The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for May, 2015


Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free clip art no longer

A few months ago I wrote a post on Microsoft getting rid of free clip art. For those with a budget that probably wasn’t that big of a deal. But there are many who relied on the free assets that Microsoft provided, especially since they didn’t include just clip art.

Losing free clip art isn’t all bad news. There is some good news in all of this. A lot of the clip art was lame and negatively impacted many online courses and presentations. Not having it means we’ll need to get better at our design and learn a few new skills.

How to Find Free Clip Art

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free clip art search

Most online searches for “free clip art” produces very limited results and most of them are worse quality than the stuff Microsoft dumped. However, you may find some things you need. Here are a couple of free clip art sites:

Another option that I’ve mentioned before is to scavenge clip art images from older graphics programs. For example, often bookstores, office supply stores or computer stores will have discount bins where they sell out-of-date software. I look for multimedia creation software like greeting card makers. They usually have all sorts of assets. Be sure to read the EULA, though.

Switch from Free Clip Art to Free Vector Illustrations

If you change your search term from “free clip art” to “free vector images or illustrations” things change for the better. There are a lot more free images available and they’re more up-to-date in terms of visual style.

The challenge with free vector illustrations is how to edit them. Free clip art was easy because in PowerPoint you could always right-click and ungroup them for easy editing. That’s not the case with most of the free vector illustrations. You’ll need to use a software application to edit them.

Customizing Free Vector Illustrations

Most of the free vector illustrations include a bitmap output such as .png. That’s great for inserting them in your courses, but they’re not vector files and can only be edited like regular images. In that case you’ll need to learn to use an image editing program. If you don’t already own one, Paint.net is free and Photoshop Elements is inexpensive and more than enough to handle basic editing tasks.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free vector illustration software

The vector file formats are usually .AI or .EPS. Those need to be edited in a more complex application than PowerPoint. There are a few options out there, but for the most part it’s going to be Adobe Illustrator (which costs money) or Inkskape (a free opensource alternative).  The challenge is that they’re not necessarily intuitive applications so you’ll need to make an investment in learning how to use them.

I know very little about Illustrator, but I was able to fumble around and open an .EPS file and save the individual elements as .PNG graphics that I used for this free elearning template I shared a few weeks ago. With a little practice, basic editing is possible.

Inexpensive Alternatives to Free Clip Art & Vector Illustrations

Since I no longer have access to free clip art I had to make an investment in an image library. There are a plenty of options out there like iStock and ShutterStock, and most of them are fine.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - inexpensive stock images

But this does mean, I’ll have to learn more about working with vector images and get a bit faster editing regular images, as well. It’s on my schedule.

Create Your Own Images

There’s no reason you can’t create your own images. Here are a few ideas from previous posts:

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - illustrated character

If you’re interested, I’ll be in San Francisco presenting a workshop on how to create your own assets for your elearning courses. In it you’ll learn all sorts of practical tips and tricks.

Your Next Steps

  • Locate a good source for course images, whether free or not.
  • Learn to edit the images and illustrations.
  • Ask for a graphics budget to either create the images or hire someone more skilled to do it.
  • Take advantage of the free assets in the elearning community.

Elearning was a lot easier when everything was wrapped in the PowerPoint blanket. But that world is changing and we’ll need to change with it.

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.

 




build effective e-learning with this free e-book

I’m not sure you noticed but we just updated the Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro. The first edition of the free e-book was released in 2007, and as you can imagine a lot has changed in our industry. This new addition addresses some of those changes and offers more practical tips and tricks.

How Has E-Learning Changed?

In 2007, most of the options for creating interactive elearning required Flash. If you wanted to build courses, you were required to either learn Flash or hire a Flash programmer. That meant a lot of organizations were shut out of building their own elearning courses.

But along came the PowerPoint-to-Flash products. They enabled people to create their content in PowerPoint and convert it to the Flash. Essentially, each slide was converted to a Flash movie. Thus the non-programmer was empowered to create Flash-based courses at a fraction of the cost. They weren’t perfect, but they definitely were viable. I imagine that many of you seasoned elearning developers cut your teeth in a PowerPoint-based product.

PowerPoint e-learning and free e-book

These tools didn’t get their start in 2007. Articulate Presenter was around well before eHelp (one of the leading companies) was purchased by Macromedia that was purchased by Adobe. In fact, eHelp licensed Articulate Presenter for their own RoboPresenter product. So while all of this happened in the early 2000’s, rapid elearning and PowerPoint-based authoring didn’t really start to take off until around 2008 or so.

Today things are different. PowerPoint’s not as important to elearning because there are more advanced elearning applications like Storyline that let you do all sorts of things with PowerPoint ease and a host of form-based tools (like Engage) that only require copy and paste editing.

And we won’t even get started on the state of Flash. While it’s still viable, I don’t know many people working with it anymore and I think it’s been almost four years since someone’s asked me a Flash question.

As you can see, the industry has changed over the past seven years and the free e-book, Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro, has been updated to reflect that change.

What’s New in the Free E-Book?

When I wrote the first e-book I wanted to help people who were just transitioning to the elearning industry. Many of them had limited experience and were mostly working by themselves (or on small teams) and with limited resources. Today, things are a bit different.

free e-book for e-learning developers

The industry continues to grow. That means there’s an ongoing influx of new elearning developers mixed with the first generation of rapid elearning pros, who’ve mostly moved past PowerPoint-based authoring. The free e-book reflects this transition. Here are some of the key topics I’ve updated:

  • Tips and tricks on managing your success. Building a course is one thing, being successful doing it is another.
  • Learn to be a proactive partner to the organization. Don’t be an order-taker; learn to understand the organization’s needs and help them meet their objectives.
  • Understand the types of tools on the market. Many organizations make the mistake of creating a checklist of features to compare tools. But they disregard the types of tools on the market. The e-book discusses the pros and cons of the different types of products without looking at any one specific vendor.
  • Create interactive elearning courses. In 2007, if you were working with PowerPoint, your options were limited. Today, that’s not the case.
  • Save time and money by creating reusable content. One of my favorite features in Storyline is being able to build an interaction and then saving it as a template. This speeds up my production time and after a few projects, I end up with a tool chest of reusable content. You’ll learn a bit more on creating reusable content.

How Do You Get the Free E-Book?

free e-book for e-learning

Getting the free e-book is super easy. If you’re a current blog subscriber, the e-book is linked at the bottom of each post. That means all you need to do is scroll down and click on the download link. If you’re not a blog subscriber, you can get the free e-book here.

Download the free e-book and let me know what you think.

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 onboarding and employee orientation

I’m working on some practice content for an upcoming workshop and decided to share the template that is part of the workshop activities. It starts with a main image that has five distinct sections. Each section links to a series of slides with a few different layouts.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free onboarding and employee orientation template

Because the main image looks like an organizational overview, I think the template works great for a new hire orientation module. But you’re free to do with it as you wish.

In the template you’ll also find some extra slides with the people images and some props that I gleaned from the main image. Feel free to copy and paste them to create your own slides and scenarios.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free onboarding and employee orientation template assets

Here’s a quick mock-up I created using the new hire orientation template so you can see some of the layouts and perhaps get some ideas of how to add interactive elements to make the modules more interactive and engaging.

See the New Hire Orientation Template in Action

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - free onboarding and employee orientation template example

Click here to view the elearning example.

Download the Free New Hire Orientation Template

Click here to download the new hire orientation template.

If you use the template let me know. I’d love to see what you create.

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 - become e-learning pro

“I want to become an elearning pro. What do I have to do to get better?”

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked. I’ve addressed it a few times in the blog by sharing some tips, free ebook recommendations, and a ton of tutorials. But it’s still a common question and worth reviewing from a slightly different perspective.

We’ll look at three key steps in the process of becoming an elearning pro.

Become an E-learning Pro by Learning More

There are many ways to learn what you need to know to become an elearning pro. Here are a few options:

  • Get a formal college degree. There are many good degree programs out there. Here’s a list of instructional design degrees started by someone in the community. There is some debate about whether or not you need an instructional design degree. I think a degree serves you two ways: some organizations won’t hire you without one and a degree program often exposes you to information and conversation you may not approach in the daily grind of course development.
  • Complete a certificate program. A lot of schools offer elearning certification programs. You can see some in the list above. They cost less, take less time, and many of them offer a good blend of concepts with practical application.
  • Manage your informal learning. There are many ways to learn without getting a degree. Sites like Lynda.com offer formal structure with the freedom to mix and match what you want to learn. Or you can go the Youtube route and watch the hundreds of free videos and tutorials. On top of that, the elearning community has all sorts of elearning tutorials and content to help you get started. The only thing required is curiosity and the discipline to learn.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - become an e-learning pro e-learning books and instructional design degrees

Become an E-learning Pro by Applying What You Learn

Taking courses, reading books, and regularly reviewing content is great. And you’ll learn a lot. However, somewhere in the process has to be an active commitment to apply what you’re learning. If not, then eventually all of that good information just fades away.

Here are a few ideas to help you apply what you’re learning:

  • Create prototyping sessions. Many of the teams I’ve worked with regularly took time to play around with elearning design ideas and then build quick proof-of-concept prototypes.  We’d commit one Friday a month where each person had to share one idea that we could apply to a course. Sometimes we worked on novel animations or new ways to navigate. Other times we’d discuss different ways to interact with the content. The point is that we set aside time to try new things. If you don’t do something similar, then you may get stuck building the same course over and over again.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - become an e-learning pro with weekly challenge

  • Participate in the weekly elearning challenges. The weekly elearning challenges are one of my favorite parts of the elearning community. They’re designed to be simple practice activities where you can commit whatever time you want to them. Some people do more and some do less. I like seeing some of the novel ideas and how people approach the same challenge from different perspectives. For you, the challenge is a great way to prototype and practice. And if I managed a team, I’d regularly take up a challenge (maybe quarterly) and make it part of the team’s development. In either case, at least make it a point to see what people are doing; you’ll get all sorts of good ideas.

Become an E-learning Pro by Sharing What You Know

The two steps above are key for building your skills. This next one is all about connecting with others, building your reputation, and demonstrating your expertise.

  • Create a blog to share what you know. You don’t need to get into the SEO rat race trying to find all the right keywords, headlines, and all of that. Instead, see the blog as something a bit more personal. See it as a way to document what you know and what you’re learning. Ditch the generic content and focus on the practical application. That’s where people will see your expertise. I love the way some of the people who participate in the weekly challenges do write ups of what they did and why. Often they share free downloads. Here are links to three of them (with apologies to all those not mentioned): Jackie Van NiceJoanna Kurpiewska, and Jeff Kortenbosch.
  • Show your work. I’m going to let you in on an industry secret. There are a lot of people in our industry who write about elearning but never show their work. When I ask them about it, they always have some lame excuse about proprietary courses. You’re telling me that in 20 years you’ve not created a single course you can show publicly? It’s a lot easier to be a critic on the sideline than it is to risk criticism for the work done. You can be a step ahead of many of our industry’s experts if you show what you’re doing. Just like the weekly challenges, they don’t need to be big productions. Show what you did and explain why you did it that way. To those just learning, YOU are the expert.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - present like an e-learning pro

  • Present at workshops and conferences. A great way to build your reputation is to present at industry conferences and workshops. If you want to gain some experience, then present at local chapters or special interest groups. In fact, I facilitate community elearning workshops. Those are great opportunities to present since they’re informal and focused on practical tips and tricks.

Becoming an elearning pro takes time. It’s a process of learning, applying, and sharing what you know. However, if you follow the steps above you’ll be on your way to success.

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.