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Top 5 eLearning Skills for 2011 February 27, 2011

Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning Careers.
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What are the skills you need to land an elearning job?

Working in elearning taps into many skill sets. Designing or developing elearning  requires experience in training and project management as much as audio and video production.

I focus here on what I think are the top skills for elearning now, in 2011. These are skills that will show up on job descriptions where they list job criteria, requirements or experience. More companies will have one or two elearning people handling all the elearning duties for their team. These small groups of elearning designers and developers will have to do it all–manage the projects and handle graphics, video, narration and all the various software, including some sort of LMS. They will have a small budget to outsource some work, but even those dollars might be reallocated for new software or video equipment, which could make the elearning duties easier.

Top eLearning Skills 2011Given that trend, I hope readers aren’t surprised when I leave instructional design off my list. Soon, elearning job descriptions will not even mention instructional design or ADDIE, as they almost always do now. I know managers include those references in job descriptions now simply because the last document did. Instead, when looking to hire, I think managers are going to care more about these job skills, my top skills for elearning in 2011.

1. Graphic Design

Photoshop has been a constant in elearning job descriptions for a while. But today developers can create graphics in PowerPoint 2010 or online using free tools like Aviary, Pixlr or Splashup. LinkedIn has regular group discussions on where to get the best free and paid images for elearning. Graphic design requires good online research skills. Developers of elearning must know a bit about image sizing and file sizes and be able to edit disparate images so that they look like they belong in the same module. Tom Kulhmann’s blog offers many tutorials on editing graphics.

2. Video Production

Cisco experts predict 90% of the internet (consumer IP traffic) will be video by 2013. Hiring video production companies will still be popular, but elearning teams are going to need to handle their own video production to meet deadlines and budgets. With video production software available at incredible, affordable prices, and high-quality digital video cameras and microphones available cheaply for both rental and purchase, teams are capable or setting up a studio, running a production, and editing videos for their elearning needs. Companies like OpenSesame are preparing for more video by creating a SCORM video player.

3. Rapid Development

The tools I see most are Captivate and Articulate. Newer online tools are emerging and gaining some popularity, perhaps because the software can be accessed from anywhere, not just a company computer that has software loaded on it. Who knows, maybe Articulate and Captivate will offer their tools online too. Knowing how to get around many tools is wise. Once you start getting good using two or three of these authoring tools, they all seem pretty intuitive. These rapid development tools are where video, graphics, narrative and text come to get ready for an LMS or a web or SharePoint deployment.

4. Social Media

Social learning is still finding its place in corporate elearning. The one, two or three people on elearning teams will need to be up to speed on microblogging, status updates, and integration. Some elearning tools are already integrating social media for social learning use–like the LMS software, TOPYX. Although companies and training managers may not yet have discovered how to implement a social learning plan, they will be looking for elearning employees to take a lead in this area.

5. Mobile Deployment

Being able to push elearning modules to mobile devices will continue to gain in importance. Many have expressed reservations about whether training can really happen on a mobile phone, no matter how smart it is. The larger iPads and emerging competition are catching everyone’s attention for sales use and elearning deployment. Since Flash is not supported on iPads, the rapid elearning tools have been useless. I expect that new tools like AppAuthor Pro will become popular since developers can make elearning modules on the back-end and push them out to the app they only have to pay for once.

LMS Spotlight: TOPYX January 31, 2011

Posted by Eric Matas in LMS Spotlight.
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As part of my research on LMS options, I found one that is so inexpensive that it still boggles my brain. Let me get right to the price before I share the features: $15,000 per year. For TOPYX, that’s it.

If you have been a part of purchasing an LMS, you know that 15 grand a year is practically unbelievable. When I talked with Jodi Harrison, Vice President Business Development and Affiliate Partners at Interactyx, I needed her to repeat the price a few times, and then I had to ask if that was just the set-up price. Nope. There are no hidden fees for each learner. No cost to implement and no charges for upgrades, which are free for life. Just $15,000.

And if $15,000 seems like a lot, you can opt for TOPYX Lite for less money and less LMS.

Topyx  LMS Best Value FlyerWith TOPYX, you have options. Having options is key in the elearning industry where everybody needs something just a little different. Maybe all the options inspired 100% of 2010 TOPYX clients to stay with TOPYX.

For an LMS that truly integrates web 2.0 to create a social learning experience, look to TOPYX. TOPYX comes ready, off the shelf, to integrate your favorite social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and is built to add other plug-ins like your company’s webinar software. TOPYX has now won the Best of Elearning! award for Best Social Learning Software for two years in row, 2009 and 2010.

If you already have an LMS you like, or are stuck with, you might like TOPYX BOLT. BOLT is the social learning only component that plugs-in to your existing LMS so you can benefit from the award-winning social learning infrastructure.

TOPYX is sold as an SaaS solution (Software-as-a-Service) and is totally web-based. That might be bad news for companies that require behind the firewall solutions, but it’s great news for small companies or companies with inundated IT departments. The affordable and reliable hosting is provided by Rackspace.

If you do want to pay more than $15,000 per year, you can. There are optional add-ons like a built-in authoring tool, and although your first two language options are free, you can purchase more. And for more information, watch this short video from Interactyx: