Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keeping Interactivity at the Center of eLearning Development

I participated in Bryan Chapman's pre-conference session at the Brandon Hall Innovation in Learning conference. Bryan's session was titled Keeping Interactivity at the Center of eLearning Development. He focused on creating reusable catalogs (I've often called them libraries) of reusable interactions that can be used in different courses by just changing the content of the interactions.

The main reason e-learning developers don't include interactivity in their courses?

Based on a survey, here are the top results in order:

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Steep Learning Curve
  • Hard to Integrate (how do you track the SCORM data or get an HTML interaction to work with Flash)
  • Why Should I?
  • Not in PPT (if you only know how to use PowerPoint, you're going to be limited when it comes to interactivity)
  • Lack of Creativity (meaning they aren't sure what kind of interactions to build)
He also gave these ratios for development hours to create a one hour e-learning course:

PowerPoint Conversion: 33:1
Typical eLearning: 224:1
Simulations: 750:1

Then, of course, he explained that there are tools that assist with making interactivity better. He mentioned Hot Potatoes (which has some simple HTML-based interactivity) as well as CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver, then newer tools such as Raptivity, Instructional Spice. We were flattered that he also included Rapid Intake's tools ProForm Rapid eLearning Studio and Unison Collaborative Web-based Rapid eLearning Development Solution in his list of tools he would recommend.

His presentation went right in line with my recent post about creating reusable interactions based on instructional patterns. It was great to hear a different perspective advocating the same kind of solution to the problem of scalability when it comes to creating effective content.

He gave me an opportunity to show how you can use Rapid Intake technology to aggregate modular interactions built from multiple sources. Class participants emailed me sample interactions they'd built with some of the other tools and I combined them into a course using ProForm. I then demonstrated how ProForm and Unison can be used to pull disparate content together as well as build original Flash/XML based content.

PowerPoint conversions are here to stay (for better or worse...probably a mix of both :), but that wave is passing as tools that make building interactions faster, less expensively, and easier are coming to the forefront to show that building highly interactive e-learning content can make sense, even for those who are brand-new to elearning development.

P.S. One related link - if you are using CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver, there is a book available here on how to use it. It was written for Dreamweaver MX 2004, but CourseBuilder really hasn't changed in its functionality since then (only an update for Dreamweaver 8 has been released). So it might be helpful.

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