Rapid eLearning Design And Development: A Watered Down Version Of ADDIE?

Rapid eLearning Design And Development: A Watered Down Version Of ADDIE?
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Summary: This article clarifies some of the myths surrounding rapid eLearning Design and Development. You can also find out what rapid eLearning can offer to organizations.

Discussing Rapid eLearning Design And Development

As training managers, you often find yourselves thinking of quick solutions to address rapidly changing training needs in business processes, product training, software applications, compliance updates and so on, with almost impossible timelines and tight budgets. I’m sure you must have heard of the rapid eLearning design and development process that turns out eLearning courses in ~30% of the time taken by traditional processes such as ADDIE and costs much less.

But some of you may also have apprehensions that there may be no Instructional Design treatment (or very little of it), and a rapid eLearning course may look like a PowerPoint deck published by an authoring tool. Before we take a deep dive, let’s see what we mean by rapid eLearning design and development.

It is a process of creating eLearning courses at a rapid pace using a reengineered Instructional Design process and authoring tools for production. For example, a PowerPoint deck used in classroom training could be converted to eLearning quickly by subjecting the content to basic Instructional Design principles, such as adding interactivities, assessments, visual elements, and a final quiz, and then quickly converting the course into the HTML5 format using Articulate Storyline.

So, the question is, does rapid eLearning design and development mean we compromise on the Instructional Design, which is so essential for learning to take place, especially, if it is self-paced? Actually, the answer is a big "NO".

Rapid eLearning design and development cuts the frills, the bells and whistles; so to speak of Instructional Design and media usage (such as unnecessary interactivities, multimedia animations, verbatim audio, and the like), without compromising on the fundamentals of ID (like making sure the course is based on performance-based learning objectives and has adequate interactions, formative assessments, a final quiz and also making sure that the objectives, content, and summative assessment are perfectly aligned) is useless.

Some more questions about rapid eLearning design and development that come up are:

1. Is Quality Compromised?

Many of us are under the impression that since rapid eLearning development cuts cost and development time, it certainly compromises on quality. This is just not true! If there is a need to enhance the content with media elements, a rapid eLearning method does not hesitate to do what is needed.

Here’s an example: One of our customers, a telecom major wanted its legacy courses created in Flash and old versions of authoring tools converted into more contemporary HTML5 responsive eLearning courses that can then be accessed on mobile devices. A simple republishing was not enough to recreate Flash interactivities in the new courses. We recreated the interactivities using Lectora Online and recreated the Flash Interactivities (well, almost) in the new courses. Just to say, the rapid method does enhance a course graphically if it helps in learning.

2. Is There No Scope For Creativity?

Sure, rapid eLearning development makes use of authoring tools that can be used to quickly build your eLearning course. But this doesn’t mean creativity is sacrificed. Creativity does not refer to the addition of bells and whistles to your online training program as this does nothing to enhance the learning process.

eLearning authoring tools offer enough scope to design interactivities, add interesting assessments and also integrate video, audio, and animations that make learning interesting.

3. Uses Limited Set Of Templates Repeatedly?

Templates are used in rapid eLearning development as they speed up the development process, and saving time means saving money. These templates, however, do not have to be repetitive and look the same across all courses.

Starting with the GUI, displaying the learning objectives, the text, and graphics right down to the creative formative and summative assessments used in the course, templates can be customized. In fact, templates in rapid eLearning development can actually help in branding the course to the unique styles guides of various organizations.

4. Is Rapid eLearning So Easy-Peasy That Anyone Can Do It?

Just because it’s rapid, it doesn’t mean that anyone can develop a rapid eLearning course. For example, your SMEs may be rearing to do it themselves with an authoring tool, and why not? They are the Subject Matter Experts and probably have delivered the training in a classroom. So if it is so easy, why not allow them to do it?

They can, if they understand the adult learning principles and are well versed with Instructional Design principles. And they also need to be at an expert level in using authoring tools. A tall order. They are Subject Matter Experts, not learning experts. If you do not have an in-house Instructional Design and development team, it makes sense to outsource.

I hope we are now convinced that rapid eLearning design and development is a different method to produce eLearning quickly, not a watered down, cutting the corners version of the traditional methods.

Rapid eLearning design and development is most appropriate to use when:

  1. Quick Turnaround And Scaling Up Of eLearning Is Expected
    When you need to train employees across various locations, rapid eLearning makes perfect sense. For example, if you want all employees across the world to complete a mandatory, compliance program before a statutory audit, rapid eLearning design and development is the answer.
  2. Frequent Updates Required In Training Content
    If you are in an industry that witnesses dynamic changes in legal statues, technology, or competition, what was relevant yesterday may no longer be relevant a couple of months later. Rapid eLearning method is designed to specifically tackle such eventualities. A customer of ours wanted a rapid eLearning course developed to train employees on the preventive measures against Ebola virus. It is a case of short shelf-life and rapid eLearning development proved to be the right solution.
  3. Tight Budgets Without Compromising Learning Efficacy
    The success of an online training program does not depend on the frills and fancies it showcases. Adding complex animations or high-end graphics just to make the course "highly engaging and visually rich", when it adds nothing to make the learner learn better or faster, is a waste of your money. The real value of training is when it makes a significant change in the performance of your employees. Rapid eLearning can be used to increase the effectiveness of training.

When you are looking for online training programs minus the frills, but are yet very effective, you can rely on rapid eLearning development to provide value for your investment.