The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for September, 2013


Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to motivate adult learners

I was going to help my son build a computer game using Kodu. I like the app because it’s a simple way to introduce visual programming. I was prepared to sit down with him, watch some tutorials, and then practice. But he was already messing around with the application.

Impressed with what he had done I asked if he had already watched the tutorials. He told me he didn’t know what he was doing. He just started “clicking around” and was figuring it out.

Funny thing about the young ones, they have no problems jumping in and messing around. Adult learners aren’t always so willing to do that. It’s probably because we are so conditioned to avoid failure that it makes us guarded and reluctant to step out a bit.

Assuming you have to work with adult learners, what are some things to consider to keep them motivated and engage? Here are a few quick thoughts:

  • Don’t waste time. People don’t like wasting time. The courses they take should be meaningful and relevant to their needs. One of the bad things about elearning is that so many courses forced upon learners are pointless and offer little tangible value. Even if it’s a compliance course, there’s usually a way to frame it in a relevant context. Do that and you’ve taken the first step towards engaging them.
  • Account for existing understanding. Adult learners already have experience. Odds are that much of the content in your course the learners already know. Giving them an opportunity to demonstrate what they know is a good practice. Letting learners test out is another way to accommodate their needs.
  • Build on what people know. This ties into the point above. Don’t expect that you have to take every person through the course from A to Z. Some people may need that. Others may need to start at Q. So build a course that can assess their current knowledge and let them step in where appropriate.
  • Big Brother elearning sucks. Irrelevant compliance training is one thing. But if you are really interested in helping people learn, it may help to turn off the continual monitoring of progress and reporting to the LMS. Create a safe learning environment without tracking every time someone makes a wrong decision.
  • Provide practice activities. We are have lots of content and tend to be info-centric. The problem is that content works in tandem with context. So step away from the information dump and focus on how the information is used. Create real-world decision points and ways to access the information required to make good decisions.
  • Give meaningful feedback. Decisions produce consequences that are not always black and white. There are lots of nuances to what we do in daily life. Most elearning courses offer simple forms of feedback and sometimes too quickly. Consider how the consequences manifest in the real world and mimic that type of feedback. Sometimes it’s immediate, sometimes it compounds, and sometimes it’s delayed.
  • Allow the freedom to function. Adult learners like to look over the content and then assess where they see the value. They also like to move back and forth through the content. However, many courses lock navigation and don’t let people move around. Unlock the navigation and let them choose to learn what they need. Instead of locking the course at the slide level, create decision-making situations where they can prove their understanding and then move on.
  • Does it need to be in the LMS? The course you build is a great ongoing resource. But often the course is a take-once event and then locked behind the LMS. Make the course available for future access if it’s really tied to their performance expectations.
  • _________________________________ There’s a lot more that can be said about motivating and engaging those who take your online courses. What tips do you have for teaching adult learners?

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.

 




Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - do you need an instructional design degree

September is the start of a new school year. So it’s a good time to revisit the ongoing debate about whether or not you need an instructional design degree to build good elearning courses.

Here’s my take. You can add your opinion in the comments section below.

There’s a difference between teaching and informing.

Because we’re using elearning applications like Articulate Studio and Storyline the assumption is that what we’re building is always elearning or the objective is some sort of performance improvement.

Instructional design implies instruction. But much of what’s created with the elearning applications is less about learning and more about sharing information. It’s really more interactive multimedia content than it is interactive instructional design.

Perhaps the question should be, “Do you need a marketing degree?” since a lot of what is created falls more into that bucket than performance improvement.

Not all course builders are instructional designers.

In an ideal world, the person building the course is also involved in the design of it. But I’ve been in the industry long enough to know that’s often not the case. There are many course builders who have little say in the design of the course they build.

They’re hired to take content as it is designed by someone else and then build out the multimedia part of it. Having instructional design awareness is great and allows that person to offer constructive feedback, but if that’s not what the person is hired to do, then there’s a good chance the feedback goes nowhere.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - not all course designers are instructional designers

If you’re hired to build courses, but not involved in the strategic design of them, then it may make sense to focus on multimedia design skills over instructional design. From my experience, a course developer with really good graphic and interaction design skills usually trumps a good instructional designer with limited visual design skills and multimedia experience.

College degrees may not build the skills you need in the real world.

There are lots of resources online and informal learning communities to help you learn more about instructional design. It doesn’t require a degree.

I have a master’s in educational technology, a degree in corporate media production, and a degree in organizational management that focused a lot on performance and training. With all of that education, most of what I know about elearning came from the work world.

Quite a bit of what was covered in my academic education was not very relevant to the work I was doing and offered little practical application. On top of that many of my professors had limited experience in non-academic training environments and were so politically charged about education and learning that it made a lot of the the academic experience a bit uncomfortable and completely incoherent to my needs in the corporate environment.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - college degrees may not build the skills you need in the work world

Learning about instructional design doesn’t necessarily require a formal program as much as the desire to learn and then apply what you learn to your course design.

An instructional design degree can help you get a job.

Elearning is hot and a great industry to be in. That hasn’t always been the case for training. In fact, when times are tough, it’s usually the training team that gets the boot. But for right now, elearning is a growing industry with lots of opportunities.

I took a quick peek at 20 job listings, here’s what I found. All but one required at least a bachelor’s degree. Most preferred a Master’s. And many required a Master’s.

Is that fair? Probably not. If I was the hiring manager I’d prefer looking at your portfolio and talking to you about how you design courses. However, in many cases the hiring manager isn’t involved in the initial screening of the job applicant. That’s done by an HR assistant who is using the minimum requirements to weed out applicants.

So you may be the most skilled instructional designer, but without a degree you probably won’t make it past the first round.

An instructional design degree can challenge your thinking.

Here’s where I find the most value in pursuing an instructional design degree. It forces you to look at and do things in a different way. It also helps build relationships and a network of peers that has lifelong value.

We tend to get stuck doing the same things the same way. In fact, many of you may have the experience building courses, but you’ve basically built the same course a hundred times rather than a hundred different courses.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - college degrees promote thinking in a different way

In a degree program, you get experiences and opportunities that may not exist at work where you have to operate at the speed of business. You learn new things and hopefully get to apply them to projects to see how they work.

You also get to interact with people who are in different fields, with different organizations, and who many not think the way you do. Being challenged in this way is good.

From a purely pragmatic perspective, you don’t need an instructional design degree to build elearning courses. But a formal education does provide a map towards success. Most of us aren’t disciplined enough to map out the same things and experiences we’d acquire in school.

But Tom, do I need an instructional design degree to build elearning courses?

I’m going to say “No, you don’t need a degree.” I’ve talked to plenty of people who told me what they learned in school wasn’t relevant to what they have to do at work. And with the resources available to you, there’s no reason why you need to pay a ton of money to get a piece of paper to confirm the skills you already have.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - do I need an instructional design degree to build elearning courses?

But you do need to know how to build good instruction and that means if you don’t learn it via a formal degree program you’ll need to learn it elsewhere.

My advice is to keep reading about course design and practice building instructionally sound modules. Build good examples to add to your portfolio and stay connected to the elearning community. That practical experience coupled with knowing someone can help you get past the HR filter when openings arise.

And if you can afford it, go to school because you’re at a competitive disadvantage when looking for work.

What do you think?

Do you need an instructional design degree? For those of you who don’t have a degree, what advice do you have for someone who wants to learn more?

And if you do have a degree, did it help you build good elearning courses? Is it something you’d recommend to others?

I look forward to your comments.

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.

 




Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - free PowerPoint templates and e-learning examples & samples

The past few weeks I’ve gotten a number of questions regarding some of the blog posts, free templates, and elearning in general. So here are some quick answers to your frequently asked questions with a few free graphics and free templates for you to use in your own elearning courses.

How to Get Free Images

Question: In one of the posts where you offer a few elearning tips you had some images with kids and text. I’d like to use those in a course. Where did you get them?

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - example of free PowerPoint template and clip art

Those images are from clip art style 647. I downloaded the images and then created my own tags. Basically, I ungrouped the images, made some edits, and then added them to a rounded rectangle to create the tag.

  • Tutorial: Here’s a tutorial to show you how to create the custom graphics for your elearning.
  • Free PowerPoint template: To make it easy for you, I also created some empty tags. All you need to do is add your own text. I saved them as individual images and also in PowerPoint so you can edit them. Download the free PowerPoint file.
  • Free cartoon font: Sort through Google Web Fonts for free handwritten fonts. There are some that will work well with these tags. I like Happy Monkey.

Where Can I Find E-Learning Sample Courses?

Questions: At one of your workshops you showed some elearning examples. Can you provide the links?

I show quite a few examples based on the different topics during the workshops. For today, I’ll limit the examples to those where you can also download a free template so you can get maximum value.

When I was first getting started I loved looking at elearning examples to see what others were doing and to find some inspiration for my own projects. Hopefully these simple sample courses help and you can get some use from the free elearning templates.

E-Learning Example: Simple Scenario Interaction

This is an example of a simple scenario structure where you can ask a relevant question and then provide feedback. The template has a question screen and feedback screen. The idea with this is to get away from basic multiple choice questions. Instead, create a simple scenario that’s relevant to how the learner uses the content. Provide viable choices and then the appropriate level of feedback.

I like to use these simple scenarios because they are better than bullet points and standard linear slides. They also help frame the content so that it’s relevant to the learners. And they’re easy to build and reuse. They’re a good first step away from the standard bullet point screen.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - example of free elearning template and e-learning samples

The elearning sample below was built in Storyline, but I also provide a PowerPoint version. In Storyline, each choice links to a single feedback layer. In PowerPoint, each choice links to a slide. You can download the free templates below and see how the sample course is built.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - elearning course sample

Click here to view the elearning example.

What I like about this template is that if I switch the character I can go from one industry to the next without a lot of effort. In a rapid elearning world, this reusability sure comes in handy.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - use an image to change the free elearning example course

E-Learning Example: Decision-making Template

This example is for a character-driven decision. The Storyline version is drag and drop. The PowerPoint is click and reveal. It’s structured the same way as the sample course above.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - sample elearning course with interactions and a free PowerPoint template

Click here to view the elearning example.

Just like the first template, switch the character and the background image and you easily switch the context.

E-Learning Example: Interactive Bookshelf

The bookshelf is kind of common. But I like it. This makes for a great starting menu that connects to distinct modules. We used it at a workshop to show off some Storyline demos. The free template comes with some generic books you can title for your own modules.

All you need to do is add hyperlinks to the appropriate layers or slides.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - free Bookshelf template and interaction includes a sample elearning course

Click here to view the elearning example.

Bonus tip:

If you don’t own Storyline, download the free trial and then use one of the templates to quickly create a module. For the most part, it’s just a matter of swapping out the text and graphics. If you’re fast enough, you can build a quick module for free.

If you use the free PowerPoint templates, you’ll have to set the hyperlinks and interactive el
ements yourself. That’s easy enough to do.

Either way, I hope you can find some use for the free templates. And if you have any questions about how to use them, just jump into the community and ask. We’d love to help you.

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.

 




Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - download free PowerPoint templates for online training

Tab-style interactions are probably the most common type of elearning interactions and for good reason. They’re easy to build and add a bit of interactivity to what would normally be linear content.

They’re also a great way to deal with an issue that plagues many elearning courses—locked navigation. People should have as much freedom as possible when navigating their online training because it’s part of their learning experience. But we know that’s not always going to happen. Many course designers (or customers) want to force linear navigation.

Tab interactions allow the controlled navigation that the client prefers and still gives the learners some freedom to explore the content and navigate as they wish.

To help speed things up I pulled together some tab interactions for you to use. These free PowerPoint templates are available in the elearning community.

Free Vertical and Horizontal Tab Templates

Vertical and horizontal tabs typically consist of a navigation bar that contains the tabs; and the tabs are persistent across the screens with quick access to the other tabs. The examples below generally fit that description. I also included an accordion style interaction that meets the same qualifications. It just looks different.

Blue Tabs Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Color Tabs Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a multi colored tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Accordion Tabs Interactions 

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction based on an accordian and free PowerPoint template for online training

Six Tabs Interactions

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Circle Gray Tabs Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Free Main Menu Tabs Templates

Main menu tabs are common as starting points in an online training course. They usually aren’t persistent once you leave the main menu. However, you’ll notice with a few of the templates below I added a persistent tab link at the bottom that matches the main tab screen.

Colored Bars Tabs Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Black & Gray Spoke Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Spectrum Tabs Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Glassy Blue Tabs Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - e
xample of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Green Bulb Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Blue Green Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Business Time Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Blue White Box Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Image-Based Menu Interaction

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training

Free Notebook Tab Templates

Interactive tabbed notebooks are pretty common. The templates below are more proof of concept as I was showing how to create the tabbed interactions in PowerPoint. Looking at them today, I think they’re due for a makeover (coming soon).

Multi-colored Notebook Tabs

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training and a tabbed notebook

Five & 3-tabs Interactive Notebook

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training and a tabbed notebook

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of a tabs interaction and free PowerPoint template for online training and a tabbed notebook

Hope you enjoy the free PowerPoint templates and that you can find uses for them in your online training programs. And if you need any help figuring out how to customize, be sure to ask.

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.