The Rapid Elearning Blog

People ask me all the time how they can develop their elearning design skills.  Many of you work in one- or two-person departments and have to figure out elearning design for yourselves.  Even if you work for a larger training group or department, you don’t always have access to seasoned experts to mentor or guide you.

So this post offers some practical ideas on how to develop your elearning skills for little or no cost, other than your time.

These tips are based on what a lot of people like to call Web 2.0 technologies.  Not everyone is up-to-speed on these terms so I assembled a simple module that explains them.  True to the spirit of this post, the information I am sharing is freely available to you courtesy of Common Craft.  I put the videos into a single module because I know that many of you don’t have access to them directly because of corporate firewalls.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - E-learning and Web 2.0 course

Click here to see E-Learning & Web 2.0

(As a side note, the Common Craft videos are another good example of the passive engagement I discussed in an earlier post.  The approach they use is light and entertaining, yet very informative.  Something like that could be applied to some of your own elearning courses).

Now that you’re up-to-speed on some of the Web 2.0 technologies, you can review the tips on how to use them to enhance your own personal development.

  1. Use an RSS reader.  Your personal development depends on getting new information and understanding what’s happening in the industry.  There are a lot of good resources available to you for free.  The challenge is actually seeing the information.

    Using RSS allows you to pull the sites that interest you into one location so that you can easily scan the latest news or blog posts.  The good news is that almost all sites allow you to subscribe via RSS feed.  In fact, if you look in the right column of this blog, you’ll see an RSS link. 

    To use RSS feeds, you have to have a way to manage them.  I use Netvibes as my home page and use it to manage my most frequently read feeds.  I also use Google Reader.  With it, I can scan a couple of hundred blogs each day.  Those are two good options.  However, there are many from which to choose.  It’s just a matter of what you want to do. 

    The key point is that using RSS feeds will save you time and keep you on top of the latest news…and possibly improve your trivial pursuit skills.

  2. Connect with experts in the industry.  Once you have your RSS feeds intact, you can monitor and track the latest news from industry experts.  Many of them have blogs where they share ideas and actively invite conversation.  Read the blogs and share your ideas. 

    In the past, the only access you had with this level of expertise was via newsletters or magazine articles.  Not today.  Now you can actively engage them and get their insights.  It’s like having one sitting in the cubicle next to you, kind of like an elearning Neopet

  3. Connect with your peers.  You can connect with your peers in real life or online.  Where I live there are a number of user groups and a local chapter of the ASTD.  It’s a good way to connect with others who do the same type of work.  The more specific the group’s purpose, the more likely you’ll be engaged and get to meet others.  To get the most value out of this, plan on being active.

    To connect virtually, find the blogs of others like you and dialogue with them.  One of the nice things is that many people have blogrolls where they list links of other relevant blogs. That’s a good way to meet your peers online. Most bloggers love to share information and help others. 

  4. Support some industry activity.  If you frequent sites like the Elearning Guild, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to help.  They’re always looking for people.  In fact, the other day I saw a call out for writers.  A good way to learn is to write something based on your experience.

    Here’s another way to develop your skills and bring real value to you and your organization.  Clive Shepherd started the 30 Minute Master’s wiki.  The goal is to help subject-matter experts in the design of rapid e-learning courses.  Anyone can help and use the content.

  5. Start a blog.  Blogging allows you to grow as you learn and then reflect on your learning.  If you have your own blog, you can read the reflections of others, write your own thoughts, and have the blogs link back to each other.  It also allows you to tap into the expertise that is freely available to you via the Internet.

    A few weeks ago, Tony Karrer had a good article on blogging.  That post speaks to what I wrote about above because he mentions up and coming bloggers.  So here you have Tony, a recognized leader in the industry, dialoguing with an upstart blogger.  

    Blogging can be a very powerful exercise and provides a lot of opportunity.  In addition, there are so many tools available that you can create a very rich media experience.  For example, the videos I used above could easily be added to your own blog via some code from the Common Craft site.

The elearning world is rapidly changing.  The technology is getting easier to use and each upgrade adds increased functionality.  In addition, the social media available via the Internet will soon be integrated into your elearning design.

Learning to use these tools will help you understand the technology.  More important, though, is that you’ll grow and continue to develop your own skills.  As your skills grow, you’ll build even better elearning courses.


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.

24 responses to “5 Ways Web 2.0 Can Make You a Better E-Learning Designer”

Hi Tom!

The Video is just amazing. Havent seen something soo creative!

Hats off to you.


[…] Creative Video on E-learning and Web 2.0 Tom Kuhlmann has an interesting article in his blog on the 5 Ways Web 2.0 Can Make You a Better E-Learning Designer. […]

The free conference is intriguing. Will we be able to access the sessions after it is over?

[…] 5 Ways Web 2.0 Can Make You a Better E-Learning Designer – The Rapid eLearning Blog Learning to use these tools will help you understand the technology. More important though is that you’ll grow and continue to develop your own skills. As you skills grow, you’ll build even better elearning courses. (tags: elearning commoncraft blog rss socialnetworking training web2.0) […]

Hi Tom,

Great post – thanks. I concur with everything you’re saying – especially about using RSS to save time, and about the conference: Corporate Learning: Trends and Innovations.

I can recommend any conference the George Siemens runs. They are very well organised, and superb learning experiences. The sessions are usually made available afterwards.

I would like to see those videos become a key tool for teachers of ICT in high school. Both in terms of their own learning and in terms of the way they teach the kids.

So simple, yet so clever. Well done!

[…] And speaking of wikis like Clive’s, be sure to read Tom’s latest post: 5 Ways Web 2.0 Can Make You a Better E-Learning Designer. […]

Thanks for the feedback. The videos are nice. They were made by Common Craft. I think that their approach can be applied to elearning. They’re light, funny, and clear…and short!!!

November 8th, 2007

As always, may thanks for this useful information. I found many of this links very interesting and they are absolutly a new open window to learn form different parts.

November 9th, 2007

Another great post, Tom. Seems like every time you post, I have more links to add to my bookmarks. Thank goodness I now know about‘s Social Bookmarks, because my Favorites list is constantly out of control!

[…] 5 Ways Web 2.0 Can Make You a Better E-Learning Designer – The Rapid eLearning Blog […]

December 11th, 2007

thank you Tom
great post

Is there a way to document the names of each person who takes a test using this program?

Hi Tom

I am always looking forward to your newsletters, what a nice change to all the that junk that fills my mailbox every day.

Your information always proves to be ,most helpful.
You rock, keep up the great work

Happy 2008

Amazing video and very very interactive. I am sure I am going to use these tools and join the “New Age” ways of learning, interacting and networking.

Looking forward to see some more wonderful videos like this.

This was a great introduction to understanding how knowledge can be managed even better ! Some of these terms that appeared possibly intimidating to the ‘technologically’ uninitiated is made simple to understand.

Thank you
The article is quite remarkable
منتدى | منتديات | ملتقى |

[…] And while you’re at it, check out Tom’s post on 5 Ways Web 2.0 Can Make You a Better E-Learning Designer. […]

[…] 5 Ways Web 2.0 Can Make You a Better E-Learning Designer (November 6, 2007) […]

Great Demo!!!! is amazing the way how to integrate pedagogie with IT tools. Excelent !!!! =D

[…] had a brilliant post a while back about 5 Ways Web 2.0 can make you a better e-learning designer His advice is so true about any field and could speed up and enhance research so much more. Looking […]

[…] Common Craft: great way to get an overview on many of the social media basics.  They also do a great job presenting information; a good model for some courses. [original post] […]

I’m just about to take on an e-learning design job, and this article has really got me thinking about how to incorporate Web 2.0 elements. Thanks heaps!

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