Integrating Motivation with Instructional Design

As an Instructional Designer, motivating learners is an important consideration because in reality learners are not always motivated to learn. They are busy, have other things to do, don’t see the course/session as being important or have had a bad learning experience in the past. We use Dr. John Keller’s motivational design model known as ARCS.

The ARCS model comprises four major factors that influence the motivation to learn – Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. It’s described as a problem-solving model and helps designers identify and solve specific motivational problems related to the appeal of instruction. The model was developed after a comprehensive review and synthesis of motivation concepts and research studies. It has also been validated in studies across different education levels.

The four categories of motivation variables consist of sub-categories along with process questions to consider when designing:

Attention = Capturing the interest of learners, stimulating their curiosity to learn.

  • Perceptual Arousal: What can I do to capture their interest?
  • Inquiry Arousal: How can I stimulate an attitude of inquiry?
  • Variability: How can I maintain their attention?

Relevance = Meeting the personal needs/goals of the learner to affect a positive attitude.

  • Goal Orientation: How can I best meet my learner’s needs? (Do I know their needs?)
  • Motive Matching: How and when can I provide my learners with appropriate choices, responsibilities and influences?
  • Familiarity: How can I tie the instruction to the learners’ experience?

Confidence = Helping the learners believe/feel that they will succeed and control their success.

  • Learning Requirements: How can I assist in building a positive expectation for success?
  • Success Opportunities: How will the learning experience support or enhance the learners’ beliefs in their competence?
  • Personal Control: How will learners clearly know their success is based upon their efforts and abilities?

Satisfaction = Reinforcing accomplishment with rewards (internal and external).

  • Natural Consequences: How can I provide meaningful opportunities for learners to use their newly acquired knowledge/skill?
  • Positive Consequences: What will provide reinforcement to the learners’ successes?
  • Equity: How can I assist the learners in anchoring a positive feeling about their accomplishments?

The following link is to a YouTube video where Dr. Keller discusses the ARCS Model, some background in its development and the addition of volition to the model. ARCS: A Conversation with John Keller

Apart from the motivational aspects of the model, what I really like about ARCS is that it puts the learner at the centre of the design process. After all, that’s how it should be.

For information on B Online Learning instructional design and eLearning content development services visit our page here or contact us

story tellling

Key Elements of Storytelling for eLearning

Everyone loves a good story. We are surrounded by stories in social media, movies, advertising and the news. People love to share anecdotes and jokes as a way to connect with each other. The best presenters use stories to capture the audience’s attention at the start.

What about eLearning designers? Do we need to be good at telling stories? Some people would say – ‘no we are creating courses not stories’. While that is true, there are many things eLearning designers can learn from the art of storytelling.

Storytelling is defined as “The telling of a happening or connected series of happenings, whether true or fictitious; account; narration.” (Denning, 2005)

In this post we look at elements of a good story and how we can apply these to eLearning design.

1.  Good stories are cohesive and well-structured.

There are conventions in the way stories are structured – the opening to hook the reader, the middle to develop the story and the end to reach a satisfying resolution.

An eLearning course also needs to be cohesive and well-structured. When planning a course, ask yourself:

  • ‘What elements will hold the course together?’.
  • ‘How will I hook the learners on the first few screens?’
  • ‘What is the most logical way to sequence the course content?’

Certainly visual design is important to create a cohesive look and feel. But what about the course structure? Do your screens jump from topic to topic with no common thread? Is there a story that you could use to hold the topics together?

For example if you are designing a course ‘Provide Coaching and Mentoring’, you could introduce two characters at the start – Jan, the mentor, and Sara the mentee. The characters can introduce each new topic and talk about their experience of the mentoring process…how they met, how they planned their first meeting, how they set goals with each other and so on.

I like Articulate Storyline because it encourages eLearning designers to think in terms of ‘telling a story’. It features ‘Story View’ where the designer sees an aerial view of the course (the story), including scenes (the chapters) and slides (the pages). This helps to make sense of how the course is going to fit together. Screens and scenes can be easily rearranged. Story View encourages creativity because there are so many different ways that you can structure the course; for example using branched scenarios.

2.  Good stories are memorable.

Usually it is the people in a story that we remember the most. You can certainly design an eLearning course without people in it, but it might not be very engaging.

I like the way Articulate’s Storyline provides characters that you can insert quickly and easily. Sure the learner might not remember the characters like they remember Harry Potter, but at least they are more likely to relate to the character and this can assist learning.

Here is an example from the Articulate 360 content library. The characters come in a range of poses and expressions so you can use the same character throughout the course.

If you are designing a course for the health sector, insert images of a nurse or doctor in different poses throughout the course. Give the security expert a name and put him or her in different work situations that the learners are likely to face. Talk to the Subject Matter Expert if you need details to make the situation more realistic.

3.  Good stories are often about overcoming problems.

We are social creatures who like to relate to other people. This is why scenarios are so fantastic for eLearning courses. For example a workplace scenario typically presents a challenge or problem that the character faces – and then the learner is asked ‘What would you do?’. This encourages the learner to think for themselves. All the best stories are about overcoming problems!

Imagine you are creating a course about Equal Employment Opportunity. You could think of a central character who faces a struggle. The obvious one is that she faces discrimination on the basis of her disability. Introduce the character to learners and insert an image of her. Return to her throughout the course. Describe her experience at job interviews. Ask the learners questions about how prospective employers communicated with her. And if you like, make it a happy ending where she finally lands her dream job. The learners are likely to remember the character in your course.

Final Word

Of course story telling is not going to be appropriate for all eLearning courses. It will depend on the purpose of the course, the target learners and other considerations.

I would like to finish with two quotes about the power of stories:

“Over the years I have become convinced that we learn best – and change – from hearing stories that strike a chord within us.” John Kotter, Harvard Business School Professor

“Stories are how we think. They are how we make meaning of life. Call them schemas, scripts, cognitive maps, mental models, metaphors, or narratives. Stories are how we explain how things work, how we make decisions, how we justify our decisions, how we persuade others, how we understand our place in the world, create our identities, and define and teach social values.” Dr Pamela Rutledge

Interested in learning more about writing brilliant stories using Articulate Storyline, visit our Certified Articulate training webpage here 

How to Review eLearning Courses

When it comes to developing eLearning courses, there are many things that can go wrong. Okay, so that isn’t the most positive start to this blog post! But the fact is that a single eLearning developer will not pick up every error in the first version of an eLearning course.

Just as an author works with an editor, and a journalist needs a proofreader, it is only natural that eLearning developers need feedback from other people to identify errors and problems. Fresh eyes are needed because the developer is often too close to the material. But effective course reviews cannot be done in an ad hoc manner.

To collect quality feedback, you need a structured review process. This involves determining who will review a course (both internally and externally) and what the timeframes for review will be. In this post I will look at some important aspects of the quality control process.

Clarifying the Review Process

If you are developing a course for a new client, it is important to communicate with them about the review process. This should be done at the start of a project. If you wait until near the end of the development process, you could run into problems such as project timeline blowout and additional costs.

A typical problem is the late entrance of unexpected stakeholders who request additional content be added to the course. To avoid such problems, you must provide a clear understanding of how the review will work before the project commences.

Consider the following questions:

  • What steps will there be in the review process?
  • Who are the key stakeholders involved in the project?
  • How much time is needed for the review process?
  • Are the deadlines realistic for both parties?
  • What amendments are not included in the Scope at each review that would incur additional cost?

In some cases you might be developing a course with the help of several Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). For example if there are 5 SMEs, are you prepared to go through 5 different review documents? What happens if different team members have different views on necessary changes? A good solution is to ask the team to nominate a spokesperson for the group.

The SMEs could have a team meeting amongst themselves and then the team leader can produce a single review document on behalf of the team. This would save you time and also keep costs down (a good incentive for the client).

If you are using Articulate 360 then consider using Articulate Review web app. It allows you to gather consolidated feedback throughout your project, show stakeholders the latest version, and manage resolved comments after making changes.

Checking for Accuracy

The first version of your course is likely to have inaccuracies but there is no need to panic. If you have a thorough checklist of questions at hand, it will help you and others to identify errors. In fact, I have found that many SMEs actually like spotting errors (as long as there are not too many!).

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is the actual content in the course accurate (e.g. facts, figures, names)?
  • Is the content up to date?
  • Is there any content missing?
  • Have you checked for typos and spelling errors?
  • Does the audio script match exactly what the learners are hearing?
  • Are the instructions clear and correct?
  • Are the quiz or test answers correct?

Checking for Consistency

Consistency is needed to make your course look professional and cohesive. It helps to give the learners a sense of stability when working through the content. Some questions to consider when checking for consistency include:

  • Is the look of the course consistent with other courses for the same client? (e.g. colours of the player)
  • Is there consistency with the use of fonts (font type and size) for headings, body text and so on?
  • Have you been consistent with terminology throughout the course? For example a course can be referred to as a ‘unit’, a ‘session’, a ‘module’ – choose one term and stick to it.

Using templates will assist with consistency. But more on that in another blog post.

Checking for Functionality

When a course has been published and loaded to a Learning Management System, it is ready to be checked for functionality. Keep in mind that features such as links to websites may work in the pre-publishing phase, but then not work on the LMS and vice versa.

Before the course goes live, make sure you have tested all the technical components of the course from the environment where the course will be deployed. Allow time for problem-solving because it can take longer than you think, especially if there is a problem you have not encountered before. I have found the eLearning Heroes community an excellent resource for finding solutions to technical problems.

Here are just a few things to watch out for:

  • Is the navigation working according to client’s requirements (e.g. Does the client want learners to pass the quiz before progressing to the final screen?)
  • Do the videos in the course play correctly?
  • Are there any problems with visibility (e.g. video too small, font size too small)?
  • Do animations appear at the right time to synch with the audio?
  • Do the links in the course work correctly?

Final Word

This is just a sample of things to check. It is best to develop your own review checklist, even if it’s as simple as a table in a Word document.  Download this simple template to use.  I recommend developing a new checklist for each client. By tailoring the checklist to the clients’ needs, you are more likely to meet their specific requirements.

Three eLearning Design Challenges and Solutions

There is no doubt that eLearning designers need strong problem-solving skills. In the early stages of any design project, we need to wear our analytical hats and work out how to transform training content into an engaging learning experience.

When faced with 100 slides of content from a client, it can be a daunting task to organise the material and then build an eLearning course. Then again, some of us just love a challenge!

Here are three design challenges that I have faced and the steps I took to meet the challenge.

Condense large amounts of learning content provided by the client.

Recently I had a client provide material that included 6 PowerPoint slides covering all the legislation that learners needed to know. If I just added a few images and kept the content on 6 different screens, imagine how the learner’s eyes would soon glaze over reading screen after screen of legislation. My challenge was to present the material in a succinct way and to keep the learner’s attention.

Using Articulate Storyline, I condensed all the content into one interactive screen with tabs to reveal a layer for each piece of legislation.  The result is an interaction that is far less daunting for the learner (one screen of legislation looks better than six!). In addition, learners are more likely to get involved by clicking on the various elements on the screen. If the client insists that the learner reads every item on the screen, you can set the interaction so that she or he has to view each item before progressing to the next screen.

Create consistency in the eLearning course without making it dull.

As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. But when it comes to eLearning course design, too much variety is confusing for the learner. Imagine an online course with 10 different fonts, 10 different characters, 10 types of animation and every colour of the rainbow. How would this affect the learning experience? Most likely it would confuse the learner as the course would appear disjointed and hard to follow.

The best practice is to design with consistency in mind. Here are some ways to create a cohesive course:

  • 1 or 2 fonts only – We like to use one font for the screen titles and another for the body text.
  • Templates – Player templates and slide masters create a cohesive look and feel (while saving you time).
  • Colour scheme – Stick to 2 or 3 key colours for elements on the screen.
  • Activity boxes – Keep the same colour and format for special activity boxes in the course.
  • Symbols – This is a good way to provide recognisable markers for learners (e.g. a question mark icon to indicate a discussion question).
  • Main character – Introduce your character at the start and bring them in throughout the course, but not every screen.
Encourage the learner to stop and take a closer look.

Adult learners are usually time-poor and so they might be tempted to rush through an eLearning course. The challenge for the designer is to create courses that encourage learners to slow down, interact with the material and to think more carefully. There are many ways to do this—case studies, scenarios, quizzes, activities. The key is to draw the learner into the course through interaction.

Let’s say the learning material includes a flow chart. You could just copy and paste the flow chart onto the screen. Using this approach, some learners would stop and read through the flow chart; but many would just skip the screen because there is nothing to draw them in. The challenge here is to create an interactive screen. Again using Articulate Storyline the learner can click on each of the flow chart elements to read about that stage of the process. This is a great way to encourage the learner to take a closer look and digest the information at a deeper level.

Final word

If you are ever stuck with a design problem and need help or inspiration, I encourage you to go the E-Learning Heroes website. The E-Learning Heroes community has over 700,000 eLearning professionals who exchange ideas, solve problems, share resources and inspire each other.

If you are not already part of the community, it is easy to join up and find the help and inspiration you need. For a more formal training approach you could also try B Online Learning’s eLearning Design Essentials Course or our Certified Articulate Training.

Learner Centric eLearning Design

Years ago when I was learning to be a teacher, I was quickly thrown in the deep end to teach a group of adult learners. ‘Prac teaching’ can be a daunting experience.  I still remember the feedback from the teacher who observed my first lesson; she said I needed to be more ‘learner-centric’.

It took me a while to truly appreciate the difference between a teacher-centric and a learner-centric approach. In this post I would like to explore the difference, and in particular how it can be applied to eLearning design.

Teacher-centric approach

With this approach, the teacher is thinking about ‘what content do I need to deliver in the lesson’ and the goal is to cover everything by the end of the lesson. In essence, the lesson becomes like a presentation. The teacher does most of the talking/presenting and the learners are more like passive recipients of the information.

Designer-centric approach

When it comes to eLearning design, there is also the risk of being so preoccupied with organising content that we overlook the needs of the learners. The focus is on pushing out the content, rather than pulling in the learner. In the field of eLearning, perhaps we could call this approach ‘designer-centric’ or even ‘SME-centric’.  This approach often results in courses that look very similar to presentations.

Learner-centric approach

Here is a useful definition of the learner-centric/student-centric approach:

“In student-centred learning, students are active participants in their learning, they learn at their own pace and use their own strategies….learning is more individualised than standardised. Student-centred learning develops learning-how-to-learn skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and reflective thinking. Student-centred learning accounts for and adapts to different learning styles of students.”

Teachers and trainers who use a learner-centred approach are able to tune into the individual needs of learners and do their best to meet those needs.

How can eLearning designers be learner-centric?

With the latest technological advances in authoring tools, it is becoming easier for designers to create engaging courses that cater to individual needs and preferences.

Here are a few suggestions for being more learner-centric in eLearning design:
  1. Think of the course as an experience for the learner. If you realise that your eLearning course is starting to look more and more like a presentation, then it is time to step back and imagine you are the person taking the course. Would you enjoy the learning experience or would your eyes soon glaze over?
  2. Use scenario-based learning. This involves presenting a realistic situation to the learners and then asking them to apply knowledge by making a choice. Each choice branches to a screen with different consequences. This is a great way to encourage the learner to actively participate in the course. You are asking them to think for themselves and make their own decisions.
  3. Give learners choices where appropriate. For example if you are including a research activity, give the learners a choice of three websites to go to. Another option is to give them a choice of topics to research. This will make the learning experience more enjoyable.
  4. Provide a range of mediums for people to learn from – videos, podcasts, documents, graphs, charts, lists, quizzes, activities and so on. This will help you to cater for visual learners, auditory learners and so on. For example you could provide this instruction: Read the PDF document attached. Alternatively watch the video which covers the same information.
  5. Give learners additional resources to branch off and explore a topic further if they need to.  Remember that each learner brings her or his own pre-existing knowledge and skills to a course. Some learners will need more information than others. I like the idea of boxes throughout a course entitled – ‘Want to know more?’ or ‘Need more information?’ – and then you can insert a link to a document or website with more details. This is not for essential course information; instead it is for supplementary material. Some people may read the additional information out of interest, others out of necessity and others may ignore it. The point is you are recognising potential differences and catering for those differences in the course design.
Final word

Of course at the most basic level, a learner-centred approach means you must have a good understanding of who the learners are. Before starting the storyboard, it is worth doing any necessary research about the ages, abilities, attitudes and expectations of the learners. With a clear learner profile in mind, it is easier to design a course that meets their specific needs.

Easily Publish eLearning to Birch Learning Platform

In the world of learning, a Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Platform (LP) is used to distribute eLearning content and track users’ results, responses to questions and interactions.  

The process to load content into an LMS is to “Publish” or “Package” the training, wrapping it in programming standards (such as SCORM or xAPI) that allows it to interact with the reporting capabilities of the system.

Through long experience in the world of eLearning, we are still amazed to find people and organisations struggling with this basic eLearning function and the issues usually boil down to three key areas:

  1. The content development tool, or third party development programmers do not comply with SCORM or xApi standards.
  2. The LMS only accepts or can report on content built within the LMS or by the LMS vendor, effectively locking people into using the LMS.
  3. The LMS vendor does not allow clients to load their own content because the process is too technical. 

B Online Learning is an organisation that embraces technologies that will work for all clients and provide unquestionable flexibility and reliability.

To this end our research and personal experiences, led us to choose Articulate as our preferred content development tool and to build Birch  Learning Platform.  

Our choices are based on the fact that these applications are easy to use, have extensive and comprehensive functionality and most importantly they make it very easy for our clients to publish and load their own eLearning content whenever they want.

First watch how to publish SCORM content from Articulate Rise.

Now see how to publish SCORM from Articulate Storyline.

Watch how easy it is to load these files to Birch Learning Platform. 

We have used Articulate content as the example however Birch Learning Platform is compatible with any SCORM or xAPI compliant content.

It is really that simple and takes a few minutes from content being published to content being available in the learning platform.

If your LMS or content provider charges you to upload content or if this process is anything other than simple and reliable then contact us to find out more about Birch Learning Platform.

On a final note, if your LMS provider says that your content is not sending the correct information to the LMS , then test it in the SCORM cloud – if it works correctly there, then its the LMS not the content!

Convert Adobe Captivate to Articulate Storyline

We often are approached by people who have their eLearning content developed in Adobe Captivate.  Usually they feel locked into Captivate, either through the marketing and sales spiel of their contracted developer, the personal preference of an employee, or the old favourite of “we’ve always used it”.

Sometimes the marketing and belief system they have been given and built since they started developing eLearning for their people, leads them to think that Articulate Storyline is unable to do what Adobe Captivate can.  This is so untrue!

When we demonstrate how Articulate Storyline is just as capable in creating effective, engaging, interactive, accessible and compliant eLearning as Adobe Captivate, and that it is in fact far easier to use they soon turn their attention to converting their existing content.

So how do we convert an Adobe Captivate eLearning module to Articulate Storyline? For experienced Articulate Storyline developers, like our team at B Online Learning, it really doesn’t take very long.

The conversion isn’t as easy as converting a word doc to a PDF or back again. It will take a little bit of time and investment. You can‘t just open a Captivate file in Storyline and expect the conversion to be done for you. So, let’s roll our sleeves up and see what’s involved!

Firstly, how are they providing the old module? Do they have the original Captivate source file .cpt or .cptx or do they only have the published output? If they have the original Captivate source file, that makes the conversion process a little easier. If they don’t and only have the published output, that makes things a little more complex but not impossible. Let’s look at each in turn.

The Source File

With the source file in hand, open it in Adobe Captivate. If you don’t have access to Captivate you can download a 30-day free trial from Adobe’s website which will allow you to open the source file.

Once you have opened the file in Captivate, you will be able to see how many slides make up the module and have an idea as to how the developer has structured the animations and content.

To do the conversion, you will basically be rebuilding this structure within Storyline. Before you can rebuild anything though, you need to get all your images, video, audio and content sorted. Don’t worry about shapes and fonts. Grab the colour scheme vis your eyedropper tool in Storyline or ask the client for their style guide which will give you all the RGB colour codes and corporate fonts. All those can be rebuilt or installed locally for use in Storyline. The key things you want to capture here are images, the audio files and any videos.

To do so open the library interface within Captivate:

This will show you all the images, audio, video that are being used in the project. From here you can right click on them (individually or select all files you want to export) and select export to save a copy to your development folder for insertion into Storyline when you do the rebuild. Make sure you rename everything, so you know where it needs to go once you commence building in Storyline. I like to use the slide number somewhere in the file name for easy reference.

Capturing on screen text is as simple as highlighting the text, copying and pasting it to another document or directly into your Storyline project.

Alternatively, if you have multiple monitors or don’t mind ALT-TABing a lot on a single monitor, you could open Captivate and Storyline side by side to rebuild each slide as you go, copying and pasting the content slide by slide, and adding any animations or interactions as required.

Add any required accessibility information. In Storyline you can access these settings via the size and position menu settings of an object:

  1. Select the object by clicking on it
  2. Select the Format tab
  3. Click on the other settings icon (below in yellow)
  4. Select the Alt Text tab.

The Published Output

Sometimes clients don’t have the Captivate source file. The only item they have access to is the published output. Why would this be so? Well there are two main reasons:

  1. It’s simply been lost or accidently deleted; and
  2. The original developers didn’t provide the source files as part of the build agreement.

So, is it possible to convert from published output only? It’s a little more challenging, but it’s possible. You can locate the audio files easily enough in the published output under the ‘ar’ directory

You will need to go through and listen and rename them to correspond with each slide.

To access the images and video we suggest using a third-party software program known as a flash decompiler.  There are a number of these available online. Some free (with varying levels of success), and some have a cost, but generally they will allow you to extract the images, audio, video, animations and text from the .swf flash file in the published output:

So, there you go! Converting from Captivate to Storyline. Its not a quick process, but it will allow you to share with your client that not only is Storyline just as effective as Captivate, but also once converted, easier to use and update as time goes on!

If you are interested in us helping you convert your Adobe Captivate eLearning content to Articulate Storyline then please contact us here to see some examples.

eLearning Levels of Interactivity and Articulate 360

This post is adapted from a webinar – register here to view the recording.

They say for eLearning to be engaging, it needs to be interactive. Interactivity is the key that keeps the learner’s interest, and assists them in embedding new knowledge once they have completed a learning module. It also helps to make the e-learning experience a little more fun! So how much interactivity do you require for your content?

Great question!

How interactive your module needs to be, comes down to the definition questions you asked prior to entering into the development phase of your module.

Questions such as:

  • Who are your learners?
  • What are the expected learning outcomes?
  • What do they need to be able to ‘do’ as an outcome of this module?
  • Are we talking simple tasks, or complex skill sets?

An interaction is a learning activity where an individual is presented with a problem or scenario, and must work to achieve an outcome or goal. Interactions should be designed to maintain the learner’s interest, and if required, allow them to practice the task or skill they are learning.

If the learner is able to apply their knowledge through interactions, it will assist them in processing the information in more depth, and they will have a higher likelihood of recalling the information and transferring it to a real-world setting.

Articulate 360 has many tools available to assist you in crafting your interactions, and in encouraging your learners to interact with their computer screens.

No matter what type of interaction you are after, you can be guaranteed that one of the tools out of Articulate Rise, Storyline 360, Studio 360, Replay 360, Peek or Preso will be able to assist you in building your interactivity. Bet you never would have guessed that even Articulate Review and the Content Library can help promote interactivity in your e-learning? Curious? Read on to find out how.

But first the big question…How interactive does your interactivity need to be?

Over the years that our industry has been around, research has supported the finding that there are generally four levels of interactivity available to you, when crafting your e-learning masterpiece.

Level 1 – Passive Interaction

The first level (conveniently named Level 1) is your entry level interactivity. The level of interactivity is relatively passive. In passive interactions, the learner reads information on the screen, and navigates backwards and forward throughout the course. The types of things you would expect to see at this level include text, images, diagrams, auto-played videos/animations; and the standard next and previous buttons. Nothing too ‘flashy’, fairly minimalist and functional. Level I interactivity is great for simple information.

For example, here is module I whipped up about a breed of dog called the Alaskan Malamute. It’s an overview of the breed, their key features and some videos and images to support the information. A quick little Level 1 passive interaction.

The primary thing to keep in mind about Level 1 interactions is keep them super short, with free navigation for your learner. This means they can jump in and get the information they want and spend as long or as little in the module as they want without the risk of boredom and disengagement kicking in. Level 1 is also great for short updates or ‘Just in time’ information.

Articulate Rise is a superstar for this kind of interaction! Here’s why:

  1. It’s extremely easy to work with, copy and paste your content into any one of its pre-built lessons, or use its custom lesson blocks for a bit more control and variety
  2. Upload your own videos, or embed videos from a number of different websites
  3. Most importantly, Rise content is automatically optimised for any device used to view it. So no matter whether your learner is viewing the Rise course on a desktop, smartphone or tablet; it’s going to look amazing

Rise is not alone in its superstardom though! If you want to grab a quick screen capture of an app to share with a learner, or coach someone through using a new software application, you can also use Articulate’s Peek to grab your screen capture or use Replay to grab the capture and add picture in picture footage of yourself as a coach, virtually guiding your learner through the program. But wait! You can also import your Replay and Peek output videos into Rise enabling further content to support your learning objectives, all automagically responsive to the screen it’s viewed on. Want to capture a quick level 1 interactive informal training course on your iPad? You can do that with Preso! Working directly on your iPad’s screen with annotation tools on a series of PDFs. You can share that via a link anywhere or publish it to Articulate 360 and it becomes a downloadable SCORM compliant presentation for you LMS. Again, if you want you can upload it to Rise for further enhancement and responsiveness

How cool is that!? Articulate is already killing it, and we haven’t even got to Level 2 interactivity yet!

Level 2 – Limited Interaction

Level 2 is mostly the same as Level 1 but the learner can also interact with multiple choice exercises, pop-ups, simple animations and even the occasional drag and drop activity. Limited interaction examples include interactive timelines, drag and drop activities like matching, sequencing and so forth, application simulations that follow a procedure or process, quizzes, interactive games/stories and audio narration.

You can crank Articulate Rise up a notch to Level 2, and add all sorts of interactivity via its pre-built lessons or custom blocks. It will allow you to add timelines, interactive markers, matching activities, multiple choice quizzing, sorting activities and processes, all again fully responsive and looking gorgeous for your learner.

The other option is using Articulate Studio 360. As e-learning developers we are often given slide decks to convert into self-directed eLearning modules. Now, not all slide decks deserve to be converted, in fact most eLearning developers would cringe and shy away from just converting a slide deck and handing it back as an eLearning module. Not a great experience for the learner! And that process has significantly contributed to the bad wrap our industry gets!

But what if the slide deck is well designed and already follows some good instructional design processes? It can be converted easily to a Level 2 interactive eLearning module using Presenter and some instructionally sound Engage interactions.

Engage will give you the interactions you need like conversations, FAQs, guided images, labelled graphics, processes, timelines, tabs, checklists etc.

Then using Articulate Quizmaker you can add any number of interactive knowledge checks like multiple choice or multiple response answers.

Got a great Level 1 interaction you want to include in your module? Using the Web Object feature of Presenter you can pull it in and use it as well. All those Peek, Preso and Replay videos can be reused easily by importing the video outputs. Why reinvent the wheel when you don’t need to?

With Level 2 interactions you can hold and maintain your learners interest a little longer than Level 1 because you’ve got them, as Tom Kuhlmann says touching the screen and interacting with the content. You can usually push the time of your module here out to 10-15 minutes or so.

A good rule of thumb is to get the learners to interact with the screen every 3-4 slides. This assists in maintaining interest and reducing the boredom factor.

Level 3 – Complex Interactions

The learner will make some of the responses in Level 2 but in addition, they will also be expected to enter text and experience consequences for wrong answers.  Scenario-based branching logic is introduced at this level. Branching logic allows the learner to experience some kind of penalty for incorrect responses, and their progress is determined by their decisions. Complex interaction examples include branching scenarios, viewing video and identifying faults, problem solving activities etc.

Want to create a course with decision-making scenarios, custom interactions, and quizzing that is highly interactive?

Calling Articulate Storyline 360. You’re up.

By using Storyline’s layers, states and triggers, you can create complex interactions easily, and by using SL360’s variables you can personalise courses by capturing and tracking the learners inputs and actions, creating a dynamic experience for the learner.

By combining all these feature you can build fully immersive scenarios that draw in and engage your learners. For example are you teaching counselling skills? By using Storyline’s triggers you can not only get text feedback on how you are going, but the body language of your virtual client can also change from positive to negative and back again depending on the choices you select. A great way for a would be counsellor to practice their skills in a safe environment with coaching and feedback available for their actions.

Storyline is also quite capable of producing Level 1 and 2 interactive experiences, but its power really shines when you are creating more complex situation for you learners.

Again, you can import and reuse Rise, Replay, Peek and Preso content via a web object, and if you’re really keen, you can push Storyline created interactions even further by utilising JavaScript.

Level 4 – Full Animation or Real Time Interactions

This is the ‘top end’ of interactivity when it comes to eLearning development. Real time interactions include enhanced gaming technology, real life 3D simulations, virtual/augmented reality, interview/interrogation simulations with extensive feedback and multiple branching options, interactive spreadsheets, solving a mystery, interacting with a virtual product and so on.

Level 4 interactions can look good and be extremely high-tech, but that doesn’t necessarily always produce a ‘meaningful learning experience’ as they may have been created by animators/coders etc. who don’t have instructional design experience.

Level 4 interactions can be awesome, but are usually quite expensive and time consuming. They may also rely on technology that learners do not have access to e.g. VR goggles.

Again here Storyline can assist you in achieving this level of interactivity. Take the above counselling interaction to another level by adding multiple branching outcomes based on each and every decision you make, keep the decision by decision coaching or leave it out until the very end of the interaction and receive a personalised ‘report card’ based on how you went, with suggestions for improvement and reinforcement of the correct skills used.

You can also use a high level animation app like Vyond to create videos to import into Storyline.

Additionally, want to make it even more real time? Add a countdown timer to put the pressure on and mimic an actual consultation time frame. If you aren’t done by the time the counter reaches zero, the client will walk out on you.

Further customisation can be added with Storyline’s variables, giving the course a personal feel for the learner, including lost opportunities if information isn’t followed up on (True-False variable), a personalised experience where the client refers to you by your actual name (text variable) or even a ticking clock showing time remaining for a successful consultation (number variable).

Did you know that Articulate Review can also support a Level IV interaction? Articulate Review is great for garnering feedback from stakeholders via its comment system, but what if you used that comment system for a Level 4 interactive, asynchronous learning event?

Upload a module to review that poses a number of questions or review a particular learning skillset, and encourage your learners to comment on the learning presented, or answer the questions you have posed in the module. Learners can also respond to other’s comments on Articulate Review creating a real-time interaction for learning.

In rapid eLearning the ‘sweet spot’ to aim for, is a level of interaction set between Level 2 and 3. This is usually achievable with regard to time, money and resources and still obtain a quality output that addresses learning gaps.

Articulate 360 can help you with whatever level of interactivity you want. If you’re dry on inspiration have a look at the Articulate Content Library which is available with the Articulate 360 subscription for some ideas. Or check out any of the links below for interactive inspiration.

Want interaction? All you need is your imagination and Articulate 360, and you have the winning combination.

Handy Links

E-Learning Heroes

E-Learning Challenges

Why you need the tools in Articulate 360 and when to use them – Nicole Legault (Community Manager E-learning Heroes) 

Articulate 360

Articulate Rise

Articulate Peek Vs Replay

What is Microlearning?

To learn more about Microlearning, register to watch Matt Blackstock recorded webinar here.

Microlearning is “A short piece of learning, that addresses a specific practical skill, that is just ‘long enough’”.

So what’s the big deal about microlearning? Why are organisations investing time and resources into it? What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned workshop or eLearning module? There’s nothing inherently wrong with a workshop or a self-directed online learning module, they both serve a purpose. Whether you utilise one or the other depends on a whole number of things which is a debate for another time. We’re just interested in the ‘why’ of microlearning. The simplest answer is: we have terrible memories.

Back in 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus did some research on what he called ‘the forgetting curve’. The forgetting curve indicated that without some form of reinforcement over time, we forget a large percentage of what we have learned. For example, you attend a day’s learning workshop and after 4-5 days you have forgotten 80% of what you covered. That’s a pretty big loss of new information!

To combat this, researchers have proposed that learners should use the ‘spacing effect’ to assist them in remembering what they have learnt. The spacing effect is the phenomenon whereby learning is greater when studying is spread out over time, as opposed to studying the same amount of content in a single session. That is, it is better to use spaced presentation rather than massed presentation.

Researchers such as Will Thalheimer have taken this concept a step further and proposed a learning technique called spaced repetition that incorporates increasing intervals of time between subsequent review of previously learned material, in order to exploit the spacing effect. By having a spaced review of something we have learnt over time – less of the learnt content is forgotten.

So, does microlearning fit into this idea of spaced repetition? Yes, it does. Microlearning allows us to provide short review pieces that allow a learner to embed what they have learnt over a period of time.

Best practice microlearning in the workplace

What has best practice shown from corporate learning that might give us more information about why we could use microlearning?

  1. Microlearning is no good if it’s too short. People can’t and won’t engage fully. That’s why it’s impossible to give a time limit to microlearning, and part of the reason why our definition says that the learning should be ‘long enough’. That may be 3 minutes or it might be 10. The learning still needs to grab the learner’s attention. What’s in it for them? Why should they care?
  2. Content must be able to ‘stand alone’ It’s not just breaking an existing program into smaller units. This turns the training into a ‘start/stop’ process. The learning becomes inconsistent and fragmented, and there is the added effort on the learner to remember “where am I up to?” and “what did I review last time?”
  3. Workers have limited patience – they want to be able to finish a task and move on to the next one in a reasonable time frame. If they feel something is bogging them down and preventing them from getting on with their day, they will get frustrated and negative towards it fairly quickly.
  4. Even if they have more time for a task – it generally won’t happen – interruptions continue in the workplace because they have their ‘real jobs’ to do! Projects, customers, clients, meetings, communications etc. all are clamouring for their attention.

When microlearning keeps these practices in mind it can be effective and not add any additional burden on the learner. Heck they may even enjoy it!

What is and what is NOT microlearning?

Microlearning is NOT:

  • Chunking, breaking down, and ‘to be continued’ – Microlearning has to stand alone. If you’ve just chunked down a full program into smaller pieces with a ‘too be continued’, it’s too fragmented and too much of a cognitive demand for a learner to remember where they left off. Chunking down a 20-minute video into ten 2-minute videos just provides an increased annoyance factor of ‘what did I watch before?’ and ‘which video am I up to?’ Both questions eat into their small window of patience.
  • Video only – It could also be a job aid, a scenario, a couple of quick questions, a podcast, a mini module etc.
  • Less than 5 minutes – It could be if you discover that 5 minutes is ‘just long enough’, but time should not be the deciding factor.

Microlearning IS:

  • Just in time (not ‘just in case’)
  • Short and specific
  • A single focus – One idea/objective/concept/behaviour.
  • Immediately applicable – no theory/no extensive history/no backstories.
  • Available for the learner to access on their In other words, accessible on any platform – phone, desktop or even tablet, available at work and at home – what suits them?
  • Easy to find – not buried in the depths of your LMS/Intranet.
  • Great for review, practice or extension, all of which fit into spaced repetition well.

Check back soon to read my other posts on how to build microlearning with Articulate tools and how to use Birch Learning Platform for microlearning.

Articulate Rise is a Rising Star

One of the challenges faced by e-learning developers is being able to develop learning for multiple devices and platforms. How your module would look on a desktop was the known factor, because that is what most people used to access it. However, with the increased proliferation of mobile devices like phones, tablets and phablets, your hard design and development work could end up not only looking horrid, but also completely unusable on any platform that wasn’t a desktop PC.

Articulate rose to the challenge of responsive authoring with their program RISE, part of their Articulate 360 subscription based authoring platform.

Articulate believe that a designer should only have to build their course once, and then let the tool do the heavy lifting for other devices. That’s right, design an e-learning lesson once, publish, and no matter what device is used to view it, it will look fantastic, with usability second to none.

That belief is what gave birth to RISE. One of the greatest features of Rise is that because it is an online authoring tool, completely accessible via your browser, it requires no installations or downloads to function.

What’s even better though is (can it get better? Yes, it can!) because of that, whenever Articulate offers a new feature, you have access to it straight away, without any updates, downloads or installations. How easy is that!
So, what has changed since Rise has been released? Heaps! Been a while since you looked at it? Here’s your excuse to return! Click on each of the animated gifs below to learn more.


When Rise was launched in November 2016, one of the first comments that was made about modules built in it, was that the raw files were locked to the developer’s articulate account. Unlike a Storyline file, they couldn’t be given to the client/customer/stakeholder once the project was completed. Any additional changes would have to come back to the original developer for action. And if the original developer left your organisation, chances are you would lose access to the raw files as well. Not anymore! In RISE you can now not only transfer ownership of the raw RISE files to your client or colleague, you can also now invite additional people to collaborate on a RISE module build.



Need to localise the language of your RISE course? Translations are also now available, with a complete step by step guide included within the software to make it happen for you!


Publish to Review

Have you been using Review to collect stakeholder and SME feedback on your Storyline 360 projects? Guess what? You can now use Review to collect feedback on your RISE courses as well!


Need to produce accessible eLearning content as a requirement of your organisation? RISE has now got you covered as well. Alt tags for images, and a publish to PDF option for those times when a hard copy of the module is required.


What about in the development of a course itself? What’s changed there? In the last 18 months, a tonne of stuff!

RISE courses are still beautifully responsive and look great no matter what kind of PC, Tablet or smartphone is being used to access it. With the following additions, it has made RISE more customisable, and able to provide a wider range of learning activities for your learners.

Enhanced Quizzing

When RISE first launched, you could test your learner’s knowledge via multiple choice question quizzes only and pass those results back to your LMS as required. That was great, but a little repetitive as it was the only type of question you could access to test knowledge. Now you can use Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, Fill in the blank and Matching questions to mix things up a bit and test knowledge using a variety of questions.

Knowledge Check Block

Want to get your learners to reflect on what they have just seen, but don’t require to use those responses for an assessment. The new Knowledge block is perfect for you! You can ask your learners a Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, Fill in the blank or Matching question to assist them in consolidating their knowledge before they move on to the next lesson.

Content Library

The content library has been available within Storyline 360 and Studio 360 since the launch of Articulate 360, but back then accessing it for use in RISE was not available. Now it’s a different story. Need a high-resolution photo or top-quality illustration for your RISE lesson? You’re now covered by being able to access any one of the millions of photos or illustrations available via the content library.

Prebuilt lessons now available as separate blocks

There were a number of pre-built lessons launched with RISE. The only drawback was that they took up an entire lesson in your RISE project, and didn’t let you customise them with further text, or multimedia blocks as you would have liked. Not anymore! You can still use the pre-built lessons based on need, but now you can also include the Labelled graphic, Process and Timeline pre-built lessons as blocks within your other lessons, giving you increased customisability and helping you set up your RISE course exactly how you want it.


Downloadable Resources

Have you got a ‘cheat sheet’ or a ‘just in time’ resource you want to have available for learners to download from within the RISE course? Articulate’s got you covered with the downloadable resource block to add reference materials directly to your lesson, without missing a beat!

Continue Button

Need to ensure a learner has accessed all blocks in a lesson? You can now use the Continue button block to stop them from advancing to the next lesson until they have completed all of the interactions in their current lesson.

Custom Fonts

When RISE first launched, you were restricted to using a number of built in fonts for both your heading and Body text. If you had a decorative font or a corporate font you wanted to use, you were unable to do so. Now however you certainly can! You can upload your own custom font to RISE, and use it throughout your module. Again, the team at Articulate have provided an easy step by step guide to assist you in making it happen. Hello again corporate font! Your marketing team will be very happy!

And now, the BIG WIN! Drumroll please…

Storyline Block

You can now embed a Storyline 360 course within RISE for your learners to access!

Want a more robust interaction than what RISE offers? Got some great content you built previously in Storyline 360 that you want to reuse in your RISE course? Want to use freeform questions to assess learning as opposed to RISE’s built in form-based questions? Publish your Storyline 360 course to Review, embed it within your RISE course and you can! Your learners will get the best of both worlds! Great looking responsive content from RISE, and the additional engagement and interaction of Storyline.

What’s not to love!

Suggested Links

Here are some handy links about all of the changes RISE has had since it launched.

Want to see what’s possible with RISE? Check these out:

Keen to get hold of RISE or would like to learn more about using it? Need someone to build a RISE course for you? Check out the following links:

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