What is Rapid Learning

Being LMS developers we are interested in delivering the best possible eLearning experience for our customers. However, eLearning software is just a small piece of the eLearning mechanism intended for tailoring successful and effective eLearning.
Besides the Learning Management System there are such aspects as audience and industry knowledge, learning incentive, course content, design and strategy. How well you build a course determines how well the knowledge will be absorbed.
However, in some cases a company faces the lack of time, finance or experiences problems and the course quality is under threat. In such cases Rapid eLearning strategy comes…

What is Rapid Learning?

The Rapid eLearning term is interpreted in many different ways.

On the one side, the term refers to rapid course creation – course development within a shorter period of time, within a smaller budget, making fewer efforts and involving minimum resources.

On the other side, many people use Rapid eLearning as a synonym to micro-learning or beat-sized learning – the process of delivering course information in small chunks so it can be memorized quickly and easily.

What two definitions have in common is that the minimum amount of time and budget is spent whether on course development or learning. However, it is a well-known fact that there is no gain without pain and great quality cannot be achieved without effort. That is why we’d like to look into the rapid eLearning concept and clarify how and when it works.

What is the Difference Between Rapid Learning and Traditional Learning?

ELearning course development time usually depends on many factors: availability of assets or offline materials, instructional designer expertise, a number of interactive and visual elements required, learning approaches used etc. In many cases, when it comes to course quality, interactivity and engagement, course development can be a question of several months. We must admit that for most businesses it is an unaffordable indulgence.

Rapid eLearning in comparison with the traditional one is built within weeks, not months: mainly, on account of pre-prepared templates and other graphic materials or lack of necessity to use qualitative and diverse visuals (foreign language studying for example).

Rapid courses rarely contain costly graphics and interactivity elements; the emphasis is rather made on the course simplicity and learning content uptake.

How to Create A Rapid ELearning Course?

The content of a rapid eLearning course is created with the help of rapid eLearning Software, also called eLearning authoring software. The main advantage of eLearning development by means of authoring tools is the lack of necessity to have programming knowledge. A PowerPoint presentation, by means of authoring tools, is converted into SCORM format and later on transferred to a Learning Management System. SCORM compliant learning materials free you from uploading materials one by one and are a good alternative to a plain text which is boring and far from being engaging and interactive.

To create a rapid e-course you need:

  • To determine a goal of your rapid eLearning course; prepare a clear course description, an explanation of who the course is designed for, course benefits and expected outcomes. Thus you avoid wasting learners’ time.
  • To get some understanding of who your audience is (the way adults and children learn differ radically, that is why you should take it into consideration when developing a course. We recommend reading the interview with Julian Davis to get insights into adult learning.
  • To think over rapid course design (smooth navigation, lack of distracting elements, clear course logic etc.). We recommend reading the blog post How to Create an ELearning Course on a Tight Budget;
  • To get Rapid Learning Software (We recommend checking the blog post Top 5 Free and Low-Cost Adobe Captivate 9 Alternatives);
  • To create a base of resources to use for course creation (free or already used in other projects images, videos, audios etc.)
  • To divide team members responsibilities;
  • To collect additional resources learners can refer to if necessary.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Rapid Learning

  • The main benefit of Rapid eLearning is course circulation: the course can be developed, delivered, reviewed, analyzed and edited fast instead of requiring a long process of development and concurrence with designers and programmers.
  • Rapid eLearning courses are cost-effective.
  • The changes are applied in the process of learning without waste of time and excessiveness, hence the rapid response to business needs and all-round control over rapid eLearning course development;
  • What is more, rapid learning cuts the labor costs (no need to hire instructional designers, subject matter experts and other specialists).
  • Last but not the least, no technical or programming skills are required to develop a rapid online course. Course creation boils down to building up a PowerPoint presentation, making it SCORM compliant and transferring it to a Learning Management System for further delivery and tracking.

On the other side, the courses that have been created within a short period of time are frequently characterized as boring, not engaging, and as a result not effective. Rapid eLearning course developers cannot afford spending time and budget on applying advanced instructional design practices or adding learner engagement elements. Which is exactly why many experts believe that rapid learning courses are second to traditional ones in engagement, depth and quality.

However, as a Strategist and Senior Instructional Designer Michael Milroy says, we shouldn’t equate engagement to learning effectiveness. Courses can be highly engaging and still leave the learner wondering what they were supposed to learn [Read the interview]. It is way more important to make the course relevant, meaningful and focused on learning outcomes.

Besides, there are plenty of affordable means to make a rapid eLearning course interactive:

  • Dividing a course into small beats of learning, so called “Learning snacks”, addressing one topic at a time. Learners can easily digest a learning snack and immediately apply the gained knowledge to a real-life environment. For more information read the blog post Learning Snacks or 4 Keys to Engage Today’s Learner.
  • Using storytelling techniques – presenting information in forms of memorable stories (case-based, narrative-based, scenario-based and problem-based storytelling). For more insights read A guide on using storytelling in eLearning practice.
  • Providing additional sources of information and linking the course information to the prior knowledge and expertise.
  • Another option is combining online and offline learning, so-called blended learning.

When Apply Rapid Learning?

It is worth mentioning that Rapid eLearning is not a one-size-fits-all approach and there is a chance it’ll cost more in the end if not applied properly.

The cases when rapid eLearning is a good solution include:

  • A short project life cycle;
  • A low-funded project;
  • Lack of learning development experience;
  • Lack of personnel;
  • A frequently changing business environment (legislation, technology);
  • Constantly changing course data (banking, insurance, accounting);
  • Obligatory courses like sexual harassment prevention training.

What do you think about Rapid eLearning? Is it worth applying or the cheapest is the dearest? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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What to read next?
15 Podcast Episodes to Help you Launch a Successful Online Courses Business
How to Select a Learning Management System (LMS)? A Comprehensive Guide + EBook
Glossary of the Must-Know ELearning Terms

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