This month’s ASTD Learn Circuits The Big Question refers to a recent post graduate of an Instructional Design program. This student is seeking advice on how to build or author their first elearning and what tools to use.
So, the BIG question is: How do I learn to elearn?
As a developer of eLearning, it is a continous challenge to communicate a single message to a wide variety of learning styles. Some learners comprehend by reading while others need more visuals, and yet others need hands-on or interactivity. That’s too complex to get into for one’s very first eLearning course.
The tools available today are overwhelming for a seasoned developer let alone someone new to the industry. I’m an avid user of all the latest tools with Lectora being the most recent. With having a fundamental understanding of how to build a course, it still took me several weeks to ‘learn’ Lectora let alone getting Flash or Captivate movies to work properly.
I’ve outlined below a simple guide on how to begin:
1. IDEA – start with a simple idea of something you want to build as an elearning course. The thought of ‘simple’ here is to stay linear.
2. PLAN – Write it down, storyboard it, outline it, edit, revise, etc. Put yourself IN that course and think through the flow of instruction. This will (should) be the majority of your time. Know the subject better than the learner!
3. PROTOTYPE – As mentioned the tools available are overwhelming at best. Start with PowerPoint. It has become the most popular rapid development tool and several of the mainstream elearning authoring tools can upload your slides (Articulate, Captivate).
4. TOOL – For the first-timers I would suggest downloading a trial version of either Articulate, Captivate, or other simple rapid development tools. They are very intuitive and in a matter of minutes you can publish a course. (provided you mapped it out and planned accordingly)
The above is only a guide as their are many variables involved. The next question is how do “YOU” learn? Do you learn by going to a class where an instructor teaches you the tool? Many small colleges and/or tech schools offer training in some of these tools. Tom Kuhlmann’s The Rapid eLearning Blog offers wonderful tips & tricks on how to use PowerPoint and Articulate.
Do you learn by reading books and/or web tutorials? There are books published almost monthly on the subject of design, theory, and each authoring tool.
Do you learn just by doing? That’s my style. I like taking things apart and putting them back together to learn how they work. Along the way I use books, online tutorials and read many blogs on the subject that offer new ideas or suggestions.
I realize it can be hard with all the information available, but start small. Perhaps short pages of content on a simple subject you already know: “How to make a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich.” Of course the assumption here is you know how to make a PB&J.
Opinion on ID programs: The industry is at a point now where it almost demands ID programs include an introductory course(s) to elearning development tools and Learning Managment Systems.
Learning to eLearn is an ongoing learning process.