Stephen Walsh looks at rapid elearning from seven angles to help you make the right decisions.
Elearning From a New Angle
Care about elearning? Do you care about the little things – like cost, speed and control? Then you should start caring about rapid elearning. That is the message that has permeated the blogs, white papers and conferences over the past few months. The benefits are clear:
- Reduced cost of development
Reduced development time
- Increased ability to respond rapidly to organisational needs
- More efficient use of subject matter experts
- Greater control over updates and maintenance
Sounds great. Who wouldn’t want that? Just a few questions though…
- How do you identify the right projects for rapid elearning? Are some training needs better suited than others? Which ones?
- What’s different about rapid elearning scoping design, scripting, testing, marketing, launch, hosting, support and measurement?
- What does it mean for training departments? What needs to change?
Does everyone need to buy an authoring tool? Is that the answer? (hint: no.)
We at Kineo believe rapid elearning will change how elearning is done – for the better. But it needs rigour, if it’s to deliver on its promise. That means each of these questions, and several more, must be answered in detail.
In a few short weeks, we will launch the most comprehensive and pragmatic set of end-to-end resources for rapid elearning available anywhere. Together they will outline a new approach to rapid elearning that we believe will change how you approach elearning – and enable you to secure the benefits that rapid elearning promises.
In this short briefing, we share just a few angles on rapid elearning, to preview just some of our thinking and hopefully spur on some rapid thinking of your own.
Rapid Angle 1: One Photoshop Does Not a Picasso Make
Rapid elearning is sometimes regarded as shorthand for the purchase of an authoring tool. That misperception alone is probably responsible for many dismal elearning experiences for learner and organisation alike. Rapidly developed bad elearning is not what the world needs now.
It’s true that an authoring tool is a key component of the rapid elearning approach. It may even be at the hub of the approach. But there are many more components that contribute to successful elearning:
Just as buying Photoshop won’t turn you into a gifted graphic artist, the authoring tool won’t deliver you effective rapid elearning on its own. Nor will it on its own change your whole approach to your production process. Tools are only effective if deployed in a sensible production model by the right people in the right way.
There are differences between the many tools out there. But there are a lot of commonalities too. Getting the right one requires some analysis – but an authoring tool alone will not deliver cost and efficiency savings if there are bottlenecks on either side of its place in the development process. To win the prize, you need to introduce rapid approaches at every step in the development process.
Take it further:
Kineo will shortly provide a series of resources that can help you evaluate and shortlist the authoring tools most suitable for your purposes – and address all the other components that will make rapid elearning happen.
Rapid Angle 2: You Still Need a Strategy…
Those of you who rankle at the buzzy noise of rapid elearning as a concept will be heartened to know that the fundamentals are still required. Effective learning functions and teams need to be aligned (to their organisation’s goals), effective, efficient and produce sustainable learning. Kineo’s four-part learning strategy master plan, based on these criteria established with ASTD UK chapter, goes into considerable detail on these criteria.
Rapid elearning does not mean skipping this step. In fact, taking a rapid approach to your elearning development can deliver further benefits on each of these criteria. There are new methods for demonstrating alignment to organisational goals – not least in terms of response time. A rapid approach provides opportunities to compress and remove steps development to enhance efficiency. A pre-built baseline for design and scripting can steer you to effective rapid e-learning. And sustainability can be achieved through online collaboration and support methods.
Take it further:
Look out soon for a range of Kineo purpose-build support tools that will help you bring a rapid approach to ROI, stakeholder management, value-based needs analysis and more.
Rapid angle 3: Your Precision Weapon Better Hit The Target
Traditional training delivery (classroom and elearning) can often have a scattergun approach, attempting to take on a particular topic and cover everything a learner could need to know so no target, however small, is missed. That approach scores high on completeness, but low on efficiency. Learner time can often be wasted on less important points. The more content added to the course, the more likely the really critical information will get lost in the fog.
Rapid elearning is more of a surgical strike. It has a small window of opportunity – usually 20 minutes or less. It cannot hope to hit more than one or two key points. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to focus in on a very specific target and deliver with precision.
But the value of rapid elearning relies tremendously on hitting the right target. If you don’t have a method for identifying and prioritising those targets that are right for rapid elearning in your organisation, all you’ll do is create rapid solutions that don’t solve the important problems. There’s no point in doing that rapidly – or at all.
Take it further:
Kineo’s rapid approach to needs analysis applies Pareto (80/20) rules in a rapid environment. This will get you to the outcome that a more detailed training needs would, but in a fraction of the time, by focusing specifically on the greatest points of pain and potential to add value. Learn how, very soon.
Rapid Angle 4: Model Behaviour
Creating new instructional design models and approaches is an immensely creative and rewarding task, and one we at Kineo turn our minds to with relish. But rapid elearning is not the place for it. There just isn’t time in the average three week turnaround to start from first principles each time. Does that mean there’s no room for instructional design in rapid elearning? Certainly not. When your rapid elearning is likely to be 20 minutes or less, you better make sure you’re keeping it short, focused and delivering value to the learner with every point. Lack of discipline at this step is what results in the PowerPoint nod and click next presentations that give elearning a bad name.
So what do you do?
You develop archetypal models for solid instructional design based on tried and tested principles
- You customise them for a range of the most common training needs
- You design them to be authoring tool neutral so they work in all of them
- You turn them into art directed templates with baseline content, so it’s easy to extend and amend on a solid baseline.
When we say you, we mean us, of course…
Take it further:
Kineo’s new set of instructional design templates and pre-built content will accelerate your rapid elearning development and help you to stand on the shoulders of designs that have proven effectiveness.
Rapid Angle 5: Get That Bespoke Feel for Less
Rapid’s not good enough, they say (especially if they are large bespoke elearning production companies). It doesn’t look like bespoke. It doesn’t work like bespoke. You can’t feel the quality. But it can, if you know what you’re doing. If you really know what you’re doing, you can create “rapid elearning that’s as good as – if not better – than some of the bespoke we’ve seen, at a third of the cost”, as we heard recently from a Kineo client.
- What makes the difference? What makes it feel ‘bespoke’?
Sound instructional design: sadly absent in much ‘bespoke elearning’
Clear structure, clear writing: more important than ever
- Animations: used appropriately they can add great value – and they need not be expensive if you know how
High end graphics and media: there are ways and means of getting the right look and feel, from use of open source resources to tactical outsourcing from the right place.
Don’t be intimidated by anyone who derides rapid elearning as just a cheap and cheerful alternative to paying full whack. It can be just as powerful if the fundamentals are solid, and you’ve tactically added those finer points that lift it.
Take it further:
Kineo’s upcoming rapid elearning offering includes resources to help ensure your design, writing and graphics are up to spec. We can also help you source and commission graphics from those who know how to get it right first time, if you need it.
Rapid Angle 6: Rapid Build + IT Slowdown = Bad News
Applying rapid approaches can’t stop when your elearning is built and tested. Too much elearning comes undone at the moment of delivery when it becomes dogged by deployment and hosting issues. The promise of rapid response is often sold short by internal IT procedures, inflexible service level agreements or other issues at the point when it’s most urgently needed.
Rapid approaches to hosting and deployment are essential if you’re going to ensure your rapid solution reaches your audience when it’s supposed to.
One option is to take control: getting access to your own publishing site on the organisation’s intranet or a password protected internet site could be a solution to ensure publishing, testing and deployment can be done at speed. The key is that you gain direct control over the publication process to ensure no delays at the crucial point.
Take it further:
For more, see the upcoming Kineo resources on rapid approaches to deployment and hosting, including a new service from Kineo that hands you more control over hosting and delivery than your IT department would probably want you to have…
Rapid Angle 7: No Blend Like a Rapid Blend
Rapid elearning modules are just part of the solution. A rapid approach to elearning means looking beyond course and module-based methods to include tutoring, virtual classrooms, podcasting, blogs and more. Each has its own benefits. Each can be treated better with a rapid approach. Developing a rapid blend means looking at these options and others with a new approach.
Take it further:
How are you going to create rapid blends? Kineo’s method for rapid blend development, described in an upcoming resource, will help you. And look out for our guides on the key components of rapid blends, including tutoring and virtual classrooms.
Take Another Look at Elearning
Rapid elearning is firmly established as a must-do. But all the must-do’s of aligned, effective, efficient and sustainable e-learning are still there too. An authoring tool will get you somewhere, but not all the way. You need a rapid approach to your elearning development. We think that means:
Thinking 80/20: focus where rapid elearning adds the most value
- Focusing on the fundamentals: scope, design, graphics, script
- Using templates intelligently to build rapidly on solid foundations
- Using new methods to accelerate collaboration and development
In short, it means looking at all your e-learning from a whole new angle. We’re looking forward to helping you do that in just a few short weeks.
If you need to know more right now, or have feedback on this briefing, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org