Monday, July 7, 2008

Quick and dirty Office converters

What I (and learners) find unsatisfactory is the tools that take a
single Word document, turn it into a single-page course, put in the
minimum SCORM API initialize/finish calls, build a 10 line XML manifest
pointing to a single file, and then call this a "SCORM course". The course creators
goal appears to be SCORM Conformance, rather than instruction. I also
find LMSs that only track the very minimum required by the specification
to be a disservice. For many course authors, whose goal is to get the
"SCORM Conformant" deliverable off their desk, this kind of tool is
certainly attractive. From the studies our customers have done
(comparing these approaches to instructionally sound tools), the
learners are quite unhappy with it. I think people can do better than
the bear minimum.

The specifications (SCORM/AICC) are available so that you can create
useful courses, so that you can see what the students are doing, and so
that you can tune your course based on how the students perform. The
ReadyGo tool has been tested with lots of LMSs. We have seen what they
can and can't do and have customized our interfaces (available to all
customers) for many of the LMSs in order to take advantage of the
different implementations. (The author only needs to select a different
LMS from a pull-down menu. The tool does all the other necessary work.)

A large number of LMSs only store the very minimum required by the
specifications. There are a few LMSs that actually go to the effort of
capturing the student's responses - and a few of them even provide
reasonable reports to the course administrator.

Quick and dirty Office converters can produce "SCORM
conformant" content. What I question is whether they produce good
training. I also can't see that the effort has been made to take
advantage of different behaviors that are achievable within the
specifications. I just think that "Lowest Common Denominator"
approaches will produce employees functioning at the lowest levels. I
also think it will scare learners away from eLearning - a few years ago
I took an on-line course that was mostly audio. Unfortunately, the
computer I was using didn't have speakers. I took the test without
reading the content, and considered the whole exercise a waste of
time...and I had additional motivation to see what they had done with
the course implementation-wise. Scaring people away from on-line
training by creating bad content is a good way to guarrantee your own
unemployment in the long run.

Al Moser

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