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.

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.

Share/collaborate

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.

 

Translations

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!

Accessibility

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.
https://articulate.com/support/article/System-Requirements-for-Rise
https://articulate.com/support/article/Rise-Version-History

Want to see what’s possible with RISE? Check these out:
https://community.articulate.com/articles/see-how-you-can-create-responsive-learning-with-rise-in-these-5-examples
https://community.articulate.com/e-learning-examples/
https://community.articulate.com/articles/elearning-challenges

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:
https://bonlinelearning.com/contact/
https://bonlinelearning.com/certified-articulate-training/
https://bonlinelearning.com/content-development/

Using Animation in Articulate Storyline

Have you ever been bogged down building slide after slide and went to preview the story to find it’s just a slideshow? Or have you looked at an older module or course you’ve created and thought to yourself “This look boring!”.

Then look no further! Here are some quick and handy tips to breathe new life into otherwise monotonous screens. Check out the link to follow through the tips to see the changes for yourself! Example 1

Tip 1 – Use your slide master

Your slide master is an incredibly versatile tool which can be vastly under used. Not only is it key to uniformity and the gateway to keeping your branding team happy, it is also a brilliant way to tweak some of those static graphical elements and add some movement to add interest to your slide without having to change anything on the base slide itself. (See Slide Step 1 on Example 1)

In the Example slide, you can see that the three circles in the corner fly in staggered from the left and the title animates in. This is just an example of what you can do to change the slide without editting anything on the base slide itself, all you have to do is apply the layout.

Tip 2 – Entrance and Exit animations can be triggered

Sometimes you need to trigger in an animation when the user has completed something or to show more information. This can be done simply by having an object, such as a text box or a shape starting at “State: Hidden” and having an entrance animation. Next all that you have to do is to build a trigger which can change the state of the object to “State: Normal”. The trigger example below will change the state of our textbox called “Closing” to the “State: Normal” when the buttons are equal to visited.

What does that mean practically? (See Slide Step 2 on Example 1) Here you can see the instruction to click the next button appears when the user has visited all of the layers with information.

Tip 3 – Use your transitions

Transitions are often neglected or used in the wrong way. They can be an elegant way of adding flow to your courses. Here you can see the push animation has been used in conjunction with an animation on the slide master title text box to give a feeling of momentum when moving between the slides.

My top 3 recommended transitions are; Push (as you can change the direction in effect options to a whole variety of effects), Cover/Uncover, (for that feeling of cards) and finally, Fade, as it is versatile and softens the transition between slides.

Tip 4 – Use your timeline to loop animations of visited layers

How, you ask? Just follow the steps below and you will be able to build a looping layer in no time! (See Slide Step 3 and Final slide on Example 1)

Once you have your slide and information on your layers you can follow the steps below:

Step 1: Group your layer objects together.
Step 2: Set your entrance and exit animations, check the length of your animations and take note of the length, in the example we have 0.5s entrance and a 0.5s exit.


Step 3: Select an option under Effect Options to achieve different effects e.g. entrance: from right exit: to right.
Step 4: Add up your entrance and animation times 0.5s+0.5s = 1.0s.
Step 5: Set your timeline to 1.0s.


Step 6: Build your triggers
  • Trigger 1: pause timeline when timeline reaches 0.5s (length of entrance animation)
  • Trigger 2: resume timeline when user clicks (close button) or you could say when user clicks outside Group 1 (for example when they go to click another button)
  • Trigger 3: hide layer when timeline ends – this is very important, the interaction will not work correctly unless this has been specified. This is because storyline will think the layer is still open even though the timeline has ended which will make the user unable to click anything else on the slide.

Step 7: Change the layer settings

Finally lets change the layer settings to show other layers so we have an overlapping effect AND reset to initial state.

There you have it, that’s how you can build a looping layer just like in our Example 1, slides Step 3 and Final Slide.

If you would like to see some of these tips in action check out Example 2. The Welcome slide uses animation to move objects into the screen as well as a Transition to the next slide which uses a gif background to add movement as well as the looping layers for the information. (The gif is from a giveaway from eLearning Heroes) The other slide is a basic slide with animation added from the slide master layer and the final slide uses a variety of animations to display the information.

Before you go here’s a quick recap of what we have learned:

  • Use your slide master to add interest without touching the base slide.
  • Use triggers to animate in objects from hidden or do the reverse and hide an object.
  • Use your transitions to add flow and movement to the course.
  • The power of the timeline in using entrance and exit animations to loop animations in layers.

Finally, keep experimenting! Storyline is a simple but incredibly powerful tool, the only real limit is how you use it!

Thank you for reading and I hope you have enjoyed this quick look at animation!

If you have any questions about our content development or would like to see more blog posts about animation feel free to contact us here mail@bonlinelearning.com

Design eLearning That Makes Sense

When I tell people that I make my living as an eLearning Designer, some people have a blank look on their face. So I usually ask ‘Have you ever done an online training course at work?’. And the response is usually ‘Oh yes, you write those courses do you?’. This inevitably leads to a discussion about what it was like learning online and whether it was a worthwhile and interesting experience. But more and more, I have been asking ‘Did the course make sense?’. It is a simple question, but it is ultimately one of the most fundamental questions to ask when measuring the effectiveness of an online course.

In the classroom setting, teachers and trainers have the advantage of asking the learners questions like:

  • Is that clear?
  • Does everyone understand that?
  • Are there any questions?
  • Would you like me to explain that again?

In other words, when we are training face-to-face we can check that the learners are keeping up and understanding the learning material.

How can we do a similar thing in eLearning? If we use a blended approach, learners can complete an online course or module, then meet face to face or in a webinar to check understanding and engage in discussion. This is probably the ideal situation for many learners.

But here I would like to focus on those courses that are designed purely for online delivery. In this case, the onus really is on the eLearning Designer/Instructional Designer to create a course that makes sense. We need to make sure the learning experience is meaningful and that learning objectives are met.

It may help to imagine that you are the teacher or trainer standing up in front of the class. What instructions do the learners need? What is the most logical way to present the learners with information? How can you explain something as clearly as possible? These are all useful questions to bear in mind.

Here are ten ways to design courses that make sense to learners.

  1. Always include a navigation screen at the start, even if you think the learners have done eLearning before. The navigation screen should have clear and simple instructions so any learner can easily progress through the course. By making navigation easy, learners can focus on the course content.
  2. Free up navigation. Make sure learners can easily go back to previous screens if they need to revise any material for a better understanding.
  3. Pay attention to the layout of each and every screen. Avoid cluttering screens with too much information. The screen should be pleasing to the eye and designed to draw the learner’s eye to the most important information.
  4. Draw on the experience of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Many of them have experience teaching the material face to face, and so you can ask them questions like ‘What did the learners struggle to understand the most in this section?’
  5. Include a glossary. Never assume that the learners will understand jargon, technical terms or acronyms. The glossary should be comprehensive and explain key terms in plain English. I like Articulate’s Engage Interaction Glossary because it places it at the top of every screen for easy access.
  6. Include regular quizzes or case studies to check the learners’ understanding of the content. Instead of having one huge test at the end of a course, it is better to have shorter tests at regular intervals throughout the course. Regular tests and quizzes are a good way for learners to measure their own understanding and build their confidence.
  7. Give learners the option of finding out more information if they need to. You could include a box on some screens saying “Want to know more? Click on this link to learn more about …..”
  8. Provide a contact person for questions. If the learners do have questions, is there someone they can contact? For example you could include the email address of the training manager within the organisation.
  9. Ask another person to check the course to see if it makes sense. If you have access to proofreaders or quality controllers, they can point out any content that is unclear. Alternatively you can ask a pilot group of learners to go through the course. Ask them specific questions such as ‘Was there any content that didn’t make sense?’
  10. Engage in continuous improvement. Even when you have published and released your course to learners, there is still the opportunity to gather feedback and make improvements to the course. You could include a survey asking learners if there was anything they found unclear. This is a great way for you to keep learning about the learners’ perspective and to remind yourself that you are designing courses for real people.

Looking for more ideas to design your eLearning courses, check out our Certified Articulate Training and eLearning Design Essentials workshops.

Enhance Digital Learning Experiences with Video

I love a good vid. In this age of Netflix, Stan, Foxtel Now and YouTube, you can be pretty much guaranteed to find something you want to watch that is engaging and entertaining. Pretty much any interest you have can be ‘googled’ and located not only for entertainment purposes but also for learning. Want to learn how to build a deck? There’s a vid for that. Want to learn how to cross-stitch? There’s a vid for that. Want to learn how to use photoshop? There’s literally millions of videos on how to do that! How about how to take a better picture? Yep you guessed it. There’s a vid for that.

Practically anything you want to learn these days can be located in a 3-5-minute video or series of videos. So why would you want to sit through an eLearning module that goes for an hour and a half? If you had the option to complete a 1 hour eLearning module on building a timber deck, compared to a 5-minute video which would you choose? I know which one I would choose.

Unlike a traditional presentation of information where you read about a procedure, view some diagrams or pictures about it, and then trying to apply it in a real situation, video enables you to see, listen and review application all in the one package. I can see how someone is holding the hammer while nailing the decking timbers, or how they are checking everything is level with their spirit level, or how they are marking out their measurements.

Video is an extremely powerful learning medium, because it gets a lot of information across in a short period of time, and the viewer is engaged through sight, sound and a ‘real life’ situation. The success of websites like YouTube are a testament to the popularity of video and show how this medium can be used effectively in a learning environment. So, what about our eLearning modules? As developers, what are some ways we can use video in our modules to capitalise on the learning power of the medium and provide an engaging experience?

Provide a personal touch
You can add a short video to an induction module welcoming new starters by the CEO, Executive team, HR team, direct manager etc. Great to put a face to a name! Also makes it easier for the new starter to know who they are looking for if they need to find a particular person. An induction module we created for APG & Co. included a personal greeting from the company’s CEO, welcoming the new starter to the organisation.

Observe a Process
The process might be an interpersonal one, showing an example discussion around a customer service encounter, or a performance management session etc, or even how to use a product.
For example, a module we put together for the Department of Primary Industries around how to put on and take off Personal Protective Equipment when doing a site inspection.

Another example is one we created for NSW Health Get Healthy Program which allowed learners to observe a process and then answer questions about what was done well, and what could have been done better.

Case Studies
Another great way to use videos is to play out a case study. Rather then the learner read through a document describing the situation, the learner is able to watch it ‘live’ as the situation unfurls, and how the situation should be dealt with as best practice. For example the team I worked with created a series of videos for a financial institution to cover of the best practice way of completing a personal loan for a customer. This included all of the must ask questions required to process the loan as efficiently as possible, and showed the learner all of the expected legal obligations they needed to cover off while completing the transaction. The feedback was it was invaluable for the learners to see the required behaviour modelled, and it assisted them in understanding the various requirements.

Another example from our APG & Co induction video around ladder usage and safety. What was quite a graphic video allowed the learner to see the consequences of falling from height, and what sort of safety precautions should have been in place to avoid it. The module then went on to discuss how APG & Co. manage ladder safety.

Scenarios
What about a ‘choose your own adventure’ branching video scenario? The learner watches a situation occurring, and in various places the video pauses and they need to make a decision. When they make a decision, the next video shows them the consequences of their decision, and may prompt them to make further choices with other consequences. It is those choices and consequences that provide the learning experience, and assist the learner in gaining the new knowledge required.

Video can be as simple or complex as you like
It all comes down to your experience and the resources you have available. Start small and build to bigger and better engaging scenarios as you get more comfortable with producing video and as resources become available.
Have fun with it! You don’t need to be Hollywood to create great learning videos, with good instructional design you can create video on the cheap that is effective, and has the learning impact you are after.

Some are more involved with more professional production values, but both can be used effectively to engage the learner and get them involved in the story. When you are starting out with video keep in short and sweet but visually exciting for its 2-3 minutes, don’t just use a talking head – boring! Get your visual design hat on. A great example of this is the videos produced by Commoncraft – short and visually engaging while explaining quite involved concepts.

To learn more about enhancing your digital learning with video watch my recent webinar here.

Now take a look at some ways we can use video in Articulate Storyline to create interactive and engaging learning experiences.

Search our calendar to find upcoming Certified Articulate Training
« February 2019 » loading...
M T W T F S S
28
29
30
31
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
1
2
3