So you’ve decided to venture down the e-learning route – or maybe you’ve been pushed! You’ve done your research and know what makes great e-learning. Maybe you’ve attended some of the ELN events, national exhibitions or even attended a course or two. Now you’re ready to get hands on and create something. But, oh, where to start….
With so many providers and tools to choose from it’s very easy to quickly blow the budget when creating online content. When taking your first uncertain steps into the shiny world of online tools to create your first pieces of e-learning here are my tips to ease your way.
1: Think creatively
2: Check out free stuff
4: Prove the concept
Tip number 1: Think creatively
Remember that e-learning is more than the interactive self-study tutorials we often think about. Think of e-learning under the wider definition to include, podcasts, video clips, forums, web-conferencing and blogs which work superbly together to create effective bite-size content which will support learning, bringing it to life.
Tip number 2: Check out free stuff
There are numerous tools out there that you can use for free. Most of the free tools are cut-down versions of the tools you would normally pay a licence for. You might even already be using some yourself such as Skype. Skype can be used to run live online events as part of your e-learning using live chat, video call, and telephone. Using it in conjunction with Yugma you can share applications with up to 10 people in session for free. Check out this blog post from Martin Sivula from the eLearn Magazine. One of the best resources to get you started is Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning 2011.
Tip number 3: Experiment
Be in a better position to buy and experiment with the free tools and software trials. You might be surprised at how straightforward they can be to use and there’s a good chance you’ll find a ‘how-to’ video on YouTube or Vimeo to get you started. You will then be in a better position to choose the right tools for the job.
Tip number 4: Prove the concept
Using these free tools will help you prove the concept without a big outlay upfront. By creating a prototype of your idea without blowing the budget upfront you can help your managers, your learners and the rest of your stakeholders share your vision. It’s also a great opportunity to get their feedback and allow them feel part of the process.
The main free tools we are currently using:
One extra tip: when considering recording audio with the free tools it is a good idea to invest in a good quality microphone. Listeners are less forgiving if the quality is poor. We learnt the hard way!
Have fun experimenting.