This month's ASTD Big Question relates to a person who graduated from a theory-only program in Instructional Design and was not provided with the experience of actually creating instruction using any of the latest tools. So the question is:
What advice would you give to someone who has no experience with e-learning development tools? Where do you start?
- Particular tools you should explore?
- Resources you should read? Videos/screencasts you should watch?
- What would your "To Learn List" look like?
Holding myself back, I will calmly answer the question as per Tony's request to not comment on the content of the Master's program...but my tongue is starting to bleed from biting it so hard.
My first suggestion is to take an online course that offers hands-on experience using some of the tools. Bloomsburg University's Department of Instructional Technology offers many online courses that include, as a standard part of the program, instruction and hands-on experience with development tools. These courses can be taken without being enrolled as a full-time Masters Student. Any one who is interested can leave a note on my blog and I will contact them.
Here are two such courses.
- 57.584 Online Course Design -teaches Blackboard, Centra, Captivate, Adobe Presenter, Snag-It and Hot Potatoes.
- 57.588 Learning Management System Administration requires students to develop and deploy an actual course using the LMS Plateau (Why Plateau? because they donated it).
If that doesn't work...
I agree with one of the comments on Tony's Site. Have a specific course in mind that you want to build that will provide you with the motivation and focus needed to learn the software.
Then download the software (free demo version) and build something that you will post on the web. Forcing yourself to build it to a quality level good enough to post in public will motivate you to put the time and effort into the project and increase your learning. That focus will also give you a better understanding of the software than if you were just "fooling" around with it.
Purchase one package and dive deeply into it. Once you master something like Lectora or TrainerSoft, you will have the basics needed to master similar programs. You might even want to learn all the ins and outs of MS PowerPoint because PowerPoint is now the foundation for several quality e-learning development tools such as Articulate and even Adobe's Captivate can utilize PowerPoint slides (just make sure your PowerPoint slides don't look like typical PowerPoint...see Avoiding Death by PowerPoint.)
Go to YouTube and search for "Learn Flash." You will find a bunch of videos on how to use Flash. You can do the same with "Learn Captivate" as well.
If worse comes to worse...
You can always get a book about the software...while it is not exactly the same as having the actual software, it can provide some help. And if you are using the software with the book, so much the better.
Now I have to go clean up the blood dripping down my chin...
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