released to the whole organization the following day.

The change wasn’t that drastic – only the log on process had changed from an url link that users needed to type in to an icon on their desktops. However, it did mean that a number of slides needed to be removed and a new slide outling the new process had to be created.

With Captivate these changes were easy to implement and quick to turn around. Within an hour of the initial request, a new video had been created. The deadline for sending out the video had been met and the SME was relieved.