E-learning’s underground revolution – what you need to know

There’s an underground ‘revolution’ taking place in e-learning at the moment….and at Elucidat we’re happy to be taking part in it.

I’m not saying we are going to see instructional designers protesting in the streets like scenes from the French revolution – however, we have discovered there are some rather unsatisfied e-learning folks out there – and we’re on a mission to help them.

Personally, I find this a really exciting challenge. I come from a family of teachers, and have a background in solving complex problems with internet technology. (Oh, and my mother is French so maybe that is something to do with it!)

So what’s all this talk about a ‘revolution’?

Revolutions take place when a population is unhappy with the ‘status quo’ and decide to take action to change the situation – and this seems to be quietly taking place in E-learning.

How do we know? Well, at Elucidat we’ve been spending the last 18 months talking to a LOT of people in the e-learning industry – high profile e-learning influencers such as Steve Rayson, Craig Weiss, Christopher Pappas, Sam Taylor, Paul Goundry and Viv Cole, as well as hundreds of businesses and E-learning agencies – particularly in the UK, Europe, US and Australia.

and as we had hoped – we are seeing some very consistent Themes…..

We’ve been hearing frustrations from the different groups involved with e-learning production. SMEs, Authors and Learners themselves.

and the interesting part is – even though people hadn’t been vocal about the issues, they were getting frustrated. When we asked them why they continue to author e-learning in the way they have done, their answer was usually;

‘That’s just the way we have always done it’

But if you are frustrated with a tool or process that you follow – surely there can be a better way do to do things?

So there was our challenge, our mission.

To understand fully the frustrations of e-learning authors worldwide, then find a way to remove their frustrations, the technical roadblocks, the ridiculous and unnecessary steps that are currently required to produce e-learning.

Ultimately give them a tool that like Mr Muscle the cleaning product, ‘loves the jobs’ e-learning authors don’t like (or shouldn’t have to do).

Allowing them to focus 100% on what they do best – creating high quality and engaging e-learning that enables behavioural change and provides business impact.

Gives them an intelligent way to author e-learning.

What were the e-learning revolutionaries crying out for?

From our research, we were hearing cries from SMEs, E-learning Authors, Learners and even LMS providers. What was amazing to us was that these problems existed even though there are many established authoring tools on the market.

So what were they?

The SMEs cry- “We want to author and update our OWN e-learning with NO training required”

We heard this time and time again.

Non technical e-learning authors don’t want to go on a 3 day training course just to make small legislative updates to their e-learning content. They also don’t want to have to download a piece of software to their computer (which ofter involves battles with the IT department) to allow them to do it.

There didn’t seem to be an easy way to achieve this.

There had to be a better way.

The author’s cry – “We want to create ENGAGING e-learning and for technology to get out of the way”

This was the big one.

The e-learning authors we spoke to were frustrated that the process of creating e-learning was tiring, cumbersome with many unnecessary steps. Why do our designers, SMEs and developers have to work independently in ‘silos’ with everything coming together at the end? Why can’t we all work in the same system from the start of the project? Why does it take so long to compile a project? Why does it take so long to publish my file to our LMS – and then take just as long again if I want to re-publish it?

Why do I have to type my review feedback into a separate word document – Can’t I just point at what I want changed leave a ‘post it note like’ comment in the authoring tool?

Why am I being forced to put my designs into columns if I want my e-learning content to be responsive and work on any device?

If I make lots of variation projects from my template project, do I really have to spend weeks updating the variation projects individually when legislation changes?

There had to be better way.

The Learners’ cry – “We want to learn on ANY device, ANY browser and ANY Operating System”

Of course they do, and why shouldn’t they.

We are all used to looking at websites on any device at home or at work – so why not e-learning?

But at the same time why should e-learning authors have to spend weeks testing their content on the hundreds of device, browser and operating system combinations?

(I love the image below – really brings home how many device, browser and OS combinations they are out there).

Answer: They shouldn’t.

They should be spending their time creating amazing e-learning.

There had to be better way.

The LMS (Learner Management System) provider’s cry – “We want our customers to be able to create engaging e-learning courses right from within our LMS (but we don’t want to build and maintain our own authoring tool)”

Smart LMS providers have realised that to increase customer happiness and retention it makes sense for them to be able to offer a way for their customers to create engaging e-learning without having to leave the LMS.

Unfortunately this leads to an even bigger problem – how do they then update and maintain what is essentially now two products. An LMS and an authoring tool. Both are very different and require a different set of skills to deliver well.

Why couldn’t LMS providers find a web-based authoring platform that allows them to integrate seamlessly with their own product (via an API) and provide their customers with all the benefits – without all the pain of developing and supporting a new software product?

There had to be a better way

Ok I’ve got it – there had to be a better way to do all this. What did you do about it?

So… based on all the feedback we gathered from our hundreds of conversations we had now found our mission in life at Elucidat.

We decided to dedicate ourselves to building an ‘intelligent e-learning authoring platform’ which improves the ‘end-to-end’ e-learning production process for authors worldwide by applying the latest thinking in web-technology.

Allowing e-learning authors to spend the maximum time doing what they best – create amazing and engaging e-learning. Not getting slowed down by process or technology.

We’ve already solved the challenges I’ve mentioned above with Elucidat, our e-learning authoring platform and have respected individuals such as Craig Weiss saying great things about us.

But we don’t want to stop there….

We’re going to continue to look at innovative ways to improve the whole e-learning lifecycle; Design, Prototype, Build, Review, Measure, Iterate and beyond.

Over to you

So what do you think? Are you on board? Do you agree there is a revolution?

Let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear.

To join us on the journey and hear how the story unfolds, you can sign up to our weekly blog posts here.

Thanks so much for reading.


We’re hiring new team members to join us on the revolution – front end developers, back end developers, customer success team and marketeers. Get in touch if you’d like to hear more!

Long live the revolution!

About the author

Steve Penfold is a Customer Success Director at Elucidat. He is passionate about improving the lives of e-learning authors worldwide. When not talking about e-learning you’ll probably find him on a road bike, mountain bike or surfboard. If you’d like to chat with Steve feel free to contact him via LinkedIn, Twitter or email.

Steve Penfold

Steve Penfold is the Chief Executive of Elucidat. He helps large companies and training providers speed up and simplify their elearning authoring.
Steve Penfold

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