We want eLearning – now what? Part 3 – The applications

This is the third of a six part series on how to implement eLearning.

When you have a picture of your organisation’s requirements, it’s time to get to know the eLearning technology. You need to know something about the applications and their cost before you can establish the business case. The important thing to always remember though is – know your business needs before you select the application.

eLearning applications generally belong to one of two categories:

  1. Authoring applications – to create the eLearning content
  2. Learning or course management systems – to manage the recording, reporting and monitoring

How do I find out about them?

I recommend you read two documents before looking at any applications

Choosing authoring tools http://www.adlnet.gov/resources/choosing-authoring-tools?type=research_paper

Choosing a learning management system

http://www.adlnet.gov/resources/choosing-an-lms-white-paper?type=research_paper

These documents are written and updated by Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL). ADL is responsible for the SCORM standards that support the inter-operability of eLearning applications. The documents are written in everyday language, explain terminology and are well structured.

Where do I find them?

There are hundreds of authoring applications and learning management systems. The documents described above include a short list of eLearning applications but with a bias to the American market.

I find the Directory of Learning & Performance Tools (http://c4lpt.co.uk/directory-of-learning-performance-tools/) to be a useful site to identify applications.

If you are on a low budget, consider using PowerPoint to create eLearning. We created 3 online induction modules for an organisation using PowerPoint. The number of employees required to complete the training was only 60. Electronic recording was not needed because it was integrated on-the-job coaching and instructor led training. They also wanted the eLearning in software to which they had access for future updating. You can see a good example of using PowerPoint to create eLearning at http://www.cpms.osd.mil/expeditionary/training/supervisor-orientation/

The scale and cost of the applications is dependent on your requirements. For authoring, you can buy inexpensive applications that convert PowerPoint to Flash or applications that cost a few thousand dollars and require specialist training. Learning management systems also vary enormously in cost. The costs are usually a license fee, a configuration or implementation fee and then a support contract. They can range from open source software with no license fee to $500,000l a year. When a license fee is required, it often depends on the number of people listed as registered users. Many systems, therefore, may only be a few thousand dollars each year.

In my experience, though, the applications are never as easy and simple to use as what the vendors say and you will always need time to upskill.

Expertise and skills will be the topic of my next blog – We want eLearning – now what? Part 4.

– Bronte

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