Karl Kapp had the kind of week most instructional technology professors only dream of when he was asked to be an “author” of a course on one of the country’s leading online learning companies: Lynda.com.
It all started when Kapp was a presenter at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, Fla., where he caught the eye of Aaron Quigley. Quigley, a content manager for Lynda.com, is responsible for curating authors and courses that meet viewers’ training needs.
Quigley explains that the ideal candidate is a passionate subject matter expert who can deliver content in a conversational tone. “When I first saw Dr. Kapp at Learning Solutions, he connected with his audience in a way that engaged the learners and transformed typically passive viewers into active participants in the presentation.”
Lynda.com courses generally come in two different formats: screen-capture and live-action. Screen capture courses are useful for lessons that are entirely software-based. That way, a student can follow an author’s mouse and go through each step of the program. More conceptual courses are often live-action. Kapp’s presentation skills, along with the concepts he taught, made his course appropriate for a mix of live-action, screen-capture and B-roll footage.
Kapp’s course centers on the idea of “gamification,” a term used to describe the incorporation of game elements into instruction. According to Kapp, story lines, characters, challenges, achievements and other game qualities give the learner a sense of control and improve his or her critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. The course is divided into 40, three-to-five-minute chapters and can be applied to learning in the classroom or in the corporate office.
Kapp compared writing the scripts for the chapters to writing a book. When it came time to shoot, it was like turning that book into a movie.
Lights, Camera, Action!
True to California style, Kapp received the Hollywood treatment during his five-day stay on the set, including makeup and wardrobe changes. Once Kapp heard “Action,” he came out running.
“It felt naturally fast-paced. It wasn’t hectic, but it was fast-paced,” says Kapp.
Kapp’s role as “the instructor” for Lynda.com differed greatly from classroom teaching. In a classroom, a major part of Kapp’s teaching style is his interaction with the students. With no student energy to feed off of and no breaks in between lectures, he says it was difficult to maintain high-level energy for the entire performance. Another challenge Kapp faced was the inability to improvise; he had to stick to the script.
“I really needed to just focus on reading the words on the teleprompter. Nothing felt natural,” says Kapp, “It really didn’t feel like teaching at all.”
Kapp was comfortable in front of the camera, but he did not foresee the strain production would place on his vocal cords. Day two was filled with non-stop voice recording, he recalls, as he completed 29 of his 40 chapters. Each chapter took several takes that all demanded the same level of enthusiasm. A little tea called “throat coat,” however, allowed him to get the job done.
Kapp praises his experience with Lynda.com and the atmosphere on set. Everyone was friendly and professional, and everything they did went toward improving their learners’ experience, he explains.
“They really went out of their way to make you feel welcome,” says Kapp.
When asked about his experience with Kapp, Quigley shared a similar sentiment. “Working with Dr. Kapp is a delight. His organization of course content, passion for engaging instruction, and utmost professionalism make him an ideal lynda.com author,” says Quigley.
It is no surprise then that Kapp is looking into working with Lynda.com on more courses. Hopefully next time he will get to meet Lynda – cofounder and executive chair Lynda Weinman, that is
Members of the BU campus community have full access to Lynda.com courses and tutorials at Lynda.bloomu.edu. An introduction to Kapp’s course can be found here:
By Sean Williams ’15