The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for April, 2015


Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - interactive scenarios

As many of you know, I tend to divide courses into two buckets. One bucket is information. The other is performance. When I meet with a client I quickly asses what type of course they want to build so that we can best meet the organization’s goals and control the cost of development.

Information-based courses are common and many people complain that they’re just click-and-read. However they are legitimate and do meet a need. Here are few common examples:

  • Awareness: sometimes, the only goal is an awareness campaign to share information. For example, the organization wants people to know about a new health program. The course is really more like an interactive marketing campaign but the organization is still going to call it an “elearning course.”
  • Blended: often the information in the elearning course is coupled with a blended learning solution where the interaction happens in real-life. In that case, the course is more like a multimedia textbook.
  • Compliance: let’s admit it, there are a bunch of courses that serve no other purpose other than to have an end-of-year check mark. Obviously this has little to do with learning. I’m not going to stand on a soapbox and argue against this. It’s just the way it is and probably won’t change.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - interactive scenarios performance vs information courses

Performance-based courses focus on achieving specific objectives through performance and behavioral change.  Generally there are two types of performance-based courses:

  • Procedure: teaches defined step-by-step procedures.
  • Principled: less about structured steps and more about guiding principles.

While many complain about them, information-based courses have their place. Ideally, we build courses to instigate changes in performance or behavior. With a focus on specific objectives you also get valuable metrics to demonstrate success. However, when consulting with the client I do try to get to the performance issue so that we’re not just pushing information. If we can’t find the performance issue, then we either don’t build a course, or we build one that’s simple and doesn’t cost too much in time and money.

Interactive Scenarios: Procedural

Procedural courses are more how-to type elearning. They generally go through a defined flow or process. They’re less about making nuanced decisions and more about following the proper procedures to achieve a specific outcome. Often these are the source of many of our click-and-read courses.

While it’s easy enough to make an information-based course where the learner learns the proper sequence and is tested on it (like the typical linear courses), a scenario-based interaction can add some real world context.

For example, in the real world even if the process is clearly defined, there are other considerations like timing of the steps and maintaining accuracy. This type of context makes the interactive scenario work even if the procedure is relatively simple.

Think of the classic I Love Lucy chocolate factory clip. It’s easy enough to build an information-based course on how to pick up and wrap chocolates. But what the information-based course lacks is the pressure that a real-world context applies. This pressure is easy to simulate in interactive scenarios. So you can teach and assess their understanding of the procedures and do it in a real-world context.

Interactive Scenarios: Principle

Principle-based courses are different. They tend to lean less on specific steps and more on working through the various nuances in the work environment. They require that the learners collect information, assess it, and make the appropriate decisions.

Articulate Rapid E-learning Blog - interactive scenarios for principle based decisions

Let’s say you’re a new manager and have to deal with various employee issues. Each employee has unique needs. The organization teaches guiding principles that help you make good decisions. So instead of going through prescribed steps, you collect information, analyze it, and make decisions. 

In this case a decision-making scenario works really well. It allows you to teach the learner to evaluate information and make good decisions that are aligned to the organization’s needs. Because the decisions are nuanced, sometimes they’ll make bad decisions which can produce negative consequences and sometimes they make good ones. Just like in real life.

Although in real life, a bad decision may seriously impact the organization. And that’s where an interactive scenario comes in handy. They get to practice the decision-making required in a realistic situation that produces great opportunities for feedback. When they make good decisions, they gain confidence and can demonstrate to the organization their level of understanding. And if they make poor decisions they can receive feedback that will help them make better decisions in the real world. And it’s all done in a safe and non-threatening environment.

Elearning is valuable for more than quick, click-and-read courses. Focus on the performance requirement and then craft a learning experience that mimics real world activities. Even if you build simple courses, adding interactive decisions and real-world pressure will create a more meaningful experience that impacts learning.

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 - knowing your online training and online learners

Many online training courses go by a one-size fits all model: build one course and everyone has to take it exactly the same way. I like to think of this as the elearning gulag where there’s not a lot of freedom for online learners and little concern for their experience.

Who Are Your Online Learners?

Regardless of how you design your online courses, it is important to understand your online learners, their needs, and what motivates them. In this post we’ll look at a few different types of online learners and some ways to create online training that meets their needs.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - what motivates your online learners

  • Get to the point: these learners have a pretty good idea of what the course covers. They’re not interested in a bunch anecdotal stories or case studies. They’re happy with a list of information, how it impacts them, and what they need to do.
  • Curious: these learner are motivated by new things; they’re really interested in the material and what’s in the course. They want opportunities to test ideas and see what happens.
  • Mandatory: these learners start out bored and not motivated because the course is mostly irrelevant to the job; however it’s mandatory. They’re going through the motions, looking for the next button, and waiting for the final quiz.
  • Tenured: these learners are experienced and already know the content. They’re interested in what’s new and how it changes what they do. They don’t want to waste time covering what they already know.
  • Skeptical: these learners are challenged by change because what they know is different and where they may be going isn’t always certain. They’ll embrace the learning but need a safe way to learn at their own pace.
  • Multitasker: these learners are a by-product of the Internet’s easy access to information. They like a lot of information, tend to jump around, and don’t have the patience to do more than bite-sized activities.

The key point is that while we build a single course, the reality is that it’s delivered to an audience that’s not homogenous. The online learners come from different backgrounds, levels of motivation, skill, and experience. This makes crafting a great learning experience a bit of a challenge.

How a Single Course Can Accommodate Multiple Online Learners

However, one thing online training does do well is that it offers a lot of flexibility. The key is to take advantage of what it offers to build an online training course that meets the needs of many online learners. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Let online learners test out. If the objective is that the person can demonstrate their understanding of the content, then give them an opportunity to do that at the forefront. Passing demonstrates their understanding so they’re done and can get back to work. If they don’t pass then they’re now aware of their deficiencies and prepared to learn.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - knowing your online learners and adaptive paths

  • Create adaptive learning paths to accommodate the different needs of your online learners. This could be giving them the opportunity test out (as mentioned above) or taking them on a custom journey based on their learning needs. Essentially, the person with more experience doesn’t need the same course as a new person.
  • Package the online learning in relevant scenarios and let the learner make a lot of decisions. There’s all sorts of ways to present content and feedback that is engaging and fun. Here’s a post to help you get started.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - knowing your online learners and custom online training experience

  •  Create bite-sized training modules. Instead of big, long courses, break the content into smaller and more palatable coursels. It’s a great way to make the training appear faster and it’s easier to package the smaller modules into custom training solutions to accommodate different audience needs. It also satisfies the needs of those who want quick access to just-in-time content.

There’s a lot you can do to create custom online learning experiences all inside the same course. But you’ll need to step away from the bullet points, free up the navigation, and give the learners more freedom.

The next time you build a course consider the different people taking it and how you can help meet their needs.

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 stock images

In a previous post I shared some free stock images via Unsplash. They’re free for commercial use. Unsplash has a lot more images, but the download I featured was curated to help save some time and preserve the images.

Today, I’ve done the same thing only this time the curated images are from Startup Stock Photos. Just like Unsplash, they’re free to use and distribute via a public domain license.

You can download them individually from their site. However, to make things easy I downloaded them all and put them in a single folder. I resized the images to make the download smaller, but they’re still around 2700×1800—more than enough for your elearning courses.

You can download entire folder of free stock images here.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free stock images via StartUp

Don’t stop there. Take advantage of all of the other free downloads in the community:

If you’re in need of free resources and stock images these should help. Enjoy!

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 - create hand-drawn graphics

Earlier we looked at the essential guide to visual thinking where we discussed how to communicate visually. Coupled with that post, we explored practical ways to apply visual thinking skills to elearning course design.

One advantage of visual thinking is learning to see the concepts and how to express them to others. Another advantage is that you gain the skills to create real assets that can be used in your elearning courses.

Today we’ll look at ways to create your own hand-drawn graphics. And of course you can always download some free hand-drawn graphics in the community:

How to Practice Sketching Hand-Drawn Graphics

Hand-drawn objects can create a personal and organic look. They are a stark contrast to the sterile corporate look that is so common in many courses. This contrast and the organic look can be used to craft an engaging look for the course. You don’t have to be an artist to create and use hand-drawn images.  It just takes some practice.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - create hand-drawn graphics examples

A couple of weeks ago, Blair Rorani facilitated a Twitter Draw-a-Thon. Each day a number of people submitted their sketch of that day’s object. This was a good exercise to think about the objects and how to draw them. One thing I learned was to streamline my drawings and use less to communicate more. I also tried to practice different face styles. As you can see, I’m not going to sustain a career in graphic design, but with some practice, I can create a few usable objects.

Start with Basic Shapes

Most objects are basic shapes, so you need to learn to see the basic shapes in the objects. Then practice drawing them. The more you practice, the better you get.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - create hand-drawn graphics by using basic shapes

Once you recognize the basic shapes you’ll get better at streamlining your drawings. I find that the less detail, the better.

Practice Drawing Common Course Objects

There are a few objects that are common to many elearning courses. Start by practicing to sketch them. Break them into basic shapes and then see what you can sketch. Here are a few common objects to get started. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

  • File folder open & folder closed
  • Piece of paper & a stack of paper
  • Desktop & laptop computers
  • Envelope
  • Paper clip
  • Phones: mobile & stationary
  • Desk & overhead desktop
  • File cabinet
  • Whiteboard
  • Cork board

My Experience

As I mentioned in this blog post on overcoming instructional design challenges, Blair Rorani live sketched my presentation.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - essential guide to visual thinking example of instructional design

I liked what he did so I tried my hand at live sketching while at a workshop in Denver. You can see the results below.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - visual thinking ideas

What I learned:

  • Find inspiration from what you like and copy it. I liked Blair’s style, so my first step was to mimic what he did. Now that I feel more comfortable I can begin to craft my own style.
  • My initial sketches took too long between capturing the big idea and trying to make it work with the technology (I used the iPad and Adobe Ideas). However, once I completed a few of the sketches, I developed some basic procedures that helped make it faster.
  • Spend some time practicing before doing it live or as you sketch for your elearning courses. One idea is to capture something going on at home. This would also probably produce a lot of laughs, too. Or just turn on the news and sketch what’s being discussed. The main point is to practice and to apply the basic concepts discussed above: use basic shapes to create objects and then practice sketching ideas.
  • Don’t worry about everything being perfect. Just do it. They look nice as they are and there’s something engaging about the organic look. However I do recommend that you practice writing text, especially if you’re using an iPad. For the iPad I use the Cosmonaut stylus because the thicker pen helps me hold it more like I would on a  whiteboard than on a piece of paper. I feel like I have more control when I draw. The newer PC tablets have pen input and some come with a stylus.

We’re not all going to be artists who can crank out the best graphics. However, with some practice we can learn to communicate visually and streamline our graphics so they do work in our courses (assuming the proper context).

I liked the way Jeff Kortenbosch worked his drawings into a presentation. Another example of how they could be incorporated into an elearning course.

Do you draw your own objects? Feel free to share some examples in the comments section.

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.

 




responsive design for elearning

Last week I was at the Learning Solutions conference in Orlando and ran into my mentor and elearning pioneer, Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer. We chatted about trends in elearning and mobile training.

A lot’s happened over the past few years and it always seems like your lab is at the forefront of emerging technologies. For example, you’ve had great success with the:

What’s happening at Werner Labs today?

Thank you for asking. At Werner Labs we’re working on a dual food dispenser. This allows the application of two products at once. For example, with today’s mobile devices it is difficult to have more than one hand free. The dual food dispenser lets you hold your mobile device in one hand and dispense two foods with the other.

Initially we tested this on a hot dog with ketchup and mustard. Then we tried it with peanut butter and jelly. Since then, we’ve been able to add a number of different food items to what we call Super Squirts™ including steak & eggs and Caesar salad.

 Super Squirts and responsive design for elearning

Feedback has been great especially from those who are tooth deficient. We’re also in contact with a major cosmetics firm that wants to create a way to apply makeup and makeup remover at the same time. Now that’s a win-win.

Interesting. At the conference today you gave a presentation on responsive design. I think many people are confused by responsive design and its value to elearning, especially for this upcoming mobile generation. Can you share it with the blog’s readers?

You are correct. Responsive design is critical for this new generation of learners who mostly use smart phone devices. And it’s very important that they learn and that the training we build is effective. Because as you know, if the phone is smart, then odds are you aren’t.

Here is my presentation on the introduction to responsive design for elearning.

responsive design for elearning presentation by Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer

Click here to view the responsive design presentation.

Thank you, Dr. Werner.

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.