I have to admit it. I’m a bit of a software junkie. I come to realize this every time I try to rehab my hard drive. I am addicted to prodding, poking, and playing with whatever appears out there in tech land. If I had to psychoanalyze myself, I’m probably motivated by an inner evil lazy-me that always looks for ways to do things faster, cheaper, and easily so that I can spend more time playing video games and drinking coffee. Maybe I’m just really critical and love finding fault in the technology that’s supposed to save our lives or maybe I’m still searching for that magic machine I talked about in a previous blog where all you have to do is pull the switch and all your wildest dreams will come true.
Whatever it is, I recently came across a very cool hosted presentation platform called Sliderocket that, in addition to having a really great name, may very well propel people in the eLearning community do things faster, cheaper, and more easily depending on their needs.
As I mentioned in my Rage Against the eLearning Machine blog, companies often end up deploying tools that are much too complicated for the type of eLearning they end up producing. They know they want to do eLearning so they go buy a robust eLearning tool and give it to the department responsible for training but end up creating some pretty basic presentation style learning — which is fine if that is all you need. So I say, why not look for a tool more in tune with what you are trying to produce so that you can do it faster? What good is all that functionality if you don’t use it or don’t need it?
Be honest. How many of you use MS Excel to do more than add up a few numbers or format a few tables?
Sliderocket is one of those software platforms that I think, can really fit the bill as an eLearning tool because it’s much more than a simple presentation tool. It is a powerful hosted authoring platform that handles audio, video, flash, text, PowerPoint import and some basic interaction through hyper-linking. You can create tables and charts with it, draw shapes and even include forms and polls when you purchase the upgraded version. It’s solid collaboration, sharing, versioning and tracking features allow you to work effectively with your subject matter experts and find out who is looking at your stuff.
Best of all, Sliderocket allows you to access your content anywhere from any platform and in either Adobe Flash or HTML 5 formats (although I have not tested it out on a tablet).
Though it’s marketed as a presentation platform, it’s actually not that far off from becoming a full blown eLearning authoring and hosting environment. All they really need to do is add some built-in quiz-making features, a better built-in hierarchical menu system, a more robust user log in and tracking system (quiz scores and such), and some other behaviors like pop-ups and rollovers. If they added a few of these things, along with possibly of some kind of SCORM support, I think they could give a lot of the bigger eLearning vendors a run for their money. Already, they have laid a solid base for evolving their system with a plugin architecture that allows you to incorporate such things as twitter feeds, polls, quotes and word definitions.
Even without some of these additional features I can see someone using Sliderocket as an effective eLearning authoring tool. It’s flash-based interface is easy to use and intuitive. If you have ever used PowerPoint you should have no problem settling in and creating something pretty nice – especially given the many included themes available and the ability to customize them.
Do you want to synchronize audio with images and text on the screen with nice fades and transitions? Sliderocket does that. Do you have video? It’s easy to import and add it to a screen with it’s own video controller. Need a menu? Well you can do that too, albeit manually – just create some hyperlinks on your side to various sections and then a menu button on each page that takes you back to the menu. (There is even a hyper-link option that will take you back to where you left off which could be useful).
Now I must inform you that some of the features I mentioned, including the ability to synchronize audio with text and image builds, do require an upgrade from the free plan, but even without those features, there is a lot you can do with some solid instructional design principles and some creativity. I am convinced that with a little imagination you can really stretch the boundaries of what this tool was intended for and create some very nice eLearning courses with Sliderocket. All in all, it’s one more interesting tool in your belt that just needs a little fleshing out in order for it to be that killer eLearning application we are all looking for.
Go ahead. Give it a go and tap into your inner lazy-person as you avoid working on that convoluted task matrix you created in MS Excel.