The Rapid Elearning Blog

Years ago, I was a finance specialist in the U.S. Army.  Every year we had to pass a pretty tough finance exam.  To prepare us, each person was assigned the task of teaching part of the exam to the others.  To this day, I can still recall some of the topics I had to teach.  This makes sense since a great way to learn is by teaching.  So why not get your learners involved in the teaching?

What I’ve done in the past is assign a project where instead of me teaching, the learners had to teach.  They were given an assignment and my role was to act as guide.  I helped keep them on track, set some guidelines, and provided access to resources.  The output for them was a multimedia product that could be shared with others.

This is where the rapid elearning tools come in handy.  They’re easy to use and allow the learners to create simple projects without stressing over programming.  In fact, to prove the point, I had my children put together a quick presentation on teeth (that was their punishment for climbing on my car).  They created this simple demo in just a little over an hour.


Click here to view the demo course.

There’s a lot of power in getting your learners involved this way.  It’s a fun way to learn and people enjoy adding their own creative flair.  Plus, you can be guaranteed that the learning experience will have impact and be memorable.

So the main considerations are the right type of project for the learners to do, where they can find resources, and then how to assemble the multimedia.  If you’re interested in this approach, here are a few ideas:

  • Assign a video project. Video cameras like the Flip & Kodak Zi6 are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.  The cameras even come with simple editing tools. Have your learners shoot quick videos that can easily be added to a web page or rapid elearning product.
  • Build a rapid elearning module. Using a form-based application like Engage makes it easy to create simple multimedia projects.  The goal isn’t that these are crafted by trained instructional designers.  So don’t expect the world’s best elearning, but don’t be surprised by what some people can produce.  Not having to do the multimedia programming frees them up to focus on the teaching part of the part. Set some stipulations for what they have to cover; and then let the content research and production process become their learning experience.
  • Leverage social media online. There are a lot of free tools online that help you create content.  I’ve been playing with Dipity for a family history project.  Something like this could work for your learners.  Screenr is also an easy application for your learners to share information, especially something like how to use a software application or navigate a web site.  Below is an example from another site, VuVox, where I quickly created a demo using content from my blog.



Click here to view demo.

Many of the free sites like Screenr and the one above give you an embed code.  You can use that to put the projects on a web site or wiki.  I took the embed code from the example above and placed that into my rapid elearning course using the web object feature.  This is a great way to aggregate the individual projects into a group project; and then host it on your own site or even in your LMS.


Click here to view the web object demo.

There are a lot of ways to engage your learners.  Leveraging your rapid elearning tools and their ability to create multimedia content is just one way.  Regardless of your approach, you’ll find that the learners are much more engaged in the process and become very passionate about what they’re doing.  That’s because you’re empowering them and not just dumping a bunch of information in their laps.  This is also a great way to leverage the expertise of your learners and build a network of relationships that extends beyond the formal training.

So on your next project, rethink how you’re using those rapid elearning tools and see if there might be some value in giving more control to your learners by getting them involved in teaching others.  What do you think?  Share your thoughts by clicking on the comments link.

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18 responses to “3 Creative Ways to Empower Your Learners”

I love it, Tom! Not only does this post present a really great idea for engaging the learner and enhancing retention, but your kids’ demo is precious! Emma is such a talented narrator, and Eli’s tooth-brushing demo is adorable! (The talking while gargling had me cracking up!) Thanks for sharing!

I’m afraid your punishment may backfire. They looked like the enjoyed the spotlight! Look out for more footprints on the car…

September 15th, 2009

Nice… I like that you got the kids involved. I’ve toyed with the idea.

Turning over the reigns to the learners is a great idea on so many levels, including getting multiple perspectives, empowering learners and even adding more credibility in some situations.

Plus, what the learners provide may also work as “learning objects” in other courses too.

Another great post, thanks.

September 15th, 2009

As always, excellent post. Thank you for sharing the tools and the tips.

Your children are quite the performers! Good job, Emma and Eli! Very professinal narration. The spitting and gargling were particularly dramatic.

I have used VoiceThread with my classes to allow some collaboration. They can then comment on each others if I want. They seem to pick up the technology quickly. I assign a part of a chapter to groups of two and they have to present that material to the rest of the class via VoiceThread. I love the alternatives you mentioned as well. Your kids did a great job!

I’m still trying to make the connection between the car and teeth?? But Eli had me laughing out loud when he drank from the faucet!! My son does that too even if there’s a glass on the vanity. Thanks for making the point of your blog fun.


You kids’ presentations are much cuter than yours. (But we’ll let you take 50% credit for your half of the chromosomes.) I can’t wait to see their next one, on how to clean the bathroom mirror.

I hope you are paying repeat fees for those performances. Superb talents!

How did you get your son to read the script? Did you use card with big lettering or get him to memorise the words?

This is important! We need to get rapid tools into the hands of learners, and encourage their creativity; this can spread learning virally and uncontrollably. More at

What you did with VuVox and VuVox/Presenter is a fantastic idea!

Thank you, Tom!


September 16th, 2009

Tom, I think Emma and Eli will continue to jump on your car, lest you devise a new punishment. Great examples. Thanks for keeping it real and fun!

September 19th, 2009

hey Tom, what a great tips & ideas and thats really a pretty work.
but I have a question about the types of image that the ID can use through the course. I mean can I use real & illustration images in the same course ,is it according to elearing standard?? i’m really waiting for your reply

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@omnia: you can use any images you want. However, what I’d do is develop a style guide and determine when you’d use real vs. illustration. Another option is to modify the images so that they have some consistency. For example, if you’re using a mixture of images, if they were all black and white, they’d look more like they belonged together than if they were multiple colors.

Ultimately, the key point is consistency an dhow they contribute to delivering the message.

[…] about how to empower learners by involving them in the teaching process. In his blog posting “3 Creative Ways to Empower Your Learners”, he also shares some examples of how leveraging rapid e-learning tools and their ability to create […]

[…] Vuvox: create interactive collages that you can insert into your elearning course, such as in this example. [original post] […]

[…] This example was quickly created by two very brilliant children.  It's a good example of how children can leverage PowerPoint and Articulate to create multimedia projects or portfolios.  To learn more about this example visit the blog post  3 Creative Ways to Empower Your Learners. […]