Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are Your e-Learning Courses Future-Ready?

Designing e-Learning is like shooting a moving target while standing on a moving platform. By the time you are ready to fire, the world changes again and you are back to taking aim.

Take, for instance, mobility. Recently there has been a lot of speculation about the best ways to get applications mobile-ready. The debate heated up especially after Adobe announced that they will no longer be supporting flash on mobile devices. Does this mean that all e-learning designed using Flash needs to be re-written?

The designers at Raptivity talked to several power users to understand what keeps them up at night. Here is what the users said.

  • The learning interactions I create in Flash today will need to also support HTML5 in the near future.
  • I should be able to create a wide variety of interactions that learners can play on devices of their choice -  laptops, tablets and smart phones.  
  • I should be able to track learner performance with m-Learning content.
  • I should be able to integrate Raptivity interactions with any authoring tool that supports HTML5.

Last year, Raptivity pioneered HTML5 interactions with its HTML5 Starter pack, now a bestseller. Keeping the pace of innovation, today Raptivity provides more than 15 interactions which can be fully customized for a mobile platform. These interactions let you jazz up your presentations, test knowledge, encourage exploration, and provide references.

That's not all. Very soon, all Raptivity interactions are slated to go HTML5. Raptivity users will be able to create and customize HTML5 interactions in a few clicks which would work on i-Pad, i-Phone, Android powered tablets and other mobile devices. Needless to say, the Flash option will stay.

Once the entire Raptivity library goes HTML5, content authors who target non-Flash devices will be able to play their content in an interactive way, conduct assessments, provide evaluation results and track scores. Learners will play learning games, experience simulations, and get engaged through many more interactions on HTML5 devices.

As the entire world prepares to experience learning content on mobile platforms, Raptivity is set to play its part in future-readying your e-learning courses.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Top Five Budget Breakers in eLearning Course Development

I recentntly spoke at a webinar on “Interactive Courses on a Shoestring Budget”. This webinar, conducted on Novermber 11, 2011 in three different time zones, was attended by hundreds of instructional designers and e-learning producers worldwide. One topic discussed during the webinar was the top five e-learning budget breakers. It generated a lot of interest and discussion. Just like a balanced diet is crucial to our well-being, likewise a good budget plan is pivotal to any eLearning course. One usually selects a combination of free and paid tools to create courses within budgets. But,  even after selecting the combination of free and paid tools the course could go over budgets.
Top5 Budget Breakers

The top five budget breaking situations encountered while creating an interactive course are briefly summarized below for your reference.

The Learning Curve
This is the first and the most obvious culprit. When you look out for development tools, you are in search of tools that make your tasks much simpler. Tools provide a variety of features and they often work in different ways, causing your learning curve to go up. While selecting a tool one should look for consistency of usage across features so that one can use the tool with a very short learning curve.

Raptivity provides a great example. Raptivity has over 150 templates such as games, interactive diagrams, surveys, brainteasers, simulations and many more. Yet, the templates are implemented consistently - so your learning curve is short. When you learn how to build a game, the learning curve of building a simulation is incrementally short. My suggestion therefore is to select a tool which has a short and a shared learning curve.

Sample Creation
This is one is another potential budget breaker. eLearning can take many different forms. It is a good practice to  create a variety of samples for clients so that they can understand different options available and make an intelligent selection. The creation of such varied samples creation is a hidden cost and we don’t realize it till the course is completed. I therefore believe that it is important to select tools that allow to create variations of a sample and thus save time and cost of creating them.

Getting Help
Tools provide various ways to provide help to their customers. Some options of providing help are: live support, local representative, independent product experts and online communities.
One should make a wise selection of the right source of help when one gets  stuck at some point in the course of mission critical projects. In such situations, one should decide how much to depend on community for advice and its accuracy for such time critical projects. In such cases, the best choice is to go for a premium support provided by the tool manufacturer.

Making Changes 
This one is big budget breaker. Your choice of tools could make a major impact on budget for a course. Let us consider a situation where a course requires some tweaking at the end before it is finalized. If one uses custom flash development for the project there are infinite possibilities of getting the changes accommodated in the course. If one has used a tool which has limitations then one will have to start from scratch to meet the changed requirements.  But these numerous changes also add up to the extra cost which over runs and you tend to lose track of the eLearning budget. I would suggest you to select a sufficiently flexible tool that permits to do some changes but not many options that it breaks your budgets.

Migration Cost
The final budget breaker is “Migration”. A lifecycle of a course may extend beyond your projections. For example, requests from the customers for LMS upgrades, 508 compliant support, SCORM compliance support, iPad support using HTML5 technology, mLearning, etc. These changes can cause lot of additional work if your tool is not able to meet up with these requirements. The best way to handle such situations is by having a tool that protects you from potential budget problems and helps you makes such changes in time.

To view the recording of this webinar and get more insights into the top 5 budget breakers you can click here.