The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for January, 2015


Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - training mistakes

One of the activities we do at my workshops is prototype an interactive elearning module. I provide some generic content and their task is to do two things:

They spend about twenty minutes discussing ideas and then they share their ideas. It never ceases to amaze me how creative they are and what they’re able to produce within the limited time.

I find that there’s no shortage of good ideas and creative people. However, that doesn’t always translate to the production of good elearning courses. If we don’t lack for creativity, why are there so many bad courses?

Limited Performance Expectations

Many courses only exist because of some legal or regulatory reason. They are not designed to change behaviors or performance. And the only expectation is that the organization’s staff completes the “training” by the end of the year.

In that environment, organizations are reluctant to commit resources to “training” that doesn’t do much to improve performance. And that makes sense.

When I first meet with a client I try to distinguish the information type courses from those that require changes in performance. I want them to recognize what type of course they want and then commit the resources to meet their goals.

Unfortunately, we still have to build those compliance courses that have little impact to the organization. Here are some tips to help overcome the challenges when building compliance courses. Ultimately, I try to make them light and easy to take. Get the people in and out as fast as you can. And if possible, make the course interesting. A good story helps.

Limited Graphic Design Resources

Look at many of the award-winning courses. They’re not instructionally any more sophisticated than what the workshop participants design in our sessions. Usually the big difference is the way the course looks. The award winners or those types of courses have the resources to build nice looking courses.

However, many of the people I meet are stuck building courses with no graphic designers and limited to the free assets they can find online.

If I were to assemble an elearning team, I’d value a graphic designer as much as I would an instructional designer. Also if 80% of what is built is compliance training, one of the best investments is to have a graphics person on staff who can make the courses look nice and visually cohesive.

No Budget for Course Design

I once worked at an organization where we were training tens of thousands of employees around the country. I was new to the organization and tried to get $80 to buy some images from a stock image site. Instead of giving me the money to buy the images, we had a team meeting with an executive manager who explained how we could save money using the images on some crappy CD she had at her desk. The organization spent about $2000 in meetings to save $80. This type of thing is typical for many training teams.

The lack of financial commitment to create effective elearning is probably the single biggest issue I see in our industry. Organizations buy authoring software. But that’s just meets part of the need. They don’t always invest in training their staff and they rarely provide a budget to create elearning courses.

Some of you get a budget when you build courses. But when I ask at my workshops, usually no hands go up. So if you don’t get a budget, start to ask for one. Perhaps the first time you only get $500. But the next time you get a little bit more. The key is to build the expectation that when a course is required that also means we need a little bit of money to make it happen.

If you have no performance expectations, no graphic design resources, and no budget you’re going to get the types of courses that are too common in our industry. What are some of your struggles with building better courses? Click on the comments link to share your thoughts.

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 -  7 free audio editors

Even though many elearning applications have their own audio tools, I usually don’t use them. I may for quick projects, but generally, I like to keep my audio production separate from my elearning course production. It provides more control over the audio files and dedicated audio editing software tends to have more features.

Here’s a list of some free audio editors that are more than sufficient for what you may need for most of your elearning course production. And the price is right.

Of course, working with audio isn’t necessarily as easy as plugging in a microphone and recording narration. So I included links to the free software’s learning community to help you if you have detailed questions.

Audacity

Audacity is probably the most popular of the free audio editors. It’s open source with lots of users so that means there’s a lot of help available online. You can do quick basic recording or use the more advanced features for better audio editing.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog -  free audio editor recording audacity

Ocenaudio

The interface for this is familiar and pretty easy to use to get started. As they say, it’s “easy to use, fast and functional audio editor. It is the ideal software for people who need to edit and analyze audio files without complications.”

 Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog -  free audio editor recording ocenaudio

Presonus Studio One (free).

There’s a free and pro version. This is a nice application and probably a bit more sophisticated than what most of us are used to using. However, once you learn to use it you’ll have a lot you can do.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog -  free audio editor recording presonus

TwistedWave (beta)

This is an online tool. The start page is a bit different than you might expect. To create a recording you click “new document.” This opens up an easy to use recording window. It is online and you can save to Google Drive.

I do like the ability to download and edit audio from Soundcloud.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog -  free audio editor recording twisted wave

Wavosaur

I just took a quick look at the free audio editor so I can’t speak to how easy it is to use. However, I know that there are a few blog readers who use it. Here’s how Wavosaur describes the tool: “a cool free sound editor, audio editor, wav editor software for editing, processing and recording sounds, wav and mp3 files. The program has no installer and doesn’t write in the registry. Use it as a free mp3 editor, for mastering, sound design.”

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog -  free audio editor recording wavosaur

WaveShop

This is another application I haven’t used yet, but was told about at a recent conference. It does bit perfect editing which apparently is important if you don’t want a corrupted dither; and who wants that?

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog -  free audio editor recording waveshop

There are a lot more free audio editors out there, but these are the ones I’ve personally used hear the most about from blog readers. And they’re not tied to non-commercial or freemium business models. That means you’re free to use them for the courses you produce at work.

Do you use a different free audio editor than the ones listed above? Feel free to share in the comments below.

*image via commons.wikimedia.org

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 - e-learning job titles

Last year I facilitated a number of elearning workshops with about 1800 participants who are either considering elearning as a career or are active in the elearning industry. Here’s a common question that I’m asked: What job title best describes the person who builds elearning courses?

Most Common E-Learning Job Titles

The people I meet have all sorts of titles. Some are clear and some are a bit ambiguous. Looking over the job listings in the elearning community, here are the most common titles:

  • Instructional Designer
  • E-Learning Developer or Designer
  • Learning Strategist
  • Learning & Development Specialist
  • E-Learning Consultant

I find that instructional designer is usually the most common with elearning developer being second and gaining ground. A few years ago, most of the open job titles were instructional designers. But now it’s pretty common to see the position referenced as an elearning developer or designer.

What Does the E-Learning Job Title Mean?

Personally I prefer something along the lines of E-Learning Course Designer or Developer. I think that job title best describes the role and the product produced. Instructional Designer is very broad and doesn’t include all the skills required to actually construct the elearning course.

In a previous post we reviewed some of the skills required to build elearning courses in today’s environment. They include:

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - e-learning job title online training course design skills

  • Performance consulting so that you know how to determine the appropriate training solution. Sometimes an elearning course isn’t the right solution. A performance consultant recognizes that.
  • Instructional design so that you know how to craft a great learning experience. E-learning is more than putting a bunch of text on the screen.
  • Visual & graphic design skills are key because the course will look like something and you want that something to be good. In many cases, the course developer is also responsible for creating and laying out the graphics and visual design.
  • Network & media technologies play a key role in course design. Many courses include audio narration and videos that need to be streamed over a network. The course designer should have a good understanding of the technologies related to course design and delivery so that you build a course appropriate to the technology available in the organization and by the user.
  • Authoring tool proficiency is important. You’ll use an elearning application like Storyline to build your courses. So you need to know how it works and how to get the most out of it to build good elearning courses.

The person who designs courses typically is expected to do more than just instructional design, so a title that best describes that role and expectations makes sense.

What job title do you prefer? What is your current job title and what would you change if you could? Add your thoughts here.

Also, I’ll be available for a live Q&A in the community tomorrow. See the link below for more details.

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 e-learning templates

It can be a challenge meeting New Year’s resolutions when you’re pressed for time. To help you gain some time, I’ve included this free elearning template. Included are templates for Storyline and PowerPoint.

See the Free Template in Action

Here’s a link to a published version of the template. I added placeholder content to flesh out some of the screens so that you can see some of the different layouts.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free e-learning templates example

Click here to view the free template.

A few notes on using the template:

  • Layouts: The template comes with a few simple layouts which I used in the demo above. Feel free to create additional layouts. I recommend creating them in the slide master so you can quickly apply the layouts to the slides throughout the course.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free e-learning templates layouts

  • Color Theme: I used a design color theme so you can swap out the main accent colors by modifying the theme. This will help you get a color scheme to match your brand colors.
  • Free Icons: I used icons found at iconfinder.com. You can easily swap them out with your own graphics. The background image came from unsplash. I also used the Open Sans font for this template.
  • Customize: I tried to keep the template simple so it’s easier to edit. However, feel free to jazz it up with entrance and exit animations as well as additional interactive features. In the demo above, I imported the PowerPoint template into Storyline and added additional interactive elements.

Get Your Free Template

Here are download links to the free templates:

If you have questions about the templates or how something was done, let me know in the comments. If you use it and want to show what you did, feel free to add a link.


E-Learning Heroes Updates

Here are some great articles from the elearning community:

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.