The BIG Debate: Can Rapid eLearning Ever Be Truly Engaging?
There are now a number of ‘rapid’ elearning authoring tools that enable ‘anyone’ to author elearning content. And yes, this is true. But only in the same way that word processing software enables anyone to write a book. Don’t get me wrong; some of these tools are great and you can produce excellent content with them. However there is a lot more to it than buying the software and reading the manual.
In an ideal world these tools allow your subject matter experts (SMEs) to create elearning content in a matter of days. In this nirvana they will put aside their tiresome day-to-day responsibilities and enthusiastically author wonderful, engaging elearning content. The Learning and Development department look on with paternal pride as another beautifully formed elearning course is born and released to an avid and expectant organisation.
In truth, some subject matter experts will have the inclination, skills and time to produce high quality elearning, however many will not. Authoring elearning takes time and thought. It is a creative process. The higher the level of creativity, computer skill and understanding of instructional design an author has, the faster effective and engaging content can be built. The value of instructional design is that it speeds up the development process.
What difference can instructional design make?
Instructional design can make the difference between a rapid elearning course meeting the training need for which it was designed or being an enormous waste of time and resources. And I don’t just mean development time and cost, consider the time-cost to the business of users going through the course and learning nothing.
So, what do you need to know about instructional design to build adequate elearning content? Actually, not that much but I would argue that building truly engaging elearning content requires a deeper understanding of instructional design, coupled with real-world experience.
The best piece of advice I can give you before you author your first rapid elearning course is to put yourself in your learner’s shoes. Would you sit through an hour of narrated PowerPoint slides and actually learn anything? Would you read 12000 words on legal compliance from a computer screen? Guess what, neither will your learners.
What do you think?