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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Rapid eLearning: The Secret to Evolving with the Speed of Business

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 — i.e., 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 presses on determining performance-based learning objectives that will help link the training with performance. A performance-based learning objective tells in specific and in 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 effective and successful eLearning course.

So, 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 would 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 — who hold domain knowledge — put the primary content in place, and removes 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 uses robust instructional strategies that provide effective courses, saving cost on unnecessary design.

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 authoring tools, and using online review link for reviews.

You need a rapid blend

Creating an efficient blend of classroom sessions with digital learning assets to accelerate 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 easy authoring tools that enable quick development. For others, rapid eLearning means sub-standard output. Let’s look at rapid eLearning closely to understand what is actually is.

Inputs for Rapid eLearning

Availability of existing reusable content is an integral factor that impacts whether you can complete a project rapidly. Content development or even filling the gaps for that matter will only add time to the process. So a rapid approach is only ideal when you have content that addresses the set learning objectives to get started with! But, what if the content is in different formats?

Whether the content is in the form of SOP, PDFs, eBooks, documents or ILT handouts, it is eligible for rapid eLearning – as long as it is conceptually complete and ready to go!

Raw Materials for Rapid eLearning

While the existing content is in place, it doesn’t mean that it can be directly dumped onto slides and publish using authoring tools. Right? Well, there’s a lot more!

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 expertise includes project management, graphic designing, authoring tools, quality assurance, and IT support who ensure you receive zero-error courses. Hence, anybody can do rapid if they have these necessary expertise as well as the experience to tackle ambiguities during the process.

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

Sound instructional design is the heart and soul of rapid eLearning. The essence is on designing courses that follow instructional design and adult learning principles. For instance:

  • Using learning objectives to show 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 for immediate transfer. This is unlike conventional eLearning which uses fancy design strategies that were time-consuming and added little to effective learning.

However, just because rapid assures less development time than the conventional, it does not imply existing content is pasted on slides and published using authoring tools. Instructional designers put great amount of efforts to make memorable learning experience.

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

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. For instance, clarifying doubts at the initial stage of the project, using online review tools to reduce review time, and so on.

In a nutshell, the success of the project heavily relies on 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 It’s all Yes, 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 be able to spare some 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 the vendor?

Why Should you Opt for Rapid eLearning Development?

While we are clearly smitten by rapid eLearning, are you impatient to know “why”? Let’s clear the air!  Here are 4 of the many benefits of rapid eLearning development.

Better Costing and Faster Turnaround

To state the obvious, creating rapid eLearning takes less time and hence costs lesser than conventional eLearning courses. However, what makes rapid eLearning ‘rapid’? Here are some of 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 authoring 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, 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 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, being stagnant in training approaches can make you lose the race. Especially 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 Social learning doesn’t necessarily have to happen face-to-face. You can incorporate social learning elements in online learning as well. 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 authoring tools.
  • Accelerates time to proficiency with quick rollouts.

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 web-based 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 the four questions listed above, 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 case, 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 most crucial things is to ensure smooth collaboration with the SME during the 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!

Planning for curriculums and not standalone courses:

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

Planning for curriculums and not standalone courses

Opting 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 in place, it’s important to designate roles and responsibilities at the onset of the project.

  • Who will be part of the review team?
  • Who will be responsible for tracking the review process?
  • Who will be the decision-makers?
  • Who will be responsible for gathering feedback and resolving conflicts?
  • Who will be 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. However, conventional courses developed using Flash required extensive coding, hence additional time. Rapid authoring tools – either desktop or web-based – enable eLearning developers to create meaningful leaning experiences, quickly and effectively. From interactive modules, 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 and implementation 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!

Allows you to repurpose existing training resources. For instance, let’s say you have videos and you want to make them interactive. Rather than redesigning from scratch, you can simply modify the existing one using a rapid authoring tool. In this case, knowledge check questions or additional information slides can be added as overlays at specific points on the existing video. There are even options to play multiple overlay slides one after the other at the same point on the video.

Enables you to deliver courses across different platforms and mobile devices. Modern learners want information anywhere, anytime, and rapid eLearning authoring tools make this possible. So, whether your learners access courses on mobile devices with 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 update and upscale. 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. This is completely unlike developing or updating courses without using rapid authoring tools, which would involve complete revamping or redesigning.

Allows standardizing and reusing templates. One of the many drivers of rapid eLearning is to standardize templates, reuse elements, and develop a common user interface. It’s all about optimally utilizing good development to save on cost and time.

Most eLearning authoring tools offer an array of pre-built eLearning themes, templates, and interfaces that can be tweaked as per your corporate branding and saved in the eLibrary. Hence, creating eLearning courses becomes faster and easy, particularly for course developers who are starting to learn the ropes. Although HTML5 coding can be extraneous, authoring tools offer pre-built components that enable quick multimedia creation. The reduction in development time allows you to stick to your  project schedule since there is no need to deal with complicated design process delaying the deadline.

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

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.  (In the form of an infographic)

Rapid eLearning for Sales Training