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Something new under the sun

January 5, 2007

So I think in my last major post, I had argued that it was unrealistic for everyone in elearning to be blogging all the time since we often had other real work to do – you know, the stuff that pays the bills. And then I went quiet for a long while. Why? Because I had to pay the bills.

Seriously, the latter half of last year was a busy time for us. We’ve been working on the release of a new web-based, collaborative authoring tool. We’ve also started some major work on Firefly to completely revamp its runtime and authoring components. In both cases, we’re moving in a much more collaborative, groupware type of model.

Our new web-based, collaborative authoring tool was released in November. It’s called Firefly Publisher and I’m reasonably sure, based on initial reaction, that it will transform the way people think about courseware development in the same way that Firefly transformed the way people thought about software simulation development.

One of the big reasons for this is that it fills a major hole in the development tools space. Today, organizations have to choose between tools for individual developers or enterprise level tools that completely transform the authoring paradigm. There is really nothing in the middle for small to large teams who want to use an authoring tool, but in a collaborative way. Today, development teams face a Hobson’s choice in authoring tools – do they ignore their team-based development needs or do they ignore their need for development speed and engaging, interactive learning. With Firefly Publisher, we’re releasing a sophisticated 4th generation collaborative authoring tool. Development groups will finally be able to work as true teams without sacrificing instructional design quality.

Obviously, we’re pretty excited. In coming weeks, I’ll post a White Paper I’ve put together to better explain why we’ve gone this route. One of the big reasons though, ties back to the idea behind this blog: performance-based learning. Whether you think of this as learning that derives from active engagement (performance) or real world performance that derives from learning – in either case, true performance-based learning initiatives focus on the learner, not on measurement and not on reports. With Firefly Publisher, we’re able to continue this focus on learners, while also dramatically simplifying and streamlining the development process, resulting in significant improvements to both group efficiency and productivity.

So that’s what we’ve been up too. Now that the White Paper is done, you can expect to hear more from me – at least until it’s time to pay some more of those pesky bills.

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