Why Adobe Captivate Prime Announcement Is Exciting AND Disappointing

The Pros And Cons Of Adobe Captivate Prime  

This subscription-based Learning Management System allows all SCORM-compliant content to be uploaded, regardless of whether the content was developed using Adobe Captivate or other non-Adobe course authoring software. The subscription pricing is based on the number of registered users, and the minimum number is 100 users per organization. Captivate Prime includes enterprise support, so the “early adopter fear” can be mitigated with 24/7 Adobe support. There is also an inbuilt Learning Content Management System (LCMS), adding a rapid authoring element to the system. Best of all, in my opinion, Captivate Prime features “The Fluidic Player,” which should enable smooth content integration for the designers and unified playback experience for the learner.

Why Adobe Captivate Prime Is Exciting?

If you are an Instructional Designer who has spent countless painstaking hours authoring SCORM-compliant content only to find out that the Learning Management System designated to host your content does not support that type of content, then you are probably as excited about Captivate Prime as I am. If you are authoring content for a traditional Learning Management System, like Blackboard or Moodle, then you probably have not run into this specific issue (although both Blackboard and Moodle do have unique hiccups when it comes to hosting certain file types, but that is an issue for another day).

However, if you are a freelancer like I am and you work for a variety of different clients with a variety of technical capabilities and training budgets, you have learned first-hand the getting interactive files loaded onto a Learning Management System can be a challenge. Especially if your client is a smaller organization without the budget to support using anything more robust than open-source Moodle, or one of the variety of hosting sites who label themselves as eLearning sites floating around out there.

If your organization or client wants you to deliver a training video with no interaction, then you are good to go with pretty much every Learning Management System and pseudo- Learning Management System out there. But adding any level of interaction, or a quiz element, produces a file that many of these sites cannot support. The “fluidic player”, which provides a single playback option for a variety of eLearning file types, eliminates the risk of uploading content that is not compatible with the Learning Management System because it makes the content plug-and-play. This benefits the learner because they will not have to run an external application, like Real Time Player or Flash Player, and have to worry about whether it is up-to-date, or whether they even have to application installed to begin with.

So, Then, Why Is Adobe Captivate Prime Disappointing?

“Beth, you are impossible to please! Why isn’t this enough for you?” I hear you, dear reader. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, I am thrilled that Adobe has thrown its hat into the Learning Management System ring, but I am not ready to shout from the rooftops just yet.

The problem I have run into over and over again as a freelancer working with entrepreneurs and small businesses is the fact that most legitimate Learning Management Systems are unattainable for these clients. They do not have the quantity of users and/or the budget to justify using a traditional Learning Management System. The Learning Management System model is pretty much exclusively aimed at academic institutions and corporate training organizations with hundreds of users and millions of dollars to spend. My average client is a one-person company looking to sell their course to their audience, which could be hundreds of people, or even thousands of people, but could also just be tens of people, especially at the initial launch of the content.

There is a fast-growing market out of independent eLearning content generators who are posting their content on any site that is capable of supporting it. More often than not, it is a WordPress site with a plug-in that enables embedded videos, with zero built-in interactive elements. There are Captivate plug-ins for WordPress sites, but the plug-ins simply allow the user to view the Captivate file. They do not allow for self-grading of quizzes, or recording quiz grades (or any grade book element, really), or completion tracking. A robust, subscription-based Learning Management System like Captivate Prime could be a perfect solution for small quantity content producers, and for non-traditional eLearning content generators like retailers and public figures. Many of these content generators are not looking for a quizzing or grading feature, but would still benefit from the Learning Content Management Systems and fluidic player. Including interactions and widgets would vastly improve many of these eLearning events.

If Adobe could create a subscription level for this niche market, it would open a world of possibilities for the non-traditional eLearning market. However, Captivate Prime does not solve this problem quite yet, because of the 100 user minimum and the lack of eCommerce support in the Learning Management System. If these issues were addressed, Captivate Prime could be a key tool for legitimizing eLearning content from non-traditional content generators.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

How You Are Selling Your eLearning Content Short By Calling It “Marketing”

Why You Are Selling Your eLearning Content Short

As a fledgling freelance eLearning consultant, a huge part of my day is spent trolling social media platforms for potential leads. I have joined several freelance forums and forums for entrepreneurs, I join any periscope or webinar that mentions eLearning, I obsessively check Twitter and LinkedIn for any opening for me to dive in with a golden eLearning nugget. I have established a few relationships that give me hope, but I have really started generating a ton of business yet.

Having all this free time on my hands has given me lots of time to think about the state of the eLearning market, especially the for-profit courses not affiliated with academia or corporate training departments. I have seen several companies that advertise themselves in social media or marketing consultants who sell courses on how to write courses for profit or to grow an audience. There are over 1,500 courses on Udemy on how to write a course! As I learn more about the companies generating this content, I have yet to find one that has an Instructional Designer on staff (or anyone with any kind of education background at all, really). I reach out to the contact person for these companies and ask them about this, and without fail, every single one of them has seemed sort of surprised that I would think that they need a relationship with an Instructional Designer.

You see, in their mind, they are not teaching Instructional Design in their “How to Create a Course” classes, they are teaching marketing. And they are marketing experts, so why would they need to shell out the bucks for an Instructional Designer to consult with on the creation of marketing products? But many of these companies are having the same problem: student retention. For a marketing person, that is a problem because their audience isn’t sticking around, which means their core mission is not happening. They are getting the money from the student for the “How to Create a Course” and then they are never seeing that student again. Or, even worse, the student never finishes the course and asks for a refund!

For an Instructional Designer, there is a fairly simple solution to this. Not only would the application of instructional system development best practices improve the student experience in the “How to Write a Course” course, it would also improve the eLearning content! While I do see that the course is a form of marketing for these companies and Udemy instructors, they are doing themselves a disservice by not taking advantage of the years and years of academic and corporate research and case studies scrutinizing how people learn, and the science of student retention, and the Instructional Design process.

So, What Do We do?

Well, asking these marketers and entrepreneurs to study ADDIE and complete training needs assessments to identify the learning gap seems a little ridiculous. However, a less formal analysis of the problem the class is trying to solve is always a good idea. Sometime the water is so muddied with grand marketing plans that the simple question of “What does success look like at the end of this class” is never asked and there is a huge hole in the training. Or there is no clear objective for the course other than the course title. These are mistakes that eLearning designers would never make, but eLearning designers are not being brought into the process at all.

Why Not?

Usually the simplest answer is the right one, and in this case, the simplest answer is that the marketing folks writing these classes don’t realize that Instructional Designers are even a thing. They didn’t look to hire an eLearning consultant because they didn’t realize they exist, or if they did realize they existed, they think we are solely university employees converting classes to on-line and putting tenured professors out of work, or corporate wonks writing boring sexual harassment and timecard training. People outside of the Instructional Design industry really don’t understand what we do in the Instructional Design industry!

How Do We Fix It?

I think the first step is helping to define their classes as eLearning instead of marketing. Then they need to treat it like eLearning, following Instructional Design standards to produce higher-quality, sticky eLearning content. To start, as eLearning Designers, we can help these course generators to apply the most rudimentary Instructional System Design (ISD) principles to their training. I do this by personally reaching out to every marketing company I come across that offers classes on writing classes. I also ask to guest blog about Instructional Design basics on any entrepreneurial and marketing site that will let me. I have written several articles on Guerilla eLearning for eLearning Industry, but I am preaching to the choir here. We need to find a way to get the message to the masses. Once the content generators see what a difference applying the simplest eLearning design theories make on the quality of their final product, they will be chomping at the bit to work with an eLearning Consultant and really treat their course like an eLearning event, and give it the respect it deserves.

As eLearning professionals, we all know the impact that well thought out, well-designed eLearning content can have on a student. I also see the marketing potential in offering good eLearning content. Now the trick is to close the knowledge gap between the Instructional Designers out there and the marketing professionals who want to use eLearning as a marketing technique.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Millennials And Faith: Can eLearning Draw Millennials Back to Faith?

Millennials And Faith

The Pew Research Center’s study on America’s Changing Religious Landscape released on May 12, 2015, contained alarming, and disheartening, information about the Millennial Generation’s decline in identifying themselves as Christians. According to the study, the number of Millennials identifying themselves as having no religious affiliation increased by 9% since 2007. Over 30% of Millennials claimed to have no religious affiliation. This statistic has set off alarm bells in the Christian community. Well, honestly, these alarm bells started ringing years ago, but this study raises the volume to a deafening roar. The question has been asked a million times, how do we reach Millennials in a meaningful way and engage with Millennials to show them how they fit into modern Christianity?

How Can eLearning Draw Millennials Back to Faith

I believe the answer lies in the way Millennials are already interacting with the world around us. Churches cannot reach this generation using the same techniques that worked with previous generations. Christians need to meet Millennials where they live, on-line. Many churches have already started to do this, but failed to get the long-term traction that they were hoping for. So, where is it going wrong?

Look at one of the most effective and prolific arenas in which churches engage with their congregation: small group curriculum and discipleship courses. The small group curriculum model has changed very little since Saddleback Church introduced the HOST small group ministry concept in 2001: ordinary people with HEARTS for unconnected people to OPEN their homes, SERVE a few refreshments, and TURN on the VCR. Now it is a DVD or Blu-ray player instead of a VCR, or maybe even a podcast, but this model is still the most prevalent means of engaging members outside of Sunday gatherings. Even the largest churches with a huge on-line presence rely on this model.

More often than not, existing on-line curriculum consists of 45-minute sermons (either a podcast or video) accompanied by a PDF of questions to discuss in person. Sometimes there is a discussion forum included, but typically there are no interactive elements beyond an email address to contact if you have any questions.

Why isn’t this model working to draw in and maintain a relationship with Millennials? The root of the problem is that they are not being equipped with the proper outreach materials. The Millennials that are already attending church and are committed are willing to trudge through a 45-minute audio segment from a pastor that they know and respect, but the chances of an unconnected Millennial dedicating a 45-minute chunk of their day to a recording of a sermon are slim to nil. Small group and discipleship curriculum is all or nothing at this point, either you invest the time or you disengage completely. Millennials need to be given an instructionally sound alternative, an easily digestible substitute to the cumbersome 20th century model.

Start by looking at how Millennials regard eLearning. As of 2012, more than 30% of college students attended at least one class on-line, and that number increases every year. Focus specifically on Millennial students and that number jumps closer to 60%. As Millennials join the workforce, corporate on-line training options have increased by about 9% per year over the past 5 years! Over 50% of corporate training includes some element of eLearning. Millennials are exposed to well-designed eLearning at work and at school, but when they go to church, they are totally turned off by the outdated content being offered to them there.

If the Christian community came to embrace eLearning principles and standards and applied them to their small group and discipleship events, the sky would be the limit for reaching Christians and non-Christians Millennials. The Christian community could use eLearning as an opportunity to engage with an audience that may otherwise never set foot in a church. Engaging, well-designed, “sticky” eLearning content generated with the help of Instructional Design Professionals could be better engagement tools to Millennials than any other outreach tool. This could take many forms: posting micro-videos on YouTube of Gospel-based principles, gamification of small group curriculum, interactive eLearning content posted on church websites, etc. Look at the success of the YouVersion Bible App and reading plans. There is a hunger for this information in an on-line format; we just have to make it palatable.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.