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Developing is not for everyone

It’s beginning to dawn on me that a wide range of development tasks associated with e-learning, including the use of authoring tools, plus the post-production of graphics, animations, audio and video, are not going to be for everyone. Why? Because they all require you to be incredibly systematic and, above all, organised. There is probably a minority working within learning and development who simply don’t have what’s required to develop these qualities; a more significant proportion simply have no inclination.

If you work alone, as I do, there’s a chance you’ll be able to get yourself reasonably well organised. You’ll be able to find things. You’ll back things up. If you work in a large organisation, it will all become much more difficult. You may have a reasonable system of shared drives, but most likely this will be completely chaotic. If you look after your own files, then – let’s  face it – these could be anywhere.

If you set out to be an accountant or a software engineer, then chances are you’ll not only put in the effort to keep everything in order, you’ll actually enjoy it. Unfortunately most people do not enter the l&d profession with the same predilections.

Even the simplest authoring tasks require a lot of organisation. Perhaps you develop your work in PowerPoint, but it’s quite likely there’s a host of source files – photos, logos, charts, screen grabs, not to mention videos and audio files – and that you’ve gathered along the way. And you may have these in multiple formats – the huge file that you downloaded from your camera; the smaller, cropped and corrected version; the one you adjusted to fit in with your colour scheme. Then there are all the different versions you may have had to produce along the way – did you store all these separately, clearly numbered? I thought not.

Then there are all the output files, the Flash, the HTML, the SCORM wrappers, again in numerous versions. This is getting seriously geeky.

There is absolutely no doubt that by using online tools, where you develop in the cloud, you will have far fewer difficulties. These systems probably allow you to tag all your assets, and will store your versions in some systematic fashion. Most importantly, you will not be developing on an island – you’ll be able to share and collaborate with others in your team.

In the meantime, if you’re one of those who never keeps notes, has an inbox containing the last five years’ emails, and tries to keep your diary in your head, then some advice – when they look for volunteers for authoring duty, take a pace backwards.

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