My first attempts at creating software video training was with a program called CameraMan. That program was ahead of its time, allowing you to capture your mouse actions, add captions and audio, and then publish into a video format that could be viewed on most computers. It was awesome software for the times but crashed a lot and had very few options. It was pretty much a record-pray-publish kind of tool.
When TechSmith released Camtasia I gave CameraMan the heave-ho and began producing slicker content in half the time. Then RoboDemo came out (RoboDemo later became Adobe Captivate) and I was quick to add that to my toolbox.
Today you have plenty of options when it comes to developing eLearning, including Camtasia, Captivate, Storyline, and two Presenters (one from Adobe, the other from Articulate).
While developing content for my Getting Started with eLearning mini course, I became curious about the origins of eLearning. As I mentioned above, I began developing eLearning 20 years ago. Surely that makes me one of the more senior eLearning developers around. It turns out I'm am just a young pup when it comes to eLearning. In fact, at a recent conference I met a person who said she started developing eLearning 30 years ago. 30 years ago? Wait, wouldn't that be the 1980s? Sure computers were around in the 80s... I was an early Mac adopter and I remember PCs with early versions of Windows (heck, I used DOS and floppy disks when they were still floppy). Those early computers struggled to do just about anything beyond word processing. How could anyone have developed eLearning on those early systems?
At the same conference, I met another person who said he was creating eLearning in the late 1970s. And that got me thinking... just how far back does eLearning go? And who was the first person or company to provide eLearning?
It turns out that eLearning really got going in 1953 when the University of Houston offered televised college credit classes. A few years later, the first adaptive teaching system (named SAKI) went into commercial production. Basically, with this system, the course got more challenging as learners improved.
When I was creating eLearning in the 1990s, the eLearning content I published consisted of video files that were huge. The files wouldn't fit on a floppy disk and computer hard drives weren't very big. Thankfully, DVDs were available (expensive, but available). The content I published was burned to a DVD, and then I hired a DVD replicating service to mass produce my content.
With the ever-growing popularity and power of the Internet and cloud computing, the need for DVDs went the way of the dinosaur. While many people think the Internet got started in the late 1990s, it came along far earlier. In 1969 the U.S. Department of Defense commissioned the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), which became the Internet as we know it today.
In the 1970s, a company started delivering live training over corporate networks in what they dubbed "virtual classrooms." And in the 1980s, the first CBTs were rolled out. In my discussion with the conference attendees I mentioned earlier, they revealed that those first CBTs were little more than teaching machines. And while they were limited in scope, they were nevertheless CBTs.
What's your earliest memory of eLearning? What tools did you use back then? And when did you first notice eLearning replacing the term CBT? Feel free to post your experience below as a comment.
If you'd like to learn more about eLearning, come hang out in my next eLearning basics mini course. And if you'd like to learn more about the history of eLearning, the infographic below is a great place to start.