The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for September, 2014


Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters

In this post we’ll review seven ways to create characters for your online training courses. For the most part these characters can be created in PowerPoint so you don’t need other tools.

Create Characters by Customizing Clip Art

If all you have is clip art then that’s what you have to work with. But you still have some flexibility. Start by selecting the clip art image, ungrouping it, and making the customizations you need. Then regroup it. I also like to save the new image as a .png.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters using PowerPoint clip art

Here are some posts that should help you do this:

With some creativity you can do quite a bit. I try to stick with the same image style and remove all of the background items that make clip art look like clip art.

Create Characters by Pulling Them Out of Stock Images

You can find a lot of stock images for free. However, it’s not always easy to find people who are isolated. But that’s easy enough to do yourself. I look for images with people that I can pull out of the image. PowerPoint 2010+ has a remove background feature that works well in most cases.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters using sotck images

Once you’ve isolated the people you can put them over any background or even create silhouettes.

Create Characters by Using Simple Shapes

Pictograph images are common for signs and work well with a lot of procedural and safety training.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters using shapes and pictograms

Create Characters by Sketching Them

I used to do a lot more sketching of images back when I had one of the old tablet PCs. It’s easy enough to do.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters using sketches

At a recent conference Blair Rorani live tweeted my session and created some cool images. I tried it myself at the workshop in Denver, which you can see below.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters using sketches and iPad

Sketching doesn’t need to be perfect and the organic nature of it provides a novel contrast to what we usually see in our elearning courses.

Create Characters by Using a Flat Design

In a recent post I needed some characters that matched the characters David used in his blog post on a weekly challenge. Since it was a flat character it was easy enough to create using PowerPoint.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters using flat characters

As you can see in the image below, the character is a bunch of shapes combined to look like a person, probably a lot like how we were created.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters using flat characters in PowerPoint

Create Characters Using Illustrations in PowerPoint

This last technique takes a little practice but offers the most flexibility because you can virtually trace any image you need.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters using illustrated characters created in PowerPoint

 

Those who know Inkscape or Illustrator can use those tools to create vector files. But the images above were created in PowerPoint. Once you get a hang of it, creating the images is generally easy.

At least try to create one image and see how it works. I took a stab at creating a self-portrait (and then I squished it a little at the sides to lose a few pounds).

Create Characters by Customizing the Articulate Characters

Many of you use the Articulate software. The illustrated characters, just like clip art, can be ungrouped and customized. That means you can change the facial features or modify the outfits, which comes in handy if you have specific work uniforms.

If you use Studio ‘13, insert a character and ungroup it. Then make whatever changes you want. In Storyline, insert a character on the slide and then save as an image. Use the .emf or .wmf format. This keeps them as vect
or images that can be ungrouped. Then bring the image into PowerPoint and ungroup it to make modifications. Save the modified image and insert on your Storyline slide.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters customize Articulate characters

Above is an example of a character I modified. I changed the facial features a bit, made her head smaller to look less cartoonish, and put her in a work outfit. I used the Best Buy look to show some branded work attire.

And here’s another example where I combined the characters with some assets from other clip art. I ungrouped the clip art character to use the hard hat and utility belt.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create characters customizing Articulate characters and using clip art

In an ideal world you have access to a graphics person or a budget to buy the characters you need. But that’s not the case for many of you. These tips above should help you get started and give you enough options to create the characters you need.

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 - time saving tip - build courses slides templates

At a recent workshop I was chatting with someone about simple ways to speed up course design. Here are a few of the time saving tips we discussed.

8 Time Saving Tips: Build Template Slides

Start by thinking through the various screens common to elearning courses and then build the core structure. Don’t worry about the way they look because that will change based on the course topic. However the core features and functionality can be established upfront and then saved as a template slide.

Here are a few of the screens common to most courses:

  • Course Navigation: It’s common to have some course navigation guides as part of the course. And there are many ways to do it, some covered in this post on course navigation. Create a template and structure for navigation that you can quickly add to your course.
  • Test Media Screen: This screen includes information on types of media, plugging in audio, and testing volume. Do this before they get to a slide with media that may be turned up to loud.
  • Getting Started Screen: This screen explains details of the course, title, abstract, how long it will take, etc. Create an instruction screen with all of those details. Again, don’t worry about the way it looks. You can move the objects around and style them to meet your course design.
  • Section Title Screen: All courses have a title screen. Many courses also have sections that require section title screens. How will those look different? What content generally goes there? Create a few variations of the section title screens so you have them on hand when you need them.
  • Gate Screens: A gate screen serves multiple purposes. It stops the learner and orients them to something new. Some people use it prior to an interaction, others use it move persistent instructions to a single screen. You could even use it as a section title screen. Here’s a post on how to build gate screens.
  • Resources Screen: After the course there may be all sorts of resources for the person to use. Some software comes with a resources tab, but you are usually limited to a title and link to the resource. If you want to add more, you’ll need a page. Like the other options, come up with a structure and determine the type of content. Perhaps it includes a table-like look with thumbnail image, title, and link.
  • Final Instructions: What’s the next step when the person’s done with the course? Are there practice activities? Do they connect with a peer coach? Are they required to demonstrate something in the real world?
  • Exit: When everything’s complete and the person’s ready to exit, what are they to do? If you don’t provide instructions you may come in on Monday to find that they sat at their desks the entire weekend waiting for exit instructions. Don’t risk upsetting their work life balance. Create a default exit screen you can plug into the backend of the course.

Bonus Time Saving Tip: Create a Course Starter Template

Build an elearning starter course template. There are a few core slides that are in most courses.  For example, two are the navigation instructions and the final slide that tells the learners they’re finished and free to leave.  Build those into a template and start all of your courses with those slides ready to go. And add in some of the ones we discussed above.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - time saving tip use a template starter kit

Here’s a post where I detailed the elearning starter kit.

The key point in all of this is that there are slides common to most courses. And most of the slides have the same type of content. Save time by creating those slides and adding placeholders for the content. Then the next time you start on a course you can add those pre-built slides.

Is something missing?  Which screens would you pre-build and include in the list?  Feel free to share your ideas 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.

 




Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - first step when building interactive elearning courses

On past projects, many of my customers would ask for interactive elearning courses. When I asked them how they defined interactive elearning courses they’d usually list things like fancy mouseovers, drag-and-drop interactions, and a host of other ways to interact with the screen. They rarely described making decisions or using the content.

Many times we dismiss this type of interactivity as novel and superfluous. I’ve heard other presenters deride those things as a waste of time and not being much more than lipstick on a pig.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a good looking pig. What’s the alternative?

Seriously, I can understand their perspective but I don’t agree with their derision. In fact, that type of interactivity is an important part of building effective and interactive elearning courses.

Interactive E-Learning Courses: Create an Immersive Experience

A key component while building interactive elearning courses is to craft an immersive experience. You start by creating a visually engaging context. If I’m teaching you about the Hoh Rain Forest, I want to bring you INTO the Hoh Rain Forest.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - before adn after example of visually immersive interactive elearning courses

 

We discussed that a bit when we looked at how to tap into your visual voice and planning your visual design. Learn to create a visually engaging and immersive look.

Interactive E-Learning Courses: Touch the Screen

The next step is getting the learners to touch the screen. A visually immersive course pulls them in a little. Touching the screen pulls them in a lot more. The reason is because you are engaging their senses and having them actively involved with the course.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - three ways to touch the screen when building interactive elearning courses.

A lot of people deride onscreen interactions like dragging and clicking as novel and perhaps even distracting. However, it’s a key part of interactive elearning. A goal is to get the learners to interact with the screen. At this point, it’s not about the cognitive processing. Instead, it’s all about pulling them in. And a great way to do so, is by getting them to do something on the screen.

In a previous post we discussed the building blocks of interactivity and identified three key ways to “touch the screen.” They are clicking, mouseovers, and dragging. Here’s a simple example of the three types applied to the same interaction.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - examples of interactive elearning courses

  • Click version of the office selection scene.
  • Hover version of the office selection scene.
  • Drag version of the office selection scene.

As you can see in the demos above, the types of interactions are somewhat interchangeable. Some make more sense than others depending on the context. However, the main point is to figure out how you’ll get your learners to touch the screen. How can you get them to interact with the screen elements? The more you can do this, the more you keep them engaged as they go through the course.

Here’s a cool example I like to show at workshops. It’s an interaction from a travel website and not an elearning course. However, imagine if this site wasn’t interactive. The travel agency could have met its goal with a list of travel choices from which to choose and then compile recommendations for you.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - travel site that is similar to many interactive elearning courses

Click here to view the interactive web site.

But they decided against that. Instead they get you to explore the site and “touch the screen” in various ways. There are places to click, mouseover, and drag. It’s fun and engaging, and definitely a lot more memorable than a dropdown list. And it helps the agency meet their objective of getting you to select a vacation.

Those who deride the superfluous interactions are correct if all you do is add novelty to your course. The interactions get old fast. And while visual design and onscreen interactivity plays a role in engaging the learners, it’s not the main way to engage the learners. All of those things need to be in concert with a great learning experience and coupled with the course’s content and learning objectives.

However, if you neglect crafting an immersive experience you miss the opportunity to really engage your learners and building effective and interactive elearning courses.

What are some ways you’ve used onscreen interactions to immerse learners in your elearning courses?

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 flat UI learning interaction template

Here’s a template I created for a recent workshop on how to create an exploratory learning interaction. I used a flat UI design for the learning interaction. Since it uses a similar style to this previous template, the two learning interactions can be combined. That’s what I did in the demo below.

Example of the Learning Interaction

Here’s an example of the learning interaction combined with the previous template.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of the free flat UI learning interaction template

Click here to view the learning interaction.

Learning Interaction Downloads

Here are some downloads of the learning interaction:

Feel free to use the template as you like. Also, you can combine them with these other free templates which also have a flat UI design.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - another free flat UI learning interaction template

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - yet another free flat UI learning interaction template

Click here to view the previous post and get the free downloads.

The files were used for a practice activity on creating simple exploratory learning interactions. They let the learner collect information. Once they have the information, you could continue the interaction by having them use the information to make a decision.

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 - Favorite apps & extensions for chrome

This weekend I reinstalled my operating system. After I installed my Chrome browser I was glad to see that everything sync’d properly, especially some of my favorite browser apps and extensions.

I’ve come to depend on them as I use many online services to help me build elearning courses. I love them because they’re always at my fingertips and save me time.

Here are five of the extensions I use quite regularly.

IE Tabs

If you use PowerPoint, then this is a must-have app. There are some things you can do in Internet Explorer that you can’t in other browsers. The IE Tabs app acts as if you’re in Internet Explorer so it means that you have the same capability.

When I want to add clip art or other graphics from the Microsoft Office Online, I can click and drag it straight to the PowerPoint slide, right from the browser. Without the IE Tabs app, I have to download the files first and then insert them.

Watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean.

Click here to view the video.

Mark As Read

Mark As Read sits in the address bar and looks like a document. With it I can mark articles that I am reading or want to read later. I do have other apps that I use for bookmarking and saving for later, but I use this quite a bit because it’s just so simple.

To me it’s like dog-earing a book versus using some fancy-schmancy bookmark.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - use this app to read articles on elearning

Search This Current Site

I mentioned this in a previous post so I won’t rehash it much other than to say that this is one of my most used apps. Learn more about Search This Current Site from this post.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - use this app to search elearning sites and popular blog posts

Black Menu for Google

The Black Menu for Google provides really fast access to some key Google functionality. Once logged into your account, you can quickly access all of your Google content.

I use it mostly for quick access to Google Drive and the translate function.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - use this app to access Google and elearning content  

QuickDrop Explorer

Like many of you I use Dropbox to store and share a lot of my files. QuickDrop Explorer makes it handy to locate and share files right from the browser. There’s no need to go to your Dropbox folder and dig for files. You can do it all from the browser.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - use this app to access all of oyur elearning content on Dropbox

These are five of the apps that I use regularly. They save time so I see them as critical productivity tools. Which browser apps do you use?

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.