3 Big questions for Tom Kuhlmann

Adriann Haney | 05/13/2013

When elearning guru Tom Kuhlmann speaks in London at Dexter House later this month, there’s three questions he really hopes to be asked. He’s heading this side of the pond to deliver a rapid eLearning masterclass which promises to deliver valuable techniques on turning your elearning into effective and engaging content, using Articulate’s Storyline tool. We caught up with him ahead of time and asked him to list three questions he expects audiences to ask during the London sessions.

Tom’s ideal opener: “How can I improve my eLearning skills?”

To be at the top of your game in anything at all, you need to practice. ELearning is no different, and Tom is keen to stress that improving skills in the field is all about dedication and good old-fashioned hard work.

In many cases, you’ll be the only person in your organisation working in the area. Whilst this creates challenges of its own, it doesn’t mean that you have to work in isolation. Many eLearning forums and discussion boards exist, and if you spend some effort building relationships here you can get some excellent feedback and advice from industry leaders.

Another interesting point that Tom made was that building the same course 100 times doesn’t mean that you’ll develop any new skills. If you really want to improve your knowledge and abilities, you need to step out of the work setting and get involved with diverse projects.

A great resource site for inspiration and advice is ElearningExamples. Here you’ll find many curated multimedia clips from various selected sources, it’s a brilliant way to get the brain ticking about the possibilities of eLearning and building a body of examples that you can learn from.

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Tom’s using the right tool for the job question: “Why can’t I do more with my form-based tools?”

A common problem for eLearning developers is getting the most out of form-based tools. While this solution can seem like the easy option when it comes to creating your learning product, Tom suggests that practitioners take a step back and consider whether form-based is really what they need.

The benefit of a form-based tool such as Engage is that its templates are easy to use and ready for you to input your information into. Whilst this may limit customisation options, it could suit you whilst you’re looking to build up your eLearning skills. However, if you decide to start hacking into it, you’re missing the point of using this type of tool.

If it’s flexibility and a highly customisable option that you’re looking for, consider using a free-form tool such as Storyline. Designed to be user-friendly from the word go, it allows you to build in as much functionality as you need for each eLearning project. Video recording and edit features are standard, and if your audience is on the go, you can deliver your eLearning to smartphones and tablets, including iPads.

As Tom goes on to say, it’s all about understanding your objectives and the tools that are available to you. This should be the starting point of any eLearning project. By choosing a tool before fully mapping out what you want to achieve, you’re unlikely to be able to meet your objectives.

Tom’s word of warning question: “Should I be listening to the experts?”

It goes without saying that there’s a multitude of experts out there that you can learn from, Tom included! But whilst they may be a useful source of new information, Tom advises you tread with caution here.

Many experts tend to have vested interests in plugging their own agenda, and it makes sound business sense that they should be less than complimentary about some of their competitors’ solutions.

Sometimes, there can also be a touch of elitism within the industry. There has long since been a stigma around using PowerPoint for example, though if you don’t have any programming skills, it can actually be a viable option for your project.

So whilst industry experts can offer a valuable learning resource, Tom emphasises that ultimately your end user and business realities should be the focus of your main effort. It’s rare that you’ll ever be able to create an absolutely perfect product, so work to build your own knowledge and focus on what you can achieve with what’s available to you.

Tom Kuhlmann has a wealth of knowledge and practical tips that savvy learning and development professionals can put to use within their businesses. Even if you can’t make the workshop, there are plenty of suggestions here that you can put in place to improve the provision of eLearning in your organisation.

Will you be attending the workshop? What burning questions do you have prepared for Tom?