Taking a looking at Articulate Rise 360’s “Course templates”

If, like me, you usually use Rise to build courses from scratch, or by copying a house template course, you may never have looked at the option to build new courses from the Rise 360 “Course templates”.

What are the templates? Well as one describes itself:

  • “This template was designed to give you a head start on creating training. It contains lessons you might want to cover in a … course. It includes relevant headings, images, and writing prompts to guide you and is largely populated with placeholder text. You can easily replace this content with your own text and media.”

Last week I spent a little bit of time reviewing these templates so you don’t have to.  Here are some thoughts:

  • These are really rapid authoring taken to another level: not just are you using a simple to use tool but on topics familiar to many (customer service, cultural awareness, etc) there now predefined structures.
  • Nothing revolutionary in the design within these templates (that I can see) but it is perhaps worth reflecting on the fact that any level of eLearning used to cost 100s of £/$s and from a cost perspective, if nothing else, we have come a fair way.
  • As well as having the lessons/units within the course pre-structured there is a mix of hold text (usually the Latin bumf as you would get when adding new paragraphs yourself), text prompts to add specific content and some actual content.
  • The actual predefined/recommended content includes a common trait of Rise courses (or at least something I have seen used a lot): the quote as a discussion/activity lead.
  • Annoyingly the quotes that are included are just used out of context so you have to Google who the person being quoted is, there is no hyperlinking to a source (bad practice from a learning, discoverability and copyright perspective).
  • Even when you do search for the original author you realise some odd inconsistencies in the course formats, for example, “Unconscious Bias Training” includes a couple of quotes early in the piece with one source given in the format of “first-name surname” and another “surname first-name”.
  • One criticism I would have is that they are encouraging a silo approach to the topic with the package/course not making use of hyperlinking, that said I did see one example of a link out to a HBR article so that’s not universally true.
  • Unconscious bias, and a lot of the other topics covered out-of-the-box, fall into the mandatory training type category where you suspect they would need deep customization to really mean anything to your specific audience. Therefore, it feels like these are probably encouraging the lazier organisations out there to just “tick the box” on these topics.
  • However, the flip of that argument would be that I could see these as covering the fundamentals for someone being asked to put something together at short notice. We know some of these topics do not really work as one-off knowledge pieces so they could be useful as part of wider programmes.
  • The imagery used, like much in the Rise Image Library, is all very nice and bright. Predictably it is very obviously PC in clearly trying to insinuate a diversity of representation, for example a few inclusions for “wackier” pics to suggest inclusivity (including, unfortunately, men not wearing socks – something that remains a trend I simply can not get on board with). Clearly this is better than stale, pale and male but not necessarily suitable in all circumstances and, as is often the case, would be better replaced by your own offices and teams imagery where possible.

This all said, I would be tempted to use these. For example, if I was to be asked to build something as a part of a campaign on staff development then the “Developing Your Employees” template actually covers a lot of the basics for a manager to be aware of. It is always easier to knock instructional design than build something great, this is part of the reason why the learning industry is so navel-gazing, critical of itself and self-referential. If anything I would just want to cut these down even more (but that might be the Learning Reducer in me). Fundamentally my desire to cull would be based on a lot of the suggested lessons/topics being very basic – again adjustment to your actual audience would be ideal as we also know that some audiences might find the fuller content useful.

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