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Rewriting the rules of creating custom content


Today companies like Infosys are taking some bold steps. They are changing the way to more flexible units of learning - they are no more interactive flash based elearning content hosted in a LMS.

Purchase of custom content to train the workforce is almost as old as corporate training. The birth of Computer Based Training (CBT) and later elearning had brought in the need to make content in measurable units to make it easy for purchasing. Classroom training was measured in days of training. In the elearning era, the unit was a course-hour. The elearning industry devised a variety of methods to price the units based on complexity of interactivity, media used etc. And to add to these, there were the learning standards like AICC and SCORM.

Much of the industry has been playing the game of creating course hour after course hour in the last couple of decades. Each Course Hour could have multiple smaller modules. But in the absence of an alternative, course hours continues to be the standard unit of purchase of elearning modules. It took 3 to 4 different skillsets to make the elearning unit and it took at least a couple of months, given the time constraints of the SME. Much of the traditional elearning even today continues to be done this way.

Except for a few success stories, this form of interactive flash based elearning content has not been met with great enthusiasm as far as I know. The cost of making rich media and interactivity has kept the industry from only creating less than desirable outputs for long.

On the sides, the world was changing. Digital cameras, multimedia software, Google, facebook and YouTube were changing the way people create, view and share content. Media related industries like media quickly changed. Thanks to YouTube, people were making video based content easily and quickly. Content was now available in small palatable units, including learning content. Intelligent search engines were able to create the relationships based on people's viewing patterns and suggest what to watch next.

Learning Management Systems were not designed to work like YouTube or Blogger. Employees were not used to frequenting the learning portal with the same passion as they would go after facebook. The corporate learning paradigm had hardly changed. Companies continued to buy as per the previous year's formats.

Today companies like Infosys are taking some bold steps. They are changing the way to more flexible units of learning - they are no more interactive flash based elearning content hosted in a LMS. They no more take several clicks to even get to the first page. There are more user produced content that can be freely shared through a restricted portal. These modules cost less and take less time to make. According to one estimate, they take at least 60-70% less time to make. They don't require complex tools. They don't require you to be a professional voice over artist. There are no superior coding skills required to do smart interactivities. These are products of plain and natural sharing and will change the way companies create and share digital learning content in the future.

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