All the kids are back in school now, and many parents are breathing a sigh of relief, not because they’re finally getting a little time to themselves again (well, that doesn’t hurt) but because their kids are back to learning again, and in the process is the hope that their minds are becoming sharper.
eLearning designers and developers are always seeking the Next Big Update in hopes that they will be able to create even better instructional design approaches. Most tools continue to improve over time until they pass that line into becoming overly complex or bloated, and then they typically die. However, many vendors have learned from the mistakes of the past and are now being more careful about simply adding a feature without ensuring that it is integrated correctly.
One reason for this is that there has been a big change in how tools are being delivered for you to use. The eLearning tools landscape continues to have a handful of PowerPoint add-ins and a few dozen applications that you download and install on your computer, but there has been an explosion of tools that are starting and staying in the cloud, meaning that you install nothing on your hard drive and you are working directly in your browser to create your lessons. It’s a bit ironic considering how cheap hard drive space has become.
The software cycle is changing
This has led to a very big difference in how authoring tools are updated. There are fewer tools that publish a new version for you to download and install once every six to 12 to 18 months. The new versions of these tools typically include many new features—some big, some small—and those features take some time to learn. The learning of a tool’s features, in other words, happens in concentrated spurts: a big spurt initially when first learning the tool, then other sizable spurts each time the tool is updated.
It’s different in the cloud. Rather than performing major updates with lots of new features, with those updates occurring many months apart, in the cloud the tools can be updated incrementally in short sprints of two to four weeks. This means that each time you log in to the tool website, you may be getting a slightly better version. Of course, those small increments add up quickly over time, so the end result is that you still have a much better tool after a few months, but you don’t have to wait and then learn those new features all at the same time. You can, rather, be learning something new a little at a time as features are introduced.
Think of how similar this is to how we have created eLearning over the years. We used to deliver eLearning to our clients on CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs, much like we have been receiving tool updates. However, once we started to post our eLearning courses on the web, we could update them whenever we made improvements, even if the improvement was minor. It costs little to replace an authoring tool’s files on a web server, just as it doesn’t cost much to make some improvements to your learning and upload the new files, versus having to make copies of a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM and send it out to every student.
Besides new tools that start out in the cloud, we see evidence that popular tools that we have been installing on our computers are now moving to the cloud as well. Trivantis, for instance, has had a lot of success with the installed version of Lectora, starting in 2009. Since then, the online version and the installed versions have almost become carbon copies of each other. This is especially true in Lectora 16 (installed) and Lectora Online 3. Expect much the same from other tool vendors in the future.
Congratulations to Harbinger! Harbinger makes Raptivity, among other great tools, and it’s now celebrating its 10th anniversary. If you’ve considered Raptivity before but thought it was too expensive, check it out now. They’ve lowered their prices a lot!
Harbinger also marks a second milestone. Harbinger has released a Mac version of Raptivity for the first time in its history! This version contains 10 of Raptivity’s interactions, and the annual license retails for $99.
If you haven’t checked out Harbinger’s Linker tool, you just might want to do so, considering how useful it is to link together multiple interactions, slides, and media assets. Linker is for Windows only.
iSpring recently released version 8.3 of its popular Microsoft add-in authoring tool. Though a dot release, some nice new features were added:
- The Conversation Simulation tool allows you to create interactive case scenario conversations.
- Another cool feature is a new screen recorder, using the built-in iSpring Cam.
- A new 50/50 Video Lecture Player lets you create nicely formatted and customized video lectures.
- iSpring also now includes an audio and video editor.
- Quizzing now has an updated editor and better customizations of feedbacks. You can also now add narration audio to quiz questions and to feedbacks.
Joe is presenting at DevLearn!
- Session 412 (Thursday, November 17, 10:45a –
11:45a): New Technologies That Will Change Your Learning Strategies
You are always striving to ensure the learner is learning in the best possible way, aren’t you? Sometimes technology introduces a new way of interacting that really takes learning to a new level. Explore some of these technologies and their possibilities for learning.
This session will explore the changing landscape of learning technology. You will learn how wearable technology could enhance the learning experience and how tools like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard are opening eyes to the possibilities of virtual reality. You’ll examine which technologies will soon help learners really leap ahead in incorporating new skills. It’s not just about avant-garde, bleeding-edge technology; you’ll look at technologies that cost nothing at all that can take learners to the next level!
- Session 815 (Friday, November 18, 10:00a –
11:00a): BYOL: Create the Best eLearning Using Adobe Captivate
When you want to implement your best instructional designs to help your learners in the best ways possible, you may often find yourself limited by the tool you use or a lack of understanding of the tool’s features. The result? eLearning that is less than stellar, bores the learner, and results in few productivity gains. Often, designers are led to believe that’s the best they can do.
In this hands-on session, you will build a short lesson one step at a time and see how easy it is to turn a “blah” lesson into a really interesting experience for the learner, ensuring better learning results. The published lesson will work on desktop and mobile devices. You can then take the lesson back to your office and reuse as you wish.
You must bring your own laptop (BYOL) with your own copy of Adobe Captivate loaded to obtain maximum benefit from this session.