The Rapid Elearning Blog

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - rapid elearning basics

This 7-part series brings you up-to-speed with some basic ideas about rapid elearning and how to get your project off the ground.

  1. So You Want To Be An E-Learning Hero?
  2. 5 Ways To Jump Start Your Next E-Learning Project.
  3. What Everyone Ought To Know About Designing An E-Learning Course.
  4. Build A Simple E-Learning Project Plan.
  5. How To Get The Most Out Of Your Subject Matter Expert.
  6. Understanding Multimedia For Rapid E-Learning Design.
  7. I Just Finished My Rapid E-Learning Course. Now, What Do I Do?

A lot of people ask me about good books to read. There are more books than I can list. However, I did a recent post where I discussed a few that offer a good starting point if you want to get started.

What else do you think beginning rapid elearning developers need to know?


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.

62 responses to “Getting Started with Rapid E-Learning”

August 15th, 2007

I have had some experience in developing an e-learning program but am really a novice in this area. Looking forward to further information and good reading in this book.

Ann, if you have any questions feel free to post them in the blog. I’ll try to help. In addition, I am sure that some of the others will chime in as well. There’s a lot of knowledge and experience out there…and training people seem to enjoy helping others:)

Hi Tom,
You have hit the nail. Good points about context and scenario based learning along with interactivity.
I wanted to know things like Instructional design and more about
variety of models for doing it.

Nilesh Joglekar

August 15th, 2007

Hi Tom,

I am really looking forward to learning here. I primarily use Articulate software for developing e-Learning and have had some specific issues I have been trying to fix. For instance, how to keep the size small so the content is accessible in countries where internet connections are slow!

Let me know about Articulate

I like the comment made by James K’s dad, abt the 3 parts to a job: “Prep it, do it, clean up.” I’d like to add a 4th part: go back later and check that it is still working/valid.
The paradox with any learning material is that it should be specific to a need – that usually limits the time frame for which the content will be valid.
Conversely, the very generic content will probably be valid for a long time period, but usually adds little value to the learner.
Tom, you are so right: Find out what the learner group needs now, deliver it rapidly in an educational and fun way, and determine when the product has outlived its usefulness. That approach enhances cash-flow and keeps customers(=learners) happy.
regards, Martin

E-learning is an emerging tool in the recent years. It provides a lot of awesome inforamtions and tips that helps in developing our creative skills

Great, practical advice! I have been an ID and PM for 25 years. Your suggestions are sooooo real world practical. I have a question less about instruction and more about quiz software.

I ahve been searching for ny weeks for solution. It seems ALL quiz makers, assessment generators, and survey tools (including the Articualte Quiz trial software I downloaded) requires the author (ME) choose ONE correct answer.

However, I want to create a “profile assessment” that has 20 stem sentences, with four possible endings each. Depending on the ending chosen, the software would deposits a counter into one of four possible “buckets” so at the end of the 20 questions, I can provide the respondent with a profile analysis regarding their dominant style:

S= 2 C= 1 I = 13 T= 4 (total is 20; but the dispersion will differ for each respondent). There are many of these profiles available on the internet…but how are they created? Do I have to hire a programmer?


Well, I’ve seen a lot of new and better programs than what we have here and now I’m getting involved in making our learning program much better and bring it into the 21st Century. I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can to help my learners get enjoyment out of learning.

Thanks for the comments and feedback. Kamran, file size is impacted by the media you use. For dial ups I’d either send them an alternative means to get the data or you have to really look at what you can put in your courses.
Joann: I think that most likely you’ll have to get a programmer to look at your needs. Perhaps someone reading this blog can add something. You might also look at the elearning guild/ASTD forums for some help. Even a product like surveymonkey might have advanced capabilities to help you.

August 21st, 2007

Hi Tom,
I’ve just discovered your site and will read it all ASAP.

My job is the Training Officer at Thursday Island Hospital in the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea.

Many years ago I was trained in Instructional Design, and I am now moving into eLearning.

I spent three years in the States in the 70’s, and was a member of ASTD, and NSPI among other Professional bodies.

Thank you Tom for your great contribution to performance improvement.

John Vidgen

August 21st, 2007

Hi Tom,
I am the Training Officer at the Thursday Island Hospital in the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea.

I have supplied my private email address instead of the hospital’s email, since their software may filter out external email??

I was trained as an Instruction Designer many years ago, and in the 1970’s, spent three years in the States, where I was a member of ASTD and NSPI, and met folk like Robert Mager, Joe Harless and Geary Rummler.

Thank you for your very great contribution to this field of training and development.

Kind Regards,

Hi All

Iam tring to develop some rapid elearning content. I would like to know if there are any ways to track my course without hosting it on an LMS


Ramesh, I’m with you. I am a Learning & Development Manager in a law firm in Australia. Despite it being a commercial sector business and a reasonably large firm as well, we do not have a training budget, so I need to get very creative with not very much in the way of resources. (So I have been very happy to hear Tom addressing the issue of using PowerPoint – I agree, provided you use it creatively and it doesn’t LOOK like PowerPoint, it can be very effective.)

Certainly I do not have access to anything as sophisticated (or expensive) as an LMS, and the biggest issue we have with our very basic e-Learning courses is tracking them. At the moment we are relying on our learners clicking an email link at the end of the course to notify us that they’ve done the course, but clearly this is not giving us accurate data. Most of them can’t be bothered to click it, so we have no way of knowing how many people are actually accessing our ecourses, and of course no way of collecting or collating results. Although they access them through our intranet, we can’t track hits through there either.

I did discover some information about MOODLE on the web last week, which I gather is an open-source LMS. I’m in the process of exploring this and seeing whether we would be able to utlise it in our organisation.

If anyone has any comments to make about MOODLE, or any other suggestions (bearing in mind that I have NO money to spend!), I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say.


You can use a database to track your course. We used Remedy to create a login URL. That gave us an entry point. We wrote a cookie to the user’s PC with the Remedy ID. At the end of the course (last slide) we inserted a web object (in Presenter) that read the cookie and reported back to the db.

There are two other LMS options. You can go with a hosted plan like Articulate Online. There’s no long term commitment and you only pay for what you use. Compared to investing in the LMS infrastructure and long term contracts it’s an inexpensive way to go. Another option is the open source route which Ellen mentioned. Moodle is good. I have been looking at Dokeos. As a matter of fact, this site has access to many of the opensource LMS. You get admin access to play around with it. It’s worth a look.

I’ve recently set up my own Moodle site and am quite pleased with the flexibility Moodle offers.

If your organization has it’s own intranet, you could have someone in IT look into setting up a Moodle site on your own server.

If you have an internet website, like I do, you can install Moodle on that server and administer it remotely. I don’t get a tremendous amout of traffic, so for $20 a month hosting charges (or less), I get a SCORM compliant LMS, with tons of other features as well, forums, blogs, etc.

If you need customer support, you could look into using one of the hosting companies listed on the website. Plus they take care of all the upgrades.

Hope this helps.

Thanks Tom and Rick for your replies. Very helpful. I hadn’t thought about the database concept, so I’ll get cracking comparing all these options!


Tom I am about to head up a huge project using an Oracle LMS any tips or suggestions. I look forward to learning!

October 2nd, 2007

Greetings all,

I am the CLO for a large property management company in Florida. We I started our training department 10 years ago,and, like everyone else, I had a small budget, but saw the need for an LMS. Very few options were available at that time, so I chose Microsoft Access as our LMS platform. It takes a bit of work to set up, but it performs well for tracking, running queries and reports. We now use Articulate as out OLT LMS. Access is still used for ILT tracking, but we will migrate this to Articulate next year.

We starting our online learning adventures this year and I look forward to all I will learn from this site. Thanks Tom!

Welcome aboard, Michael M. At my last organization, we used a Remedy database as our LMS. It worked well for us. However, it was cumbersome especially as our elearning courses increased in number. At some point they’ll have to switch to a more robust product. We just didn’t need all of the stuff that most LMS were selling.

October 16th, 2007

Hi Tom,

I will be heading the E-Learning project of our company. This part of the company’s strategy in providing online learning services that will complement the company’s existing IT services to its clients. Although I have had a background in the academe and in operating an IT school, I have realized that setting up a LMS is a huge project. I’m looking forward to learning useful and practical tips to get me up to speed in managing this huge project. Thanks Tom!

October 17th, 2007

loved the “what everybody ought to know…” item a couple of weeks ago. I have been totally unable to reproduce the direct access to web pages such as a wikki in either Articulate or Breeze, nor can I find help on their websites or other forums. I’m not a novice at this but, how the hell did you do it?

I’m working hard here to get rapid e-learning off the ground by showing it can add immense value, but I’ve stumbled and fallen at this hurdle. Help, direction, hints or whatever please.

PS Keep up the good work – I love being challenged to try new stuff.


Fred: Good luck. If you use the Articulate software and need some help down the road, go to the community forums. There are many who have experience with LMS transitions.

David: I used the insert web object feature and inserted it full screen in the slide. I also had the wiki set to open so that you didn’t need a password.

October 18th, 2007

thanks for the prompt response. What version of PowerPoint are you using as I still can’t reproduce this access to a webscreen.

It works on both PPT 2003 and 2007 for me. It’s only going to work if you are online or have access to the Internet (or network). Since this is not the Articulate forum, I’d recommend taking this to the community forum to continue the conversation if you need more assistance. My handle’s the doofdaddy.

Hi Tom,

Loved your Insiders Guide! I appreciate your insight and great tips. I’m new to this site, and can’t wait to read more.

BTW, on page 45, should “YOUR” replace “YOU” in the “TEMPLATE YOU PRODUCTION STAFF” paragraph?

Keep up the great work!


Good catch and thanks for the feedback.

I LOVE the book and printed it off and loaned it to a colleague (in another part of the USA). I now regret that because I would like to keep it in my office for a reference. I have tried to get another copy (didn’t save it on my hard drive) but I don’t want to resubscribe to the newsletter/blog (which by the way is the BEST). How can I accomplish this?

Mikki, you can access the ebook via the RSS feed. Just click on the orange RSS logo in the right panel and you can load the feed into a feed reader. When you view the post in the reader, you’ll see a download link for the ebook.

I am pleased to get your book and learn from it , i am from Egypt and speaks Arabic and want to learn English
i hope that your book be useful to me
and thank you

i have started to feel the excitment of this subject.
frankly, i need to start to build my own E-learning
best wishes

hi again Tom!
what is next
AEK from Algeria

Ferhat: not sure what you mean by “what is next.” Can you clarify?

Hi Tom,
Many thanks for sending download “coordinates” for your book. I am in private consulting / training practice, veteran by age but rookie in e-learning authoring. Hope with the help of the book and your blog the struggle will not be that painful.

January 8th, 2008

i would want to be be your student

February 12th, 2008

I have been developing graphics and animations that are designed and developed in flash, for various eLearning content development companies.

I have not done SCORM compliant learning objectives yet.
I understand that most of the eLearning projects are SCORM compliant.
Is there a set of standards that I need to follow before I prepare the SME script to make the learning objective SCORM compliant?
I prefer doing learning objects in flash; output file format will be swf. Are there any other formats that eLearning companies prepare contents in?
How is SCORM 1.2 different from SCORM 2004? If I need to update, how do I do that?

Hi Tom,

I am Professional Development Resource Head and I have to work around creating online (as well as face to face) materials for our learners (esp. the educators). Your book is really engrossing. Our organisation believes that the future of education is in technology. However, many educators (here in India) are novice in the tech area and it becomes difficult for them to get used to the jargons and the usage of the net to undergo the entire training process.

Any ideas to start with?

March 29th, 2008


April 2nd, 2008


Thanks much for providing me with an opportunity to be a part of this blog. This, by-far has been the most useful blog I’ve registered with. Thanks Tom.

I’m the founding partner of a Delaware Elearning startup focussed on Asian markets. I reside in India while my partner resides in the US.

I’m currently looking for a good LMS that could support my coursewares ofcourse at the least cost possible…..I did test eLMS Pro, but not very convinced with the LMS presentability. seems too simple..Unsure if it lacks anything that may cost me in the future..Looking to try out other LMS (free of low cost ones)…If anyone wishes to share any thoughts…plz do so…

I’m also seeking Elearning experts to join my Company’s Management / Board of Directors..lemme know if anyone may be interested….A strong background in content management or elearning is sought. I’m a Management Consultant by profession..So the Business strategy, Business plan and the Financial model – company vision etc..and where we wish to be in 5 years is well laid out…

Investors in line..might end up with one soon 🙂

Also if someone has some gud curicullum material on General & Business English, please do get in touch with me.

I am a trainer who has been following trends in eLearning. I am a novice trying to get myself familiar with this exciting fields. I do wish to be a pro. I am not a developer – will it affect my aspirations? Here (Nigeria) it is totally a new field. Do you mentor?

I am also a trainer who is a novice trying to make myself familiar with e learning tools. I have downloaded a trial version of Articulate’s ‘Engage’. I have started a project using the ‘Tabs’ interaction and would like to make tabs within tabs. I found a post on this which suggested I create 2 interactions a + b then copy the folder of a into folder b however I don’t know how to access the folders. I have no knowledge of software development so need simple easy to follow instructions can you tell me where to get these from please?

Here’s a resource to answer your question about using Engage within Engage.

You can also try the community forums. There are a lot of really sharp people in there who can answer more Articulate-specific questions.

May 14th, 2008

It’s nice

I have a strong command of content management. I can also help you with Business English training.

I tried to open Articulate Engage but it is showing the following error.

AP5.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Help me out in solving this.

I published a PPT having some screen shots. The clarity of the screen shots are better than compared to the published course (the screen shots are not readable). Can you guide me how to increase the clarity in the published course?

There are a number of factors that can impact image quality. You can find more specific detail in the community forums, but I’ll give you a quick run down.

First, whenever a bitmapped image is converted to .swf you’ll notice quite a bit of image degradation. This is typically very apparent on screen capture because they usually have more fine detail.

There are a few things you can do to mitigate this and try to improve the image quality.

• Try to save the image in different formats and see which one works best for that image.
• You need to lock the presentations to not scale the .swf. When the course is published, it is set at an optimal resolution. If the player scales in the browser, then you lose that. Publish with the course locked. You can do this via the player template settings.
• A lot of people will do a full screen capture at 1024×768 and then insert that into the slide. The slide’s resolution is 720×540. So when you scale it down you already lose quite a bit of resolution. A trick I use for screen captures is to set my display resolution as low as possible (800×600). It will look horrible and fuzzy. Do a screen capture and then set your resolution back up to normal. You’ll see that the image quality is very crisp. In an ideal world your capture doesn’t exceed 720×540.
• Don’t capture the entire screen if you’re only focusing on one part. Instead, just capture the part you’re focusing on. That allows you to keep it at a lower screen size.

Finally, I offered some other ideas in this blog post on software demos. For more detailed help, try the community forums. There are a lot of really sharp users in there.

@Akila: I sent an email to you to help you out. For faster support on Articulate software contact the customer support group. They’ll be able to take care of all of your needs.

July 30th, 2008

Hi Tom,
I am absolutely blown away by the kind of information I have gained reading your posts. I am currently part of a elearning development team using mostly lectora, photoshop and a little bit of flash to develop WBT’s. I have a previous background in graphics and web design using dreamweaver etc, could you please suggest a certification course in “Instructional design” for me which could help me further my career and increase my understanding of this feild of work.


Nice link to additional references.

A linear has been captured in Captivate and has been converted to a flash file. When importing that in Articulate, the movie is not playing. Kindly guide me in proceeding with this.

Hello Akila,

For assistance with the Articulate products, please visit the community forums. I am sure you will find an answer there. You can also contact our customer support and they will be able to assist you. In addition, I am sure that Captivate also has a forum to offer assistance.

Hi All,

I have only just come across this community. I work in Liverpool (UK), I was wondering if anyone could assistance me. I am currently investigating various e-learning packages to intruduce into my work place to assistance with the training offered by my department. However, the issue with have it the users do not have access to email systems and there will need a stand alone package. I am currently reading the options of Articulate and Verint Wintness. Has anyone any expereince with these packages??

Hello Matt,

If you have specific questions about Articulate, feel free to email me. As far as Verint, I haven’t had any experience with them. You might try a site like Masie’s Learning Town and see if there are any who have experience with their system.

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Hey Tom, I have been a fan of your site for a while. This is a great guide.

i am Neda from Iran ….
i have learned many thing from your blog.thanks so much .
thanks thanks and thanks

August 26th, 2009

Great resource blog. Thanks for some new insights. ~am


I love “SCREENR”! When I saw your preview, it brought back to mind that age old question..”What microphone do you use?”. It’s very quiet. The one I use has noise in the recording. I usually clean it up with “Audio Cleaning Lab”, but not able to do it with screenr. Great job to that worked on and brought about screenr.