What is Rapid eLearning Development?

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Ever heard the term- ‘Rapid eLearning Development’ and wondered, what it meant? Wikipedia defines it, as -“a methodology to build e-learning courses rapidly. Typically the author will create slides in PowerPoint, record narration on top of the slides, and then use software to add tests, or even collaboration activities between the slides. The whole package is then sent, most often as an Adobe Flash file, to a learning management system or website.”

Adding to this, the ‘Virtual College’ website notes that- “Rapid Learning (or Rapid e-Learning Development) generally refers to the production process of creating e-learning courses quickly and effectively without having to use overly complicated software or programming techniques. Courses built this way can be concise for the learner and fairly swiftly put together for the course provider.”

Shorter Training Deadlines Have Made ‘Rapid eLearning Development’ Necessary and Relevant

Steve Rayson, a rapid elearning specialist – using slides on ‘Slideshare’ notes, that – ‘these are challenging times for training departments. And, in such times, when deadlines for training are short; budgets are small and, yet- the demand for quality learning is high-the potential of Rapid eLearning Development, is enormous!’

Principles and Processes Used in Rapid eLearning Development

Rayson believes that-“Design is the key to success and is more important in Rapid eLearning Development.” In comparison  to traditional e-learning development- ‘Rapid eLearning Development, uses a different development process, involving the use of small multi-skilled teams; templates and patterns for reusability; and web tools to keep content, current.’ This in turn- ‘makes the process of learning shorter and fun; improves information sharing; helps people talk more constructively; double checks assumptions; and leads to more creative design,’ he states.

Pluses of ‘Rapid eLearning Development’ over Traditional Learning Development

Rapid eLearning Development, offers multiple advantages in comparison to traditional e-learning projects! “Rapid eLearning Development- rolls out content modules within weeks,” instead of months, states Wikipedia.  In Rayson’s view, ‘Rapid eLearning Development – has a lower cost of production;  reduced development time; higher speed of response to emerging needs; provides more control to subject matter;  has easier maintenance and updates;  and helps internal teams say “Yes” more often!’  Therefore, “Rapid e-Learning is the perfect way to keep up with training your staff in new products, policy changes, system upgrades or anything else you need to get out there fast!” declares the ‘Virtual College’ website.

What’s Increasing the Popularity of Rapid eLearning Development Tools?

The fact that, ‘Rapid eLearning development tools,’ such as – Lectora, Captivate, Tool Book, Smart Builder, Storyline, and Zebra Zapps -are enabling small and medium enterprises, to focus on the quality and content of the material; instead of, on the coding of their e-learning programs- has made them extremely popular!’ believes elearning Industry.com.  “Thanks to recent evolutions of eLearning content authoring tools, which focus on rapid eLearning development, SMEs are able to create eLearning content without programming skills. As long as the eLearning tool is easy to use, software savvy, produces flash files, has customizable templates, facilitates collaborative environments if needed, and allows for quiz incorporation (West, 2007), the SME should be able to input his or her content directly into the program without hardly any training,” it states.

Pros and Cons of Rapid eLearning Development

Bob Little, from elearn Magazine notes that: “Much to the disgruntlement of instructional designers and other e-learning specialists,” – Rapid eLearning Development tools, “are offering in-house subject matter experts excellent opportunities to produce e-learning materials relatively quickly and cost-effectively—at least in the U.K. and U.S.”  He narrates how, William Ward, an independent consultant -analyzed the climb of rapid e-learning development, at a gathering of the ‘eLearning Network’ (U.K.’s leading professional association- for users and developers of e-learning).

While, noting that – “Detractors of the ‘DIY e-learning’ approaches accuse it of being PowerPoint on steroids,” Ward, defends the ‘Rapid eLearning Development’ tools and approaches and states: “…rapid e-learning has a valid part to play in corporate learning because rapid e-learning can produce fast and cheap e-learning materials…”  In agreement, Little concludes -“While purists sneer that e-learning produced via rapid tools may lack quality in terms of adhering to instructional design principles and may just be brain dumps by subject matters experts, if such e-learning materials improve workers’ performance, who can criticize their place in the learning and development armoury?”

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