Crystal Balling With Learnnovators: The Future Of E-Learning With Eric Schuermann
Eric Schuermann is Director of Global Sales at Trivantis Corporation Inc. He has been serving the company for 14 years in various roles.
Trivantis is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, with offices in Paris, London, and Beijing. Trivantis’ products are used by companies in over 125 countries, and are offered in 6 languages. Its product suite includes Lectora - the world’s leading e-Learning software used by over 60% of the Global 2000 companies.
- Learnnovators: What according to you is the future of e-learning? How do you look at the interesting shifts happening in learning paradigms (such as social learning, flipped classroom, Bring-Your-Own-Device, etc.) fueled by the enormous possibilities thrown open by emerging technologies?Eric: The future of e-Learning is wide open! Learning doesn’t just happen during business hours in the office or in the classroom. It happens everywhere through a number of different channels. Emerging technologies like the Tin Can/Experience API and software like Lectora® Express LMS – the Easy LMS allow us to paint a more authentic picture of how and when learning is happening through greater tracking of learning, including social and informal learning. We are able to more truly capture the learning experience, which gives e-Learning developers and L&D experts the feedback they need to know what works and what doesn’t, and to continue to upgrade and enhance online training content to be as effective as possible. These new technologies and trends like gamification, interactive video, augmented reality and more, allow us to engage and captivate learners, offering an experience that is both useful and enjoyable.
- Learnnovators: What do you think is the future of rapid e-learning authoring tools? Where do you think the industry is moving? What according to you are the challenges ahead?Eric: There is clearly a need for a balance between power and ease of use when it comes to an e-Learning authoring tool. If you look at some of the recent research and surveys done by The eLearning Guild, users absolutely want to be able to do powerful things with their authoring tools. Lectora® Inspire is a great example. It’s an extremely powerful authoring tool with a lot of robust features, but we also made it quite easy to use with Version 11’s completely redesigned user interface. One of the biggest challenges for any authoring tool right now is keeping up with all the advances in the industry! From HTML5 to Tin Can/Experience API, there’s certainly some change and growth happening right now on the tech side of e-Learning. At Lectora, we are paying close attention to the advances and trends; our users trust Lectora to be at the forefront of the e-Learning industry, anticipating what tools they’ll need and providing those tools.
- Learnnovators: How do you think today’s rapid e-learning tools are aligned with the possibilities offered by Experience API? How will the tools evolve further to capitalize the real power of this standard?Eric: Tin Can/Experience API is a very new tool, and not all the e-Learning tools out there are equipped to support it. Lectora and CourseMill® LMS were both early adopters that supported Tin Can from the beginning. We recognized the incredible possibilities Tin Can offers for tracking and recording learning activity, which is why we adopted it right away. I think, as the demand for Tin Can and its benefits increases, we will see more and more tools start to support it and really take advantage of the possibilities it offers. The real power of the Tin Can API is that it captures a much wider range of learner experiences; it is going to be a key resource as the industry starts to harness the power of Big Data for e-Learning. With this new standard, we can truly see an authentic picture of a learner’s experience.
- Learnnovators: How do you think today’s rapid e-learning tools are equipped for ‘gamification’? How will they evolve further to reasonably satisfy this requirement?Eric: To create a good e-Learning game, you need an authoring tool that gives you numerous options for interactivity through actions and variables. Lectora Inspire allows you to create custom variables, whereas some other authoring tools only support a limited number of variable types. Creating your own custom variables gives you immense power, especially when you’re creating an e-Learning game. Gamification has been a very popular topic at our annual Lectora User Conference for the past few years, proving that those on the frontlines of e-Learning development believe in the potential of gamification and they are going to use Lectora to create e-Learning games for their learners.
- Learnnovators: How do you think today’s rapid e-learning tools are aligned to produce courses that are ‘Responsive’? How, according to you, will they evolve further in this regard?Eric: Just recently we’ve started to see more authoring tools with the ability to publish to HTML5, a necessity for creating responsive courses. Lectora has always published to HTML since it was introduced in 1999, and it was one of the first tools to support HTML5, so I’d say we’re a little ahead of the game. Responsive design is especially important with the increase in demand for mobile learning and just-in-time training, and I think we’ll continue to see authoring tools come up with ways to make it easier for e-Learning developers to create responsive courses. In addition to that, there is a need for better ways to manage mobile learning. Our latest product, Lectora® Mobile, provides a simple and secure solution for delivering and managing m-Learning.
- Learnnovators: How extensively do you think rapid e-learning tools presently support Accessibility requirements? How will they evolve further in this regard?Eric: I am proud to say that Lectora is universally regarded as the best tool on the market for accessibility and 508-compliance. With Lectora’s built-in Accessibility Checker and 508-Compliance Checker, you know before you publish your e-Learning course that everything is good to go! You can also use Lectora Version 11.3 to create titles that comply with the standards set in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 – Level AA.
- Learnnovators: In this age where most learning happens ‘informally’ (through on-the-job-learning and peer-learning), how well do you think current tools support informal learning?Eric: Informal learning hasn’t always gotten the respect it deserves, but I think that is changing. Some of the older tools aren’t as well equipped to support informal learning, however. That’s one reason we felt it was really important to develop our latest product, Lectora Express – The Easy LMS. This flexible learning management system is excellent for tracking both informal and formal learning. It also allows you to see both ratings and views on content, giving you a broader look at what content your learners find most interesting.
- Learnnovators: What are your views on video-based learning? What are Trivantis’ plans for Lectora to support the development of interactive-video based courses?Eric: Video-based training is an effective and clear way to demonstrate complicated processes or technologies to your learners. Lectora currently offers several options for incorporating video into an e-Learning course, such as embedding a YouTube video or using Camtasia within Lectora to create your own video. As far as our future plans go, well, we never reveal product features before they are released, so I’ll just have to say that Lectora is always listening to our customer’s wants and needs, and planning future updates to meet those needs.
- Learnnovators: Learning today happens across multiple devices, and there are many challenges that courseware developers face (such as device-relevant interaction models). What are Trivantis’ plans to address their concerns/requirements for designing ubiquitous learning (using Lectora)?Eric: Today’s multiple device landscape is a challenge for developers because they have to be worried not only about functionality, but also about design principles. Designing for a mobile course is much different than designing for a desktop course. HTML5 is often the solution to the functionality question, but an authoring tool that supports HTML5 is still needed. Lectora has always published to HTML, and was one of the first authoring tools to support HTML5. We make it very easy for our users to create fantastic e-Learning that works on many devices, without having to learn how to code for all those different devices. In addition, we have a great deal of resources, like iPad templates, on our website to help out with the visual design aspect of mobile learning.
- Learnnovators: Where do you see Lectora in the cloud computing scenario? What are the advantages of the cloud model?Eric: Several of our products take advantage of cloud computing, including Lectora Express – The Easy LMS and Lectora Online. Lectora Express is an online, on demand learning management system. There’s no lengthy installation and no hassles with this cloud-based LMS, plus it hosts everything for you. Your files are always there and always accessible—no matter where you are! Through Lectora® Online, an easy-to-use e-Learning authoring software that works in the cloud, our users can enjoy the benefits of cloud computing paired with the strength of Lectora. It’s easy to see from these two products that the advantages of cloud computing—for e-Learning especially—include the ability to streamline your work process, improve accessibility, monitor projects more efficiently and minimize software license costs. Another huge advantage is continuous availability—developers can access projects in the cloud from anywhere, at any time. Cloud computing is also operating-system-neutral. It can be accessed from any OS—even a Mac! All these factors make working in the cloud with Lectora Express and Lectora Online fantastic for collaborative e-Learning development.
- Learnnovators: How extensive is Lectora’s support for collaborative e-learning development (authoring, reviewing, etc.)?Eric: Lectora is at the forefront of collaborative e-Learning development and the only authoring tool on the market that includes a cloud-based reviewing and collaboration tool, ReviewLink. This tool enables you to share finished projects on the cloud and give feedback to colleagues on their projects. We also offer Lectora Online, a cloud-based e-Learning authoring tool ideally suited to collaborating. Developing e-Learning in the cloud with Lectora Online allows multiple team members to work on the same project and always have the most up-to-date version.
- Learnnovators: Today’s trend is to build a community engaged in constructive discussions around your product. How significant is this synergy in a tool development scenario? How do you think your community is driving/ will drive innovations in your products?Eric: The e-Learning community is fantastically enthusiastic and always willing to share their opinions! At Lectora, we have so many avenues to connect with our users, including our Community Forum, our LinkedIn group and other social networking sites, the annual Lectora User Conference and of course, through beta testing. We had a wonderful time working with users who helped beta test our newest product, Lectora Express LMS – the Easy LMS, and their feedback helped us enhance some features to really meet users’ needs. A tool is only as powerful as its user’s imagination, so it’s very important to us to listen to our users and find out what they want to accomplish using Lectora or any one of our other products. In addition, we support our users and offer them resources through Lectora University, a central hub of dynamic discussion and Lectora resources. Lectora University is home to webinars, whitepapers, blog posts and tutorials, video demos, how-to courses and so much more. And it’s all free to the Lectora community!
- Learnnovators: What according to you would make an ideal e-learning course?Eric: A successful e-Learning course has a clear, focused goal, which it fulfills through the appropriate use/balance of media and assessments that fully engage the learner to reach the goal. The best e-Learning course is the one that fulfills your needs by changing a workplace behavior or increasing a skill, irrespective of whether it has the most elaborate animations or just a simple, clean template.
- Learnnovators: What according to you would make an ideal rapid e-learning authoring tool?Eric: Power, ease-of-use and intuitive functionality. Your authoring tool needs to create the e-Learning content you envision, and not be one you’ll outgrow. The point of rapid e-Learning tools is to make it easier for people to sit down and create effective courses that deliver the content and e-Learning experience you envision—in the least amount of time and effort possible.
- Learnnovators: What would be your message to the learning community and the industry in this age of ‘learning’ driven by technologies that are ‘disruptive’ in nature?Eric: The Lectora family of products is constantly growing and updating to reflect the needs of our users and opportunities presented by advances in technology. I’m very excited with where the industry is going and the new possibilities we have for creating e-Learning tools and fantastic e-Learning content. Be ready for—and be open to—new technology! When we introduce new products and new features, we have our customers in mind to make creating and deploying eLearning content better, faster and more effective.Learnnovators: Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights and experiences, Eric. It was wonderful interacting with you. We wish you and your team at Trivantis Corporation the very best!
"Crystal Balling with Learnnovators" is a thought-provoking interview series that attempts to gaze into the future of e-learning. It comprises stimulating discussions with industry experts and product evangelists on emerging trends in the learning landscape. Join us on this exciting journey as we engage with thought leaders and learning innovators to see what the future of our industry looks like. For more interviews from this series, visit http://learnnovators.com/interviews/