The Composer of elearning Content – The Programmer

Icon of eLearning, e-learning, m-learning section of the Creative Agni eZine

Previous Posts in this series:

Weaving it together

The programmers bring it all together. They program the eLearning lessons and breathe life into them. Quite like the Graphic Designers, they use the storyboard as the baseline document and integrate the text, the audio, the graphics, the animations, and everything else, into a course that responds to the learner’s actions.  So when you go through an online course or a WBT, or for that matter, a web-site, and click those buttons expecting something to happen; you are witnessing the outcome of a programmer’s efforts.

Most elearning programmers are proficient in the use of different authoring tools and have strong programming skills. With the rapid growth of rapid authoring tools (check out this link for a list,) raw elearning content programming may be something may in future be considered only for high-end courses.

eLearning programmers are expected to be skilled in using ActionScript in Flash and Flex, for authoring. (While Authorware used to be the standard for WBT/CBT development in the distant past – Adobe stopped its development about 8 years ago. Another authoring tool used more for animation than for learning content is possibly moving the same way – primarily because of  Flash, which grew from a cute little animation software called FutureSplash in 1995, to becoming an holistic application that allowed graphic-creation, animation, and even authoring.)

Additionally, they should be good at HTML (which is more of a formatting language than a programming language) for the front end formatting and presentation, and have adequate knowledge of JavaScript. As is true for most technologies based skills, a good programmer learns continuously; keeps pace with the new technologies as well as the new versions of the existing technologies. Depending on the kind of projects their organization engages in, they also should understand and appreciate Learning Management Systems.

Personally, I think that programmers are always the first in the line of fire (because they are the last in the Development Life Cycle) and they are the most stressed lot of all – because they are always kept on their toes by the ever-changing moods of technology.

The Responsibilities of an eLearning Programmer

A programmer engages in the following activities ( the list isn’t necessarily in order, nor exhaustive.)

  • Integrates the different elements (on screen text and media) to create a functional course.
  • Programs the required learning interactions, as per the storyboard.
  • Ensures that the UI guidelines are followed through the course.
  • Recommend the best development technology to optimize the development time and cost for a course.
  • Integrate the courses into a specific LMS as required.
  • Suggest and recommend alternate, cost-effective learning interactions, from the programming viewpoint.
  • Create templates for enabling standardization in the programming process.

End Note:

It isn’t easy being an eLearning programmer.