The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for April, 2011


The Rapid E-Learning Blog - airport template

I had a great time at recent presentations in Minneapolis and Nashville.  It’s really fun to meet people from different parts of the country.  Like in most sessions, I find that many are struggling to work by themselves with limited resources.  So I’m always looking for ways to help people get more out of the tools they have.

During these trips I tend to have extra time at the airport, so usually play around with template ideas.  They help me eat up some of the time waiting and I know that I’ll be able to give away the templates.

Here’s a template I was playing with recently (and a few additional templates for you to download).

Business Time PowerPoint Template

This template is designed around four sections.  Of course, once you break it apart and see how it’s built, you can add as many sections as you like.  I also used a couple of fonts from the free Google web fonts I mentioned a couple of weeks ago: Airstream and Arvo.

If you want to change the images in the sections, that’s easy to do.  They’re just shaped filled with pictures.  Right-click on the shape and then fill it with a different image.  You can move the image around the shape using the offset X and Y axis.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free PowerPoint template - Business Time

Click here to view the template demo.

 

Bluegreen PowerPoint Template

The template below is from the Skyscan demo I did a couple of years ago.  I wrote about it in this blog post on how you can save your job in this economy.  This template works really well with Articulate Engage.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free PowerPoint template - Bluegreen

Click here to view the Skyscan demo.

 

Subtle Sky PowerPoint Template

Below is an idea I was playing with a while back. It has a very subtle blue accent to it.  It’s made up of two basic screens like the Skyscan demo.  I never did anything with it because it was too subtle.  You’re free to use it if you like.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free PowerPoint template - Subtle Sky

Click here to view the demo.

 

Community PowerPoint Templates

Jeanette’s recently added a couple of templates to the Articulate community.  They’re pretty cool.  You can see them in action below.  Feel free to download them and use as you wish.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free PowerPoint template - Forecast

View the Forecast template demo.

 

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free PowerPoint template - Spectrum

Click to view the Spectrum template demo.

 

All of these demos are available to you via the E-learning Heroes community.  You can find them in the free downloads section or download them individually using the links below.

Hope you enjoy the templates and can find some use for them.

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 - how do you manage your fonts

Some people love font talk.  That and a glass of wine could make for a good date…by yourself!  The reality is that most people probably don’t care much about fonts but they do want to make good decisions when using them. 

In previous posts we’ve looked at how to acquire lots of fonts: 

Those posts were rich with free fonts and other resources.  But just like eating lots of sweets, sometimes too much of a good thing is too much.  So now let’s take a peek at how to manage all of those fonts.

Years ago if you had too many fonts installed on your system, chances were that the computer slowed down or ran into other issues.  So the advice was to not install too many fonts. 

With today’s computers and operating systems, some of those constraints are probably gone.  However, just because you can install a boatload of fonts doesn’t mean you should.  Is it practical to install 1,000 fonts and then have to spend time scrolling through the list trying to find the “right” font for your project?

Surely, there has to be a better way to manage fonts.  Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Plan Your Choice of Fonts

Many of the people I talk to don’t plan their font selection.  Usually it goes something like this.  They’re working on a screen and then determine that they need a nice title font.  Something bold, but not obnoxious.  Strong, but not too formal.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Comic Sans is cute

So they highlight the title text, click on the font list, and begin to scroll through hundreds of potential choices.  Since the fonts are kind of small, they tend to pick those that stand out the most and probably spend a lot of time going back and forth between fonts.

Or, they just accept the first bold font they see as divine intervention and live with what they get.

A better plan is to determine what type of font you need prior to the screen design.  Then research the right font, make a choice, and have that font available when you need to add title text.

In that case, it matters less if you have a specific font installed.  All you really need is a good way to research your fonts and then install them on an as-needed basis.

Managing a Boatload of Installed Fonts on Your Computer

Some people want every font they have to be installed on their computers.  But they also want an easy way to manage them.  For example, I have a bunch of handwritten fonts.  It would be nice to have all of the installed handwritten fonts in a group that makes it easy to find just handwritten fonts.

Here are a couple of simple ways to manage the fonts you have installed on your computer.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - manage fonts in Windows 7

You can preview your installed fonts in the control panel…at least you can in Windows 7 (can’t quite recall how it was in XP).  This gives you a quick glimpse of the font, but you don’t have a lot of options. 

You can also preview fonts that aren’t installed on your computer.  Just locate the folder they’re in and view the thumbnails.

Tips on managing fonts:

  • Create folders for font categories.  For example, put all of the handwritten fonts in a single folder.  When you need a handwritten font, scan the folder and install the font you need.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - create folders for your fonts

  • Only install the fonts you need.  When you want a specific font, locate it on your computer and install it for the project.  Then uninstall the font when it’s no longer needed.  If you have grouped folders, it’s easy to find what you need when you need it.
  • Keep copies of the fonts you use in your project folder.  This way when you share the project files, the fonts are always with the folder.
  • Tutorial: Here’s a quick tutorial on managing fonts in Windows 7.

Managing All of Those Fonts from the Web

The approach above works fine, but you’re always installing and uninstalling fonts.  There are better ways to do so using a font management application, which we’ll look at later.  But what if you don’t want to go through the hassle of uninstalling your fonts?  What if you want all fonts installed and then have an easy way to manage them?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - myFontbook.com is a good way to manage installed fonts

myFontbook.com is a free site that will load up and display all of your installed fonts.  myFontbook gives you a little more flexibility than the approach we looked at earlier.

  • You can tag your fonts.
  • Mark some as favorites.
  • Preview sample text as either a sentence or as body text.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - compare title to body text for fonts

myFontbook only works with installed fonts and of course it only works when online.  But it is a really simple solution for those who want to manage their installed fonts.

Bonus tips:

  • Save the web site to look like an application. In Google Chrome you can save a web site as an application so when you open the page it doesn’t look like a web page.  Instead it looks more like a normal software application.  To do so: click on the wrench icon, select tools, and then “create application shortcuts.”
  • Tutorial: Here’s a quick tutorial of how to use myFontbook.com.  Their site offers a lot more help if you need it.

Manage Your Fonts with Font Management Software

If you have lots of fonts and you don’t want them cluttering up your computer, then a font management application may be the best solution for you.  Smashing Magazine has an older post on 25 font management applications if you’re interested in this type of software. 

For this demo, I downloaded the trial version of FontExpert 2010 since it has some of the types of features I want to highlight.  But I have no strong preference one way or the other.  You can go over the list above and figure out which tool works best for you.

I’m no typographer so I only want a few simple things:

  • Quick install/uninstall of fonts
  • Easy way to categorize or tag my fonts
  • Preview of fonts to see how they look in various modes

Here’s a quick overview of FontExpert 2010 where I highlight how those three things basically work.

Click here to view the overview.

Font management software is a really good way to go if you have a lot of fonts and don’t want all of your fonts installed at once. 

So there you have it, three simple ways to manage fonts.  You can go with what you have in the operating system.  Use a web-based application like myFontbook to make it easier to locate the fonts that you have installed.  Or select a more robust font management application.

Which process works best for you?  Also, if you do use a font manager, why not do a Screenr video to show us how you use it?

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 - 150 free fonts

Many of us are on a limited budget. So when there’s an opportunity to get something for free I’m all for taking advantage of it.  So today, we’ll look at how to get 174 free fonts from Google.

Quick Overview

In the past when you wanted to display text on a web page you had some limitations.  Your choices were to use a generic font or you make an image of the text in a special font (if you wanted more than the basics).

Today, many of those limitations are gone because you can use web fonts.  Essentially, the font can be accessed from a server and then used to display the text….blah blah blah (already getting bored, read more here).

Google Web Fonts

Google has been actively promoting web fonts through an open source initiative.  You can learn more about this from the Google Web Fonts blog.  In addition to promoting the use of web fonts, they’ve been putting together a nice collection of open source fonts.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free Google Web Fonts

From the site you can preview and download the fonts.  The only problem with that is you have to download them one by one.  What if you want access to all of them at once?

Joe Maller to the rescue!  The other day I ran across this blog post that detailed how Joe Maller had individually downloaded all of the current fonts and put them in a single folder for download.  You’ll need an application like 7zip (which is free and the one I use) to decompress the files.  Once they’re decompressed, you can easily install the fonts on your computer.

Quick links:

Are these really free?

Anytime I do a post about free resources, I get questions about the licensing.  The fonts that Google makes available have been submitted by the creators and each one has a link to the licensing agreement.  You can learn more by reading about the Open Font License

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - How to download free Google web fonts

When you download the fonts you have the option to pay the developers.  Paying someone for their work isn’t a bad idea and probably motivates them to create some more fonts and make those available, as well.

If you want some more free fonts, you can download the ones I featured in this blog post, Over 100 Free Handwritten Fonts.  In addition, there are some hand-written fonts that were submitted by members of the elearning community.  Feel free to use them as you wish.

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 - great use of page curls

A few days ago I came across this thread in the user community.  In it, Dave Newgass was asking how to build an interaction of a person going in and out of a cubicle.  He got a couple of responses and a demo PowerPoint file to review.

Dave’s question (and the feedback he got) really speak to the value of the user community and why you need to be part of it if you aren’t already.

  • Production tips come from people who produce. Software vendors like Articulate create authoring software that has a bunch of features.  But it’s the users of that software that will come up with how to use it.  They also have all sorts of creative ideas based on their experiences that the vendors may never consider.  So tapping into that expertise can save you a lot of time trying to figure out how to do something with the tools you have.
  • Asking questions builds a pool of tips and tricks.  Some of my best ideas come from the questions I get from the community.  Someone will ask how to do something.  Initially, I may be a bit stumped.  But then I play around with some ideas and usually come up with some sort of solution. So asking questions provides answers; but it also helps the experts broaden their skills, which in turn adds additional value to the community.
  • There’s lots of free stuff.  Who doesn’t like free?  I like to build quick templates to practice some techniques. Then I give them away.  Ideally, you’d take the ideas and practice building your own templates.  But the reality is that you have limited time and if you get the template for free, why not just use it (which you’re free to do)?  So take advantage of all of the free assets in the user community.

Speaking of free, I’ve included some additional tips and tricks from the user community.  Many of them include free downloads.

Animated Cubicle Dude

Here’s a screencast where I break down Jeanette’s solution to the animated cubicle person so you can see how she did it.  I also expanded on it a bit and built a simple feedback interaction.  You can see the tutorial here and the published example below.  I also added the PowerPoint file to the downloads section if you want to play around with it or use it in a course.

The Rapid E-Learning - cubicle dude

Click here to view the demo.

Free Image Generator

There are all sorts of free image generating applications online.  If you’re on a limited budget, why not take advantage of them to create some assets for your elearning courses.  David Anderson presents a few solutions with some ideas on how you can use them in your courses.

The Rapid E-Learning - free image generators

Torn Hole Graphic Effect

Here are a few tips on how to create bullet holes for your elearning courses.  I guess this comes in handy if you’re working with street gangs or drug cartels.  Even if you don’t need bullet holes, these are good tutorials to practice doing on your own because they help you learn to use PowerPoint as an illustration tool.

The Rapid E-Learning - bullet hole graphics

Get Busy with the Bezier

Speaking of PowerPoint as an illustration tool, the Bezier tool in PowerPoint gives you the capability to create virtually anything.  It’s just a matter of learning to use the tool.

The Rapid E-Learning - use PowerPoint's Bezier tool

Fortunately, Diane Elkins (author of E-Learning Uncovered: Articulate Studio ‘09) gets you going in the right direction with this quick tutorial. 

She shows how to trace objects using the Bezier curves to create your own custom clip art and illustrations.  As you can see, once you master the techniques you’ll be able to create almost anything.

Page Curls are the Justin Bieber of E-Learning Graphics

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll no doubt recognize page curls as the hottest visual design technique for elearning courses since Dr. Werner introduced the next button.

The Rapid E-Learning - create page curl effect

Good thing for you the elearning community is hopping with page curls.  Check out these tutorials and feel free to download the ones already created.  Be sure to use them now, because soon Bieber will be Baio and page curls will be next year’s screen beans.

Free Downloads:

If you’re currently part of the community, then you know that these tutorials are just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a lot to be gleaned from your peers in the elearning community.  You’ll save time by learning some production tips and you’ll be able to download a bunch of free assets.  You may even make a few friends.

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 - Put the E in Learning

Last week I was pleasantly surprised to find Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer on the flight from Orlando to Seattle.  He’s been a hero of mine for years and truly one of the most brilliant minds when it comes to all things learning.  So I took advantage of the time with him to pick his brain and get a feel for his perspective on our industry.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Tom Kuhlmann

Dr. Werner, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.  Last time we met, I believe Werner Labs was working on some cool gadgets to help make air travel more comfortable.  What’s new at Werner Labs today?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Werner Oppelbaumer

Yes, this past year has been extremely busy.  We’re working on a number of projects.  Many of them are top secret, but here’s one that we’re close to bringing online.  We call it the Twitter Sitter. 

We are using Twitter as a baby monitoring service.  This allows you to experience the promised freedom of your mobile technology and still remain lovingly connected to your little ones.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - The Twitter Sitter

Here are a few sample tweets:

As you can see we have a little work to do on the text-to-speech conversion, but we think this tool will be a very popular.  Many of today’s media savvy people are forced to find a way to balance their time between Facebook, video games, and watching movies.  It’s critical that we find technology solutions to take care of the day-to-day distractions that inhibit their ability to grow.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Tom Kuhlmann

That looks really promising.  Let’s change the subject and talk elearning.  I just got back from the Learning Solutions conference.  There’s a lot going on in the industry with the convergence of easy to use technologies, social media, and learning.  Considering your experience, what insights can you share with the blog readers?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Werner Oppelbaumer

You are correct, there is a lot going on.  So I put together this simple presentation to address some of the important things I see happening in our industry.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer's E-Learning Tips

Click here to view the presentation.

I think you’ll agree that Dr. Werner’s tips resonate with most of us in the industry and there’s much to be gleaned from his wisdom.

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.