Is the recent popularity of rapid learning just a passing trend, another sign of the urgency of the COVID era? Or has rapid learning managed to carve out a permanent niche for itself in the learning solutions market? Time for a deep-dive into this rising phenomenon and its benefits.
When Speed Is Of The Essence…
There’s an obvious comparison to be made between the concepts of fast food and rapid eLearning courses. Of course instead of “30 minutes or less,” the delivery timeline looks more like “3 weeks or less.” Just 3 weeks to design, develop, deploy and manage an entire eLearning course. Just like fast food, rapid learning was born out of a modern necessity. According to a 2017 survey, 71 development hours are required on average for 1 hour of eLearning material. But the rapid learning development approach shows a 40% reduction of those man-hours.
It’s said that the process of learning should not be rushed or seen as a race to the finish line. But the same cannot be said of the process of learning content development. Can speedy development really be achieved without sacrificing quality and consistency? Should rapid learning always be seen only as a last resort option?
A Savior In The COVID-19 Era
From essential PPE training for healthcare workers to workplace social distancing rules, COVID-19 has created uniquely urgent training needs. These needs call for a burst of quick, high-impact learning solutions, all of which need to be rapidly developed. Along with essential workers, the entire corporate sector was also affected, in the form of Work From Home (WFH) restrictions. Thus, remote training became the need of the hour all over the world. There was an urgent need for upskilling during the early days of the pandemic.
Most rapid learning providers were able to adapt to this need and deliver heaps of new training material on a crunched timescale, without missing a step. But the demands of professional training rose and are still on the rise, with WFH still mostly in effect, in 2021. As a result, everyone has now come to expect an even quicker turnaround when it comes to eLearning courses. Automation goes a long way in reducing time, but what’s really needed is a streamlining of the entire development process.
Who Needs Rapid eLearning Development And Why?
Let’s set aside the COVID-related popularity of rapid learning. The answer to this next question will help us predict whether rapid learning will continue to command a lion’s share of the learning solutions market after the pandemic ends: Was rapid learning already on the rise even before the pandemic came along? In a word: Yes.
Other common applications of rapid learning include:
- Sharing of organizational knowledge (knowledge management for SMBs as well as large businesses)
- Time-sensitive training content with a short shelf-life
- Training content that may require quick updates, post-deployment
- Compliance and sales training content
- Projects with tight deadlines or tight L&D budgets
- Training content that has a simple curriculum
- Customer education that needs to be rolled out alongside new products or software updates
- HR policy updates that need to be communicated immediately
Microlearning Nuggets And Rapid Learning: A Match Made In Heaven
There’s a major difference between the concepts of fast food and rapid learning: rapid learning content can actually be very good for the learner, whereas fast food is usually unhealthy. Our digital era has shortened the average person’s attention span and text-heavy content has fallen out of fashion. So, to capture the learner’s wandering attention, you need to keep your content short and sweet. Microlearning nuggets are bite-sized chunks of compact information that have been scientifically proven to be easier for the modern learner to digest and retain.
So it’s easy to see why rapid learning fits the teaching model of microlearning like a glove. Within the time constraints of rapid learning, you can easily churn out mini-modules that save the learner’s time, save your development time, and get the job done more efficiently!
Key Benefits Of Rapid Learning
- Lower labor costs
- Ability to respond to your learners’ needs in real time with easy course updates
- Shorter training time
- Ideal for on-the-go mobile learners
Potential Drawbacks Of Rapid Learning
The nature of rapid learning content is such that it works best when it is designed to cater to the most basic training needs. So if you decide to go with rapid learning, you should not use it to teach complex subjects.
Some companies entrust their Instructional Designers to make use of the simplest rapid authoring tools to quickly develop courses, without using a team of developers. These sorts of courses may be instructionally sound, but the downside is that such content is limited to a very basic level of simplicity. Such “do-it-yourself” rapid learning authoring tools are restricted to built-in templates and have very low interactivity levels. And this cheap approach can lead to hastily developed courses that lack the all-important professional vibe. This type of generic content lacks polish and is usually text-heavy. It’s basically a fancy PowerPoint PPT presentation with a voice-over added.
How To Avoid These Potential Pitfalls Of Rapid Learning
The right thing to do is to reach out to rapid development teams that are well-versed in all the relevant rapid authoring tools and have settled on using the best ones after exploring, trying, and testing them all out. The key is to maximize interactivity within budget limitations and you’ll need a good team of experienced developers for that. There is a difference between cheap and affordable!
The Tools And Tricks Of This Trade
Recent advances in learning tech are helping developers to automate more and more tasks. This has reduced the need for coding and opened up exciting customization possibilities that were once absent from rapid learning content. Most rapid learning content is at the bare minimum (L1) level of interactivity. But you can always spruce it up and infuse it with media-rich visuals and graphics.
You should try to avoid using PowerPoint Add-ins like iSpring Suite, Office Mix, or Articulate Presenter. They may convert PPTs into eLearning material with minimal hassle, but as previously discussed, they are low on learning impact. Instead, opt for more advanced rapid authoring tools like Articulate Storyline, Claro, or Adapt. You’ll need a developer team that works fast, not hastily. Depending on the timescale, they may even have to work in parallel with graphic designers and quality analysts to deliver the project on time.
Rapid eLearning development is a phenomenon that’s here to stay, even after the pandemic ends. If done well, it can save time and cut costs, thus guaranteeing a high ROI. But rapid learning is the sort of off-the-shelf solution that works best when implemented by niche specialists and experts. So with your eye on the prize, you should be able to put your learning content safely on the fast track to deployment. Just don’t let your need for speed cloud your commitment to quality!