Previous Posts in this series:
- The Anatomy of an eLearning Course
- The Creators of an eLearning Course
- An Enigma called the eLearning Project Manager
- The Mysterious Subject Matter Expert
- The Apparently Omnipotent Instructional Designer
- Instructional Design Reviewer – The Unsung Hero of eLearning Development
- The Language Editor – Ironing out the Wrinkles
- The Silent Magician – The eLearning Graphic Designer
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.)
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.
It isn’t easy being an eLearning programmer.