The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for February, 2016


free templates

As you know, we have all sorts of free templates to download for your elearning courses and PowerPoint presentations. The challenge sometimes is figuring out when and how to use the templates for your own projects.

At a recent conference I was chatting with someone who wanted to make her software training look better. Her training was mostly a series of quick video tutorials. She wanted a nice way to present the tutorials. I recommended that she start with one of the free templates and use it as a way to package the tutorials.

Here’s a quick mock up I created for her using a template I gave away in a recent blog post.

free template

Click here to view the demo.

You’ll notice that the free template is a little different than the final product. That’s because the free template is just the starting point. You don’t want the template design to dictate how you’ll build your course. So feel free to make the modifications that help you meet your project objectives.

  • In this particular template I got rid of the different sized boxes and created the same size box for each video title.
  • I also covered up the connectors lines that were a little busy-looking and possibly distracting.
  • The slide layers were also cleaned out to accommodate the videos and playbar. These videos work fine in the preset size. Otherwise I would have set the player to scale up so the end user could make the videos larger.

Here’s a quick video tutorial where I show some of the changes I made to the template so that it worked for my demo. Hopefully that’ll give you some ideas on making your own modifications.

Click here to view the tutorial video.

For the most part, software training centers on explainer videos. In those cases, the template is a frame to hold the videos. What I look for is a good starting page that can serve as a menu or sorts and then space to hold the individual videos.

Here are some other templates I think would work great for software training.

  • I like the bookshelf metaphor. The shelves can represent sections and the books are smaller teaching chunks. Each book cover would link to a video.

free template

  • Any tabs interaction would work well. The tabs are the menu and they link to the videos. Tabs also make efficient use of the screen space.

free template

free template

There are all sorts of great templates to use for your elearning courses and software training. Find a template and use it to create your next software training.

If you do, be sure to tell us how it went. Any particular template that you’d use for your software training?

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.

 




variables for e-learning

Want to build better elearning experiences? Want to add game mechanics like achievements, levels, and points to your courses? If so, now’s the time to learn about variables and how they help build better elearning.

At a recent workshop on variables, I asked one attendee what she learned. She said, “I learned not to use variables.” While this produced a chuckle, she was speaking some truth for the beginner who’s never used variables: at first they may seem a bit confusing.

This makes sense if you haven’t used them before and don’t have a programming background. On the surface they can seem complex. But in reality they’re not. It’s just a matter of knowing the terms and gaining an understanding of how they work. And then practice, practice, practice.

Today we’ll start the process of simplifying variables.

What is a Variable?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I learned to think of variables as an empty bucket. The bucket collects things. Once I have something collected, I can use it.

We use variables in elearning to collect values that we can use throughout the course. The values may be things like the user’s name, what they’ve clicked, their achievement, or an adaptive learning path. In either case, it’s a way to collect information that is used elsewhere in the course.

Types of Variables

Generally, there are three types of variables:

  • Numbers: used for counting actions or doing calculations
  • Text: input names or display text
  • True/False: often used to track progress or if items are selected or not

Variables are used for all sorts of things and often the type of variable is interchangeable. The thing to remember is that the value is key and what type of variable you use to hold that value is not as important.

A good example is the True/False variable. Instead of T/F you could use numbers like 1 or 2, or even the text “true” or “false.” As you can see, they’re interchangeable. Of course, there are times when one type makes more sense than another.

Common Uses of Variables

Before we get into the details, let’s look at two common uses of variables: user names and counting clicks.

Variable: Add Your Name

It’s a good thing to personalize the learning experience. One way to do this is by collecting the user’s name and using it throughout the course. In the example below, you enter your name on one screen and see it displayed on another.

variables for e-learning example one

Click here to view simple name variable.

Variable: Track Onscreen Actions

Another common use is to track onscreen actions. In the example below you can click any choice but only two are correct. We track your correct and incorrect choices by counting clicks. If you click on a third wrong choice, you get some feedback.

variables for e-learning example two

Click here to view counting variable.

The examples above are simple but common to many courses. Now let’s look at variables in a bit more detail.

 How to Use Variables

Working with variables is a three-step process: 1) create, 2) adjust value, and 3) use value.

  • Create variable. The first step is to create a variable. You’ll need to select the type, give it a name, and then determine a starting value (if any).

create e-learning variable

  • Adjust value: The second step is to adjust the value of the variable. Generally, the user does something onscreen that triggers a change to the value of the variable. In the example below, we increase the Incorrect variable every time the user clicks on the wrong person.

adjust e-learning variable

  • Use value: The third step is to use the value of the variable to do something. The value of the variable determines an action. For example, since we can track wrong selections by counting clicks, we can use the value we collect to trigger some feedback. In the example below, after selecting the incorrect choice three times we provide remedial feedback.

use e-learning variable

So that’s the essence of working with variables. You create them, an action changes their value, and then you can use that value to do something else in the course, whether that’s providing feedback or displaying a user’s name. Your only limit is your creativity.

Your Mission to Learn More about Variables

Years ago when I first started to learn to work with variables, the light didn’t come on until I actually knew what I wanted to do and then had to think through how to do it using variables. So to help you out, I’m assigning three common activities that will give you an opportunity to practice using variables.

To help you out, here are some recent articles in the elearning community:

The key is to practice. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to jump in the community and ask. We’re always there to help.

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.

 




free e-learning template

Here’s a free elearning template I created for a recent workshop. I used it to highlight a few key production tips, which you’ll find below. The free template includes three interactions: two timelines and one process interaction.

Free E-Learning Template Example

free e-learning template process interaction

Click here to view an example of the free template.

Timeline Interaction 1

The first timeline interaction features segments with dots that represent events. Click the dot and it reveals a layer with all of the events for that particular segment.

free e-elearning template timeline interaction 1

Timeline Interaction 2

The second timeline looks similar to the first. However, each dot has it’s own content layer. This opens up more space for event-specific content. Also, the dot shows a visited state after selecting it.

free e-learning template timeline interaction 3

Process Interaction

The process interaction is a bonus that I created to show how quickly the objects can be moved around to create a different type of interaction.

free e-learning template process interaction

Key Learning Points

Here are some of the things I pointed out in the workshop:

  • Keep with basic shapes when creating interactions. They’re easy to re-use, copy, and modify. Especially when you want to duplicate functionality.
  • Format painter is your friend because you just need to format one shape and apply it to the next.
  • Animations and transitions work if they’re not superfluous or too dramatic.
  • Play around with layouts and template ideas. In this example, I matched the top part of the screen to the player color so it looks like the header blends into the player.
  • Naming is important. Notice how the object titles and layers match? This makes setting up triggers really easy. And if you need to troubleshoot it’s easier to spot if a connection is wrong.

naming layers in free e-learning template

Hope you enjoy the template or use it to inspire your own.

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.

 




custom color scheme for e-learning

In a previous post I mentioned how to find color schemes using color schemers.  They’re great tools to help find the right color palette for your courses. Personally I find them valuable because I have slight color blindness. So having a system that keeps me in line really helps.

Use the Color Picker to Manually Create Color Schemes

Another way to create color schemes to manually pick colors from an image. In the tutorials I did for Storyline, I show how to use the color picker to pick colors from a background image.

custom color scheme for e-learning

With the color picker, I get colors that match colors from the image on the slides. Look at the image below. The tabs and side panel were color picked from the building on the right of the background image. I also added a colored, semi-transparent shape over the background to add some tinting and subdue the background a bit.

color picker

You’re not limited to Storyline, you can also do the same thing in PowerPoint.

Create Color Schemes from a Picture or Logo

Instead of creating a color scheme by manually picking colors, you can create one from the colors in an image. Upload an image and then let the color scheming site create a color palette for you.

  • Color Hunter: upload an image
  • Color Palette Generator: add an image URL to create the scheme
  • Kuler: upload an image or create custom themes using formulas; requires an account
  • Pictalous: upload an image and get advice from multiple sites
  • Colrd: upload an image and identify your image DNA

custom color scheme

Some of you have corporate style guides where the color information is provided. If you don’t have a formal style guide, you can upload a company-related image and have the color scheming site generate a usable palette.

As the image above shows, I uploaded a screen capture of my blog to pull together a color scheme. This is something you can do, too. You can use one of the following:

  • Company web site. Take a screenshot of your company website (or something else). Upload it to one of these sites and capture a color palette.
  • Company logo. Use the company logo to do the same thing.
  • Marketing collateral. You may have marketing or product material that you can use to pull a color palette.

Once you have a color palette, use it to create custom color themes in PowerPoint and Storyline.

As you can see, creating a custom color palette is pretty easy. And once you have one, you can customize your course to your heart’s content.

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.