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Rapid Authoring Of E-Learning
So you think e-learning is the solution to your training needs but don’t have the time or budget to commission material from specialist developers? Many trainers are finding the solution is at hand with rapid authoring tools which allow non IT specialists to write their own, high quality, e-learning in record time.
Why Rapid Authoring
The real excitement of rapid authoring is the way it promises to enable trainers to take control of their own e-learning agendas. Good rapid e-learning authoring is not only quick but it is intuitive and shouldn’t require more than usual IT literacy to be able to master it. In short, rapid authoring allows non technical trainers to produce their own highly professional e-learning in times that even the best authoring houses couldn’t have dreamed of even three years ago.
How Rapid is Rapid?
A recent assessment by e-learning consultancy Kineo identified 21 days as being the magic number for the creation of new e-learning, design, development and deployment included. In the fast paced business world, any slower and deadlines wouldn’t be met and the window of opportunity would have been lost. The good news is that this target isn’t very difficult with the new software available. Indeed, within the latest version of our own software, a quick start wizard allows highly graphical and interactive e-learning course structures to be authored in under a minute; yes this is an extreme, but it shows just how easy the process can be. We would expect a relatively inexperienced user to be able to produce 50 screens of learning a day while an experienced user could produce 100 without difficulty.
The glass ceiling on authoring speeds has been broken but don’t buy without trying. Some fairly aging pieces of software are being re-badged as “rapid” but you should always ask for a demonstration.
What to look for in a Rapid Authoring Tool.
The features that now allow authoring tools to be used by the typical IT literate trainer include:
1. Ease of use
Authoring tools will have easy to manage Graphical User Interfaces which allow users to manipulate e-learning screens easily and intuitively. This will allow them to add to and edit existing courses and, if they wish, to author entirely new courses from scratch in minutes.
Tools will be expected to have easy interactivity with common software, particularly Microsoft office products. Automated output engines (Flash etc…) will allow sophisticated effects and solutions without programming knowledge.
Speed of development will be a key feature enabling sophisticated learning courses to be available rapidly and be amended quickly and easily.User licensing will be simple and not restrictive giving companies internal flexibility to develop courses as they desire.
2. Collaborative Development Environment
Remote authoring will be the norm– particularly server side using ‘smart’ Windows clients which will allow all users to see amendments as they are made, so changes and additions can be easily facilitated. Remote manipulation through browser only interfaces will allow unrestricted collaboration with colleagues across the globe. Workflow based development and multi-stage publishing will allow rapid implementation of ongoing projects.
3. Quality features
Integrated Learning Management Systems will ensure that learning can be fully monitored while easy and effective screen and audio capture will ensure that learning environments replicate real environments with absolute accuracy. Mode switching between self learning and classroom delivery will ensure that the learning tool is flexible to meet training needs. Add to that web-based content management, LCMS functionality, SCORM compliance and integrated Learning Management Systems and you can see why these “DIY” authoring tools are turning traditional authoring on its head.
Rapid authoring of e-learning is here to stay. Be careful to “try before you buy” as some products out there are dinosaurs dressed up as the latest thing and the cheapest will certainly not have the range of features to allow truly rapid creation of e-learning. I do believe the industry has turned the corner in e-learning, the authoring tools now available mean that all courses should be quick to create, easy to amend, and above all enormously cost effective. This, in turn, will allow trainers to grab hold of the e-learning agenda and incorporate ever more effective small and large pieces of e-learning into their blended learning projects, saving money and improving knowledge retention.
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