February 12 2010

When a Rapid eLearning Approach Makes the Most Sense

Written by Shevy Levy

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At Lambda, we offer both traditional eLearning Course Development, as well as more affordable Rapid Online Course Creation solutions. While Custom Online Course Development involves tailoring the course to the exact specifications of the client, a Rapidly Developed Online Course is less custom, but has a shorter turn-around time (less than a month) and a more affordable price tag.

Here's a great article by Patti Shank from Learning Solutions Magazine, about when an organization should implement a Rapid eLearning approach in an organization:


Rapid works well for lower learning levels

Dr. Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist, helped to develop a learning out comes classification system, a hierarchy of learning outcome levels associated with what the learner should be able to do at each level (see Figure 1)This hierarchy helps us think about the level of learning we want the information or instruction to foster, and what we want the learner to be able to do because of the instruction (typically called alearning objective or instructional objective).


Higher level   Level
Lower level Knowledge
What the learner should be able to do
Recommend, assess, choose...
Design, plan, construct...
Compare, calculate, examine...
Complete, use, demonstrate...
Describe, identify, give an example...
List, define, label...


Figure 1: Information -- instruction continuum.


A major factor that impacts whether you can complete a project rapidly is the availability of existing, usable content. Content development often takes a great deal of time, so a rapid approach works best when needed content is already available and adequate for the job at hand. Lack of adequate content is one of the single biggest risk factors associated with rapid e-Learning projects! Even if a rapid approach otherwise makes sense, lack of adequate content will automatically add time to the process.

When considering whether you have adequate content for a rapid approach, you may need to consider the following content type issues.

Slides: If you are using the content from PowerPoint slides as a content source, it’s likely that this content alone will be inadequate unless you are the subject matter expert who created them. That’s because, typically, PowerPoint slides contain abridged content so you will need to consider the effort needed to turn slide content into adequate content. Also consider whether the content you are using will need to be updated, verified, or approved (all of which will add time to the project).

Documents: If you are using content from documents, consider whether the audience for the documents is the same as the audience for the information or instruction. If not, you may need to rework the content. Content from documents often needs condensing, so you will likely need to prioritize and condense it. And, of course, you’ll need to consider whether the content will need updating, verifying, or approval (all of which will add time to the project).

Graphics/Media: Graphics and media can take some time to develop. Consider what graphics and media would be most useful and whether they are already available. If they are available, consider whether they will need to be updated, verified, or approved. If they are not available, consider the time it will take to develop them and whether you can complete the project without them.

Other: Other content may be available or needed. You still must determine if the content is adequate or whether you need to modify it.


Rapid often works well in a hybrid approach

After some analysis, you may discover that a rapid approach won’t work for all elements of an information or instruction project. But that doesn’t mean a rapid approach won’t work at all.

For example, let’s consider a project whose purpose is to train sales staff on a new product. They will need to know the product’s features and benefits, how it fits into the company’s product portfolio, and how it compares to competitors’ similar products. They will also need the skills to effectively sell this product, alone and alongside other company products as well as against competitors’ products. Let’s consider how this situation lends itself to a rapid approach and a traditional approach.

Rapid Approach

Lower-level learning outcomes: The following are lower-level learning objectives:

  • Describe product features and associated benefits
  • Identify how the new product fits into the company’s product portfolio.

Disposable information and instruction: New product information is extremely time sensitive to sales representatives and others in the organization.

The project is on the information end of the information/instruction continuum: The product’s features and benefits, and how it fits into the company’s product portfolio, are closer to the information end of the information/instruction continuum.

Traditional Approach

Being able to sell against similar competitors’ products, and effectively selling this product alone and alongside other company products, are higher-level learning outcomes. They are also closer to the instruction end of the information-instruction continuum.

Whether you can use a rapid approach for part of this project, however, may depend on the availability of adequate content. Since marketing staff often prepares sales materials well in advance of a new product launch, there’s a good chance that at least some product information will be available for use in this project. You should analyze whether it is adequate before proceeding.

Types of rapid authoring tools

Rapid authoring tools come in a variety of “flavors.” Table 1 describes five commonly used types of rapid authoring tools, what they typically create, and examples of commonly used rapid authoring tools in that category. Remember, for the first four tool types here, the more capabilities you use, the more complex and less rapid the project becomes!


Table 1: Types of rapid authoring tools.
Tool Type Typically Creates Examples of Commonly Used Tools
Screencast Produces a digital recording of what is happening in a computer screen, win-dow, or application. A tool may also allow the addition and editing of narration, links, graphics and media, 
and interactions.  
Captivate Camtasia Studio
PowerPoint-to-Flash Produces Flash content out of Power-Point slides, typically with narration. Tool may also allow the addition and editing of links, graphics and media, 
and interactions. 


Adobe Presenter Articulate Presenter
Forms-to-Flash Produces Flash content such as pages or rollover graphics from content placed into forms. The tool may also allow the addition and editing of narration, links, graphics and media, and interactions. 


Engage Raptivity  
Other-to-Flash Produces Flash content such as pages, games, or scenarios from content placed onto screens or imported. Tool may also allow the addition and editing of nar-ration, links, graphics and media, and interactions. 


Articulate Presenter Captivate
Webinar Enables a live presentation with slides over the Internet using a virtual class-room application. Tool may also allow presenter to share his or her desktop, poll participants, and incorporate other presentation and participant interaction tools. Many record the presentation as it is happening so it can be made available later, non-live. (Again, the more capa-bilities you use, the more complex and less rapid the project becomes.)


Connect WebEx


It is easy to see that the dividing line between rapid and more complex authoring may have more to do with what is included in each project and less to do with the tool you use to create it. One critical takeaway: When you use any tool to create more complex content, the project you create will typically take more time and therefore be less “rapid,” regardless of what tool is used. Rapidly produced projects typically produce less complex information and instruction.

Rapid often works well in a hybrid approach

The rapid e-Learning authoring tools marketplace includes numerous vendors and tools. Figure 2 shows the top vendors of rapid authoring tools, and the percentage of responding Guild members who use one or more tools from each vendor. Figure 9 on Page 19 of the complete report shows the percentage of responding Guildmembers who use each rapid authoring tool.


Figure 2: Percentage of responding Guild members who use at least one of each vendor’s rapid authoring tools.


The majority of responding Guild members use one or more of the Adobe tools (See Figure 8 on Page 18 of the complete report). Captivate was initially an authoring product mainly designed to produce quick and easy software application demos. As you might imagine by the large percentage of responding Guild members who use Captivate, the product is no longer limited to that use (although it can still make very rapid and terrific application demos and simulations). Approximately 25% of responding Guild members use Adobe Connect, a synchronous virtual classroom tool. Many of the companies new to e-Learning get started by putting some of their face-to-face classroom-based training online.

Author: Patti Shank
Source: http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/415/



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