Rapid Authoring is just what the name suggests – a method to author content rapidly.
From this simple statement, we can deduce the following:
- If Rapid authoring means developing eLearning content rapidly or quickly, then there must be other “non-rapid” or slower ways of developing elearning content.
- In order to hasten the content creation process Rapid Authoring Tools must either automate or eliminate some of the processes that the “non-rapid” or traditional elearning development processes use.
- If Rapid authoring eliminates/automates processes, it should also be more cost-effective to develop.
The Traditional Process of eLearning Development…
Even the barebones structure of traditional eLearning development requires that the following professionals come together to create content:
- Instructional Designer (skilled in ID principles and language)
- Subject Matter Expert (expert in the subject area)
- Graphic Designer (skilled in visual design/interface design/graphic & audio/video capture and editing software)
- Programmer (skilled in programming and use of content authoring tools such as Animate (Flash,) Flex etc.)
However, in one clean stroke, rapid authoring truncates this list by clipping out the Graphic Designer and the Programmer. An experienced SME-ID combine can even make the traditional storyboarding skills redundant, for there is no need to write descriptions/instructions for the graphic designer and the programmer.
Vs. Rapid Authoring!
Obviously then, an organization that wishes to either repurpose its learning material or create new eLearning content can use a rapid authoring tool to reduce the size of its development team as well as rid itself of the need to buy an entire basket of software applications because a Rapid authoring tool is that handyman who doesn’t just provide the user with readymade graphics, animations, and other media elements; but also eliminates the need to program the interactive activities and navigation by providing readymade templates and an automated customizable navigation. It also makes it supremely easy to create demonstrations/simulations. A rapid authoring tool also greatly simplifies the creation of SCORM-conformant content and the plugging of the content in an LMS. Styles and Templates can be used to further enhance productivity.
Advantages of Rapid Authoring
As all these capabilities of Rapid Authoring Tools result in:
- Reduced employee cost.
- Reduced software cost.
- Faster development cycle.
- Anytime-anywhere development by nearly anyone who’s got a head for content.
- Standardization of look and feel.
This obviously would make us think of RATs as a kind of panacea that has only advantages but no disadvantages. Yet, to gain all these advantages, sacrifices must be made.
A Sweet Compromise
Instructional Design tells us that the most effective learning content is that which is tailored to the needs of our audience. Rapid authoring, by its very nature, reduces the effectiveness of learning content by constraining the creative element of content creation. And yet, in a tug-of-war between content effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, rapid authoring emerges a clear winner by supporting and enhancing cost-effectiveness.
In my opinion, lower Bloom Level (BL) trainings and courses can be developed using RATs with minimal loss of learning effectiveness. However, as we move toward BLs 4 and 5, where creative learning solutions must be presented to the learner for both learning guidance and practice, Rapid Authoring would eat into the learning effectiveness.
Rapid Authoring is here to stay and grow, for the following reasons.
- A major chunk of online learning focuses on BL2 and 3. For these levels, most rapid authoring tools provide sufficient possibilities.
- Desktop and laptop learning is being replaced/supplemented by mobile learning. Rapid Authoring tools, such as Adobe Captivate, allow responsive layouts and enable it to handle mobile events – thus, the creator doesn’t need two different teams – one for web-content and another for mobile content.
- Rapid authoring helps large organizations keep their sensitive data/trainings secure as they repurpose their corporate knowledge and present it in eLearning format, without incurring the cost of setting up big development teams in-house. The need to find and manage eLearning vendors is diminished as their own trainers can now create content using Rapid Authoring Tools.
It’s clear then, that Rapid elearning Authoring is a skill that the learning and training professionals of tomorrow will be expected to possess, and while boutique organizations engaged in creation of tailored content would still continue to flourish, most of the elearning/mlearning content that we’ll witness would have been developed using a Rapid Authoring tool. It is also important to remember that quite like any other learning material, the effectiveness of the rapidly authored content too was depend largely on the ID capability of its developer.
In fact, more than ever before, the quality of eLearning content would depend on an instructional designer. I’ll talk more about this in my next post. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of learning Rapid eLearning Development with Creative Agni, please visit the REDAC (Rapid eLearning Development with Adobe Captivate) course page.