08 July 2008

Rapid E-learning

When you want to build an online teaching tool fast, but you don't have a design and development team, you might turn to ready-made tools for the job, like Adobe Captivate, and you'll probably call it "Rapid E-learning". Business, in particular, loves the promise of anything that sounds fast and cheap, so buzzwords like "Rapid E-learning" take off like wildfire. This quick and dirty approach, although clearly inadequate on its own for sophisticated learning programs, can hit the spot for smaller chunks of training and for giving, what would otherwise be a dusty slide presentation, that extra bit of life in an online environment. It also brings certain valuable instructional approaches like the interactive case-study into the hands of the masses.

Guest writer, Heather Johnson, gives us a peek into "Rapid E-learning"...

Rapid E-Learning Rapidly Catching On

The more you get done in less time, the more productive you are; with productivity being directly proportional to profits, it's no wonder that there's a massive market for rapid e-learning courses. Lessons or training sessions can be put together in a matter of weeks and packaged and sold to both educational institutions and corporate houses alike.

Rapid e-learning courses are less like textbooks and are more like PowerPoint presentations, only more sophisticated in the way they look and feel. They're designed mainly as a platform for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to provide training in the short term - rather than deliver presentations at diverse geographical locations, copies of the e-learning material is dispatched wherever needed.

To be effective and taken seriously, rapid e-learning lessons need to be packaged well.
  • The tools of the trade (the environment) must be conducive to easy use by even technically-challenged SMEs who are responsible for framing the curricula and elaborating the course content.
  • The colors and fonts used throughout the pages of the lesson must be consistent and make for easy reading.
  • It's important to correlate the visual appeal of the e-learning development environment to the subject being discussed. Background colors and templates that are loud and colorful do not go hand in hand with a serious subject.
  • Take care to avoid overdressing your environment to the extent that the topic being discussed is lost among the myriad visual effects.
  • Include graphics that are of good quality to maintain that professional overall look.
  • They must include options to create templates, offer self-assessment tests and quizzes, and allow audio and video to be recorded.
  • Rapid e-learning encompasses both synchronous and asynchronous sessions, with the former being used for live webcasts and video conferences.
The very purpose of rapid e-learning courses is to be able to create effective online training sessions in a very short period of time. While critics of the process denounce it citing something similar to the adage about haste making waste, there are numerous applications where rapidly developed e-learning courses have allowed for a cost-saving transition away from inefficient face-to-face training approaches.

This article is contributed by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on ITT Tech Reviews. She invites your questions and writing job opportunities at her personal email address: heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.