How to Build and When to Use Microlearning

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

Too often developers are told a learning program is needed, get dumped with a whole heap of resources and hopefully they get a Subject Matter Expert to help and away they go.

This process is missing some fundamental requirements – some developers might ‘fluke it’ and create a learning program that does a good job. Others create a ‘click next, click next, do a quiz’ and the program gets lost into the annals of time.

This is not good enough for Microlearning (and certainly not good enough for normal L&D either).

In our other post we learnt what microlearning is and what it is not. For microlearning to be successful, it’s going to need a few more things.

  1. All learning programs need a measurable goal otherwise you’re just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. What’s the goal of the program and how are you going to know if it has been a success?
  2. What do they actually have to do to achieve the goal? Is it a behaviour, action or process. If you’re not sure ask yourself “What does this physically look like? If someone is doing this behaviour, action or process, what would you see?” The answer to that question is what is going to assist you in identifying your key takeaway ie what the microlearning is going to be about.
  3. Determine the practical activity the learner can do to practice the key takeaway. This is what they can practice or apply during/after the microlearning.
  4. What’s the mode of delivery going to be? eg screencast, module,  job aid
  5. Give them the option to ‘pull’ additional information if they would like to, but don’t make it compulsory to complete the microlearning.
  6. Make it easily available via desk/phone/tablet/other.

Examples when to use microlearning

  • Time savers, handy hints or guides
  • Best Practice – People sharing what they have done in a particular situation – experiences that demonstrate a particular learning point.
  • Just in time – Information about changes that learners need to know ASAP.
  • Troubleshooting – Common issues and problems or FAQ’s.
  • Post sales service – e.g. flow charts to identify problems and provide solutions.
  • Compliance – Common issues and/or quick wins (Examples of compliant interactions)
  • Company updates – Change of Executive, statistics regarding how company is going with sales, service, new product uptakes, success stories etc.
  • Performance support – Processes, remedial training, ‘How to…’ guides etc.

Which Articulate 360 apps to use for microlearning

All Articulate 360 apps are ideal for developing microlearning. The tools won’t do the job for you, you still need to define, develop and deploy an instructionally sound learning interaction, but they can certainly help when you are deciding on the mode of your project. For example:

  • Articulate Peek – Performance support, How to…, troubleshooting etc.
  • Articulate Replay – Product focus, ‘guide on the side’, best practice, podcast
  • Articulate Rise – Flow charts, reference guides, interactive tours, simple scenarios, quizzes, curated videos/best of…, document repository.
  • Articulate Storyline – Branching scenarios, mini modules, quizzes, games, infographics.

Here is a great post from eLearning Heroes that may help with some more ideas 10 Things You Could Create Instead of an E-Learning Course.

Need help building your microlearning? Contact us to discuss how we can help.

lightbulb

Design for Non Designers

There are some basic principles, rules and methods, which allow you to produce some top looking designs in your eLearning.  This series of blog posts will explore these basics and allow you to get your designer hat on!

The C.R.A.P. principles of design (yes ok let’s all snigger at the rude word)

These 4 principles lie at the heart of visual design.  Everything else builds from, or on top of these when you are creating a design. Visit the links for posts on each one.

  • Contrast simply means ‘difference’. A boring design is where everything looks the same. If you want to draw people’s attention to something specific, make it look different.  Not just a little different, but a lot different. Our brains look for differences all the time “which of these things are not like the other…and why?” It engages our brain and gets it thinking. We notice things that look different.
  • Repetition simply means reusing graphics and elements, to give a sense of unity to the information you are communicating. Good repetition is when you use consistent colouring, typefaces, image styles and (to a degree) layouts.  If you use a template or style guide to design a course then you have repetition already built in. Repetition shows that the slides belong together.  An example of poor repetition is when every slide in your course uses different styles, fonts, or colours. Another example is when you mix photos, clipart and line drawings, all in the same course with no sense of unity between them.
  • Alignment. Nothing in your module design should look like it was placed randomly. A prime example is that if you left align your text on a page, make sure you left align ALL of your text items. Having text boxes thrown around with random alignments (left align here, fully justified there, centre aligned over at the side.) looks unprofessional, messy and forces the learner to process extraneous stuff that is not relevant to what they are learning. Beyond text alignment, all of the assets on your slide are connected by an invisible line. Even items that are far away from each other. Always try to align assets (graphics, text boxes, shapes) with other assets. A grid is your best friend when it comes to aligning items on your page. One of the best kept secrets in your authoring software, is the ‘align’ menu option. Practice using it all the time. Having everything aligned on your page, registers subconsciously in the learner as a much cleaner layout, and is easier for them to process as a whole.
  • Proximity is simply moving things closer or further away from each other to achieve a better ‘look’. Items that relate to each other should be grouped together, so they are viewed as a whole, not as individual components. The learner shouldn’t have to translate what subtitles or captions belong to what images, videos or media. By grouping the relevant caption with its item, the learner doesn’t have to think about what belongs with what, and their brain power is focused on what they are learning, not on what they are viewing. Cognitive overload is something we as learning designers, need to avoid at all cost.  Doing so increases engagement, and gets the learner focusing on what they need, not trying to understand what they are looking at.

Beyond these basics we also need to be aware of:

Finally, and one of the most important things we need when designing anything is this:

Inspiration.

Where do we get our ideas from for a design?  How do we get creative? Everyone is creative at their core.  Even those who don’t think they are.

The crux of creativity is having the courage to explore, experiment and learn!

By utilising the basic principles, on top of your creativity, you will create some amazing designs.

How To Immerse Learners With Realistic Scenarios

Studies have shown the amount of information and practical knowledge retained by adult learners who undertake training that includes life or role specific scenarios to re-enforce key points, show significantly better knowledge retention than learners who completed the same training using a purely linear, read some information and remember it style of course.

The simple fact is that we retain knowledge far better when it is presented to us in a context that fits the subject and in a form we can directly relate to physically or emotionally. We learn by doing.

A scenario provides us with a direct part to play and shows us how to decide on a course of action typically from a number of options.  By playing the scenario out to the end, we learn if our choice or choices provide a positive, negative or indifferent outcome. This correlation between our actions and real world consequence is what cements the knowledge.

Here’s a quick outline of the theory behind designing a great scenario.

What you will need:

  1. Content – refers to the actual learning outcomes and knowledge to be transferred. The content must be clearly defined and understood.
  2. Context – is the real world overlay, how the content will be presented to the audience, what characters will be used and what situations will those characters find themselves in. The more relevant the context to the learners life/work the more engaged they will be with the scenario.
  3. Coaching – is the feedback on choices made in the scenario and for every choice there should be some form of feedback. This feedback could come in many forms, as a score, as a subtle hint or observation or even as a sledgehammer knockdown.

What you will build:

  1. Challenges – A scenario is where the learner assumes the persona of a defined character. This character needs to be presented with challenges that relate to the learning concept being addressed.
  2. Choices – From these challenges the character then needs to be given a set of multiple choices with each of the choices providing a relevant method of dealing with the challenge that has been posed.
  3. Consequences – Behind each of the choices provided will be a consequence, a tangible outcome for having made that particular decision.

How to build it:

  1. Create a detailed plan of how the scenario is going to operate, what choices go with which learning outcomes and what all of the possible outcomes from each choice might be.
  2. Use Articulate Storyline 360 or Rise 360 to create your scenario based learning.

The Plan

The plan should include:

  • An outline of the key concepts the learner should take away
  • A break down of these concepts into individual actions where the learner will need to make a choice between a number of options
  • A break down of the consequences that might arise directly from each of the possible choices. (This will form the basis of the feedback to the learner)
  • As in real life, the consequences of our actions are sometimes immediately apparent and sometimes they are not realised until some point in the future. When designing the feedback for your scenario you should consider when and how this feedback is given. Should it be immediate? Like an angry customer leaving the shop following poor service. Or should it be delayed? Like receiving a performance evaluation at month’s end.
  • Determine whether the actions (learning outcomes) will work as:
    • a complete continuum where one action leads directly to the next and the choices made will affect subsequent actions and choices
    • a grouping of linked actions where some learning outcomes share or build consequences  but others will not
    • distinct actions and outcomes that encapsulate an entire concept in one set of choices
  • Now overlay a real world context onto the actions/choices map you have produced.

Using Articulate 360

Now that you have your plan you can go ahead and build your scenario.

If you want to immerse learners in a realistic scenario and be able to design the look and feel to whatever you want then we suggest Articulate Storyline. There are no limitations on the number of choices or how the results of each choice resonate with the learner.  The built in quiz features and templates allow you to build a branching scenarios easily.  Take a look at these workplace bullying examples we built.

If you are looking for a fast and responsive design then Articulate Rise now has a scenario block that allows you to easily create branched scenarios. Here are the examples of our workplace bulling scenarios in Rise.

For more tips on when to use Rise or Storyline from the Articulate community.

Finally, for more help on building scenarios then you may be interested in our Certified Articulate training delivered online and in capital cities.

Instructional_Design

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 mail@bonlinelearning.com.au

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 tools like Articulate, its become 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

The process to load content into an Learning Management System 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 our 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 LMS does not actually 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 that LMS only.
  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.

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