Monday, June 20

Multi-media elearning...

I'm curious what elearning designers and managers are doing with multimedia. Five years ago, text was the leper of elearning design. Video, games, simulations, and audio were intended to replace, not augment text learning. Clark Aldrich has posted on games and simulations on this forum. What are others doing?

In my recent experience, text seems to be more dominant than ever (and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing). What has caused the stall of media development? Is it expense? Several years ago our department at Red River College spent hundreds of hours in video design and development in order to expand our reach to geographically dispersed markets. The video has been well used...but not quite for the intended market. On-campus learners are using it to review in-lab presentations. Learners have a way of messing up a designers intentions :).

Unfortunately, I haven't heard much excitement around multi-media elearning lately. The hype is gone. Though I imagine, that somewhere in the bowels of academia and corporate training departments, some really exciting stuff is happening. It's just not surfacing yet...


Stuart Kruse said...

Hi George,

In the UK bespoke e-learning market, multimedia has indeed died for a while (or perhaps it is just resting).

The issue isn't really cost. The two main culprits:
1) Corporate intranets with very low bandwidth (or very unstable or a very varied set of platforms)
2) Accessibility requirements - going for the lowest text/graphic denominator so everyone can access the materials (i.e. screenreaders).

On a slight tangent - one of the most successful courses I'm most proud pretty much consists of nothing but multiple-choice questions and text/graphic screens. I best expand a little - it is actually a role-play/scenario type course, where the learner is given situations, they have to respond and they start to follow a learning branch (like the old adventure books: to kick the giant's ankle, go to page 7). The reaction to this course is always the same - first reaction: it is a dull, page-turner; reaction after using it: that was really great - I really got lost in the scenarios. It seems that people are easily carried off by text narratives especially if they have to think and make decisions at every stage.

jay said...

George, I think there's a mix of things going on, some of which cancel one another out.

What used to cost a bundle is now affordable. Videocams and video editing software once stuck out like a sore thumb. Now they're under the threshold of budget line-item scrutiny.

Of course, some of the lustre has been dimmed by the results of experimentation. Initially, enthusiasts treat new tools as the Second Coming. When they discover that a boring speech in hi-res, full-color video is still a boring speech, it takes the wind out of their sails. (And some vendor's sales.)

What used to be something to crow about is becoming a competitive weapon. A few weeks back I visited a studio that was producing thousands of video chunks anyone in the company can put on screen in < 30 seconds. Now they're experimenting with podcasting for continuing ed.

Simulation used to consist primarily of stories about how cool flight simulators were. Now companies like Enspire are producing software sims left and right. Multimedia? Sometimes.