By now, you must have a pretty good idea of the vast benefits that rapid eLearning offers. The best thing about rapid eLearning is that, it is cost-effective! Organizations working on tight training budgets and having no time for full-scale, comprehensive eLearning development can jump in straight and make use of its awesome turnaround times and feature-rich rapid authoring tools.
However, not everything is perfect with rapid eLearning. If saving costs and time were the be-all and end-all of learning and development, then rapid eLearning would have been the only choice of eLearning development around. But, as is the case, even this wonderful method of eLearning development is not without its weaknesses, and these are limitations that can make or break the deal for most companies. Let’s look at them in detail.
1. Not a “One-Size-Fits-All” Solution
There are some things that truly are “one-size-fits-all”, however, rapid eLearning does not fit all into the same mold. Although it is a perfect method to develop rapid eLearning courses (within weeks), it’s not cut for every project. It is suitable for projects that come with time and cost constraints.
The ideal candidates for rapid eLearning projects are the ones that need a quick conversion, which includes PPT-to-eLearning conversions, converting Flash-based courses to HTML5, content with a short shelf life, among others.
Creating gamified quizzes or animated simulations from the ground up is an uphill task, and is simply not what rapid eLearning can handle.
To determine whether rapid eLearning is for you, evaluate what you need the training to accomplish and see if you can handle it with a rapid authoring tool. If the content is not ready or has gaps to be filled, then rapid is not the way. Despite that, if you do find a tool that can do everything you want, it will most probably cost a bomb.
2. Limitation on the Number of Interactivities
Each eLearning project has its own specific goals to achieve, also known as learning objectives. To help learners achieve these learning objectives, developers integrate different kinds of strategies (simulations, scenarios, gamification, etc.), to make courses interactive. Although, rapid authoring tools allow quick creation of courses, this is at the expense of variation of interactivity.
Unlike Flash, which offered unlimited liberty to create interactivities of your choice, today’s rapid authoring tools offer limited functionality and flexibility to develop interactive courses. These tools contain predefined templates, allowing you to populate the templates with content. Customizing templates takes more time, so the content tends to get forced into one of the templates. Besides, increasing the complexity of interactivities or animations slows down the process and defeats the whole purpose of “rapid” development in the first place.
3. Subject Matter Experts do not have ID Capability
As you are already aware, end-to-end eLearning projects involve Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) passing down the content they create to instructional designers, who take the development process forward, right from creating the curriculum outline, developing storyboards to coming up with the right instructional strategy for the content.
In rapid eLearning, however, projects are led directly by SMEs who have no instructional design capability whatsoever. No instructional designers piloting the development process leads to poor organization of the content. Learner engagement is tied directly with how the content is represented (using the right amount of interactivities and strategy). If the content is poorly organized, learners can lose motivation toward training.
As is the case with all online learning projects, expertise and experience are what make the difference. Unless you have expert learning & design professionals doing your job, you will be unable to create effective rapid eLearning courses and modules.
So, there you have it. Rapid eLearning is not without its drawbacks. It is a great tool to create eLearning quickly. But, at the end of the day, if your eLearning needs to be bang on with engaging learners and contain rich interactivities backed by sound instructional design, you must pick a vendor who ticks all the checkboxes, otherwise rapid eLearning for you may not be the ideal option.