Best E-Learning Software to Learn For a Career Transition into Instructional Design

I find the same few coming up again and again Adobe, Techsmith, etc. There's also open source (free) alternatives available that are pretty good - Wikipedia.org lists open source alternatives alongside the closed source versions. E-learning doesn't have to break the bank!

The 30 day trials are a good introduction and Lynda.com offer tutorial programmes for the most popular packages - They'll get you started much more quickly than going through the standard documentation. Also, a lot of the tutorials on Adobe software on Lynda.com are produced by Adobe employees and are available on their website, Adobe.com, for free.

This is just so that you know what there is and what can and can't be done with what's available. It allows you to make more informed decisions when planning your learning interactions and designing courses. It may also inspire you with some fresh ideas. As with any new venture, you'll probably spend a lot of time re-inventing the wheel and trying to transfer what you "already know" onto the new medium but I think that's just part of the process.

I'd also recommend having a look at what other people have done with the software. Screencasts are great for "How to..." tutorials for software and but I think you have to get a bit more creative to teach/present stuff that's outside the "electronic environment". Oxford University Press "give away" their on-line e-learning EFL/ESL resources: http://oup.com/elt/englishfile/

Multimedia-wise, a digital camera and a portable audio recorder and microphone are also essential in my experience. If your budget allows, experimenting with video is also very quick and easy. Of course, to get professional results you need to make some wise investments in equipment. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and the technical support staff at your college/university could probably give you some great advice on that front. For a quick introduction, I've written some blog articles about audio and video for e-learning: http://matbury.com/wordpress/2009/04/23/good-quality-audio/ and http://matbury.com/wordpress/2009/07/07/good-quality-video/

Also, whatever you produce in terms of learning interactions, has to exist within a context. I'd recommend getting used to a variety of learning management systems (LMS) and their idiosyncrasies. For example, SCORM is supposed to be a cross platform standard but you'll find that there are different versions of SCORM that work more or less well with particular LMS's. Again there are always good open source options available so you needn't break the bank, in fact, one of the most widely used LMS's is open source: http://moodle.org

I'll also second what Melissa said in this discussion - the same rules apply to e-learning as to any other kind. Keep learners and their learning objectives firmly in focus with everything you do.

I hope this helps!

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