In his imc Express review, David found an excellent rapid elearning authoring tool that is well-placed to help ambitious companies and global brands deliver digital learning at scale and speed.
Update: as of 2023, imc Express now leverages AI for elearning content creation to make peer to peer knowledge sharing and empowering your subject matter experts even easier.
In fact, new users can get up to speed and create their first elearning modules in just 10 minutes!
Watch Alison West of imc Learning present this major improvement to the already-great imc Express authoring tool at Learning Technologies 2023:
imc’s Express super rapid elearning authoring tool is a new kid on the block, and I was lucky enough to book some time with the driving force behind this innovative product, Oliver Nussbaum, who has been developing authoring tools and environments since 1998. So there has been a lot of thought and expertise put into the development of imc Express.
imc engaged a usability consultancy to understand how companies are developing elearning and what are the barriers that need to be overcome in the organisation to really deliver the collaborative learning content development and user generated learning content so greatly desired by L&D departments across the world.
The barriers were actually not that surprising, the research discovered that many of the tools in use are poor technically or the effort required learn how to use them is just too great. Furthermore, there is a lack of design skills to produce self-standing elearning.
Too often, Word documents or PowerPoints are the default solution for capturing and sharing an organisation’s knowledge, procedures and processes. Word and PowerPoint have considerable limitations when it comes to knowledge transfer even though, ironically, most of us only use a small percentage of their capabilities.
Finally, there is a lack of actual learning design skills.
For the modern employee who needs to know and understand something in minutes, reading a Word document or working through a sterile PowerPoint is not great. For an organisation seeking to stimulate a collaborative learning and knowledge sharing eco-system the time it takes to build out elearning just does not work for a huge percentage of the organisation’s knowledge base.
The imc team realised something had to change and this has resulted in Express, a super rapid content creation tool that is exceptionally easy to use, that supports collaborative content development and sharing, and that has the principles of learning design designed in.
Express can be looked at from a number of different perspectives. Ostensibly it is a super rapid elearning authoring tool and I mean super rapid. It is super rapid to learn how to use – in 15 minutes you can be producing good looking and effective content. Express passes the 15 minutes test for novice users – get productive in 15 minutes or give up.
In tests against its peers, (you know the ones), in the hands of expert elearning developers imc express was 3 to 4 times faster than its peer authoring products in producing elearning. That too is super rapid.
20 20 capability
Let’s just start with one option of Express, turning a word document into a learning resource:
Step 1 – Simply drag your Word document into Express
Step 2 – Express will optimize the document to ensure its readability on 20 different screen sizes. No back and forward checking readability on devices…Express has done this for you
Step 3 – Express can create an audio file of the document automatically, (using Alexa’s sister). Of course, you can choose the desired voice and language options for the audio and text – there are 60 to choose from. That is pretty easy.
Step 4 – You can dictate additional sentences or paragraphs to the learning resource if you want. That’s very cool and very quick
Step 5 – Express gives the learning resource its structure for you by analysing the document and the language used. No need to do much here….Express has done it for you.
Step 6 – Add a video if you wish to. Express makes it easy to import videos into the platform, eliminating adverts and broken link issues….and the AI will generate sub titles and translate them if required (you can edit if you wish). The AI is programmed to make sentences from the subtitles. Very neat.
Step 7 – You can easily add assessments through the document
Step 8 – You can share this with a colleague to check or contribute in real time. Collaboration is a real learning requirement for almost all organisations.
Step 9 – Publish: SCORM 1.2 or 2004 or as an e-book or a Word document or distribute as a link (the link is programmed to expire). Usefully the PENS standard is supported to make uploading to an LMS very easy.
Express is not surprisingly tightly integrated to the ever excellent imc Learning Suite.
The Express team tell me that a document that takes 20 minutes to read can become a learning resource in 20 minutes using Express. That is super rapid.
Creating learning resources
So, our use case above shows how Express can be used to create learning resources quickly. Express can take a document or a video and imbue it with the requisite properties to produce a learning resource.
This means Express opens up the opportunity to digitise volatile content cost effectively. Traditionally elearning has been produced for stable content as the design and build effort is measured in hours not minutes.
30 hours or more to build one hour of bronze level content has been an industry norm, Express has re-written the rules. Volatile content that is likely to change can now be created in Express and either discarded and replaced or regularly updated quickly and easily.
Express produces efficacious content with the rules of effective learning design enforced. Skilled elearning developers will find Express at first limited, it is in my view prescriptive, in that Express is enforcing good learning design and actively preventing over exuberant elearning.
However, there is absolutely no doubt that this approach delivers very good learning efficacy without the need for learning designers or programmers.
Express is not going to be used to create very high-fidelity content – gold and silver elearning course development, which as we all know is very expensive. Express may well change the view of bronze quality learning though.
The opportunity for using Express is for the organisation to create learning resources at the “copper level” very quickly. Copper is the 85% of useful assets that an organisation has that never make it into digitised knowledge or learning at bronze level quality.
Highly conductive learning
Copper quality learning means highly conductive learning that is transmittable through an entire organisation like electricity over copper wire…..everywhere at speed. Copper is perhaps coming in as a little under bronze level elearning in some aspects but a lot under bronze elearning in terms of cost and time taken to develop.
As we have seen, Express-built elearning can be transmitted in multiple languages: handling text, audio and video to easily and effectively connect an organisation’s people and knowledge together through learning. Express only transmits good learning as it automatically implements good learning design.
The options for using imc Express are not limited to just converting Word documents. Express is capable of building learning or creating knowledge from scratch, and the really amazing thing is pretty much anyone in the organisation can do it.
If you are a health and safety or risk manager, using Express to build courses or bring to life your existing resources couldn’t be easier or quicker. With 15 minutes of training, you are ready to build and Express will not let you go wrong.
The learning will be absolutely fit for purpose. You can publish the learning online by a link in an email or as an e-book and a presentation mode is not far away from being launched.
User generated content at scale
Express is capable of unlocking user generated learning at scale, and as organisations are increasingly adopting a hybrid working model, the need to digitise knowledge to ensure efficient knowledge sharing is a rapidly growing requirement because the casual water cooler moment of Q and A’s comes rarer and rarer.
The ability of Express to create interactive FAQs with added knowledge checks rapidly to support a new product or process (or problem) is very real and very useful.
Artificial Intelligence and didactics
Part of the capability of Express comes from an effective use of artificial intelligence for translation and content tagging in particular, as well as reading the content and applying a learning layout if a Word document has been imported. However, a considerable part of Express’s capability comes from a deliberate decision to enforce a defined didactic approach (learning design approach) and thereby ensure that the output is good learning, to put it simply.
Initially, Express may come as the shock to the system, but evidence of usage gathered by some early deployments by imc strongly indicate that the approach works and the benefits are very real.
Express on time and trend
Express is not alone in seeking to simplify the creation of elearning courses and resources by enforcing the principles of good learning design in a way that makes the creation of digital learning content easier. Where Express excels is in its application of AI on several levels and its commitment to allowing user generated content creation to flourish.
With a number of exciting releases due (innovation packs in imc speak), Express will emerge as a go-to tool for delivering learning resources and unlocking the potential for user generated collaborative digital content creation at scale.
Learn more about the excellent imc Express authoring tool over on their website.