Leaping off the eLearning technology cliff without a parachute
I don’t know about you, but I love learning new stuff.
Especially when I can see an immediate application to my world.
This past six months, I’ve been on a HUGE learning curve, coming to terms with eLearning management systems and authoring tools. About six months before that, I decided I needed to reduce my travel – it was a family / health / sustainability / care-of-the-planet issue. Most of my business for clients is providing graphic facilitation or recording services – which means getting on the road with my tools and paper and going to where their event is. Or I hold training sessions to help others build their visual thinking and facilitation skills. That also means getting on the road.
So, I thought, ‘take it to the web’.
I do a lot of my own professional learning through platforms such as Udemy and the like. There is so much on offer. And I had started out my formal learning in this field of visual thinking (after doing and not knowing that others worked this way AND there was a name for it!) by doing Christina Merkley’s ‘Fundamentals of Interactive Graphics’ course and then Alphachimp University’s ‘That Creative Space’ course. All available to me here in Australia from some of the industry’s leaders via the web. What a great portal to knowledge!
I have been delivering my one-day course Essentials of Visual Thinking & Graphics Practice for a couple of years. I had the content and knew what kinds of questions emerge regularly, so I can capture and pre-empt that in the on-line course. Converting the content to on-line modules was pretty easy. Just required a bit of sorting, unpacking and repacking.
One of my early dilemmas was – What elearning platform do I use? I spent literally days, glued to my screen searching and reading reviews and product websites and where I could, testing platforms. I devised a (long) list of must-haves and nice-to-haves.
They went something like this:
must be fairly intuitive to set up (not going to spend $$$ on IT coding)
must have a visually appealing layout
must be easy to navigate for the participants
must be able to load video, PDF documents, presentations and other file formats
can’t be outrageously expensive (one platform quoted me $10K set up and another $4K per year licence – nice, but if sell each course at around $300 that would be a lotta moolah)
would be great if it was scaleable
needs to be able to link with e-commerce sites such as PayPal
would be great if I could customise the website to include my business name
But the problems start, trying to glean from the marketing spiel how any given product relates to these criteria. And sorting through the reviews from folk who might have completely different needs and criteria to mine.
The answer I arrived at was TalentLMS.com. I say that, but in truth it was the FIRST answer I arrived at. I spent January and February this year recording all the presentations and demonstrations for the course. The set up in TalentLMS followed. Small hiccough – I had to immediately upgrade my subscription because I couldn’t load the size of video I had produced in my demos. That was fine. The real problems emerged when I tried to integrate it into my website. In short, it was clunky | ugly.
So, skip forward, it’s Easter (mid-April) and I’m days from the Launch date and guess what?
I start again.
Yep, I start from scratch and rebuild the eLearning site.
My IT guru recommends looking at moodle. I did look at moodle as an option early on, but it seemed very geared to schools and universities. I don’t have a need for marking, assessment and progress reports. I just want to open a portal to the world with my content and manage access and after that, there’s not a lot else.
I realise in hindsight that my issue wasn’t getting the wrong eLearning platform…
My problem was that I was asking the wrong question to start with – not ‘what eLearning platform do I need?’ but ‘what customer management software do I need?’. Ultimately, that’s what I’m doing, more so than opening up an on-line university. I know that now.
At the end of six months buggy riding round the-eLearning-software-and-eCourse-design curve, I know that moodle is good enough for what I need now, but I may need a different beast if this trend in my business to develop and offer eCourses in the areas of visual thinking and facilitation are going to continue.
So, be careful what question you ask.
Makes me think of Scott Adams’ Dilbert cartoon when, at the end of a meeting, the boss asks ‘Are there any questions? Feel free to ask anything at all’ and Dilbert asks ‘If someone gives you a wedgie at the moment you die, will you have it for eternity?’ 🙂
They say asking the right question is everything to critical thinking. Sometimes, you don’t know that til you get the first answer!
Interested in learning more about visual thinking???
Want to explore an on-line course that will get you using ALL of your brain?