Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’

How to Reduce Your Course Development Costs By 90+ Per Cent

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMS

Learners today are presented with a wealth of choices and opportunities for learning. They can turn to Blogs, wikis, social networks, video sites, etc. to find learning content. The problem, though, is that it can be difficult to find high quality, informative learning content among a massive sea of choices.

How much stuff is out there?

YouTube Statistics

YouTube Statistics

Research indicates that the time, effort, and cost to create e-learning courses using authoring tools is exorbitant. This often quoted ASTD article states that it typically takes 127 to 184 hours (16 to 23 days) to create, using authoring tools, one hour of self-paced online learning containing moderate interactivity.

A solution

An effective solution to the problem of learning content overload and pressure on course developers to create courses quickly and cheaply is to leverage the workplace learning management system (LMS) as an on-ramp to the world’s best learning content.

Traditionally, instructional designers and course developers create courses using third party authoring tools and import these into the LMS to deliver to learners and track their progress. Comparatively, the course assembly tools built into some learning management systems (LMS) allow you to quickly create courses that contain:

  • Instructional videos from the most popular sites including YouTube, Vimeo,, etc.
  • Articles from Wikipedia and other online encyclopedia
  • Blog posts from such reputable sources as Harvard Business Review
  • Slideshare and Prezi presentations
  • Free online courses
  • External discussion forums in the form of Facebook or LinkedIn groups, Reddit discussions, etc
  • Etc.

Although the source files for the content types listed above are located outside of the LMS, the system can still track the learner’s progress through the courses. Learner activity reports can then be generated, shared, exported, and e-mailed to instructors, administrators, managers, and others.

Absorb LMS course created with content from Wikipedia, Youtube, and Slideshare

Absorb LMS course created with content from Wikipedia, YouTube, and Slideshare

Cost savings

Based on the estimate that a traditional e-learning course takes 16 to 23 days to create, and assuming a conservative annual salary of $65,000 for an instructional/designer/course developer, and 250 work days per year, a simple one-hour page-turning type course using a traditional authoring tool would cost $4160 to $5980 to create.

Comparatively, a course of a similar duration featuring, say…

  • An existing YouTube video
  • A quiz
  • A PDF document
  • A existing Prezi presentation
  • A final exam

…takes less than two days to create at a cost of $520, including the time to find and vet content, create assessments, and assemble/test the course. This translates into cost savings of $3640 to $5460 over a traditionally-authoring course. Given that most organizations provide dozens of courses to learners, the cost savings translate into tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Higher learner engagement

Also, courses leveraging existing Web content (videos, Blogs, presentations, etc.) produce learning events that are potentially more engaging to learners than boring page-turning courses. (After all, learners hang out on such sites outside of work.) This translates into significantly higher level of course completion and increased learning.

Organizations will always need to create some courses in-house. But for a multitude of topics, cost savings and increased learning can be obtained by leveraging existing Web-based content in their learning management system.

Integrating Blogs Into Your Learning Management System

August 15, 2012 1 comment

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMSYears ago, back when I was a learning analyst, a colleague, Gary Woodill, had a big idea. He suggested we create a `filter Blog‘ to draw traffic to our Web site. Gary was a big fan of Stephen Downes, who has an immensely popular newsletter on the topic of online learning called OLDaily. Our Blog was modelled on Stephen’s e-newsletter.

Every day, Gary Woodill, Janet Clarey, Tom Werner, and I would each spend about 30- to 45-minutes browsing news headlines related to workplace learning and development. Each of us would then summarize a story and provide our own analysis.

With four posts per day, this Blog quickly became popular and met our goal of drawing traffic to our Web site. But, it also turned out to be a great learning tool. If you want to become an expert on a topic, start a filter Blog and commit to writing at least one post per week.

  • You’ll quickly get an understanding of what’s going on in your topic area
  • You’ll develop critical thinking skills by having to differentiate valuable information from “fluff”
  • You’ll quickly identify the experts in your topic area since many of the resources you read will all point to the same source
  • Your writing skills will improve
  • With time, you”ll create a huge, searchable repository of valuable information
  • Your posts will contribute to the knowledge of others

Great Blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger are free, so your only investment in adding Blogs to your learning initiative is the time required to read content and write posts. Setting up a new Blog, either by opening an account with one of the popular hosted platforms, or by installing Blogging software on your own server, takes minutes.

It isn’t necessary for your LMS to contain built-in Blogging features. Blogs can be included within your learning management system even if you use third-party Blogging software. Here’s an example of this Blog added as a resource:

Blog as a resource

Blogs can also be integrated into courses. Here’s an example of a task to read and comment on a Blog post inserted as a lesson within a course:

Used this way, Blogs are an easy way to foster social learning activities within your LMS. Since the Blogs are accessible through the learning management system, formal and social learning content reside side-by-side. There’s no need for learners to bookmark different resources. All can be accessed from the portal.