The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for February, 2015


Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog -  free stock images for e-learning courses

One of my favorite sites for free stock images is Unsplash.com. They provide hundreds of free stock images with a Creative Commons Zero license. That means you can do anything with the images, whether free or commercial. And that’s a good deal for those of us who are on a tight budget.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog -  free stock images for e-learning courses in this example

As you can see above, I used one of the city images provided by Philipp Henzler for the Storyline 2 tutorials. It works well in an elearning context. I also used one of the free images for this free template that I shared a while back. You can download the free template it here.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog -  free stock images for e-learning courses used in this elearning demo

Click to view the free template in action.

Unfortunately, while it’s great to get a boatload of free stock images, many of them are mostly decorative and hard to use for elearning courses. And it does take some time to go through the whole kit and caboodle to find just the right images.

If you’re not inclined to use the free images, you can always find inexpensive stock photo subscriptions. In fact Graphic Stock (which has a good selection) regularly runs a $99/year subscription with unlimited downloads. They also have a video  and audio service that is reasonably priced.

Download Free Stock Images

To save you time, I sorted through the images currently available and looked for the ones that had desks, tables, computers, and other generic elements that could work for e-learning courses. You can see a sampling below and download the curated free stock images here.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - thumbnail of free stock images for e-learning courses

How to Use the Free Stock Images

Obviously not all of the images will work for your courses, but with some creativity you can use of many of them. Here are a few thoughts on how to use them:

  • Content holders: use the computer screens as a place to put your content.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog -  how to use free stock images for e-learning courses

  • Zoom and crop: you don’t need to use the image as is. Feel free to crop or zoom to the parts that work.
  • Apply filters like blur, black and white, or recolor to get the effect you want. In the image below, I added a blur and character.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog -  add characters to the free stock images for e-learning courses

While I did curate the images to help save time, they did come from Unsplash. Be sure to give them some props. Thank you, Unsplash!

PS While you’re download those free stock images, grab these 54 free medical images, too.

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.

 




A few weeks ago I shared an elearning example I created for an elearning workshop. Many of you requested a template based on the example so here it is. There’s a PowerPoint version and one for Articulate Storyline 2 that offers a lot more interactivity.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning example

Click here to view the elearning example.

Working with Templates

One of the challenges when using a pre-defined template is that it tends to look good with real content. And then when you get the blank template it doesn’t seem to feel the same. That’s OK. Just add your own content. And don’t be afraid to move things around to make them work for your needs.

You’ll also notice that there’s a big difference between a PowerPoint-based template and one created in Articulate Storyline. PowerPoint is generally a linear presentation product. You can add hyperlinks to create some interactions but you do a hit a ceiling with what you can create.

For example, generally there are three types of interactions: click, hover, and drag. In PowerPoint you’re mostly limited to click interactions. You can still create a lot of interactive content, but you do have that constraint. And each interactive element potentially increases your file size significantly.

In Storyline, I can create one slide with hovers for each module. In PowerPoint to create a similar effect would require a slide for each module. As I add more interactive slides, the slide content increases dramatically in PowerPoint. However in Storyline, I’m still able to use the same slide.

In the Storyline version of the template, I can leverage variables to track what the user does. That lets me mark courses complete and modify where the learner goes after all courses are complete. That’s something not possible in PowerPoint.

Free PowerPoint E-Learning Template

Here’s an example of the free PowerPoint template. I added some placeholder content.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning example of free PowerPoint template

Click here to view the elearning example.

In this template, I created a master slide for each module; and each module contains seven layouts. The reason I created seven different masters is so that each layout would have the selected state for the particular module.

You need to go into the master layouts and create hyperlinks to the appropriate slides.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning example layouts in free PowerPoint template

Switching layouts is pretty simple. Just select a new layout. Also, for the quick knowledge check slides, you’ll need to add hyperlinks at the slide level.

Free Articulate Storyline E-Learning Template

Here’s an example of the free elearning template created in Articulate Storyline. This one was created in Storyline 2.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning example in Articulate Storyline

Click here to view the example.

The Storyline template only uses three layouts. As you can see that’s a big difference compared to PowerPoint. It also gets to leverage the slide layers and I used variables to track the learner’s progress and navigation. This lets me mark modules complete and also change the button to represent the appropriate module being visited. That’s why I don’t need to create all of the same layouts that I need in PowerPoint.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning example layouts

Download Free E-Learning Templates

Download the free elearning templates here:

If you have any questions about using them let me know. In an upcoming post, I’ll do a couple of quick tutorials to show how to get the templates working.

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 - essential guide to visual thinking for e-learning

Here are two common challenges when building online training courses: knowing what content needs to be in the course and then having the right visuals to support the learning of that content. One way to overcome these challenges is to increase your visual thinking skills. You’ll learn to focus on the right content and then find the right visuals to support what you’re teaching.

What is Visual Thinking?

The essence of visual thinking is to convert your text-based information to images and text that show concepts and the flow of ideas. I like the way Dave Gray describes it as a way to “move beyond the linear world of the written word, lists, and spreadsheets and entering the non-linear world of spatial relationships, networks, maps, and diagrams.”

Dan Roam does a nice job drawing a distinction between our “verbal” and “visual” mind by using a fox and hummingbird analogy.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking dan roam linear nonlinear

And this is where visual thinking is relevant to elearning: most elearning is on the fox side of things. We’re info-centric and lean on our verbal minds to push out information. Yet, elearning is a mostly visual medium. So it’s ripe for us to use our visual minds to present information and concepts in a way that’s less dependent on text. This helps us move past bullet point lists.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking convert bullet to concept map

How to Learn More About Visual Thinking

There are all sorts of great resources on visual thinking. Below are some videos to get you started and a few good book recommendations for those who want to dig deeper.

In the videos below, both presenters share how to get started with basic shapes and a consistent approach to capturing the big ideas and concepts. The videos also complement each other because while they’re similar they do use slightly different approaches.

Of course there’s an investment of time watching the videos, however they’re not too long and you’ll learn quite a bit. Just treat them like a visual thinking workshop that you get to attend for free.

Dan Roam Presents

I like the work Dan Roam does. Here are some free videos that are part of his Napkin Academy. He shows how all drawings start with five simple shapes and also provides a grammar structure that guides what to draw.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking all shapes

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking and visual grammar

Dave Gray Presents

Here are three good videos by Dave Gray, founder of Xplane. He expands on Roam’s basic shapes using a visual alphabet (glyphs) and explains how to know what to draw and when to do it.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking and visual thinking basicsArticulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking and visual thinking concepta

Good Books on Visual Thinking & Communication

I like videos, but I also like books. There’s something about holding them in my hand and making my own notes in the margin. Here are some good visual communication books to add to your elearning library.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking book recommendations

The links to Amazon books may produce a slight commission.

Your Next Steps…

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking and creating images on your computer

Learning about visual thinking is one thing. Actually applying it to your course design is another. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  • Watch the videos above to get a good overview of concepts.
  • Practice sketching some basic shapes. I have an older tablet PC that I use with PowerPoint as you can see in this demo. Here’s a demo using OneNote which works a lot easier than with PowerPoint. For the image above and the header image, I used an iPad and Cosmonaut stylus.
  • Convert a bullet point slide in one of your courses from fox to hummingbird.
  • Don’t worry about being perfect. You’ll get better the more you do it.

The key point in all of this is to train yourself to think visually. And then apply those skills to the construction of your elearning courses. Keep in mind, elearning is mostly a visual medium and unfortunately most courses are heavily text-based with deficient visual consideration. Thus, if you learn to think and communicate visually, you’ll only get better at building your elearning courses.

Have you applied any visual thinking concepts to your elearning courses? If so, I’d love to learn more about what you did.

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 - build better elearning courses

Are you tired of building the same courses over and over again? Sure you may get to build a hundred courses, but they’re essentially the same course built a hundred times. The result is that many of the courses look the same and they don’t provide the opportunity to expand your course design skills.

Today I’d like to offer a few tips on how you can get out of the hundred course rut.

Build Better E-Learning by Making Time to Do Something Different

Many organizations allow their employees to have some free time to hack together ideas or work on other types of projects. I spoke to one elearning manager that lets his employees spend a few days each month on personal projects. His rationale is that it gives them “time to unwind and play around with ideas.”

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - build better elearning courses by doing something new

Most organizations probably won’t make time for you to “mess around with ideas” so you need to find ways to get the time. We often used the team meeting time to brainstorm ideas. For example, one challenge was how to navigate a course if all you could do was drag and drop objects and couldn’t click anywhere on the screen. Another was to come up with 100 analogies we could apply to our training programs: climbing stairs, climbing mountains, going down a road, entering a building’s lobby, etc. We then used some of the ideas as models for our course designs.

The main point in the activity was to think about things in a different way and to prototype ideas. They may not always be used, but they will help develop your skills.

Build Better E-Learning Through Inspiration

As you know, I am a big fan of the weekly elearning challenges because they do exactly what I’m talking about above. They’re a springboard to playing with ideas. We present simple challenges to help nudge you a bit. They’re not intended to be big courses or even all that elaborate. Some people put together complete ideas and some just build quick prototypes. The main goal is to get you to try something different than what you normally do at work. Through that process you find new ideas and production techniques.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - build better elearning courses by finding inspiration

Even if you don’t participate in the weekly challenges, I still encourage you to look at what’s being done. They’re a great source of inspiration. You may pick up some neat ideas that can be applied in your own elearning courses. All of the participants get the same instructions but the results are always different. It’s nice to see the diverse ideas.

Build Better E-Learning Through Mimicry & Iteration

All of the Articulate community managers do a great job building courses. However, if I were to look at the demos they build without knowing who built them, odds are that I’d be able to match the course author to the course. And the reason is because we all tend to have our own style.

That means our course screens tend to look similar. The layouts, colors, fonts, and object sizes all tend to be the same. That’s not a bad thing. But build the same type of course a hundred times exactly the same way can cause some creative fatigue.

By stepping away from our own style and attempting to mimic the work of others we become better course designers. I recommend collecting elearning courses, multimedia examples, or visual design ideas that you find inspiring and then setting some time to practice recreating them.

  • Step 1: Try to replicate what the content creator did. This helps you figure out what they did and how you’d do the same thing with your authoring tools. Don’t worry about copyright or anything like that. This isn’t for public consumption. Instead it’s for your personal development.
  • Step 2: Once you have decent replication, start to iterate. Pretend that a client told you they wanted this project redone. What would you do? From there you’ll be able to transform the idea that inspired you to something that’s uniquely yours. And most likely it’ll look a lot different than what you would have done on your own. I usually look for color themes, font pairings, and visual design ideas like how shapes and lines are used. I’ll create a few different layouts based on the original design.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - build better elearning courses practicing new techniques

Here are some of the places I go to find inspiration:

  • E-Learning Examples: a good collection of all sorts of elearning and interactive multimedia examples that could inspire course design ideas.
  • Articulate demos: the elearning challenges have produced over 1000 different examples. You can find a complete list here. But we also feature a few of the more popular ones and other demos in our examples section.
  • News multimedia: with every major news event there’s usually some multimedia composed to explain it. USA Today and NY Times (links to examples) usually have some good demos.
  • Museums: many of the large museums have interactive tours and demos. Here’s one from the Smithsonian on how to build a sod house and an interactive tour of the Louvre.
  • Design sites: I’m not a graphic artist but I can glean ideas from those who are. I like to look at some of the portfolios on sites like Dribbble and Loviv. I often get ideas on layouts, colors, and UI.

If you don’t want to get stuck building the same course over and over again, challenge yourself to find inspiration in the work of your peers. Make some time to connect with others and if you have time, join one of the weekly challenges. I’d love to see what you do.

How do you find inspiration for your elearning projects? 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.