Friday, May 23, 2008

The Myth of Rapid Authoring Tools

If you look at the debate around Rapid e-learning then a myth seems to be emerging it's all about rapid e-learning tools...

This is too narrow a view.

Now, I'm not against myths. They are very powerful stories that hold an inner truth; even if they don't always hold water when they're taken literally.

If you look at Rapid elearning objectively, there are two things that are fundamental to a rapid outcome - intent and processes . These are the two things that make rapid e-learning truly rapid.

Why intent...? Because if the project can stretch out for 10 weeks it probably will.

Why processes....? Because if you don't accelerate your process of scoping through to development and launch, then you still won't complete your project rapidly.

Sure the tools are geared up to work in a streamlined way and they are a pivotal part of the story, but if you think Rapid e-learning begins and ends in authoring tools, then you’re really not looking at the whole picture. It's not just about squeezing development.

So, where is the true power of Rapid e-learning?

If you look at Rapid e-learning as a philosophy and methodology as much as it is a tool set, then you are going to drive some really strong value. That's because the inner truth about rapid is it's relentless focus on the effectiveness and efficiency of every stage of production. And that has some very powerful overtones for all e-learning production - internal and external.

Goodbye scripting documents! ?!

But, the real story of Rapid e-learning is still being written. Leading corporates are using a wide range of ‘Rapid’ approaches and tools, but there has been no analysis of what really works best in different contexts.

There is a massive blind spot in the comparative effectiveness of materials, production models and implementation techniques. This means that most of them may not be realising their full potential.

Two of the most important questions have yet to be answered..

· How effective is Rapid e-learning?

· How sustainable is Rapid e-learning?

Whilst the market presence of Rapid e-learning continues to grow at an exceptional rate, the full ramifications of pursuing this strategy in the long term hasn't yet been resolved with some real research and tangible data.


Leigh Anne said...

Although my courses developed using more traditional means are definitely much better - with more long-term staying power, there is a place for rapid eLearning. When my client has a critical product launch, and the information isn't solidified until 2 weeks before they need the training - I turn to rapid elearning. The rapid tools have really helped out - in the past (really WAY in the past) I would have sent out a PowerPoint when faced with a 2 week turnaround. Now I can send out a narrated flash with interactions and a test and record scores. It's not necessarily instructionally sound, but it does meet the business needs of my clients.

Thanks - Leigh Anne McIntyre - Instructional Spice

David Perring said...

Hi Leigh Anne,

Thanks for the comment.

What fascinates me is why using rapid tools always seems to mean that developers leave their instructional design skills at the door?

What is it about more Rapid e-learning which makes us compromise on the stickiness of the learning content?

If cognitive best practice highlights novelty, chunking, context and focus to avoid cognitive overload and aid recall, why is this the preserve of traditional techniques....? Surely these can still be achieved with rapid tools?

Does RAPID always mean inferior?

What am I missing here?