These are exciting times for trainers! There have never been more toys available to help develop training content. As organizations leave the dark ages of chalk and talk and move into the exciting digitally delivered world of training there are many decisions and choices to be made.
It is as if there is so much technology out there that trainers find themselves staggering from one piece of software, platform or delivery mechanism to another based on little hard practical evidence that the new one is better than the old.
It sometimes helps to step back and break down the type of content you need to develop and then look at the tool you need to do that. It is tempting to remain faithful to whatever you know best. If you are an expert at Storyline then everything looks like a Storyline project. If you are a whiz with PowerPoint then that is your tool of choice.
However, this is not the best way to do this. There’s a huge selection of tools that map onto a continuum of content complexity that allows you to choose the most effective tool for both the development and learners perspective.
Below is a list designed to give you some idea of the choices, not a specific recommendation of a particular product. As I said, there is a huge range of products out there, with more arriving every single day. Some products, such as Adobe After Effects have become de-facto standards for certain animation tasks. In other areas of content development, there is no preferred tool and the choice is yours.
Basic chalk-n-talk videos delivered by a human being:
PowerPoint represents a good tool that is very accessible to educators. It is widely supported with plug-ins that allow slide decks to be rendered for web delivery. If you use PowerPoint it is very easy to add video and animated content to break up what is a comparatively dry delivery mechanism (okay, so your content is never dry!).
Basic video design for delivery on YouTube, Vimeo or some other platform:
Here you can take your choice of at least 30 video-editing packages that are suitable for use by non-professional developers. There are plenty of on-line resources including www.linda.com to help get you up to speed.
With one of these tools it is possible to create reasonable quality, low-budget videos to either support live training or that can be streamed over the web.
Provided that the tool is capable of exporting MP4 then it is probably good enough.
Advanced video and animations:
Now we are getting into the heavyweight stuff. The Adobe Suite allows for tight integration of the components of a project and provides superb features that permit the creation of high production value animations and videos.
We use the Adobe Suite to develop all of our productions and gain significant advantages from the high level of integration between the tools and the ability to map onto our workflow.
The downside of the Adobe products is a steep learning curve and a requirement for understanding several different interfaces. For example Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects are very separate components with differing conceptual approaches to projects. However, if this learning curve is climbed then there is no reason not to be able to produce truly professional looking high-quality animations and videos.
Training interfaces and interactive training using HTML5.
There are a number of tools that promise of Brave New World leveraging the HTML5 canvas. Adobe Edge was a significant entry into the space that has since been deprecated and apparently gone away. However, there are some incredibly powerful and tools such as GASP, which is highly compatible, robust, fast library designed for professional developers to create exquisite looking interfaces and interaction based training.
Virtual-reality and beyond:
We have written before about the fact that currently, VR is not ready for prime time as far as training is concerned. The very high costs and extensive development time combined with the need to have the learners in a single location, make it impractical for the majority of training purposes. The freedom delivered by serving training videos and content to learners on their own devices, in their own time has been a massive stimulant to the training industry. The last thing we want is to start re-creating the in-house, monolithic, inaccessible training department of yesteryear.
If you pick the right tool, then it is possible to develop the right training. If you get overexcited about some technology on a whim, you are likely to get lost in budget overruns delayed projects and the costly need for do-overs. For those who are looking for advice on their next training animation project, please consider requesting a free video project assessment.
James is CEO and Chief Story Teller at RCP Learning. He has spent the last eight years building an eLearning content company based on computer science development principles. James is passionate about technology, the science of learning and the psychology of understanding. He is totally committed to delivering the best possible customer experience to each and every one of RCP's clients. His favorite quote is "The universe is not made up of atoms, it is made up of individual stories." -- Anon.