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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rapid eLearning Tools - New Debate

I wasn't able to go to the panel session at eLearningGuild, but there are a couple interesting posts on it and some debate around the purpose of these tools.

Clive Shepherd tells us - Rapid e-learning is swimming in too small a pond

His main point is that Rapid eLearning Tools should be aiming at the SMEs, but according to Clive, at the panel session, the vendors claimed they weren't really aimed there. My guess is that they may have been playing to the audience. I agree with Clive that this is part of the intent of rapid eLearning - pushing the tools to SMEs to allow them to easily create small information nuggets. These are not intended to be big courses with lots of interactivity.

One of the comments that Clive got back on his blog was that people were producing poor quality stuff with these tools. I guess it depends on what you mean by poor quality. Is what I'm writing now poor quality? Probably it depends on the context. If you are here trying to learning about Rapid eLearning Tools, then this is definitely poor quality. But, the intent of small bursts of information produced by SMEs is a bit different than producing a 60 minute course on ethics in the workplace (like that really works).

Jay Cross also discusses this session in -Rapid eLearning Panel and he does a good job discussing this very issue:
When is it appropriate to use rapid eLearning development tools? For procedural, how-topics. For things you have to get out the door right away. And I see e-information applications in addition to eLearning. “Information is not instruction,” but sometimes information is all you need.


thcrawford said...

There's no real relationship between the quality of the tool and the quality of the learning (whether rapid or traditional). The director of a movie can use a cheap video camera or a modern HD camera to create either an Oscar Winning Movie or a bomb. An author can use a typewriter or the most sophisticated word processor to create a play that moves an audience to tears or causes them to leave before intermission. The tool makes the work easier, but doesn't create quality content. Only people can do that. The tools just make it easier to create bad (or good) content faster, easier, and cheaper. The focus should be on what is "good" content and how to create it, then the best tool can be determined for that need. Just my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Rapid elearning tools...more buzzwords! An interesting post from today that I read elsewhere on blogger!

I think rapid elearning can be rapid elearning if it meets a learning objective. Perhaps it won't be a fully closed loop training objective, but it can still meet one.

Tony Karrer said...

Tom - I both agree and disagree with you. You can make an a great learning experience in a book if it's written really, really well. On the other hand, a tool such as a book limits your choices for how you interact with the learner (as do these tools). PowerPoint + audio is generally going to be okay for general information, but not for sticky learning.

So, I would contend that you don't pick up a tool for PPT+Audio if you are trying to create a longer, real learning experience. But they are great for short burst information transfer.

Tony Karrer said...

Anonymous - the term rapid elearning tool has been around for several years and I think it's somewhat nebulous, but helpful to describe a class of tools and what people are doing with these tools.

Вячеслав Щинов said...

Hi, Tony! I read your blog very often, but never posted any messages before. But this topic is quite interesting to me (as e-learning autoring tool developer). Generally, I agree with you and Tom, that tool can just limit or expand author's abilities to create feature-rich e-learning, no matter is it short or long. Again, I agree with you on weakness of term "rapid e-learning". Where I disagree: I think that there are no specific rapid e-learning tools. Are they tools for converting already prepared content to e-learning module? Then they are just converters, not authoring tools (f.e. PPT-to-Flash etc.). And authoring tools can include such abilities too (f.e. our product - CourseLab - cam import PPT presentations into e-learning module). But "real" authoring tools can go further to enrich imported content. So I think that while "rapid e-learning" term is (yes, somewhat nebulous, but) understandable, the term "rapid e-learning tool" is somewhat delusive. Just my opinion, of course.
BTW, let me introduce our authoring tool - CourseLab. It released last month (int'l version - local version was developed earlier) and it is free (except for optional packs). I think that at least the price is very good :) Hope, it is not advertisement - if it is - please remove or cut this post.

Vyacheslav Shchinov (that's transcription of my name, that possibly will be presented in Russian characters)

Carmen Ferrara said...


I think it really is an issue of semantics as the term "rapid elearning", since coined, has come to mean different things to different people. SMEs, e-learning tools vendors, learning professionals, etc. would probably each have varying definitions of what a rapid elearning tool is supposed to do.

I think you hit it on the head with: "PowerPoint + audio is generally going to be okay for general information, but not for sticky learning."

At the end of the day, the content author needs to determine the best way to convey their message to their audience. It may require a a sophisticated simulation or simply a PPT w/ audio.

Personally, I think some of the confusion lies simply with the term "rapid elearning" itself. I think many times "rapid elearning" is used when really the goal is "rapid communications".

Tony Karrer said...

Carmen - that's great! "Rapid communication" - right on the money.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony, I agree with the thoughts of Clive, Jay Cross and your goodself. Adding further I would like to make a polite mention that Rapid Learning Tools can also create interactive content. Example: 'Raptivity'- a rapid interactivity builder. This interactive content can be Jigsaw puzzles, Brainteasers, Interactive diagrams, Games, Simulations, Videos and much more.