The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for December, 2010


The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free PowerPoint template and 100 free PowerPoint tutorials

With as many PowerPoint questions that I get, it’s a good thing that over the past year or so the elearning community has created about 300 PowerPoint tutorials.  For this post, I decided to pull a bunch of them together so that you have them in one easy list.

I also included a free PowerPoint elearning template to celebrate the holidays and a great 2010!

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of free PowerPoint template

Click to download the free PowerPoint template.

100+ PowerPoint Tutorials

If you want to learn more about using PowerPoint or building rapid elearning courses, this list is a good place to start.  Even if you can’t use a tutorial right now, going through one is still a good way to learn about PowerPoint.  The key is to do more than watch the tutorials.  Instead, practice what you learned and then try to apply it to a real project.

I loosely organized the tutorials by topic so they’re a little easier to scan. 


PowerPoint for Rapid E-Learning


PowerPoint Tips for Graphic Design


Create Illustrations & Objects in PowerPoint


Animation Tips & Tricks in PowerPoint


How to Use PowerPoint Tutorials

PowerPoint Resources

As you can see, there are lots of free tutorials and resources to help you learn more about PowerPoint.  All it takes is a little bit practice and you’ll be a PowerPoint pro in no time.

I hope you have a Happy New Year!

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 - coffee with that elearning course

The past few days I’ve been pulling some content together for a couple of workshops I’m doing at the ASTD TechKnowledge conference in San Jose.  The workshops are for those who are just getting started with the Articulate tools.

I only have about 75 minutes for each workshop, so I am pre-building most of the course that we’ll use for a few practice activities.  The participants will get all of the assets and some job aids to help them during the practice activities.  You can see how I’m designing the activity job aids below.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - example job aid for software training

They’re pretty simple and work with what we’ll be doing live.  I also added links to Screenr videos and embedded some tutorials because it’s easy to get lost during the conference sessions.  This way the participants have access to some quick tips while they’re working on the files and can work at their own pace.

In case you’re interested in how it looks, you can download the PDF here.  The file is about 20 MB because of the embedded video.  If you want to use the template, feel free to download the basic PowerPoint file that I used to create the job aid.  Use it as you wish.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - screenshots of elearning job aid free PowerPoint download

Working on the mini course reminded me of some of the challenges many who read this blog face.  The main challenge is working on one or two-person teams with a budget of $12.37.  So I thought I’d share a few ideas on how to squeeze as much as you can out of those twelve dollars.

How to Get a Nice Course Design If You’re Not a Graphics Artist

One of the biggest challenges we face is coming up with the right look for our courses.  It’s really hard when you work by yourself and you’re not a graphics designer (and you don’t have access to one).

So how do you get a course design idea?  The easiest thing is to work with what you have.

In the course I am designing for my workshop, I need something simple.  I’m not that concerned about the course content, but I do want something that makes sense and looks nice.  Many times I’ll look for practice content on government sites.  But not for this course.

One of my favorite gadgets is my Keurig coffee brewer.  When I unpacked the box, one of the things that impressed me is the “getting started” card (and the overall packaging of the documents) that they provide with the brewer.  It has the feel of being a high-end product.

  • Bonus tip!  There’s a lot to be said about the aesthetic of your course design and how people feel the first time they SEE it.  Is your course inviting? Or does it just look like a bunch of PowerPoint slides and clip art slopped together?
  • Another Bonus Tip!  Keep it simple.  You don’t need to dump everything you know on an unsuspecting learner.  Compare the brewer’s complete manual to the quick start manual they provide in the box.  Which is more inviting?

I decided to use the information on the “getting started” guide for my practice course.  The content is simple and the illustrations are very elegant.  They’ll look great on the slides.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of inspiring elements for Keurig brewer manual

Look for Content That Already Exists in Your Organization

There’s probably a lot of existing content and assets available in your organization.  It’s just a matter of finding it.

In my case, I started with the Keurig documentation.  It comes with some basic content.  Essentially it’s a mini training document.  So there’s good content and a nice flow to how the information is structured.

An added bonus is that the documentation includes some really high quality images.  I can easily use them in my elearning course.  I also did some searching online and found all sorts of demonstration videos and images that I could use.

For your courses, look through manuals and other documentation to see if there’s anything of value.  There are probably other groups in your organization that have media resources and assets that you can use, as well.  Here are a few places to look:

  • Marketing
  • Public relations
  • Library (some organizations have them)
  • Communications
  • IT group
  • Web teams

Initially I was going to design my course to look like the getting started PDF.  The design is simple and the flow of information would have worked well with that type of design.  But I wanted something a little richer, so I used the Keurig web site for inspiration.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - demo course for TechKnowledge 2011

Click to view the demo course.

If you preview the draft version of my course above, you can see that the web site provided a lot of inspiration on how to present the content.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - how web site inspired elearning course design

What I like about this particular design is that it comes with a rich color scheme.  So I don’t have to think of that myself.  I’m not a graphics designer and my use of color isn’t always great.  Being able to start with someone else’s design is big plus and timesaver.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - ideas I pulled from the Keurig site for my web design

Here are some things about the web site that I think apply to an elearning course design:

  • Company brand: branding in elearning courses is a big issue for many organizations.  I’ve written a little about that in the past.  Those that tend to make it an issue usually have some sort of branded identity.  Use what they have to inspire your design.
  • Screen layout: I really like the way the Keurig site looks.  It’s inviting and there are many elements in the web design that I can incorporate in my own.  For example, you’ll notice that I used the big, picture-circle in all of the screens.  It’s a nice visual element that ties all of the screens together.
  • Menus: I like to create visual menus that the learner can click to jump to specific parts of the course.  So when I look for inspiration, I try to find those areas that could be used as menus.  In my practice course, I used the light green boxes.  But I like the way the gray boxes at the bottom look.  Those would also make nice menus.

The company web site is an obvious place to look for design ideas.  Here are a few other places where you can find inspiring ideas:

  • Organization’s marketing material
  • Annual financial reports
  • Intranet
  • Television commercials
  • Brochures
  • Executive-level presentations (they tend to have the money to do some nice looking stuff)

Once you have the design and some assets it’s easy to pull the course elements together.  For example, I built the demo course in about a day.  I was able to do so because I had a good starting point.  I used the web site for inspiration and then I did some screen grabs of the images in the .PDF.  Then I cleaned the images up a bit to work with the course.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - before and after use of illustrations in the elearning course

Another thing to consider is that you can pull things apart and use them in new ways.  For example, I pulled the hand image out of the PDF and used that as an animated pointer to highlight the brewing process.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - before and after use of illustrations in the elearning course

As you can see, with a little sleuthing it’s easy to find inspiration inside your organization.  I know that there are some who will say that this won’t work for them because their company’s stuff isn’t very good.  That’s OK.

Just go out and find a site you like.  Use that for inspiration.  And then apply your organization’s brand and colors to the design.  Here’s a post I did a while back that shows how.  Plus, you can download a bunch of starter templates.

What do you do to find inspiration for your course design?  Share your thoughts 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.

 




The Rapid E-Learning Blog - beats Jeopardy

Many of the rapid elearning courses I see use whiteboards or chalkboards.  You can buy stock images of these, but it’s easy enough to create them in PowerPoint.  So today, I’m going to share a few simple ways to create your own boards.  Even if you don’t need to use them, there are some good PowerPoint tips that you could apply to other projects.

Blackboards and whiteboards are made up of a few key elements.  There’s a frame, the board area, and the assets like erasers and markers.  If you do a search online you’ll see that whiteboards typically have metal, wood, or black plastic frames. And chalkboards usually have wood frames.

These are all easy enough to create in PowerPoint.  When creating these, the key is to not get too detailed.  Too much detail can get noisy; and means you have to spend a lot more time producing the graphics.

Here are a few tutorials on how to create some display boards with a few extra production tips.  I’ve also included everything for you to download.

Tutorials:

Free Downloads

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free downloads

Fonts of interest: here are a couple of fonts that you can download for free from other sites.  They’ll work great with the display boards.  Be sure to check the license restrictions before using.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free whiteboard font

Whiteboard font

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free chalkboard font

Squeaky Chalk Sound

Hopefully, these free assets come in handy.  If you do use them, let me know.  I’d like to see what you do.

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 - here's a boatload of free graphics

I like to use hand-drawn elements in some of my conference presentations.  In the examples below, I combined hand-drawn shapes and characters with a hand-written font to give it more of an organic look.  What I like about this approach is that it is less formal than if all of the shapes and images were created in PowerPoint.  I think it makes the presentation seem less stuffy.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - examples of hand-drawn graphics in elearning

Hand-drawn objects work well in elearning, too.  I discussed the value of hand-drawn elements in this post on adding personality to your elearning courses.  I like that it adds some novelty, feels personal, and creates good contrast.  We used them in the image below to draw attention to the navigation controls.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of hand-drawn graphics in elearning

Simple Ways to Create Hand-Drawn Objects

I get a lot of questions about how to create them.  Here are a few ideas.

Take out a piece of paper and draw what you want.  Then put it in a scanner to make a digital copy.  At that point you can take the scanned image into a graphics editor and convert it to a usable image.  If you feel like you have no drawing skills then at least try tracing something.  Take pictures of people and then trace them on the paper.  You don’t need all of the details to create some simple line drawings.

Both Windows Vista and 7 are pen-capable so you can use your computer to create the drawings.  I happen to have a tablet pc, so I can draw right onto my PowerPoint slides.  When I’m done, I right click and save as a .PNG image file.  The example image below was created in PowerPoint using a hand-drawn frame and arrow.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - hand-drawn frame and arrow on top of image

You can also use a Wacom tablet to do the same.  In fact, the Wacom tablets are coming down in price and might be worth looking at if you have some drawing skills and figure you’d use it regularly.  They definitely add a lot of value if you have to create your own graphics.  You can also get an older used tablet pc on eBay for a decent price.  That’s a good way to go and you get a larger screen than the Wacom’s.

You Don’t Need to Be a Professional Artist

Anyone can learn to communicate ideas with hand-drawn elements.  It’s less about the drawing and more about knowing how the drawing communicates.  If you look at the community characters, they’re not perfect.  But together they work.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - hand-drawn characters

A great resource for learning about visual communication is Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin book.  You’ll learn how to communicate your ideas.  Even if you don’t do any hand-drawing in your courses, many of the ideas that Roam shares are applicable to instructional design and elearning.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free hand-drawn frames and notebook

To help you get started, I created some hand-drawn shapes and elements that you can use in your elearning courses.  The example above comes from a few of the free hand-drawn objects.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - examples of free hand-drawn shapes

Download the hand-drawn objects here.

Feel free to use them as you wish.  Many of you out there also have tablets and are better artists that I am.  If you’re interested in creating some hand-drawn shapes and images to share with the community, let me know.

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.