Re: AuthorIt?

Subject: Re: AuthorIt?
From: "ROGERS, MARTHA (CONTRACTOR)" <MARTHA -dot- ROGERS -at- DFAS -dot- MIL>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 12:12:08 -0600

Brad Jensen wrote:
<with snips here and there>
<. . .I have a simple elearning system, with a programmable elearning authoring
<tool. I've been thinking it would be nice to let people convert
<tutorials, etc., into elearning courses with a pushbotton. (You
<will have to add questions and answers, of course, and a course
<title and description.)
<. . .I know there are people who will tell you you have to write
<elearning content from scratch, and do flash, and hire multimedia
<experts. They are the same guys who are running out of venture
<capital right about now. . .
<They need to know if they understand the important points of the
<information that you have presented them with. c) multiple
<choice is fine, as long as they need to think to get the right
<answer.
<What they need most of all is lots of content, in byte-sized
<chunks, created at extremely low cost, and delivered as
<self-paced courses.
<I guess I don't have to tell the people on this list that it is
<the quality of the writing that makes the most difference in
<elearning. It's not learning styles, or multimedia, or
<instructional design.

Brad:

A "multiple choice is fine" approach is true in some cases; for example, if you want to develop an online course but haven't done one before, don't have to consider the satisfaction level of users who may compare the quality (production values) of your course with others they have taken, are providing instruction for a verbal rather than visual subject matter, don't have a lot of time and the resulting product supports "demonstrates knowledge of" versus "demonstrates the ability to" types of objectives. A drill-and-practice design has its place.

I stumbled into online training development in its dark ages. From reading your post, I got the odd feeling that e-learning (known as computer-assisted instruction [CAI] many moons ago) products have come full circle. Early CAI efforts were labeled "electronic page turners." Show a few screens of content, then ask some true/false or multi-choice questions, then give 'em more content/questions, etc. As simple as these early products were, they required the skills of a programmer writing in BASIC, Pascal or another computer language. As the popularity of technology-based training grew, authoring languages, and then authoring systems, emerged so non-programmer types could develop online courseware. As the authoring systems matured, it became easier to incorporate more complexity and customization into the courses. Naturally, these systems became more difficult to learn to use. And now here we are, with course development software most anyone can use but with page-turner-!
like results. If I took a computer-based training course that consisted of a series of read this-then-answer-questions frames, I'd have to wonder why the developer didn't do a printed training guide instead. Wouldn't it would be faster to develop, easier to distribute, more convenient to use and simpler to update. And, of course, it would be self-paced. (Isn't all non-classroom training self-paced?)

As with any other form of documentation or training, the development tool you choose depends on lots of factors. There is a place for simple development tools, just as there is a place for more robust tools like AuthorIt. I know of no silver bullet for online training development.

Martha

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