Clever, Cool and Creative….Nice to Meet You Articulate Storyline!

‘Articulate Storyline is simple enough for beginners and powerful enough for experts’

One of the common questions I get asked at my Articulate Training Workshops is if Articulate Storyline will replace Articulate Studio?! The answer is no. There will always be a place for Studio for the developer who works more in PowerPoint. Parts of Studio like Engage are more form based (limited in customisation to an extent). Storyline will allow more manipulation and customisation of screens with minimal programming skills. In a recent webinar I attended, Tom Kuhlmann explained that you’ll always have Storyline and Studio; it really depends on ‘needs and choices’.

Storyline is a standalone tool………… a complete authoring solution.

During the last few months I’ve been playing around with Storyline and have been so impressed. I was involved in the beta testing stage but found myself being a ‘lurker’. I’m not usually a lurker but I was fascinated by the beta testing group from a online community facilitator perspective. The beta tester group really helped Storyline evolve to what it is today. I love the way Articulate throw things back at the community, challenging us to ‘break’ Storyline if we could. They really listened to the group’s feedback, ideas and advice and ‘voila’…..we have Storyline! I could talk about how great the eLearning Heroes communityis until the cows come home… but I’ll leave that for another blog post. Okay down to business….my thoughts on Storyline so far.

  • Interface is similar to PowerPoint so I felt within my comfort zone from the start.
  • The ability to build interactive content without having any programming experience. …you’ll be the office hero in no time!
  • Three publishing output options; Flash, html 5 and Publish to iPad (via the Articulate app)
  • Ability to create variables (one of the most common examples for text variables is used to capture a learner’s name and then reference that name during and at the end of the course–often in the form of a course completion certificate)
  • Storyview: provide you with an overview of your course so you can see what slides are linked, you can add scenes within this, move slides around to different scenes.
  • Drag and Drop feature is easy to use and gives seamless results.
  • Lightbox feature
  • Editing shapes, images, text and background…feel like PPT…know where tools are and you feels comfortable working within it.
  • Illustrated Characters are mapped to the software.  You can choose from 20 men and 20 women and have a mix of ethnicity, ages, outfits etc.  If you want to switch characters e.g. from male to female all the poses will remain the same.
  • Screen Recording: this was my game changer. I loved how easy this was to use and record my screens and then have the options to show it in View, Try or Test Me modes.  It’s then broken down into step by step slides where I can edit and delete sections I don’t need. Storyline keeps your entire screen recording within your project and allows you to reuse it more than once in the same story.

Tom has been showing some great examples on his blog…my personal favourite is the Broken Co-Worker.  There is also some other great examples on the Storyline Showcase page.

B Online Learning deliver the only Certified Articulate Storyline Training in Australia. Click here to find our more!

Give Your eLearning Courses PERSONALITY

Face-to-face training, by its nature, is highly personable. Learners respond well to trainers who inject their training with lots of personality, making the learning experience more enjoyable. Some of the best trainers bring learning to life with humour, real-life stories and a friendly face. Can this be carried across into eLearning?

YES it can! With a little effort, you can create eLearning courses that are personable and engaging. In this post I will look at three simple ways to give your online courses personality.

Tip 1: Feature a Main Character

Include a character who guides the learner through the course. This person sets a friendly tone from the start. It is best to introduce her or him early in the course, preferably on the welcome screen.  Give the person a name, a job role and any other information that makes it easier for learners to relate to. Bring the character in every few screens, especially at the start of each new section and on the final screen. In the same way that a face-to-face trainer encourages students to keep going, your online character comes into the course from time to time with positive comments and encouragement. For example they can introduce a test, and then appear again on the Results screen, offering Congratulations to the learners when they pass the test.

Here is an example:

eLearning

Tip: Look for stock images that feature the one person in a range of poses and contexts. Try not to use the same pose more than once.

Tip 2: Bring in Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Let’s say you are designing a course for the Sales Division of a large company. You could ask the Sales Manager to record the narration for the course. Another option is to insert a photo of the Sales Manager into the Presenter Panel of the Articulate player (see the example). Articulate let’s you use more than one presenter in a single course so you can feature two or more SMEs. Before publishing, just remember to go to Slide Properties and select the presenter you want for each screen.

elearning

Tip: Before asking an SME to record narration, make sure their voice is suitable (e.g. clear, pleasant).

Tip 3: Make Them Laugh

Face to face trainers use humour to get the attention of students. You can do the same with online courses.  If appropriate, you could break up the course content with some light relief such as an amusing anecdote, a clever quote, a funny video or a surprising image. In this example from a Marketing course, I tried to find a visual related to Channels of Distribution, but not in the most obvious way. Hopefully the learners found it amusing.

eLearning

Tip: Always make sure the use of humour is appropriate to the context of the course. If you are designing an eLearning course for a client, ask them about the tone they would like—conversational, formal, informal? This will help you determine how much lighthearted material to bring into the course.

These three tips are just for starters. There are plenty of other ways to bring personality into your eLearning courses. With a little effort, you can make the learning experience a far more enjoyable one for learners.

For more tips on building better eLearning courses, check out our Certified Articulate Training or our eLearning Design Essentials Course.

articulate quizmaker

Break the Form in Articulate Quizmaker

In my last post, I talked about how to ‘think outside the box’ when creating Articulate Engage interactions. Although you can be creative in Articulate Engage, ultimately there are limits to what you can do. This is because Articulate Engage is a form based tool.

In this post, I’d like to look at Articulate Quizmaker — where you can either follow the form, or break the form. Articulate Quizmaker provides a Form View for those in a hurry, but also a Slide View where the design possibilities are endless. Artiulate Quizmaker is where the real action is for creative eLearning instructional design!

Imagine this scenario: Your client wants a 10-question quiz at the end of the course you have designed. And they want the Quiz yesterday. The fastest way to

create a 10-question quiz in Articulate Quizmaker is using the Form View. But did you know that it hardly takes much more time to create a well-designed quiz using Slide View?

Let’s look at how easy it is to break the form and take your Quizzes to the next level.

Compare these two ways of presenting the same question.

Screen A

quiz

Screen B

quiz

While it only took 2 minutes to create A, you may be surprised to know that it only took an extra minute or two to create B.

I built A in Form View. It was simply a matter of typing text into the Form.

For B, I decided to ‘break the form’ by going into Slide View (on the toolbar next to Form View). This gave me all the design features of a Powerpoint slide. In other words I had the freedom to change the font, the background, insert a shape and so on.

Note: What I usually do is quickly add my content in form view and then do my edits in slide view. You can easily switch between the two views as many times as you like.

Here’s how I created B:

  1. I selected a background for the slide in Slide View. Then I applied this to all 10 Quiz Questions by simply clicking on ‘Apply to All’. This was a design decision because I wanted to create a consistent look throughout the Quiz.
  2. I inserted a grey shape with a border, and sent the shape to the back. This allowed me to bring the quiz questions to the front of the box (you can easily resize the question text boxes).
  3. Under ‘View’, I clicked on ‘Gridlines’ to ensure good alignment on the screen.

Some other ways you can enhance the design of a Quiz in Slide View are:

  • Add animation to objects
  • Set the timing of objects appearing by using the timeline
  • Add multimedia including images, Flash, audio
  • Add a slide transition between questions
  • Move the answer options to different parts of the screen
  • Create picture effects
  • Use slide master to make design changes that instantly appear on all slides

Here’s another way to present the same question, this time using the character from my course.

Screen C

quiz

Here’s how I created C:

  1. I opened Slide View.
  2. I downloaded an image of a laptop from Articulate’s E-Learning Heroes website. There are plenty of images under the Downloads>Graphics part of the website.
  3. I moved the quiz question and answers to fit inside the screen (sending the laptop image to the Back).
  4. I inserted the image of the main character and cropped it to fit the other elements on the screen.

This process took around 5 minutes.

Some other ways you can enhance the design of a Quiz in Slide View are:

  • Add animation to objects
  • Set the timing of objects appearing by using the timeline
  • Add multimedia including images, Flash, audio
  • Add a slide transition between questions
  • Move the answer options to different parts of the screen
  • Create picture effects
  • Use slide master to make design changes that instantly appear on all slides

Here are two more tips for enhancing the look of your Quizzes:

Tip 1: Add an introductory screen at the start of the Quiz

eLearning

Tip 2: Redesign the Feedback screens in Slide View

eLearning

Learn more about these techniques and take your quizzes to the next level, join us at the Exclusive Certified Articulate Training Provider in Australia, B Online Learning offer private classes at your site, open-enrolment classes at many Australian capital cities, or custom live webinars.

Catch your eLearner – Hook, Line and Sinker

The great challenge for eLearning designers and developers is to build interesting courses while working within a limited timeframe. With the rise of software like Articulate, we now have the tools to rapidly create good-looking eLearning courses without the need for programming expertise. But how can you catch your learner’s full attention? How can you immerse the learner in the learning experience? Here are three strategies for creating engaging eLearning courses using Articulate.

1.    Make each screen look good

Tom Kuhlmann from Articulate describes visual design as ‘a hook for the learner’. In simple terms, the better the course looks, the more the learners will enjoy it. It is worth taking the time to design a screen that is pleasing to the eye. Evaluate the impact of different fonts, colours, visual effects and aligning elements on the screen. This may be time-consuming at first, but if you are creating a template, then the basic slide design can be used again and again. This will save you time and also give your course a cohesive look and feel.

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create visually appealing screens. If you aren’t confident about selecting a colour scheme, use Powerpoint’s suggested schemes to get you going. Under the Design tab, click on Colors.

rapid_design_1

For more design ideas and inspiration, check out example courses developed in Articulate by visiting the E-Learning Heroes website. Spend some time looking at the wide range of courses and think about how the design suits the subject matter. By evaluating the choice of colours and the placement of elements on the screen, you can learn a lot about the principles of good eLearning design.

2. Think outside the box

I went to the DevLearn conference in November and attended several Articulate workshops and sessions. I came away truly amazed at just how much could be done in Articulate. What it all comes down to is the ability to ‘think outside the box’ in your design approach.

If you have been using Articulate for some time, you are familiar with the Engage Tabs Interaction. But have you ever used it to create a workplace scenario? Scenarios are a great way to engage learners as they have to think about ‘Challenge, Choices, Consequences’. In this example I have inserted a scenario into the Introduction for the learner to think about.

Then the learner makes a choice by clicking on one of the tabs. The consequences appear on the right of the screen when they click on a tab. The learner has the option of clicking on all three tabs to learn the consequences of each choice.

This is just a simple example of using the existing Articulate tools in a fresh way. By thinking outside the box, you can add variety to your courses, and also encourage the learner to become more immersed in the learning experience.

rapid_design_2

3.    Step away from the bullet points

Do you ever get tired of creating bullet point lists? Well just imagine you are the learner who has to read them! As eLearning developers, we need to consider alternative ways to present lists of information.

Example One

In the example below, I started with a list of 9 networking opportunities. But rather than putting them in a bullet point list, I found an image of 9 chairs and then created an Articulate Engage Graphics Interaction.

rapid_design_3

In this interaction, the learner has to actually click around the screen and this gets them more involved. Remember an active learner is better than a passive learner.

Example Two

Another alternative to inserting bullet points on the screen is to ask learners to come up with their own list. Again, this involves making the learner active because they have to draw on their existing knowledge to compile a list of points.

In the example below I asked learners to brainstorm a list of media vehicles. When the learners click ‘Submit’, they can compare their list with your list. You can change the heading in the feedback window from ‘Thank you’ to ‘How did you go?’ by going to Player Template Builder>Text Labels and changing the Thank You Feedback Title.

rapid_design_4

This activity was created in Articulate Quizmaker as an Essay Survey question. I don’t need to track the results because the purpose of the activity is to get the learners thinking. This is particularly useful near the start of a new course or section, when you want the learners to get their head around a new subject area. Make sure the question is easy enough for learners to quickly develop a list of their own. It wouldn’t work if they had nothing to type in!

These strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the design possibilities of Articulate. For more tips and tricks you may be interested in our Certified Articulate Training Workshops.

To catch your learner Hook, Line and Sinker, perhaps the best advice is to put yourself in their shoes. Would you enjoy taking the course as a learner? It’s a simple question but it can make the difference between a humdrum eLearning course and a truly engaging eLearning experience.

DevLearn 2011 eLearning Trends

Well I’m alive…just about! What a week at DevLearn2011 in Las Vegas, so many highlights! It was also an amazing trip as I had never been to Vegas before. It certainly is sensory overload. I feel my office is quite boring now as there’s no constant ‘ding, ding, ding’ of the slot machines or flashing lights and noise of the strip to keep me entertained.

During the first week of November, myself, the Directors and some of our Development team attended pre-conference advanced training workshops in Articulate with Tom Kuhlmann from Articulate and Ron Price from Yukon Learning. Yes, we did meet the man himself and I have a photo to prove it!  We spent a lot of our time with Ron Price, learning advanced techniques in both Articulate and PowerPoint. It really opened our eyes to how much you can do with these tools to make courses more engaging.  We will be adding some of these techniques to our Master eLearning Course. Also, as a result of further training with Ron in Vegas, B Online Learning will be offering basic and advanced training in Articulate next year as we are now the only certified Articulate training providers in Australia.

The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Expanding the Possibilities for Learning’.  The first keynote speaker was a bit left field. Dr. Michio Kaku gave us a guided tour of the next 30 years of learning and what the world will be like. It was based around physics but also linked to learning of the future.

The Cloud also seemed to be a popular theme for sessions in the conference. Tom Koulopoulos described ‘Living and Learning in the Cloud’.  Steve Rosenbaum was the last keynote speaker and ended with what technology can do to help humankind deal with information and uncertainty, and why eLearning professionals are critically important.

DemoFest2011 and Ignite were also popular amongst attendees. DemoFest2011 showcased dozens of conference participants latest and greatest development efforts. Click here to read all about this year’s entries. The conference ended with Ignite. This special event featured 6 speakers who had 5 minutes and 20 slides to present their next big idea in eLearning. Neil Lasher’s, ‘Street University’ idea proved to be very popular. Solving the problems of today’s world by using technology in a way that people can and will find compelling and convenient.

For a detailed synopsis of the conference, check out this article from the Learning Solutions Magazine

The conference was held in the new Aria hotel which was an amazing venue. A big thank you to the eLearning Guild for putting together such a great event….I hear it’s in LasVegas again in 2012!

Finally, yes we did see a lot of great things and meet lots of innovative people but it’s nothing different than what B Online Learning are are doing here in Australia. We finished up the week with lots of new ideas and strategies but also with a sense of satisfaction that we are rapid eLearning innovators in Australia.

I’ll Take My Rapid eLearning to Go

One of the buzz words at DevLearn 2011 was ‘mLearning’ (mobile learning). Clearly there is a demand for people to be able to learn ‘on the go’. Accessing course content on smart phones, iPads and other mobile devices is appealing for a whole range of reasons. We all know the reasons, but what does it mean for us as eLearning developers?

Tom Kuhlmann, who runs the Articulate community, looked at some of the key issues for mLearning implementation at his DevLearn session ‘I’ll take my rapid eLearning to go’. The main point he made was that converting your existing eLearning courses into effective mLearning is not as hard as you think. In fact you may already have the tools to build mLearning. This is good news for eLearning developers, especially those working within tight budgetary and time constraints.

In the session Tom looked at some simple and cost-effective ways to take existing content and make it work on mobile devices. Here are his ideas for working with the tools you already have:

  1. Use email to send out scenarios to learners. They read the scenario, make a decision and then share what they think.
  2. Output your Powerpoint presentation as a video. Use Handbrake to convert to video (save slides as .WMV)
  3. Output your Powerpoint presentation as an image. Save the slides as a .png and import to photo gallery.
  4. Use the Picture Link iPad application. This enables you to hold interactive slideshows with images and videos on iPads.
  5. Save your Powerpoint slides as a PDF. Then learners can use Good Reader app.
  6. Watch out for new technology in the rapid eLearning field. For example Articulate’s soon-to-be-released Storyline can be used on iPads.
  7. Create a media channel. Use screenr and YouTube.

Tom also talked about some important considerations for mLearning. I found this part of the session the most interesting because it seems we are only just starting to think through the implications of mLearning. Here are some of the issues he raised for anyone venturing into mLearning development.

  • How much information can learners digest on a smaller screen? Even more than eLearning, mLearning requires course content to be broken down into bite-sized chunks.
  • How comfortable is mLearning? In other words, we need to think about the learner’s posture and how long they can sit and learn with a mobile device.
  • What security issues need to be considered? For example, what would happen if the learner lost the device?
  • Is mLearning suitable for only point of contact information? For example if learners need to find particular information while on the job, they can access reference materials easily. This type of learning is more like performance support than formalised learning.

‘I’ll take my rapid eLearning to go’ was a thought provoking session. On the one hand, it was encouraging to realise that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to deliver what you already have for mobile. On the other hand, Tom raised a few issues to do with mLearning that perhaps some of us hadn’t considered before.

The next few years will be very interesting as we witness—and also perhaps take part in—the evolution of mLearning. Watch this space!

The 5 key steps to building an eLearning program

The complete 5 steps are laid out in a complimentary white paper from B Online Learning. The 5 key elements examined in the white paper are:

Strategy alignment: Too often an eLearning strategy is developed in isolation from core business drivers. If those responsible for developing your eLearning plan do not align with the organisations’ overarching business goals you run the risk of failing to deliver content that has a real impact on the business and you will struggle to convince stakeholders of the benefit of the investment.

Design: This step lays out the design fundamentals of your training such as the type of learning you are developing; the approach you will take; the content you will develop; the method of delivery you will choose and your method of assesment.

Resourcing: How will you resource your project? Even organisations with an advanced and experienced development team should consider outsourcing on occasions. Examine the options against the key roles and responsibilities of a rapid eLearning project.

Content: The construction of your content is where the rubber hits the road, the planning is behind you, now it’s time to build the right content, get this step wrong and the entire project is at risk.

Technology: Navigating your way through the maze of technology options can be daunting and expensive. It’s vital to match your requirements to the solution you choose in a number of areas such as rapid authoring tools, learning management systems and social networking tools.

Connecting these 5 elements together in a cohesive, planned sequence, creates a powerful route map for your eLearning investments. Download the full whitepaper to read about the 5 steps in more detail.

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