eLearning Design and Development

Rapid eLearning Advantages and Disadvantages

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In this article, I'll share the basics of rapid eLearning, as well as some of its benefits and drawbacks that you may want to keep in mind if you're considering a rapid eLearning approach for your next eLearning course or deliverable.

The Major Rapid eLearning Advantages and Disadvantages

The term “rapid eLearning” appears in articles, blog posts, and e-guides all across the web. This is mainly because it offers a wide range of advantages for eLearning professionals in every educational niche. Despite the fact that rapid eLearning was first introduced in 2004 still many eLearning professionals are perplexed about its exact definition. In addition, many eLearning professionals still wonder how rapid eLearning can benefit their overall instructional design strategy.

What is Rapid eLearning?

Rapid eLearning describes eLearning courses that can be developed and implemented quickly. It also refers to eLearning courses or modules that allow learners’ to acquire new information or skill sets more rapidly. Generally the modules or eLearning courses can be completed in less than 60 minutes. The subject matter expert is typically the primary source of content in rapid eLearning approaches, while a user-friendly authoring tool is utilized to create the deliverable. The assessment and feedback tools typically only track basic functions and user data.

5 Major Rapid eLearning Advantages

  1. Quick Turnaround Times.
    Rapid eLearning is ideal for projects that have a tight deadline or for subject matters that need to be dispersed in a very short period of time. For example, if you need to create eLearning courses that deal with compliance policies, rapid eLearning would allow you to bring learners up to speed quickly and effectively. Topics that are relevant in the here-and-now, such a trends and exciting news or industry developments, are also ideally suited for this eLearning approach. Some rapid eLearning courses can take just a few hours to create, as opposed to traditional deliverables which can take weeks or months to be developed.
  2. Easier to Update and Maintain.
    Rapid eLearning deliverables can be updated quickly and conveniently, and easily maintained over time. Organizations that need to regularly update their learning materials in order to include new products or new policies, can make changes to the eLearning course with relative ease and even incorporate new technologies or multimedia elements that will benefit the learner. This is also ideal for situations that call for “moment of need” learning or training that may involve processes that are constantly being modified and fine tuned.
  3. Can be Accessed Anywhere, Anytime.
    Rapid eLearning courses feature smaller files, which means faster downloads. In turn, learners can access the modules anywhere and at anytime, even when they're pressed for time. Rapid eLearning courses aren't usually as complex as traditional eLearning courses. Therefore, even those who are on-the-go can have access to quick and convenient modules that offer invaluable information.
  4. More Cost Effective.
    In many rapid eLearning scenarios, you will only need two key professionals: a subject matter expert and an instructional designer. These two people will be the proverbial backbone of the project and will work together to produce the finished product. Rather than hiring a team of eLearning professionals, rapid eLearning gives organizations the opportunity to cut costs by enlisting the aid of just two knowledgeable and skilled freelancers.
  5. Digestible Modules Reduce Cognitive Overload.
    One of the most significant rapid eLearning benefits is that it reduces the likelihood of cognitive overload. Not only can organizations create eLearning courses that are most efficient and less time consuming, but more effective as well, especially when it comes to information that can be broken up into “bite sized” modules. This way, learners are not barraged with an abundance of information. In fact, information is carefully chosen so that it can be easily absorbed and retained.
3 Rapid eLearning Disadvantages
  1. Can Lead to Redundant or Dull eLearning Courses.
    Given that rapid eLearning courses typically use pre-made graphics and templates, the modules themselves can become a bit dull or redundant over time. For example, if an organization has an entire library consisting of rapid eLearning modules, the learners may become disinterested due to the overused graphics and images. However, if you are able to include fresh content and design elements into the rapid eLearning course this drawback can be avoided altogether.
  2. May Lack High Quality Content and Design.
    The main issue with rapid eLearning is that it can often be rushed. Rather than including high quality, well written content and images that are relevant and interesting, some designers might hastily integrate elements that simply don't offer any real value to the learners. As is the case with all eLearning projects, experience and skills are what make the difference. If talented and knowledgeable eLearning professionals are on the job, then you will have the ability to create top notch rapid eLearning courses and modules.
  3. Has the Potential to Decrease Learner Motivation and Engagement.
    If the rapid eLearning course lacks depth and doesn't offer any benefit for the learner, then this will ultimately lead to disengagement and an overall lack of motivation to learn. Learners simply won't be able to see how the information provided can be applied in the real world, nor how the content will offer them the chance to build upon their skill sets or knowledge base. As a result, they won't be active participants in the educational process. This is why it's crucial to hire experienced eLearning professionals for rapid eLearning projects, as they will know how to create meaningful learning experiences that are concise, informative, and highly engaging.

The bottom line is that, while there may be a number of rapid eLearning drawbacks to consider, a rapid eLearning plan that effectively utilizes authoring tools and focuses on the primary learning goals has a high likelihood of being successful. As is the case with all eLearning approaches, careful planning, research, and execution will give you the opportunity to create meaningful and high quality learning experiences for your learners.

Want to know more about how to integrate rapid eLearning into your development strategy? The 5 Rapid e-Learning Best Practices article features 5 rapid eLearning best practices that can help you to get the most out of your rapid eLearning tools.

Last but not least, would you be interested to know how Rapid eLearning Development provides additional value to an eLearning Project? At the How Rapid eLearning Development Provides Additional Value to an eLearning Project article I also will explain 3 important reasons to choose Rapid eLearning Development vs Traditional eLearning Development.