Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Unison - Collaborative eLearning Development

Rapid Intake has been quietly working on a killer elearning app. I totally dropped the ball on this one. I had the scoop on the story early and the old-school broadcast reporter in me wanted to be the first the break it and then bla, bla, bla...life happened...and all of sudden its released and it looks like I'm the last to post on it.

Built on the Rapid Intake collaborative eLearning development platform, Unison™ is a web-based solution that lets designers and subject matter experts (SMEs) collaboratively capture, storyboard, develop, review, test, and publish Flash-based courses —without having to know Flash. Novice users and content owners simply fill out form-based templates to create interactive Flash-based courses, while advanced users and communities create reusable custom templates by accessing the Flash source code (.fla). Project-based subscriptions start at $49 per month, enabling entire teams to work together at less cost. All output is SCORM compliant, rich-media compatible, and works on most PC and Mac browsers.

I love every last bit of what they are doing. When I first saw Unison a few months ago, my only thought was, "WOW! This totally changes the game." I am a big fan of web-based tools (and SaaS...Software as a Service) and I was wondering when the elearning world was going to jump on a board and ride the next big wave of the Internet. As far as I can tell Rapid Intake is the only company approaching rapid development this way.

Yes. There are other web2.0 learning creation web sites like Nuvvo.com which has become learnhub.com, but I think these are apples and oranges. Unison is focused on providing a great experience for the entire development team and supporting the collaborative development process.

This is not an in depth review of the app. This post is simply a shout out to Garin and his team at Rapid Intake. NICE JOB, GUYS!!! I look forward to seeing more of Unison at AG|08 in April. And hopefully some new competitors in this space as well ;-)

The eLearning Guild Annual Gathering 2008 Conference & Expo - April 14-17 - Orlando, FL


Anonymous said...

Hi Brent,

We've been doing this for over 3 years, and winning awards in the process.


Check us out and see what you think!


Mike Alcock.

Anonymous said...

Mike - I checked out your product and it looks great but there are some major differences between what you are offering and what Rapid Intake has done.

Your product is a traditional client side application where you have to install it (or worse yet get the IT department to finally get around to installing it) So there are a number of things that the SME and Learning Developer have to deal with before they can even begin the process of content creation. In my opinion this has been one of the major barriers to truly getting the SME's involved in the process of content creation. It is just too much of a hassle to get things going.

What Rapid Intake has done is eliminate all of these barriers. if you you want a SME to enter content into a course you simply send them the URL. Nothing to install, no licenses to worry about , No help desk guy to deal with. They charge by the open project not by the user so you can have an unlimited number of content contributors to a project for the same monthly fee (or Free if you only need 1 project at a time)

There are a lot of important breakthroughs for elearning here. Delivery method as SAAS.
Pricing Structure (upgrade or downgrade at any time the service will scale with you)
Hosted solution - no more helpdesk Hassles

But for my money the biggest thing of all is they have eliminated the Barrier for SME's to contribute to the content creation. TRUE COLLABORATION!!!! I am loving it.

Anonymous said...

What we're doing with Unison is different in many ways, but one of the most significant is our licensing model and our pricing structure. This has more to do with productivity that most people realize. Here's why.

Most e-learning development software is licensed based on users. This means for every user you want to involve in development, you need to buy a new license. This actually inhibits collaboration because every time you want to get a new person involved in a project you have to buy a new software license. This doesn’t make sense, especially when you may want to get a SME involved only for a few weeks or months a year.

Even with "floating" user licenses, you still have artificial barriers put in place around WHO can use the software, or how many can use the software, when really we need to be concerned not with the who or how many, but with what we need to accomplish with the software. Software licensing should empower, getting things done, rather than restrict.

To avoid the licensing costs involved, one company we talked to resorted to installing e-learning development software on laptops and shipping them around the world to the SMEs they wanted to get involved. This is an extreme example, but it demonstrates the barrier that user-based licensing can be.

Our goal at Rapid intake is to reduce the barriers and encourage collaborative e-learning development and review. So we came up with a licensing model that isn’t based on who uses the software, but rather, what your organization does with it. Instead of limiting by user, most of our subscription levels limit by what we call “Active Projects”.

So if you were a subscriber, you would use Unison like a workbench. When those working on the project are done and it’s ready to publish to the learners who will take the course, you download it and deploy it on your LMS, then archive it. Changing the project status to "Archive" means it doesn’t count towards the Active Project total.

This allows anyone in the organization to use Unison without ever having to pay another user licensing fee again.

This approach facilitates, rather than discourages, collaborative e-learning development and review. So it’s an important complimentary piece to the technology itself.

Garin Hess
Rapid Intake

bschlenker said...

This is what I love the most about Web2.0. A platform dialogue so that all of the details around any issue can be clarified and made known.

In all honesty, I don't have time to do complete and thorough reviews of software and so I discuss them from a very high level. The following conversations help me define the detail stuff.

All comments so far have been incredibly helpful in my learning process as I explore this new direction of development tools.

Thanks to everyone who is participating!