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  • 8/4/2019 Adobe Nielsen Rapid Elearning


    In a 2003 survey of Fortune 500 compa-nies more than 80 percent of respondentsindicated that rapid e-learning wouldsoon make a significant contribution totraining efforts in their organizations.

    And while many of these early adoptersfound success in rapid e-learning initia-tives, overreaching aspirations of bothusers and technology providers led someto disappointment.

    Since that time, two importantadjustments have occurred in the rapide-learning space:1. Organizations have better pinpointed

    appropriate applications for rapide-learning

    2. Rapid e-learning technologies havematured, broadening the scope ofpossible training applications

    These adjustments from both sides

    of the rapid e-learning equation havebrought the learning category intosharper focus and have aligned organiza-tional goals with very promising, low-cost, rapid e-learning opportunities.Learning professionals who have dis-counted the effectiveness of rapid e-learning in the past would do well totake a second lookits likely that theiremployers and clients already have.

    Rapid vs. Traditional

    According to The eLearning Guilds2006 Rapid e-Learning DevelopmentResearch Report, demand for rapid e-learning solutions has increased from 70percent in 2005 to a whopping 82 per-cent among the companies surveyed forthe report. And its easy to see why.Recent industry estimates put traditionale-learning development costs anywherefrom $5,000 to $50,000 per hour oflearning. Much of this cost is due to thenumber of job functions required todevelop customized programming forsuch courses.

    In a traditional e-learning format, sub-ject matter experts submit content toinstructional designers who take theinformation and design a structuredlearning environment around it. The

    instructional designer then passes thedesign to a programmer/developer whocreates customized coding to execute onthe design of the course. Finally, the pro-gram code is reviewed and tested by aquality assurance team, design and cod-ing problems are corrected, and thetraining is launched. The process, fromstart to finish, often requires months tocomplete (see Figure 1 on next page).

    By Elizabeth WestEditorial Director, Custom Publishing,Nielsen Performance Group

    Rapid E-Learning:Maturing Technology Brings

    Balance and Possibilities

    Whitepaper 2007


    Produced by The Nielsen Performance Group

    Brought to you by

    Rapid e-Learningat a Glance Can be developed

    in 21 days or less

    Doesn't require

    specialist knowledge

    and skills or third-

    party support

    Can use subject

    matter experts to

    author directly

    Requires a low level

    of investment to create

    May have a short


    May involve an ele-ment of virtual class-

    room delivery or be

    completely standalone

  • 8/4/2019 Adobe Nielsen Rapid Elearning


    The challenge of this type of e-learning development is clear to anybusiness in need of time- and cost-sensitivelearning materials. As speed-to-marketpressures increase and product life-cyclesactually decrease in the marketplace, theability to train sales staff, call centeremployees, customer service representatives,new hires, or any number of workersquickly and efficiently becomes paramountto a companys ability to compete. A surveyof training and HR managers conducted inSpring 2005 indicated that 72 percent oftheir training projects had to be completed

    in fewer than 90 days in order to be timely(Bersin 2005). A 2004 study by thesame researcher showed that 89 percentof companies need to develop some por-tion of their e-learning solutions withinthree weeks.

    Rapid e-learning addresses both timeand cost issues by using technology toolsto shift the dynamics of e-learning devel-opment. Rather than requiring monthsto develop learning materials, rapid e-learning typically takes weeks.

    Empowered with turnkey tools, such

    as Acrobat Connect Professional, AdobePresenter, and Adobe Captivate 2.0,subject matter experts (SME) are able toinput content, add audio tracks, andpublish e-learning courses by followingsimple steps and using common officesoftware, such as Microsoft PowerPoint,

    Word, and Excel. In the rapid e-learningmodel, instructional designers functionin a review or directorial role, assistingSMEs with structuring content to meet

    learning objectives. The programmingrequirement is virtually eliminated, buttesting the program is still a best prac-tice. The upside of the testing process isthat edits and corrections are far easier tomake since complicated coding is out ofthe picture.

    Industry Perceptions

    While the basic concept of faster andcheaper is unchallenged when compar-ing rapid e-learning to traditional e-learning, industry experts have been hardpressed to come to a consensus on a

    more precise definition that aligns rapide-learning with specific training prob-lems. The challenge to define the role ofrapid e-learning stems, on the one hand,from the perceived functionality of rapide-learning technology and, on the other,its continuous evolution that creates newpossibilities in the rapid e-learning space.

    See Figure 2 (above right) for a briefexplanation of Blooms Taxonomy andhow it translates to instructional strategies.Learning professionals agree that rapide-learning is an ideal application for Delta

    learning activities that promote awarenessand recall of information.Awareness.Awareness activities caninclude prerequisite information for morein-depth courses, updates in policy, compli-ance information, product pricing changes,and other organization-specific informationthat must be broadcast to employees andstakeholders. To accomplish this objective,rapid e-learning tools enable SMEs to cre-ate standards-compliant presentations and


    Whitepaper 2007










    Training Managerongoing

    Instructional Designer1 Week

    Subject Matter Expert2 Weeks

    IT1-2 Weeks

    Developer4 Weeks

    Artist Editor2 Weeks

    Figure 1. Traditional e-Learning Development CycleSource: Bersin & Associates

    As product life-cycles

    decrease and speed-to-

    market pressures

    increase, the ability to

    train workers quickly

    and efficiently becomes

    paramount to a compa-

    nys ability to compete

    in the marketplace.

    Traditional e-learning development

    typically requires 10 to 15 weeks and

    the significant financial investment that

    accompanies custom programming needs.

  • 8/4/2019 Adobe Nielsen Rapid Elearning


    e-learning material in PowerPoint, com-

    plete with voice-overs, videos, and anima-tions. Leveraging their existing familiarity

    with PowerPoint, SMEs can create person-alized, narrated, on-demand presentations,or they can take advantage of imbeddedtemplates and wizards within the e-learningtoolset to guide them through the process.Recall. For training problems thatrequire recall of information, rapid e-learning tools offer additional capabili-ties. Beyond providing self-paced materi-als, trainers can conduct live virtualclassrooms and meet instantly with col-

    leagues or learners to share real-timeinformation from presentations, applica-tions, and multimedia content. Rapid e-learning tools also provide assessmenttools, such as quizzes and simple tests,that can be used in both self-paced andclassroom formats to ensure learnersabsorb the information.Application and Mastery. For moreadvanced learning activities for whichthe objective is successful application ofinformation and mastery of concepts,training professionals debate the efficacyof rapid e-learning. The challenge hasbeen twofold.1. Content developer. By design, the pri-

    mary content creation for rapid e-learning is performed by SMEs. Ingeneral, SME-generated content con-centrates on the informational level oflearning, not on the application ormastery level.

    2. Tools. The rapid e-learning tools them-

    selves have not been robust enough to

    achieve turnkey development of high-er-level learning objectives.

    Technology Evolves

    As rapid e-learning technologies evolve,however, both of these aspects of the cat-egory are changing. Rapid e-learningtools now incorporate much moreadvanced capabilities to engage learnersand develop skills, and the best tools

    retain the production simplicity that

    originally coined them as rapid. Manyof these improvements surround simula-tion and demonstration that are the call-ing card of traditional e-learning courses.Simulation tools. The rapid e-learningspace is garnering more simulation capa-bility in several areas, such as softwaresimulation, soft skills learning, and busi-ness skills development. Using advancedalgorithms, todays tools can calculate


    Whitepaper 2007

    Figure 2: Blooms Taxonomy & Instructional StrategySource: Bersin & Associates

    Category Example Instructional Strategies

    Awareness There is a new pricing Read, listen

    model being announced,

    and here it is

    Recall Learn to tell you customers Read, listen, discuss, and answer

    about our new pricing model multiple-choice questions

    Application Learn how to apply the Read, listen, discuss, case study

    multifaceted pricing models or simulation-based practice

    to you customers situations

    Mastery Become a recognized pricing Application-level strategies, plus

    expert in the regional sales office, practical experiences and testing

    with authority to give discounts

    Value traditional roles. Do not

    expect rapid e-learning tools to

    transform SMEs into instruc-


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