The Rapid Elearning Blog

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - are you ready to be a guru

I get emails all the time from freelancers or elearning vendors asking how to get more work or exposure.  I also have quite a few managers ask for ways to get their staff up-to-speed building better elearning courses.  So, I’m going to take this opportunity to plug the Articulate Guru Awards and show how you can use the awards as a way to grow your business and rapid elearning skills.

Get Lots of Exposure & Free Marketing of Your Services

The past few weeks, as people have been reaching out to me looking for work, I’ve told them about the Articulate Guru Awards and recommended that they submit something.  Almost as if scripted, they most say, “I would but I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have any courses to enter.”  I have to chuckle at the first response considering that they’re contacting me looking for work.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - show off your courses

Running a small business always creates this tension between doing revenue-generating projects and spending time looking for it.  So for many people it’s feast or famine.  I have to think that if I were trying to make a name for myself, contests like the Articulate Guru Awards and the eLearning Global Giveback Competition would be my first priority.  It’s free advertising.  And most likely one of the most important courses you’ll ever create.

Here’s the deal, there are very few elearning awards out there, especially ones that are free.  So why not take advantage of the opportunities that exist?  And these elearning awards are a great way to do this.

While it’s cool to win, that’s not the only benefit.  If you build a good course, you’ll get featured in other ways that give you exposure and will help you out.  In fact, it’s exactly what eVision said.  Entering the Articulate Guru Awards “was one of the best things for marketing their services.”

Build Your Personal Portfolio

With the way things are going, you never know when you’ll be looking for work.  So you want to be prepared, which I discussed in a previous post on why you need an elearning portfolio.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - example courses

One of the challenges with compiling elearning portfolios is that many organizations have you build the same courses over and over again; and most of them are probably pretty simple or not very interesting.  It’s hard to show off your skills if you company is happy with basic PowerPoint-to-Flash courses.

With the guru awards you aren’t limited to submitting work-based courses.  You can choose to submit whatever you want.  The CPR course eMersion created wasn’t a real course.  It was just a proof of concept to show off what they can do.  And the Evernote demo that Chris did was something he chose because he is a fan of the product.

Take advantage of the opportunity to create the type of course you want to build and show off what you can do.  You can create a course on any subject.  Here are some examples from the previous competition.  As you can see they don’t have to be corporate-type projects.

Become an Award-Winning Team

Lots of managers ask me how to get their staff up-to-speed or train them to become better at building courses.  One good way is to have the team go through a book together, something like E-Learning & the Science of Instruction or E-Learning by Design.  Discuss the key points and then practice applying them to projects or small prototypes.  You can also use these prototypes as examples that you can share with your clients.

Another way to build your team’s skills is to challenge them to create an award-winning elearning course.  They don’t need to build an entire course.  Keep it short.  Pick a generic subject, like planting a garden or building a birdhouse.  Find something with lots of content so you don’t have to spend a lot of time on that and can focus mostly on the course design.

While it didn’t win, one of my personal favorites from a previous contest is this sexual harassment course from Cognizant.  Here’s why I like it:

  • It was built in just four days—from script to final product.  That’s pretty impressive.
  • It’s not an information dump.  With that quick turn-around, it’s easy to build a simple, linear PowerPoint-to-Flash course. They didn’t.
  • They used lots of video and included some interactive scenarios.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - team-building activity

Click here to view Cognizant’s Sexual Harassment Course.

The course received high marks and rave reviews from their peers.  And my guess is that as a team, they had a lot of fun creating it.

Are You Really an E-Learning Pro?

This is a challenge to all of the elearning gurus out there.  I see all sorts of opinions and criticism of rapid elearning from many in the industry.  But most of the critics do not offer examples of how they’d build the courses with rapid elearning tools.

But I know that many of them do build courses with the tools.  In fact, when I ask some of the critics for examples of their own work, I typically get the “I’d love to show you, but it’s all proprietary” answer.  I’m not sure I buy that.  It seems to me that you should be able to offer more than just your opinion.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - shouldn't elearning gurus be prepared to sho w you what they can do

Many of you more experienced elearning developers are building rapid elearning courses.  So take this opportunity to show off your skills (and your potential clients why they should choose your services rather than build their courses in-house).

The reality is that a good instructional designer should be able to build a good course regardless of authoring tools.  So if you’re in the industry and are known for giving advice on building courses, why not show us all what you can do?  In addition, your examples are good inspiration for all of those up and coming developers who want to learn from you.

Tips to Get Started

I’ll close with this, good fortune sits at the crossroads between opportunity and action.  You have the opportunity, now just take action.  Besides, this stuff’s so easy, even a monkey can do it.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - so easy a monkey can do it


Free E-Learning Resources

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

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

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12 responses to “Here’s Why You Should Enter the Articulate Guru Awards”

Great advice. Love the monkeys!

I have a day job and even though my freelance work is mostly graphics, I often get requests for elearning projects. When I don’t have anything to show them I don’t get the bid. To your point Tom, and what many in this industry face is all of our elearning courses are proprietary.

I can talk a lot of smack here at work because my collegues know what I can do. Outside of the workplace it’s just that…smack with no substance.

So, what to do? Submit a Guru project! This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to demonstrate their skills. You have absolutely nothing to lose!

[…] Questa è una traduzione autorizzata tratta dal post originale di Tom Kuhlmann sul “Rapid E-Learning Blog”. Il post originale è disponibile qui. […]

We can honestly attest that submitting an entry to the Guru Awards last year and getting notices in the Community Showcase has won us jobs. It was a great experience and we plan to enter two this year. It helps us to have a place to stretch our wings, try new designs and dream big. We also get free marketing. Such a win. This year we’re trying to stretch ourselves further and push both ourselves and the tools as far as possible. We look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with this year. It’s always inspiring to see the development that others are able to achieve. Game on!

July 20th, 2010

I always love your posts and the cohesive graphics you pull. Where did you find those monkeys?

@Dawne: bought the monkey images from iStock

July 21st, 2010

Great reminder. I totally agree.

Years ago while working in another industry I entered an industry contest and won first place in a specialized category. Having the opportunity to show off my skills to a target audience proved very helpful.

About a year after the first place win, and less than 24 hours after I was laid off from my industry job I received an email from a new client for a project that targeted my specialized skills. Turns out the client was referred by another professional in the industry that had seen my work via the industry contest.

Without a doubt, creating the contest entry was time well spent even if it didn’t seem to pay off right away.

Great post – as always! Several of the eLearning Global Giveback Volunteers have shared that the course they developed for LINGOs member organization (international development, relief, conservation non-profits) has helped them win new work.

We at LINGOs are learning from the first round, and will do a better job publicizing the courses and volunteers in future.

For info on volunteering for the Global Giveback, see

Thanks, Tom and the eLearning/Articulate Community!

[…] Mayer (published by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2003) because it was recommended by Tom Kuhlmann on the Rapid e-Learning blog and I found it used on […]

October 4th, 2010

Just wondering when the results will be published?

@Poornima: we’re hoping to have everything done this week. There were quite a few very good courses.