The changing world of elearning development

Or should that say ‘digital learning development’? Over the past few years, elearning has changed rapidly – so much so that elearning is just a small subset of all of the digital learning mediums. What a time to be alive!

These changes have been primarily due to the evolution of computer hardware technology (mobiles, tablets etc.) But what really prompted these changes? If you ask me, I think it’s Human Beings: We’re affecting the change! How, you ask? Let’s discuss.


The Mobile World:

Just over a decade ago we were tethered to PCs. Fast forward to now and we’re unhooked, blue-toothed, Wifi enabled and cloud-capable. Not to mention our expansion into mobility measuring systems – did you know 1 out of 5 american’s use a smartwatch? On top of that, virtual and augmented realities are taking the world by storm.

So how has this affected content development? Much like the evolution of the classroom from chalk-and-talk to wired-and-inspired, new technology has allowed content development to reach another level of flexibility, interactivity and engagement. One prime example is the onset of “responsive design” in our development tools – elearning must be able to automatically adjust to any screen size, it’s not good enough to tell your learners which device to use any more. Your content must fit their device, or they’ll switch off.


Binge-worthy learning:

Regardless of the advanced technical capabilities of content development tools, designers and developers still tend to create text heavy page-turners. But what does that build? Boredom. We must remember to rely on application and practice. Content development tools have advanced to the point where publishing a ‘click next’ course isn’t good enough.

Tools like Articulate 360 are here for a reason. Not only are there many add-ins that create interactivity, but even the most savvy Instructional Designers and Content Developers can create exciting, extensive, thought-provoking scenarios. If that isn’t enough, these tools also have the ability to inspire graphic design, raising digital learning to an art-form. To ‘binge’ on a box set isn’t unusual in today’s world, so take inspiration from movies and from Netflix, and create ‘binge-worthy’ content your learners will adore.


But What’s In It For Me?:

Content development has progressed with the needs of the adult learner. We’re no longer simply seeking baseline content knowledge. Instead, many adults need to train, retrain, certify, re-certify, and obtain skills or a degree. There needs to be proof of knowledge by the governing bodies who run the curriculum. And in order to create registered educators, certifications and degrees are necessary to define individual levels of accreditation.

Some courses are required due to compliance regulations. Others are mandatory for promotions, salary increases or as a result of one’s job function. Content development has to react to this. For example, a regulatory agency in the United States that oversees the accreditation for CPAs requires that self-study must be aligned with clearly defined learning objectives. Not only that, but it “must guide the participant through the learning process, and provide evidence of a participant’s satisfactory completion of the program.” The accreditation goes on to define which type of guidance is acceptable, what feedback requirements are needed, detailed final exam guidelines, and which types of resource materials can be used. If your content development can’t do what is required, you’ll fall behind the curve.


The Future of Content Development:

The skills required of Content Developers have grown exponentially, and will continue to grow. Along with being technically adept, Content Developers must understand the intricacies of instructional design. Hundreds of instructional design and content development degrees and certifications have popped up through accredited universities world-wide. No longer can this position be trusted to someone who does not possess a thorough understanding of the entire elearning process. And with this constant drive for greater understanding of which content to develop and when, the industry has responded with its own evolution.

The tools we use have become more robust and the software more complex. As instructional design shifts further toward that of a science, Content Developers must tend to think more like scientists. But Developers will rise to the occasion with greater sophistication, as they have in the past, with deeper a understanding of the learner and a better overall learning experience. Yes, the future of the content development looks very bright indeed.