The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for April, 2021


e-learning

Like many organizations, we have to take compliance training. And when I heard we had a 3-hour harassment course coming, my first emotional response wasn’t positive. Why do I shudder thinking of taking a 3-hour e-learning course?

We all know why.

I hear all the time that e-learning courses are boring. This isn’t 1995. What’s going on?

We have conferences that teach us how to build better courses. We have an industry full of experts whose whole existence revolves around pointing out boring e-learning and selling their services to de-borify.

I write this blog hoping to combat boring e-learning. We discuss this often in the community and present weekly challenges to instigate thinking about interactive content in different ways. And yet, a lot of e-learning is still boring. Why?

Here are a few observations based on my experience.

Boring E-learning Has Always Existed

Working for a software vendor, I hear all that time that we make boring e-learning possible. The argument is that we’ve equipped too many ignorant people to create “courses.” Apparently, only highly trained instructional designers can build good e-learning. Hog wash! This opinion is both elitist and wrong.

I’ve been in this industry long before the rapid authoring tools were around. E-learning was just as boring then as now. The only difference was that it cost more to make it so there were fewer boring e-learning courses. But trust me, the e-learning courses back then were a lot worse than the ones we have now. And they weren’t created by ignorant people; they were created by instructional designers.

The tools don’t create boring courses, but I will admit that they do make it easier to create a lot of them. But the problem isn’t the authoring tools.

Organizations Get What They Pay For

I’ve been part of hundreds of workshops and talk to people in organization both big and small. And most have a few things in common. The organization buys the software and that’s about it. The developers don’t tend to get much more and must cobble together all sorts of things to build their courses.

But there’s a lot that goes into building great courses.

For many organizations, there’s minimal commitment to ongoing training so that the developers can get more out of the software investment or learn to build better learning experiences. There’s not a lot of commitment to designers who can help craft the right UX designs or graphic designers who can build compelling visuals that support the communication of the content. There’s no multimedia support or access to programmers. Many times, the course developers aren’t even connected to the ones who manage the learning management systems.

Good e-learning requires more than good e-learning software. It requires a commitment to an effective e-learning strategy that helps craft the best learning experiences. I see that many organizations stop at the good software part and let things go from there. And the result is understaffed e-learning developers who operate at the insane speed of business, cranking out content like crazy with little additional support.

That’s a recipe for boring e-learning.

Too Much Focus on Content

When it comes to teaching, we’re very content-centric. Need to know how to change a tire? Go to YouTube. Not sure how to handle this process? Read this PDF. If there’s a need, the gut reaction is to throw more content at it.

Content is fine and obviously part of the learning process. But content isn’t THE learning process. Yet most of the e-learning I see is a lot of content. And it’s often stuff already available in some digital format and then repurposed to look like a course. Add a ten-question quiz and call it good.

Content should be tethered to two things:

  • meaningful, relevant context
  • performance-based activity

Courses are boring because the content is completely meaningless to the person taking the course (which is the case for a lot of compliance training). Or it’s not framed in a relevant context that helps them understand the content in their real lives.

And then, the course stops at just sharing content with a quiz. There are no supporting activities to practice using it. There’s no opportunity to make real-world decisions and get feedback.

You want your e-learning courses to not be boring? Make an investment in a team that can build good courses, give them the right resources, and focus on learner-centric activities rather than content dumping.

That’s a step in the right direction.

 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 




e-learning

You built an e-learning course and the client is happy. Now what?

There’s a lot that happens between getting the course uploaded and then delivered to those who need to consume it. And then after that, what happens next?

Here are a few ideas.

Implementation Strategy

Once a course is built, it needs to be rolled out to its intended audience. Often this part of the course construction is out of the hands of the person who builds the course. However, it’s still a major consideration and many clients (especially if they’re internal managers) don’t think through the implementation process. It’s a good thing to have a few questions to ask so that those things are considered as part of the course construction process.

  • Where is the course housed? How does it get there?
  • Who manages the distribution of the course?
  • How do learners know the course is available?
  • How do managers know who needs to take the course and when they completed it?
  • How do managers discern if the course is required or not?

Ongoing Course Considerations

  • How is the effectiveness of the course determined?
  • What data needs to be collected to determine if the course is effective?
  • Who collects and reports the data? At what frequency?
  • Is there feedback on the course? How are adjustments made to it?
  • What about ongoing maintenance? Is the course content reviewed quarterly? Annually? Who owns this?

The points above are not exhaustive. There’s a lot more that needs to happen after the completed course is delivered to the client.

What are other considerations you’d add to the list?

 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 




e-learning technology

“Where do I put my e-learning courses?”

The answer to this seems obvious to someone who’s been building courses for a while. However, there are many people new to the industry and it’s a question I get frequently.

Today, we’ll do a quick survey of some common considerations when it comes to getting a course to your learners.

Does the e-learning course need to be tracked?

If so, it needs to be published for a learning management system (LMS) using one of the standard tracking options: SCORM, AICC, or xAPI.

If not, then it can be published for web. You’ll get a folder that can be uploaded to a web server. You can’t track users and their scores, but you can make the course available to anyone.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “What’s an LMS? What’s a web server?” Then you should learn a bit more.

Start here:

Where does the e-learning course go?

Without getting into all of the technical wonkiness, a published e-learning course isn’t much different than a web site. All of the course content sits in a folder which is put on a server.

If you don’t need to track the course, publish for web (as noted above), and upload the course to a web site. From there you can create a URL (link) to share.

If you are uploading it to a web site, it must be one where you have access to the server and can put the course folder on the server. This is not possible with those web site services like Wix and Squarespace.

If you don’t have a server, you can always use something like Google Cloud or Amazon S3 to upload and manage courses. It’s relatively simple and very cost-effective.

If you do need to track your users, then upload the course to an LMS. The LMS is designed to host the course and track individual user access and progress.

For Articulate 360 subscribers, we have a good on-demand webinar series to learn more about Learning Management Systems:

What is the user’s environment like?

Will the end user consume the course on a mobile device or computer? Can they play the course media like audio and video? How will they listen to it? What about accessibility? Can people with other needs consume the course as designed?

These seem to be simple questions, but I’ve worked on projects where the course was great and worked fine, but then when the client tried to implement the training, they discovered that everyone shared one computer and they didn’t have headphones or speakers to hear the audio. Or the course looked great on a laptop but was hard to consume on mobile.

Also, some user locations may be rural or remote, and even today bandwidth is still a consideration. Thus, the experience for the end-user isn’t ideal.

These are just a few of the technical considerations when starting with e-learning. It’s a good thing to learn more about some of the technology associated with e-learning. If possible, connect with an IT person at the frontend to help think through and mitigate some of these things.

If you’ve been building course for a while, what are considerations you’d share with someone just getting started.

 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.