Rapid eLearning: The Secret to Evolving @ Speed of Business

Quick Rollout of Online Training to Improve Employees’ Competitive Edge

Rapid eLearning puts the ‘rapid’ in eLearning development by focusing on the basics of instructional design and leveraging authoring tools.

Rapid eLearning Design for Quick Rollout

From making it easy for SMEs to aligning training with business goals and standardizing for scalability, explore 5 best practices to get rapid eLearning right.

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The Need for Rapid eLearning

Exhausted with the constant tussle of “there’s not enough time to develop eLearning”? Are you on a hunt to find a solution to your “hurried training needs”? Pat your back because you’ve just found the right solution! Here’s rapid eLearning to the rescue!

At a time when shrinking budgets and timelines are your biggest frenemies, rapid eLearning is the reliable partner you’ve been looking for. Whether you need ten courses or thousands of them, rapid eLearning can take care of everything.

Since the Internet is filled with resources on rapid eLearning, it can be overwhelming to get the right start. To ease the process, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about rapid eLearning. You’ll find so much more than just the what, why, and how of rapid eLearning.

What is Rapid eLearning?

The idea behind rapid eLearning is to build and rollout courses within weeks, unlike conventional eLearning projects which stretch up to months. What’s the reason behind the speed of rapid? What makes it so different from conventional eLearning development? Let’s find out!

First and foremost, setting Performance-based learning objectives is imperative. To make training effective —  to make training positively impact desired business goals — it is important to align training to the desired performance. However, in the absence of any tangible goals, any training created either conventionally or through rapid is bound to miss the mark. After all, the purpose of training is to help employees perform better by bridging the gap between their expected performance and current performance.

Hence, rapid eLearning focuses on determining performance-based learning objectives that will help link the training with performance. A performance-based learning objective tells in specific and measurable terms what learners will be able to do at the end of the eLearning course. To simplify, you can even call it the starting point for designing an effective and successful eLearning course.

The 3-step process involves:

3-step process

When it comes to conventional eLearning development, everything moves at a snail’s pace. Most of the times, organizations handover content that is conceptually incomplete and sometimes not even relevant to the project at hand. Imagine the amount of time it would take instructional designers to get the hang of the subject and sift out relevant content. Needless to say, a lot of time is lost even before the actual development begins.

However, in rapid eLearning, existing training content is used as the base for the project. This essentially means your SMEs (subject matter experts) — who hold domain knowledge — put the primary content in place and remove extraneous content that doesn’t address the learning objectives. This saves ample time of the instructional designers who can start right away with the storyboard!

Instead of conventional Las-Vegas style courses with bells and whistles, rapid eLearning focuses on aligning training to the desired performance needs. It addresses questions your learners would seek answers for, such as:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • Why should I take this training?
  • How is it going to help me grow in my career?

Hence, following adult learning principles relieves you from the pressure of cajoling learners into learning. The drive to complete the course comes willingly when learners know it’s worth their time.

Is there any point of flashy design if it doesn’t enhance the effectiveness of the course? Rapid eLearning design uses robust instructional strategies that provide effective courses, saving costs.

When Should you Opt for Rapid eLearning Development?

Before you opt for rapid eLearning development, ensure your content as well as training needs fall in any of the following categories. These instances show when rapid eLearning is a good fit and often a better option than conventional eLearning development.

When

Example

Content changes very quickly

Courses for sales reps on market trends, product features, policies, and so on.

Content has a short shelf-life

Health-based courses on epidemic outbursts — such as on Ebola virus, Zika virus — to educate medical professionals.

You have tight deadlines and budgets to conquer

Rapid eLearning includes steps that allow cost-saving and adherence to timelines – such as standardization and reuse, leveraging rapid eLearning authoring tools, and using online review links for reviews.

You need a rapid blend

Creating an efficient blend of classroom sessions with digital learning assets accelerates time to proficiency. For instance, videos, eBooks, audio podcasts, interactive infographics, and so on.

How Well do you Know Rapid eLearning?

Ever since rapid eLearning forayed into corporate training, it has been a topic of debate among eLearning pundits. For some, rapid eLearning is all about authoring tools that enable quick development. For others, rapid eLearning means sub-standard output. Let’s look at rapid eLearning closely to understand what it actually is.

Inputs for Rapid eLearning

Availability of existing reusable classroom training content is an integral factor that impacts whether you can complete an eLearning project rapidly. Content development or even filling the gaps will only add time to the rapid eLearning development process. So a rapid approach is only ideal when you have content that addresses the set learning objectives when converting ILT (instructor-led training) to eLearning! But what if the content is in different formats?

Whether the content is in the form of SOPs, PDFs, eBooks, documents, or classroom training handouts, it is eligible for rapid eLearning – as long as it is conceptually complete and ready to go! Convert PowerPoint to eLearning with rapid authoring tools such as iSpring. However, ensure the PowerPoint decks are reinforced instructionally.

Raw Materials for Rapid eLearning

Even if content is in place, ILT to eLearning conversion doesn’t mean it can be dumped onto slides and published using rapid eLearning development tools. There’s a lot more converting ILT to online learning! The content will only shine through in your eLearning courses if it is supported by effective instructional design, including relevant learning objectives and assessments. It requires expertise to make courses engaging while keeping in mind the principles of instructional design and adult learning.

The other areas of expertise include project management, graphic designing, authoring tools, quality assurance, and IT support to ensure you receive zero-error courses. Hence, anybody can go rapid if they have the necessary expertise and experience to tackle ambiguities during development.

However, it’s a wise move to outsource rapid development to an eLearning vendor who takes away your burden and delivers quality courses that are otherwise strenuous to produce in-house.

Role of Instructional Design in Rapid eLearning

The essence of rapid eLearning design lies in following instructional design and adult learning principles. For instance:

  • Using learning objectives to show learners what’s in it for me
  • Keeping the navigation free to enable self-directed learning

Learning objectives along with assessments in rapid eLearning ensure learning is on the right track. Moreover, developers leverage new-age instructional design strategies while focusing on making the training as realistic and close to learners’ actual jobs as possible for immediate transfer.

Here are 3 secret sauces to make your eLearning click.

What goes into making a memorable learning experience?

Personalization

Address learners by name

Let learners choose an avatar

Stories

Scenarios

Metaphors and analogies

Empathy in Engagement

Open navigation

Clear instructions

Diagnostic feedback

Take a look at 6 new-age learning strategies and how they can be used in eLearning:

eLearning Design and the Right Brain [Infographic]

Role of SMEs in Rapid eLearning

Do you really think SMEs — who are mostly on-the go, traveling to client locations, solving multiple million-dollar issues — have time to lead rapid eLearning projects? In fact, the reality is completely different – reviewing or finalizing eLearning courses is the last of their priorities.

Hence, one aspect of rapid eLearning is to make the most out of your SME’s available time while the development team takes charge of converting the raw content into courses. To help your SMEs save time get doubts clarified at the initial stage of the project, use online review tools, and so on. Read 10 handy tips to reduce SME time in this mini guide. In a nutshell, the success of the project relies on the efficient partnership between the SME and the development team.

How do you Know you are Ready for Rapid eLearning Development?

Here’s a checklist to help you decide how ready you are for rapid eLearning development. If your answer is Yes to all questions, you’re good to go!

Content

  • Do you have the learning content ready?
  • Are all content gaps closed?

SME

  • Do you have an SME for the rapid eLearning project?
  • Will he/she spare time at the set milestones of the project?

Vendor

  • Does your vendor have expertise in rapid eLearning development?
  • Does he have enough resources to scale up development?

LMS

  • Is your LMS SCORM-compliant?
  • Do you need LMS support from a vendor?

Why Should you Opt for Rapid eLearning Development?

While we are clearly smitten by rapid eLearning, are you impatient to know “why”? Here are 4 of the many benefits offered by rapid eLearning development.

Better Costing and Faster Turnaround

To state the obvious, creating rapid eLearning courses takes less time and hence costs less than conventional eLearning courses. However, what makes rapid eLearning ‘rapid’? Here are some factors.

  • The primary content for the project is provided by the SME. That means ample time is saved on creating content and filling gaps. The ID team can begin with the storyboards straightaway.
  • Adhering to a style guide and checklists to minimize the chances of ambiguities.
  • Leveraging the capabilities of rapid development tools. Customizing pre-built templates to reduce efforts. Since there’s no coding involved, there are less intricacies and faster turnaround.
  • Standardizing and reusing components such as common audio clips (instructions), animations, graphical elements, and interactivities.

Easy to Update

Rapid authoring tools — such as Storyline 360, Adobe Captivate, Lectora Inspire, iSpring, dominKnow — provide the ability to update, recreate, and refresh existing courses in a jiffy! So whether there are changes in industrial regulations, policies or market trends, rapid eLearning helps you provide up to date training.

With rapid eLearning authoring tools, changes are pushed out without having to design the courses all over again, saving resources, time, and therefore money. Moreover, because of the ease of use, you can do the updates in-house rather than going back to the vendor.

Offers Learning the New-age Way

In the kernel of digital transformation, stagnant training approaches can make you lose the race. This especially applies to organizations that use “one-size fits all” conventional training programs for a workforce that consists of learners belonging to different generations – the Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials.

While developing eLearning courses that cater to the needs of all generations seems almost impossible, it really doesn’t have to be. All you need is rapid eLearning that provides flexibility in the learning structure and a scalable way to share a single message that addresses everyone’s needs.

This essentially means making learning engaging by incorporating modern-day learning strategies while offering anytime anywhere access on mobile devices. For instance, you can opt for: 

Microlearning that offers bite-sized learning nuggets – ideal for time-pressed learners. Microlearning has to be developed keeping in mind performance-based learning objectives so that they offer targeted knowledge transfer. Though there are a variety of microlearning assets to choose from, we should ensure form follow function.

Microlearning Assets

Social learning to allow learning from and with others. Social learning doesn’t necessarily have to happen face-to-face. You can incorporate social learning elements in online learning. For instance, just like the interactions in a live classroom, the same can be emulated in online learning using social learning approaches via video conferencing tools. Discussion forums and chat rooms are another great way to facilitate social learning.

Offers Enhanced ROI

Nothing is worth it if your investment in eLearning doesn’t pay off at the end. With rapid, you are sure to gain enhanced ROI. How?

To reiterate, rapid eLearning enables the following that ensure greater returns.

  • Cuts the fluff by offering effective eLearning courses backed by robust instructional design and adult learning principles
  • Cuts down development time by almost 40% and sometimes even more.
  • Allows easy updates and changes.
  • Enables the quick development of responsive courses using rapid development tools.
  • Accelerates time to proficiency with quick rollout.

What Goes into Rapid eLearning Development?

At the outset, rapid eLearning development might seem simple; however, it takes expertise to make it to the finish line. For instance, robust instructional design, set communication channels, authoring tool expertise, quality assurance practices, pool of resources for easy scale up, and so on. Let’s find out what goes into a successful rapid eLearning project.

Preparation: Setting Clear, Realistic Goals

This is the most important (and unfortunately, the least focused) step in the rapid e-learning development process. You need to have a clear idea of what you intend to achieve with the training program. Proper planning plays a key role in the successful development of a good e-learning course in a short time frame.

Ask these 4 questions to get a good idea of what you need to do with the training program:

  • What do you expect learners to achieve after taking the training program?
  • How relevant is the training program to learners?
  • Is the training program going to use a single e-learning module or a curriculum which covers basic, intermediate, and advanced knowledge on a specific subject?
  • Do you need to evaluate learners’ comprehension of the subject?

Getting the Content Ready

Once you get answers to those four questions, you need to focus on getting the learning content ready. The rapid e-learning development methodology leverages existing classroom and other training materials in a big way, and in most cases, the content in these materials has gaps, and as a result, does not flow logically. 

In such cases, begin by picking resources needed to achieve the set learning objectives. For resources that need to be updated, the SME can quickly record an audio track to fill the gap. This saves ample time of the SME while providing updated content to the development team faster.

Collaborating with the SME

Since the SME is the primary source of information, one of the crucial things is to ensure smooth collaboration with the SME during the rapid eLearning development process. However, to state the obvious, SMEs are hard-pressed for time. So, how do you save SMEs’ time? Here’s how we do it!

Plan for curriculums and not standalone courses

This makes their role less demanding when it comes to involvement in the rapid eLearning project.

Planning for curriculums and not standalone courses

Opt for online reviews

The easiest way to cut down SME time for reviews is to send them an online Review Link. This comes in handy when there are multiple SMEs for the project since the complete feedback is collected in one place. It helps in providing in-context feedback, resolving contradictions, thus making implementation faster.

Roles and Responsibilities: Determining Who’s Going to Do What

To set the communication process, it’s important to designate roles and responsibilities at the onset of the project. Decide who will be:

  • Part of the review team
  • Responsible for tracking the review process
  • The decision-makers
  • Responsible for gathering feedback and resolving conflicts
  • In the quality check team

Authoring Tools for Rapid eLearning

Rapid eLearning courses are quickly developed using rapid authoring tools that do not require programming knowledge. Rapid authoring tools – either desktop or web-based – enable eLearning developers to create meaningful leaning experiences, quickly and effectively. From developing interactive modules and multimedia assets to making them mobile-compatible, rapid authoring tools make everything possible.  What are some of the popular eLearning authoring tools?

Authoring Tools

Can be used for……

Articulate Storyline 360 and Rise

Articulate 360 offers Storyline 360, Rise 360, and a range of other authoring apps. We like to call it the “Swiss army knife” of eLearning development that offers everything you need to churn out effective courses, rapidly.

Storyline 360 allows you to build impeccable interactive eLearning courses at an unprecedented rate. Courses can be made multi-device compatible with a single click. So, if you want courses with custom interactivities, opt for Storyline 360. 

Rise is a fully responsive web-based authoring tool and is part of Articulate 360. All one needs to get started is a web browser to create beautiful courses optimized for every screen size. Rise 360 is an ideal match for text-based courses which needs to be digitized.

 Adobe Captivate

Adobe Captivate 2019, is the go-to tool of you want a lot of simulations in your eLearning courses. This latest version of the tool has also made designing immersive learning experiences a reality. All you need is 360̊ images and videos to get started with virtual reality courses.

 Lectora Online

Lectora Online is a web-based authoring tool that also harnesses the power of the desktop-based authoring tool. It offers collaborative features that enable the creation and review of eLearning content anytime, anywhere.

Moreover, online review saves time by ending multiple cycles of feedback by offering everything at one place. If your courses are going to be text-heavy, Lectora makes for a perfect tool.

 iSpring Suite

iSpring Suite is one of the most popular authoring tools to convert PowerPoint decks to eLearning. The best advantage given by this tool is that it is integrated with PowerPoint and that makes it user-friendly and easy to use.

What are the benefits of using rapid authoring tools? Let’s find out!

Rapid authoring tools allow you to repurpose existing training resources. They enable you to deliver courses across different platforms and mobile devices. So, whether your learners access courses on mobile devices with various operating systems — such as Windows RT, Android, iOS — or modern-day browsers — such a Mozilla, Chrome — authoring tools offer output that runs seamless on every platform. Moreover, the fact that rapid authoring tools get updates based on the latest technology is another major reason you need not bother about keeping up with the latest eLearning trends.

Rapid authoring tools allow easy updates and scaling up. There might be instances in the future when you would want to update or change some elements of your eLearning course. In such cases, you can simply import the existing course in the rapid eLearning dashboard and make changes.

Tools also allow templates to be standardized and reused. Most eLearning authoring tools offer an array of pre-built themes, templates, and interfaces that can be tweaked as per your corporate branding and saved in an eLibrary. You can standardize templates for common screens and assessments.

Authoring tools also make eLearning translation easy and quick – with their options to export course content as XML files. Once the content is translated, it can be imported back into the tool, synced with audio, and published. Check this blog for insights on tools that can ease eLearning translation.

Hence, with rapid eLearning, you bid adieu to sluggish development process, extensive bills, and ever-stretching timelines. All without compromising on learner engagement! It’s your one-stop solution to keep up with the ever-changing business demands, and impart efficient and up to date training.

Why are RAPID AUTHORING TOOLS eLearning’s New Best Friends

Samples of Rapid eLearning Projects

Here’s how we developed a large repository of rapid eLearning courses to train the sales force of one of the world’s largest manufacturers of weighing instruments. Our Success Mantra was standardization, communication, and process adherence – by both parties.

Samples of Rapid eLearning Projects

Deliverables & Development Time

23+ Rapid eLearning courses

3432+ man hours

Team

1 Project Manager

2 Instructional Designers

2 Courseware Developers

1 Visual Designer

6 SMEs

1 Stakeholder