Thursday, March 8, 2012

5 Strategies for Rapid eLearning Development - Strategy #3 Build an Asset/Media Library

My students often laugh at me when I say, "You need to go to the library." They grew up with a completely different strategy for research. Google first, Google  second, if you don't see you topic on the first page, change topics. That's where search engines fail us a bit, and where the good old library can sometimes be a better resource.

Think about it. In order to search for materials you need to know the right key terms, if you miss a relevant key term, then you may miss search results that would be helpful. Not only that, but our "visual field of reference" is skewed because we only see results in a linear order down the page.

Now think about a library, you search on a subject, find a book you think you need. However, when you get to the shelves, all of the books on that subject are on the shelves whether they contained your search term. This means you have a greater amount a resources to use or glean from.

Too often, assets that we create for courses live on individual machines or on a server. They are organized by the developer or course. So if you don't remember who created it, or the name of the course,  it may be difficult to find assets you remember seeing. Not to mention, assets may exist of which you aren't aware.  If they can't find a graphic or model  quickly, most developers simply accept it and create a new asset; once again, slowing down the development process.

Learning from the Builders of my community, they don't build new doors or molding from scratch for each house. They go to a warehouse (library) of available materials designed for the housing development, and select the items they need vs. building new materials. Other related posts: Strategy #1 | Build a Program Not CoursesStrategy #2 | Invest in a Primary Toolkit for Your Team.

Creating a Centralized Media/Asset Library

Develop an Asset/Media Plan - Based on your master development instructional design plan mentioned above in Strategy #1,  make decisions as to what assets you need including graphics, models, photos, videos, animations,  audio and powerpoints.  Many times there are media/assets  that can be used in multiple courses.

Find a Location to Host Media/Asset Library -  This is simply a server or network location that all members of your team have access. As a team, work out consistent organizational structure for assets. It's important that you have a consistent directory structure, and file naming conventions. It's also extremely valuable if this environment as Search capabilities.

An even better solution, your development platform has a Media manager or library built in, so you can add  graphics, models, photos, videos, animations, audio, and powerpoints on the fly. This is one of my favorite features of Rapid Intake's development platform. (Includes thousands of people stock imagery)

Keep in mind the following when creating your Media/Asset Library:
  • Keep everything - You'll be surprised what gets reused. A model or flowchart that was primary in one course, may become a background for a quiz screen. You never know.
  • Make it searchable  - You need an asset search engine meaning that file names and meta tags are very important.
  • Organization - when search fails, need the ability to go "into the stacks" or directories to find related items.
  • Access to All - Everyone on the team needs access to this location. May seem like a "no-brainer", however, this is a common issue in many organizations.
  • Needs to be managed and maintained - appoint people on your team to manage the library.
  • Create assets with a consistent tool set - As I mentioned in a previous article, if assets are created with a consistent tool set, then it's easier and faster to reuse or update the graphics, models, photos, videos, animations, audio, and powerpoints.



Develop Your Courses - Using the same development tools from strategy #2, develop your courses and create or purchase assets, and be sure to save your assets to the Asset/Media Library in the right location. If you using Rapid Intake, then be sure to tag your assets as you upload them into the development environment.


Now you have a Media/Asset Library - Developing new courses looks like this:
  1. Complete storyboard based on Master Development Plan.
  1. Find graphics, models, photos, videos, animations, audio, and powerpoints that will work for the new course. Even if an image, for example, needs to be tweaked, it's much faster to update the image than to create a new one.
  1. Work up a plan to create other necessary assets.

    Benefits of Media/Asset Library - Reusing/Editing Assets:
    • Saves development time - if you don't have to build everything from scratch, rapid development becomes a reality.
    • Creates consistent team asset/media styles - because developers are looking at each other's work, they will naturally create a team style that will give you courses a consistent look and feel.
    • Creates shared Instructional Design Tendencies - The assets we create are a large part of e/m Learning instructional design. Developers will tend to borrow the "best" from each other's instructional design tendencies improving all courses.

    Although it takes time to build a strong media/asset library, you'll be surprised what gets collected after just a few courses. 

    Happy development,


    jB - The Developer on Duty


    Developer On Duty Events:
    Learning Solutions Conference & Expo
    Orlando, FL
    March 21-23
    Drop by the Rapid Intake Booth - I'll be the Developer On Duty if you have e/mLearning development or strategy questions.


    In this series from jB:
    • Strategy #1 | Build a Program Not Courses
    • Strategy #2 | Invest in a Primary Toolkit for Your Team
    • Strategy #3 | Build Centralized Asset Library (coming soon)
    • Strategy #4 | Create Course & Content Styles (coming soon)
    • Strategy #5 | Practice your craft (coming soon)

    3 comments:

    sharath said...

    I feel that eLearning is due to lack of creativity and effort by the developer and quite frankly, rapid authoring tools are really not the culprit. If you come across bad eLearning courses, it could be because the developers of the courses have either limited knowledge about the potential of the tools or lack of skills and creativity to exploit the features provided by them. Even a simple PowerPoint tool can be effectively used to produce an engaging and interactive eLearning course. All you need is a deep knowledge and expertise in using that tool. I wrote a blog on creating Highly Interactive Courses Using Rapid Authoring tools. http://bit.ly/ZG0HAK

    sharath said...

    I feel that bad eLearning is due to lack of creativity and effort by the developer and quite frankly, rapid authoring tools are really not the culprit. If you come across bad eLearning courses, it could be because the developers of the courses have either limited knowledge about the potential of the tools or lack of skills and creativity to exploit the features provided by them. Even a simple PowerPoint tool can be effectively used to produce an engaging and interactive eLearning course. All you need is a deep knowledge and expertise in using that tool. I wrote a blog on creating Highly Interactive Courses Using Rapid Authoring tools. http://bit.ly/ZG0HAK

    David Warner said...

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