The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for April, 2010


The Rapid E-Learning Blog

In a previous post, I showed that when you use rapid elearning tools (as well as PowerPoint) you can build effective elearning courses. I’d even argue that PowerPoint provides some extra benefits because of its easy authoring and graphics development.  You get a lot of features and capability inside one application.

Below is a link to the demo I built based on Allen Interaction’s original course (with their permission).  In today’s post, I want to walk through how I built the graphics in the course.  They’re easy to do.  And once you have the techniques down, you can surely use the isometric office or room technique in your own elearning courses.  It’s definitely a great way to create an immersive elearning experience.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - demo course

Click here to view the course.

How to Create the Graphics

When you look at the office graphics, you’ll notice that it’s made up of three core groups.  They are the office walls, the people, and then all of the equipment.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - overhead office assets

Here are a few quick tutorials that walk you through how to create the graphics:

Once you have your assets built, you want to place them in your scene.  Here’s a quick tutorial and a few tips when working with these assets:

  • Vary the colors of the objects to give it more variety.  Unless you’re doing a course for the top-secret MIB you are better off adding some color to the outfits people wear and to the office equipment.  Not all of the furniture needs to look the same, either.
  • Place the objects at angles to give them a more natural look.  You’ll notice that some of the characters are turned a bit and keyboards are in different positions. Using angles helps make the scene look more active.
  • Little details add more interest.  I like the way the pieces of paper look in the scenes.  Experiment with other items, like coffee cups, water coolers, and plants.  The more detail you add to the scene the more interesting the image becomes.

I pulled all of the tutorials into a single module for those who want them all in one spot.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - combined elearning tutorials

Click here to view the tutorials.

For those who want the assets that I created, you can download the people and equipment as images, as well as the PowerPoint file.  Perhaps that will save you some time.  Feel free to use them as you wish.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - download these free assets

Download:

In the next post, I’ll walk through how to build the course, the animations, and branching.

If you use these ideas, or create your own assets, I’d love to see them.  Feel free to share them via the comments link.  Also, share how you created them by doing your own quick tutorial.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

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.

 




 The Rapid E-Learning Blog - 200 free rapid elearning tutorials

A few weeks ago I offered some advice on how to become an elearning pro without spending a dime.  The essence of that post is:

  • You have access to a lot of free tips and tricks.  So there are plenty of opportunities to learn and it doesn’t cost you anything more than your time.
  • Practice doing what you learn.  The learning is only going to happen if you do more than watch the tutorials and read information.  Apply some of the tips and tricks to your projects. 
  • Share what you know with others.  One of the best ways to learn is to share what you’ve learned and done.  It doesn’t need to be perfect.  Trust me, there are more people getting started looking for simple tips than there are experts looking for advanced help.  What you learn and share is really important to a lot of people.

I also offered up a small challenge and your peers responded by creating a number of tutorials.  Here’s one of my favorites because it offers a clever use of PowerPoint and what you end up creating can easily use as the design for your course.

Click here to view the tutorial.

Here’s a quick mock up using the ideas from Linda’s tutorial.  In this case, it’s designed as a way to meet new team members.  However, the same idea could be used a number of ways.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - meet team members prototypeClick here to view the prototype.

Below is a list of great tips and tricks that you can apply to your elearning courses right away. Also, if you’re an Articulate user, we had a month-long series of helpful posts in the Word of Mouth blog.

Creating PowerPoint Graphics

Some of these tips are really practical and probably work right away.  Others are cool and interesting.  However, even if you can’t use those specific tips, it does help to practice the tips in the tutorials.  You’ll improve your PowerPoint design skills and odds are you you’ll use the techniques in ways that do work for you.

PowerPoint Animation Tips & Techniques

You might not need to use all of these animation tips, but it’s a good thing to practice them because the techniques can be applied in all sorts of circumstances.  They’ll also help you think about the PowerPoint features in a different way.

Rapid E-Learning

Miscellaneous Tips

Course Management

There are a lot of really good tutorials in this list, especially if you’re just getting started.  Go through them and practice some of the techniques.  Do you have some tips you want to share?  If so, add your practical tips and tricks to the comments section.

Also, congratulations to Linda Lor who won an autographed copy of the Essential Articulate Studio ‘09.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

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.

 




The Rapid E-Learning Blog - LINGOs Global Giveback

LINGOS is a consortium of over 45 international humanitarian aid organizations.  The LINGOs mission is to provide learning technologies and courses to the member organizations.

Last December, LINGOS announced the eLearning Global Giveback Competition.  It was an opportunity for the elearning community to help fill the gap for those organizations that lacked some resources.  And the community came up big.  All of the courses listed were filled.

What makes the accomplishment even more amazing is that all of them were done in a very short period of time, some of the volunteers were unfamiliar with the authoring tools, some were even new to elearning, and many of the LINGOs organizations had to divert their attention because of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Despite these obstacles, over 40 courses were developed.  And there are still additional courses in the works.  That’s pretty impressive.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - LINGOs finalists

I’d like to personally thank all of those who volunteered and made the first event a great success.  I’d also like to encourage others to volunteer to continue to support the LINGOs organizations.  Here’s why:

  • If you’re a smaller elearning vendor or freelancer and trying to get your name out, this is a great way to do so.  You get to do a project that not only helps people, but it also gets a lot of visibility.
  • If you’re a student and want a valuable internship or learning experience, this is a good opportunity.  You’ll gain a lot of experience, learn while working on a real project, network and meet people, and have a nice project for your portfolio.
  • Speaking of portfolios, a lot of people tell me they can’t show their projects because of proprietary issues.  Volunteering for LINGOs is a way to solve that.  You can show off your elearning muscles and have a solid project for your portfolio.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - global giveback competiton

Here’s a link to the LINGOs projects that were submitted and made it to the finalist round.  Hopefully, there’ll be a place to see the other projects, as well.

By the way, David and I took up the challenge of creating a course because we wanted to give back and be able to use the course as a teaching project.  The LINGOs projects present some interesting dynamics. For us is working with a compressed timeline and limiting ourselves to PowerPoint, Engage, and the resources that most of the blog readers deal with.  On top of that, David’s in Phoenix, I’m in the Seattle area, and our client is in the UK.  You can see our project below.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Christian Aid exampleClick here to view the Christian Aid course.

It was an interesting experience.  In addition, we tried out a few ideas.  I’ll write more about that soon where I discuss some of our strategic decisions, working virtually, and give away some assets based on the course design.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

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.

 




The Rapid E-Learning Blog

Rapid elearning tools generally fall into one of two groups: freeform and form-based authoring.

PowerPoint-to-Flash publishing is freeform.  You start with a blank slide and then build your structure and interactivity.  And the other type of tool is form-based where the application has a pre-designed structure and the developer only needs to add content like text, narration, and multimedia.  Hit publish and you have clean, professional output.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - form and freeform authoring

Most rapid elearning courses use a combination of form-based modules and PowerPoint.  A good example of this is the Pallet Jack demo.  It combines content created in PowerPoint (freeform) with interactions built in Engage (form).

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Pallet Jack rapid elearning demo

Click here to view the Pallet Jack demo.

As you can see, it doesn’t have that “PowerPoint” look and the integration between form and freeform generated content works well.

The Truth About PowerPoint

Most PowerPoint criticism is misguided.  It’s not hard to find critics of PowerPoint because it’s an easy target.  Who hasn’t had to sit through boring PowerPoint presentations?  Unfortunately, much of the criticism is off target because bad content is the result of poor design and not the application you use.

Books like Beyond Bullet Points and Slide:ology have done more than enough to show how to use PowerPoint for more than bullet point presentations.  If you’re critical of something created in PowerPoint tell the person who created it and spare us the tearing of shirts and sprinkling of ash as you lament the inevitable collapse of our industry. 🙂

PowerPoint is a multi-faceted application and used for more than presentations.  So a carte blanche dismissal of PowerPoint is ridiculous. As proof to PowerPoint’s versatility you don’t need to go very far.  In recent posts, I’ve shown how to use it to build graphics as well as interactive elearning.  I even met someone recently who used PowerPoint to publish a book.

Here’s what’s true about PowerPoint and rapid elearning.  Your slide starts as a blank slate.  You can add animations, narration, interactivity, and multimedia to create a pretty dynamic elearning course.  When you publish your course, that PowerPoint slide becomes a Flash movie.

Do you build the Flash movie in Flash?  Or do you build the Flash movie in PowerPoint?

Here’s the deal, you can learn Flash and actionscript to build elearning content.  Or you can leverage PowerPoint’s flexible and easy authoring environment to create Flash-based elearning.  Either way, the output is still Flash.  The only difference is that with PowerPoint you get to create your Flash movie (with animation and audio) in an environment you already know.  All without having to be a programmer.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - PowerPoint slide becomes a Flash movie

While actionscript programming does provide more control over the Flash content, rapid elearning generally gives you a lot more convenience.  And for most courses, I’ll take the convenience over the time and cost associated with the extra programming.  It’s part of the rapid elearning strategy I recommend and similar to what Kevin Maney discusses in his book, Trade-Off.

Keep in mind that while rapid elearning gives you the ability to create good courses at a fraction of the cost and time, it doesn’t mean that you skip instructional design.  Regardless of your tool, the course is only going to be as good as you designed it. But because you use rapid elearning tools doesn’t mean that you can’t build a quality elearning course.

Rapid E-Learning Doesn’t Mean Low Quality

If you read this blog, then you know that there are more than enough examples to show how you can build high quality elearning using rapid elearning tools.  In fact, here are a couple of quick examples I built based on the demos in Michael Allen’s Guide to E-Learning. The first uses a form-based module and the other is built entirely in PowerPoint.  They both demonstrate the power of rapid elearning and that you can create viable courses without being a programmer.

Form-based Authoring Example

The example below is an excerpt from one of the Allen Interaction courses.  The original is an information-based interaction.  I replicated the interaction using Engage, a form-based rapid elearning tool.  It took less than 10 minutes to build it.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Engage rapid elearning interaction Click here to view the rapid elearning demo.

This form-based example demonstrates the benefits of the rapid elearning approach.  You don’t need any advanced programming skills, yet you can still create a rich media experience.  In addition, because you cut the programmer out of the process, you cut out all of the associated meetings and project reviews.  That’s a big time savings.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - custom Flash versus rapid elearning

Click here to see a comparison between the Flash and rapid elearning versions.

In the comparison video, you’ll see that working in a form-based application is pretty easy.  That’s because everything’s pre-built and you just need to add content.  The key to using the interaction effectively is in how you structure the learning experience.

PowerPoint E-Learning Example

The first example is more like reading through a manual than active learning.  You get good information, but you don’t really do anything with it.  This second demo has more interactivity.

Here’s the original built by Allen Interactions.  Typically this type of policy training would be your standard click-and-read course where you see page after page of corporate policy about workplace violence.  I like the way Allen Interactions built the course.  It’s designed in an environment that’s more real life and relevant.  Instead of reading about workplace violence, you are a manager who has to analyze the situation, make a threat assessment, and then refer the people to right departments.  It’s a great learning environment.

Below is the demo version I that I built in PowerPoint.  I scaled it down a bit because I was less concerned about the content and more focused on showing that you can craft a very similar learning environment.  I also challenged myself to use only PowerPoint for the graphics so that it was all done in a single tool.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - rapid elearning makeover

Click here to view the rapid elearning example.

When you compare the two examples, you’ll notice that the original offers a drag and drop; and there’s some logic built into the questioning process.  I had to modify that a bit in PowerPoint because of the limitations when converting PowerPoint to Flash.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - rapid elearning makeover  Click here to view a comparison between Flash and PowerPoint versions.

However, I can live with the differences because the course content and learning interaction are essentially the same.  Don’t believe me? Ethan Edwards from Allen Interactions said, “…even with the compromises, the PowerPoint piece still has 90% of the impact of the original or more.”

I can live with the compromises.  Here’s why and where I make up for it.

We’ll assume that the same effort was applied to the instructional design regardless of the tool used.  So that’s a wash.  Once I had the content and course structure, it took me about 10 hours to build the prototype from scratch.  That includes building all of the graphics, which was most of the time.

A less experienced person would require a bit more time, but in the long run you still get easy authoring at a good price. And that’s where rapid elearning shines.

Rapid elearning doesn’t mean you skip instructional design and the process of designing a good learning experience.  That still has to happen.  But it also doesn’t mean that you can’t design a good learning experience.  Even if all you have is PowerPoint, there’s no reason why you can’t build engaging and effective elearning courses.  All it takes is a little practice.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

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.

 




The Rapid E-Learning Blog

Last week I was at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando and got to spend a few minutes with my mentor, Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer.  I asked him for a quick interview to share what’s happening in his world of elearning and business in general.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Tom

The last time we talked, you were working on some new technologies at Werner Labs.  Is there anything that you can share with us today?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner

As you know, we’re a research lab and many of our projects are confidential.  However, there are a few that are close to completion that I can share with you and your readers.

With the current economic conditions, every business is trying to cut expenses and maximize the money they make.  This is especially true for the airline industry.  If you’ve done any recent travel then you’ll know how tight the seats are getting.  It’s so bad that you can hardly breathe, let alone do any work.  There needs to be an easy way to capture more personal space.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - cramped airplane seating

We’ve developed a solution that we’ll be marketing as the Toot-N-Scoot™.  Whenever someone sits too close to you, all you do is press a button and it emits a flatulent sound.  The immediate response is for the close-sitter to scoot away from you—giving you plenty of room to work or eat.

We’re currently working with a few companies like Scentsy to make a fragrance to go with the Toot-N-Scoot™.  We believe that this could be a winner.  We also feel that it can be used for more than just travel issues.  So we’re exploring other industries and have already gotten it into the hands of some movers and shakers.

 The Rapid E-Learning Blog - movers and shakers testing the Toot-N-Scoot

 

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Tom

That sounds interesting. I sure could have used it on a recent flight.  But, I have to ask, “How does that relate to elearning?”

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner

Good question.  We believe that the device has many potential uses.  For example, the current rage in the training industry is informal learning.  This means that many organizations will abdicate the responsibility to train you.  In turn, they will be unleashing a horde of ignorant and pesky co-workers who will be seeking you out for information.

You’ll need a device like the Toot-N-Scoot™ to maintain your privacy and personal space so that you can remain productive.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Tom

Interesting concept.  You mentioned informal learning as something that’s currently hot in our industry.  Do you have any advice for those who want to implement informal learning programs in their own organizations?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner

I’m glad you asked.  While there is a lot of conversation about informal learning, there are few who are offering practical tips on implementation.  With today’s technology, the successful implementation of informal learning programs is critical to most organizations.

Here’s a recent presentation I gave on how to bring informal learning into your organization.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner's presentation on informal learning

Click here to watch Dr. Werner’s presentation.

With the increased use of social media tools, it’s inevitable that the burden to be trained falls into your lap.  Make sure that you stay on top of the emerging technologies and how to manage your organization’s informal learning.

If you want to learn more about Dr. Werner, check out these previous interviews:

If you want to learn even more about informal learning (although from a less pragmatic perspective) check out Informal Learning by Jay Cross.

What tips do you have for starting informal learning networks?  Share them by clicking on the comments link.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

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.