The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for July, 2007

e-learning project

Earlier, we looked at how to be an e-learning hero. Today, we’ll look at ways to jump-start your e-learning projects.

You’re asked to pull an e-learning course together within a couple of weeks. What do you do?

In the past, you may have told your customers that there isn’t enough time to build the training. Today, that’s not the case. E-learning allows you to say “yes” to your customer’s hurried requests.

While the tools do give you a head start, you’re still going to be pressed for time. Here are 5 simple tips to help you prepare for your next e-learning project.

E-Learning Project Tip: Create a Generic Training Template

If you have limited time to develop your e-learning course, you don’t want to spend days trying to determine an approach. With the right template, you can stay ahead of the game. It should include learning objectives, a structure to present the information, and a means to evaluate the learner’s understanding.

You might want to design two or more templates that consider various types of training. One could deal with presenting information in a linear manner. Another could address performance-based training where the user has to learn and apply skills. Regardless of how you structure your template, the main point is to have a design template ready to go.

Of course, with Articulate 360 and the included content library, you have more than enough templates to get started.

E-Learning Project Tip: Create Models for Learner Interactivity

It’s important to engage the learners from the real-world perspective. They want to know why the training is important to them. Interactive e-learning is one way to do that. Interactivity goes beyond just drag-and-drop features. It’s more about getting the learner to connect with (and think through) the information presented in the e-learning course. This could include case studies and problem-solving questions. There is a lot that can be done with interactions. They don’t need to be overly complicated to be successful.

I like this ergonomics example from Prometheus created with a simple labeled graphic interaction. The users are engaged and need to make decisions based on the information presented. They also get immediate feedback after the decision is made. It’s a perfect example of an interaction that is effective and easy to design.

interactive e-learning

Look at what other people are doing (the weekly challenges are great for this) and make a list of interactions that work and that you could apply to your projects. Then when you start to look at your course content, you can pull from a list of proven interaction ideas. You won’t have to spend time trying to invent some.

E-Learning Project Tip: Create Some Style Themes and Templates

No matter what type of course you build, you’ll still need to have a specific look to it. The nice thing about using Articulate’s e-learning tools is that the player design is complete. You don’t have to spend a lot of time designing navigation features.

Even though the player is ready-to-go, there’s still a need to think through the overall look and feel of the training course. You can gain some ground if you pre-design templates with various layouts and color schemes, as mentioned above. There are a number of times where I’ve pulled one of my templates out of the drawer (so to speak) and the customer was happy with it and ready to go.

Even if you’re using a PowerPoint, you still have a lot of latitude in what you can do. The slides do not need to look like PowerPoint slides. Step away from the bullet points and treat the slide as a blank area and see what you can do.

The key is to have a few design ideas ready-to-go. This way you can put together a quick prototype without a lot of thought about the design.

E-Learning Project Tip: Collect Media Assets

It’s important to have the right images and visuals for your training courses. There are a few things you can do to get ready for your next project. If you’re using Articulate 360, you have access to templates, pictures, illustrations, videos, and icons. Take advantage of them. There are also all sorts of free stock images and resources to be had online.

Build a collection of images that fit the same style and look. You can group images together to create your own visual metaphors. In addition, you can change the colors of the images to match your template color theme.

It’s also a good idea to collect pictures of characters. Again, with Articulate 360, you get thousands of characters and avatars.

If you work in a production environment, you might want to go around and take pictures of the equipment and people working on it.

You can also use a photo editor to create your own graphics. Create boxes and arrows. Apply some effects to add a bit of pop to your screen. You can even build your own graphics in PowerPoint.

Having the right images is important. It’s also a time-consuming process. Start early and build your collection. When you need the image or ideas, you’ll have a great resource at your disposal.

E-Learning Project Tip: Create a list of questions to ask?

The better you are at asking questions and listening, the better you can design your e-learning course. When you’re in a rush, it’s easy to ask the wrong questions, or even to forget the right questions. Having a pre-determined list of questions you want to ask is important to getting the right e-learning course built.

Determine what you need to know about projects and create some questions. It’s also a good idea to condense the list to five key questions and forward that to the client before the meeting. This gives them a heads up on what you need to cover and might save some time.

Final Thoughts

You’re under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines and deliver results. Using Articulate’s e-learning tools plays a large role in getting your work done. The five tips above are some ways to help you speed up your e-learning project development.

This list isn’t exhaustive. What would you do?

In our next post, we’ll review what you should know about designing e-learning courses.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.


e-learning hero

Being an e-learning hero is all about perspective. You’d think it was about creating the best e-learning courses, but that’s not always the case. Let me explain.

I used to wake up worried that one day someone would realize that I didn’t know anything and I’d be out of a job. A while back I read a blog post where the writer expressed the same concern. After some discussion with others, he came to the conclusion that no one else knows anything either.

I say this because in your search to figure out how to do this thing we call rapid e-learning, I want you to feel comfortable knowing that what the pros tell you and what you need to do to be successful isn’t always the same. Instead of fretting over it, take what works and discard what doesn’t.

In this industry, there are many who complain about PowerPoint, yet most likely you’re using PowerPoint to build some of your training. In addition, you’re challenged to create engaging and interactive e-learning, yet you find that your organization is focused less on engagement and more on just getting information out. It’s not always easy balancing what the pundits tell you with what you actually have to do at work. The key is to maintain perspective and understand your needs.

Despite what people may say, there is no right or wrong way to build your e-learning courses. Of course, some of them will be more be more effective than others. However, effectiveness can be measured in different ways. For example, you might have one course that is a very engaging and interactive for the learners. Yet the customer could care less, or just wants a click and read course. In this case, the more effective course is the one that meets the customer’s goals and not the one that is a better learning environment. I know! I know! This is sacrilegious to some.

An E-Learning Hero Understands the Level of Effectiveness

If you want to be an e-learning hero, you need to learn what the level of effectiveness is for your projects. Your success depends on who says you’re effective and how they choose to evaluate that.

When you first get started, here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Please your customer. The main goal is that you please your customer. Pleasing your customer has little to do with whether or not the training is effective. You can create great training but if the customer is not happy, your good job will go unnoticed.
  2. What are some ways to please your customer? Establish clear expectations and then meet or exceed them. Make your customer look good. Control your costs. Finish ahead of schedule. Be proactive and take care of details before they come to the attention of the customer.
  3. Serve the business. It’s important to align your work with the organization’s goals. Do your best to get your customer and courses focused on performance results. Set clear and measurable training objectives. Sometimes this is hard with training projects, especially if their goals are out of your hands. Make sure that your projects are cost effective and save time.
  4. Report the performance results. Believe it or not, many training developers fail to report their results. This is a lost opportunity, especially if you use rapid e-learning tools since they save so much time and money. The best way to get results is to link the training to real performance. Establish clear objectives and measure the results. Track improvements in performance. Report the difference the training makes.
  5. Focus on saving time & money. It’s not always possible to link your training to real performance results. In that case, your best bet is to focus on time and costs. Compare what it costs to outsource the training to what it cost for you to develop it. Then report the value you brought to the organization by not outsourcing. You can also report savings in time. For example, “instead of delivering the project in 3 months, you delivered it in 2 weeks!”

Shhhh….a Secret!

From my experience, customers are more apt to report the value by cost rather than performance improvements. It just looks better and is easier to explain. For example, I get more traction if I say that I delivered 100 e-learning courses that were valued at $1 million, then if I say my training improved performance by 30%. Even if the 100 modules are irrelevant to the performance goals, I have found that people are quick to use those cost numbers. That’s why a lot of your success is less about real numbers and more about perspective.

Ideally, what defines your success is that you are able to create great e-learning courses that are effective and engaging. However, you’re only great if your customer thinks you’re great. If you want to be an e-learning hero you have to manage the relationship you have with your customers. Help them focus on real results and do a good job reporting your success.

If your customer is happy, then you’re an e-learning hero.

In the next post, we’ll look at 5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Next Project. In the meantime, feel free to share how you manage your customer relationships.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.