The Rapid Elearning Blog

I find that most rapid elearning developers are working by themselves or with very small teams.  In those situations, their organizations don’t offer a lot of support to learn more about elearning.  Typically, there’s no access to more experienced developers or others who can help them grow as an elearning developers.

On top of that, because of time constraints, many organizations aren’t always looking for the best elearning courses.  They usually just want something done quickly.  That was always my frustration.  I wanted to do more, but most of my clients didn’t.  So I had to build a lot of the same types of courses and didn’t get many opportunities to flex my wings.

If you’re in the same boat, here are some tips to help make 2010 a good year for you.

Become Part of the Rapid E-learning Community?

In a learning community, the newbies need the experts who provide valuable insight and experience.  At the same time, the experts need the new people because they bring a different perspective and can challenge the norms.  The worst thing for the community is to become an echo chamber where nothing’s challenged and no new ideas are explored.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - become part of the community

In fact, some of my best personal learning comes when someone less experienced tries to figure out how to solve a problem.  It’s something I might never explore if they didn’t ask (or if all I did was hang out with the other experts).

So if you want 2010 to be the year you really kicked your elearning skills into gear, here are some tips on how to join the rapid elearning community.  I’m going to share them from my perspective in the Articulate user community, but the ideas aren’t limited to any specific tool.

Resolution 1: Join the Community

You can’t be part of the community if you don’t join it.  Keep in mind, it’s not entirely a formal process.  It’s a combination of formal structure and informal networking.  You can join your software’s user community which is usually an online forum.  And you can also enter the community by connecting with other elearning people and following them via RSS feed or other social media, like Twitter.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - join the community

  • The user community is where you’ll get some of the best tips and tricks because you’re connecting with other users who have similar issues and experiences.  They can share best practices and techniques to help you succeed.  The software only gives you features.  But the users give you ideas on how to use the features. 
  • Use a RSS feed reader to track blogs, tweets, news, and forum discussions.  I like Feedly, but there are a number of good feed readers available.  You can also use something like Netvibes to create a home page that pulls in your feeds.  This way everything’s always right there in plain sight.  If you think feeds have to do with the Food Network, then go here to learn more about RSS feed readers. :)  

Resolution #2: Ask Questions

Think of the elearning community as a big cocktail party with little groups of people involved in a bunch of different conversations.  Most of the time, we’re observers walking from one group to the next.  We listen, but rarely participate.  You won’t meet new people at a cocktail party that way, and it won’t work online either.  To really be part of the community, you have to be more involved.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - don't be afraid to ask questions

  • Ask a question.  For many of us, asking questions is a challenge because we fear looking stupid or uninformed.  However, if you want to learn, you’ll have to get used to asking questions.  So stop lurking and start asking.  If you don’t ask, you might be missing out on some really good stuff.
  • Ask for help with ideas and not just technical issues.  The software you use is just a tool.  I find most people ask about technical issues like “how to add audio” but when pressed what they really want to know is “how to use audio to make the course better.”  You probably need less help with the technical part of the tool and more with how to use the tool to produce the course you desire.  Shift questions away from just technical help and start discussions about how to build better courses.

Resolution #3: Answer Questions

One of the best ways to become accepted in the community is to answer questions.  However, the reality is that most people in the community are lurkers who only take information.  The next level is the small percentage who will ask questions.  And then even fewer will offer answers.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - answer questions and share your expertise

  • Someone has to answer questions, why not you?  You don’t even need to know the answer right off.  If you see a question asked, try to figure it out and then offer a solution.  You’ll learn and so will others.  Most important, though, is that you’ll build a positive reputation in the community.  And with that, people are more apt to help you when needed.
  • Become an Expert. Want to be an MVP?  Want some freelance gigs?  This is the secret: make it a goal to answer five questions a day.  You’ll become a frequent poster and develop some authority.  Once you’re seen as an expert, the doors open.  Trust me.  Back when I was an Articulate MVP, I used to get all sorts of offers for freelance projects.  And it all started because I made a personal commitment to answer a few questions every day.

Resolution #4: Share your E-learning Assets.

In many cases, we’re all building the same types of courses.  Why not share what you’re doing?  You don’t need to share any proprietary data, but if you have some good graphics or a PowerPoint template feel free to share it with others.  Do you have some Flash skills?  Why not share your expertise?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - share your elearning assets and skills 

A community of active members shares ideas and assets.  Sometimes it produces free assets for the other members.  And sometimes it produces opportunities for those who are entrepreneurial.

Here are some recent examples related to the Articulate user community with some freebies to boot:

Those are just a few of the examples of the tangible benefits of the elearning community.  Not only do you learn from each other, you also are presented with all sorts of opportunities, and in many cases, free assets for your courses.

Resolution #5: Share Your Ideas

Make the community more than conversation about technical support.  Share ideas.  Talk about things you’ve learned and what you’d like to do.  Here are a few recent examples that I think represent the best of what can happen in an active community:

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - talk about building better courses

  • Peer review.  After the 2009 Articulate Guru awards, a local ASTD group in Texas reviewed the CPR course that won the gold medal.  The original course was built as a proof of concept and not a real course, so some of the critique is not relevant.  However, I thought the overall review was good on two fronts.  First, it’s a great example of how we can learn from each other in the community.  I like that they got together to review an elearning course.  Second, they do offer a lot of good ideas about how to improve the content.  And, it’s good advice for almost any course.  Here’s a copy of their review for those interested.
  • Share what you learned. Is your first course going to be your best course?  Probably not.  But you can grow from each experience.  I love the way Indu Gopinath did a quick write up on her blog about her experiences building her first rapid elearning course.  It would be cool if more people did this.  We’d all benefit.

Online communities and social media tools give you access to peers and experts that you didn’t have a few years ago.  If you want to develop your skills and build better elearning courses, now’s a good time to get started.  Connect with your user community and share what you know.  You won’t regret it and you’ll have a great 2010.

What resolutions have you made to help build your skills this year?  Share them by clicking on the comments link.

On a side note, I really want to thank all of those who participate in the Articulate user community.  I also want to thank our MVPs who do so much to help other users and make our community a great place to learn.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


47 responses to “Here’s How to Be an E-Learning Superstar in 2010”

Tom,

Thanks, it’s like you read my Dunder Mifflin mind.

[...] the Articulate Community, why not make it a goal to get more involved? Tom Kuhlmann’s post on How to Be an E-Learning Superstar in 2010 is a great place to get some [...]

Ok, for my first dumb question. How do I join the community?

Your recent eblog on developing layered training rather than linear couldn’t have been more on-point and on-TIME for me. Shortly after receiving it, a client asked that I develop a course in modules so that various targent audiences could then pull only those items applicable to them. Instead, I used your concept of multiple hyperlinking “buttons” on the slides so the user could follow the path they needed. The client is absolutely ecstatic and I have you to thank!!

January 5th, 2010

These are all great ideas, however, it would be nice to have a “sandpit” where people could, (for example), put examples of work. Not everyone has any web areas/server space available. I just have a PC and my AP’09 suite for example.
Bruce

Tom,
Thanks for sharing this. I agree with Patrick. It is great to know I’m not the only one in my situation of a one person training department with limited resources. You gave me just the inspiration I needed. Looking forward to more great tips from you. Keep up the good and most helpful work.

Hi Tom,

I really love this blog! One of my New Year Resolutions is to become a total expert in the eLearning and Instructional Design profession. Near the end of completing my master’s degree in HRD at NEIU, my professors suggested that we all continue to add to the body of knowledge in the society of “Instructional Design.” I plan to keep my promise. To get there, I want to read more books, blogs, and articles this year to build on what I already know. No doubt, we live in an ever changing world. As we speak, there is a super computer being designed. :) Enough said! That’s why we have to keep learning and sharing. A second goal I’d like to accomplish is to get at least one article published in a training publication. If I accomplish this goal by the end of the year, I’ve met my New Year Resolutions.

Again, great blog. Thank you for sharing!

January 5th, 2010

In trying to develop “scenario based” training I’ve begun using graphic assets, such as stock pictures of people in different situations. Using Photoshop to “cut” out the person without the background is time consuming.

Does anyone know of a good graphics package that would contain photos of people (preferably same people in various positions), backgrounds (offices, workshops, outdoors, etc), and other business-related images? Price is always an issue, but my management was supportive of buying something in lieu of the time I spend “cutting” photos now. Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Darrell Bird

January 5th, 2010

It would be great if there was a website that could list the various e-learning communities that are available. For example if anyone lived in the Denver Metro area, there is a group called DMELD (Denver Metro E-Learning Developers)… and it would be great if there was anyone willing to collect these group names and contact information so that individuals who are interested in joining such groups could more easily find them.

By the way, DMELD’s next meeting is a rare networking opportunity for anyone in the Denver area. I highly recommend that you attend if you are in the area! See this link for more information and please RSVP if you are interested!

http://www.evite.com/app/publicUrl/IZKMMFPLOTLYGIFQCKHT/DMELD10thAnniversaryEvent

Tom,
Thanks for all the suggestions of where to look for expert advice. I belong to several instructional technology based communities, but have been looking for an instructional design group or blogs on the subject.

Your blog is terrific! I sent the link to everyone in my professional development group at our county office of education.

-Alix

January 5th, 2010

Thanks again for more great ideas and another thought provoking blog. Since I just beat Lego Indiana Jones and am playing Lego Batman with my 7 year old son, what also jumped out at me was the Graphics :) …. Did you have to get permission to use them?
Keep up the great work!

@Darrell

I had the same frustration as you with cutting out characters. That’s why I started http://www.elearningart.com, as Tom mentioned above. Tom has a link to a free starter pack of my images that you can download and play around with. Here it is again: http://www.elearningart.com/v/vspfiles/email_templates/sign_up2.asp

You can also see the types of characters (mostly business casual professionals in 75+ poses per character with the backgrounds all cutout) and backgrounds (office settings, warehouses, buildings, etc) that I have on my website. I hope this saves you lots of time! :)

@Giacomo: that’s a good question. If you’re an Articulate user, you can join the user community via this link. It’s a great place to get help on projects. Another thing I recommend is to start a blog. You can write about things you’ve learned on projects, or comment or reflect on other blogs that you read. I’d also try to hook up with a local group via ISPI, ASTD, or some other trade organization.

@Bruce: there are all sorts of ways to have a sand pit. There are free blogs, wikis, and websites that you can create. I’ve even seen portfolio-based sites. The Articulate forum has a thread where you can post links to projects for discussion. If you need a place to actually host your course content, you can go with a free website or even use something like Dropbox. They give you a public folder that works like a web server. You could even use Screenr to record your course and upload via Screenr or to Youtube.

@Darrell: I mention Bryan Jones in the blog post. Check out his site. It might be what you’re looking for.

I created the Lego character at ReasonablyClever.com. Then changed them up a bit to add the logos and ebook.

Bruce,

I bought a cheapy web hosting contract for something like $38/yr that I use as something of a sandbox and as a place to show off a few of the things I’ve built for my job. Buying my own gives me total control and PLENTY of opportunities to learn the web side of stuff.

–Allen

@Allen: that’s the way I’d go. Like you said, you also get to learn about some of the other side of tech, too.

I’m with Scott, where did you find those Lego people?

Great blog,

@Mariann: I added a link to the comments.

And, let’s not forget the awesome, the one and only Jeanette Brooks at Articulate for Quizmaker magic.

I follow @jeanette on Twitter, and her Screenr videos are truly amazing. She wraps her creative brain around Quizmaker, and the results are assessment magic.

Since most assessments come at the end of an e-learning course, why not “end with a bang” and give the learners fun, exciting, and challenging quizzes that they’ll remember? (Learning retention… what a concept!)

Follow @jeanette, and look for her Forum posts in the Quizmaker section.

@jenisecook

Correction to Jeanette’s Twitter ID:

@jeanettebrooks

And, to view her Screenr videos on Quizmaker, go to this location:

http://screenr.com/user/jeanettebrooks

@jenisecook

@Jenise: Thanks for the Jeanette plug. She’s also a very valuable member of the community. In fact, I added her to post.

Hi Tom,
I liked your Lego People. Just curious: where did you find the images? Or did you storm your kids room and ‘borrowed’ them?

You post the most helpful hints, tips and advice. Stuff I can and do use right away on active projects. My enduring thanks

@eberhard: there’s a link in the comments.

Thank you for this post. I think it is much more than about eLearning but succinctly sums up how to become a part of online communities & develop your PLE in a broader sense. Best wishes for 2010, Sarah

@Sarah: You’re right. Generally, the tips relate to any community of practice.

Tom,
You mentioned something about a SDK for engage. Where is that located and do you have any more information about it? It would be interesting to experiment with it!

Thanks,

Dean

@Dean: Here’s a link that explains more about the Engage SDK. To get help, jump into the Articulate forums.

[...] Here’s How to Be an E-Learning Superstar in 2010 » The Rapid eLearning Blog – Tom Kuhlmann at Articulate prompts a list of avenues for becoming an elearning professional. [...]

Happy New Year Tom. Thanks for a great 2009 and looking forward to 2010.

January 11th, 2010

I love the LEGO guys on this. did you make them on that one website?

I am very closely following your great site Thank your article

Check out this thread in the Articulate community. It’s a perfect example of the power of community.

Someone has a question. Another person answers. Someone else builds a prototype. People review the prototype and it evolves to a better product.

At the end of it all, there’s a cool example of how to use Quizmaker, a free file, and a good learning experience.

Hi Tom!

I always enjoy reading your eLearning blog…when I actually have time to read it, that is! That’s my resolution for 2010, to find more time to read and practice eLearning so my courses may improve. One of my challenges is that my corporation has strict labeling guidelines, therefore creativity is limited.

Any advice on that?

-Beth

Hi,

Thanks for all the tips of where to look for expert advice. I belong to software development technology based communities, but have been looking for an instructional design group or blogs on the subject.Thanks for such wonderful posts,i enjoy my online experiance when reading your posts.
Your blog is Excellent!

Thanks
Nevin

@Beth: Creativity probably has a better chance in a strict environment than one more permissive. It’s just a matter of defining the rules, and then working from them. It would be interesting to see the type of guidelines and then see what we can do.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Socialearning, Tyson Priddle. Tyson Priddle said: Here’s How to Be an E-Learning Superstar in 2010 » The Rapid eLearning Blog: http://bit.ly/8Ow4Uy via @addthis [...]

[...] Here’s How to Be an E-Learning Superstar in 2010 » The Rapid eLearning Blog [...]

First of all, a big thank you to Bryan Jones for the awesome starter kit! Its very very helpful.
Tom, another great blog post. This year I hope/plan/want to concentrate more on making ‘effective’ training materials and not simply make them. Everything is a time crunch, and I doubt if ever there will be a time when the project will run its full course with plenty of time to discuss ideas, implement them, improve them by trial and error. Every new project is a continuous improvement over the previous one. This year I hope to make those small fixes to every course, ‘creatively’, if I can say so. Thank you Tom, for keeping this community alive, you are a great source of encouragement!

I love this blog! I already learned so much from it! Thank you for such great ideas.

[...] officially more than half over. It feels like just a few days ago that we were talking about resolutions! And suddenly here we are, smack in the middle of [...]

[...] media e come gestire tutti i flussi di informazioni. Abbiamo anche discusso su come far parte della community può aiutarvi a diventare una “e-learning superstar”. Con l’Internet e i social media di oggi, è possibile ridefinire chi è un tuo pari. E questa è [...]

September 12th, 2010

I likes Ones style man