The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for January, 2017


subject matter expert tips

At a recent workshop, we had participants share their tips on working with subject matter experts. As expected they shared some really good tips that are practical and will help move your training courses forward.

Since there was a ton of tips I broke them into a series of posts. Today we’ll look at how to manage the relationship with your subject matter experts.

Establish Expectations with Your Subject Matter Experts

tips when working with subject matter experts in e-learning

  • If you can, research your subject matter expert just like you would any other client.
  • Define clearly the communication plan with your subject matter experts. Follow the 5Ws: who, what, where, when and wherefore.
  • Make sure the development process is clearly defined and understood and then define the role of your subject matter expert and how much you expect.
  • Explain the importance of the project you are working on because a lot of times they think whatever you’re working on isn’t necessary.
  • Give clear instructions to subject matter experts as to how you want their information and content submitted to you. This includes any templates, instructions for recording and submitting audio. This helps avoid issues later, especially where there is a minimum of communication and interaction with the subject matter expert due to time and cost constraints.
  • Don’t be concerned if initial meeting is the dreaded information dump. You can always refine from this big list. Sometimes it’s good to just get them to dump everything so you know what they’re thinking.

Simple Project Management Tips When Working with Subject Matter Experts

subject matter expert tips for e-learning

  • Set up a kickoff meeting in which you: declare timelines, set expectations, define the specific roles during which phases and expected outcomes and deliverables.
  • Come up with a service level agreement. And then make sure you get the requirements signed off after each phase to avoid last minute surprises. This also helps keep the project in scope.
  • Get buy-in as soon as possible during analysis and information gathering.
  • Schedule and hold regular progress check-in meetings.
  • Record and document your meetings and then send out so that everyone can see what was discussed and expectations moving forward.
  • Meetings should have agendas with action items. No action items, then no meeting.
  • Don’t miss your own deadlines!!!
  • Document what you have agreed on and refer to that for your milestones and check-ins.
  • Ensure you and your subject matter expert track changes, and ask them to be as specific as possible with their comments and feedback. e.g. writing “Clarification is needed here” isn’t good enough!

free e-book working with subject matter experts

Be sure to check out this free e-book, Essential Guide to Working with Subject Matter Experts. You can find it in the E-Learning Heroes 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.

 




free microlearning template

Earlier I shared this free microlearning template. It is easy to use and edit. However, I did receive some questions on how it was created and how to add additional cards. So in today’s post I’ll share a few tips so you can make your own template and edit the one I shared.

Here’s a series of video tutorials that show how to create the simple, yet powerful microlearning template. Check out the last tutorial on how to quickly edit the text. It’s a neat way to leverage the translation feature to do the heavy lifting.

How to Create the Animated Card

We want the card to animate onto the screen and pause. And we want to click on the card to see the other side (of the card, not the spirit world).

Click here to view the tutorial.

  • The first step is to create a card.
  • Add an entrance and exit animation.
  • Add a selected state to the card to create the click and reveal feature.
  • Add a trigger to the card that pauses the timeline when the entrance animation completes.

When you preview, the card should animate in and pause. You can click on the card to select or deselect it.

How to Edit the Normal & Selected States

We want the selected state to have an animated object that comes on and off the screen when the card is selected and deselected.

Click here to view the tutorial.

  • Select the card and double click inside the state you want to edit.
  • Add placeholder text in the normal state.
  • Add a shape to the selected state and add placeholder text to the shape.
  • Add entrance and exit animations to the shape in the selected state.

When you preview and click on the card, it will trigger the entrance animation of the selected state. And when you click on it again, it should trigger the exit animation.

How to Bring a Card On & Off the Screen

When the card animates on the screen it will pause. This allows us to “flip the card” by clicking on the card. When we’re done looking at the card, we want it to exit the screen and trigger a new card.

Click here to view the tutorial.

  • Create a button with a trigger to resume the timeline.
  • Duplicate the card and position it on the timeline after the first card. Repeat as necessary.

When you preview the microlearning interaction, the card enters and pauses. Clicking the button causes the timeline to resume which triggers the exit animation of the first card and the entrance animation of the next card.

How to Edit the Content on the Cards

Clicking into the states of the various cards can be tedious. Here’s an easy way to edit the text for each card.

Click here to view the tutorial.

  • Go to File>Translate>Export to export the text from the course.
  • Edit the text in the document and save it.
  • Go to File>Translate>Import to import the text into the cards.
  • Preview the microlearning interaction to verify that the text alignment is correct.

Importing the text should work well and as long as you don’t add too many characters you shouldn’t have to do any editing.

Here’s another free microlearning template for you to deconstruct and see how it was built.

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 Microlearning Template

January 17th, 2017

free microlearning template

Here’s a free microlearning template I created for a workshop on interactive e-learning. The template uses the popular overhead desktop theme. I’m using the interaction as a simple microlearning module. But it could also be a quick knowledge check like this one. It just depends on how you want to use it for your own course.

Example of Free Microlearning Template

Here’s an example of the template in action.

free microlearning template

Click here to see the microlearning example.

How to Edit the Free Microlearning Template

What makes this microlearning template work is that it’s really easy to use and modify. The construction is really simple.

  • Create a card with selected states.
  • Add an entrance and exit animation to the card.
  • Create a trigger to pause the timeline when the card’s entrance animation completes.
  • Create a button to resume the timeline.

Want more cards? Just duplicate them and the triggers are duplicated, as well. You can create as many cards as you like. All you need to do is stagger them on the timeline.

Bonus tip:

  • The template starts with a single card. Since I don’t know how many cards will be in the final module, I created a cue point on the timeline. Look at the free file to see what is triggered by the cue point. If you add a bunch of cards, just drag the cue point to the end and all if its triggers move with it.
  • Here’s a tutorial post that shows how to create and edit your own microlearning interaction.

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.

 




advanced e-learning courses

“I want to learn more advanced e-learning.”

As I conduct e-learning workshops around the world, this is probably one of the most frequent statements I hear. In many of the workshops, there’s a mix of people who are just getting started with e-learning and those who’ve been building courses for a while. So their expectations and experiences are very different.

On top of that, there’s a difference between advanced topics for using the Articulate software and advanced topics when it comes to instructional design and course construction outside of the software you’re using.

The challenge for me is discerning what “advanced” actually means. I’ll share some of my observations but I’m really more curious as to how you define advanced e-learning.

Here’s How I Define Advanced E-Learning

Since I work at Articulate, most of the workshops are focused on using the Articulate applications to build courses. And it’s a lot more interesting now that Articulate 360 gives you every application because it provides a lot of capability and options for how to approach the course content and construction.

basic or advanced e-learning courses

When it comes to software training, here’s how I look at e-learning skills:

  • Basic. Basic level training is learning to use the features as designed. For example, how triggers work is a basic task. You need a basic understanding of the feature so that you can use it to build interactions and functionality within the course.
  • Advanced. The next level of skills training is becoming competent with the advanced feature set like variables. In a sense, they’re just basic built-in features like the rest, but they are a bit more advanced in what they can offer because of the options and structure they provide. The key is you don’t need to know how to use them to build effective courses. However, when you do know how to use the variables features they make your courses more complex and efficient. You can build things like adaptive learning paths unique to each user.

Here is where I like to create a distinction between basic and advanced e-learning: it’s not about the features as much as becoming efficient and combining features to accomplish custom objectives.

  • Production efficiency. In most software applications, there are twenty ways to do the same thing. In that case, it doesn’t matter how you created the course as long as you get what you wanted. However, there are some production techniques that are more efficient than others. An advanced course developer is efficient and does the little things like adding titles to objects in the timeline. And she understands how to differentiate features and when to choose one over the other when they do similar things.
  • Compounding features. Features are created to do specific things and they usually have some constraints. Advanced course developers learn to accomplish their objectives by combining features and working around the constraints they may offer. In a sense, they create new features through production techniques. We usually call these best practices. And advanced developers have a tool chest full of best practices.

What’s missing?

advanced e-learning examples using JavaScript

  • Hacks. Building on the programming skills above, there are some people who have the programming skills to deconstruct the published output of the course and then hack it by adding their own code to modify how the published course functions. Again great skills to have, but they extend outside of the authoring software.

That’s just the software side of e-learning course production. It doesn’t cover what advanced skills are required to actually determine the appropriate content and activities to effectively teach new skills and concepts.

How Do You Define Advanced E-Learning?

So my question for you is two-fold. How do you define advanced e-learning skills when it comes to the software and then how would you define it when it comes to more general topics like instructional design?

Feel free to share your thoughts by adding them to the comments.

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.

 




rapid e-learning

I’ve been reviewing some of my older blog posts to fix links and update some of the examples. After ten years, most of the posts are still relevant but some are obsolete like using clip art in PowerPoint. Going through ten years of blog posts brings up some interesting observations. For example, some of the media companies I referenced no longer exist. It’s a good reminder for us to not always jump on what’s hot until it’s really proven its worth.  In addition, the industry has changed quite a bit when I first started blogging.

In 2007, when Flash was king, I stated that the e-learning tools would evolve and become easier to use. You’d no longer need to learn specialized skills like Flash and ActionScript. This wasn’t a prediction of Flash’s demise. The key point was that it didn’t matter what underlying technology drove the content, the next generation course designer could build e-elearning with no programming skills required. This would be empowering and disruptive to our industry. And I think it’s fair to say, that is the case today.

Catching the Rapid E-Learning Bug

About 14 years ago, I saw the light. I consulted for a company that serviced non-profits. They needed help figuring out “this e-learning thing” and how to get their training online. One of their Flash programmers built a player that could dynamically load content. It worked but it was not easy to use. I was looking for something a lot easier that anyone could use, something more like PowerPoint. I searched for “PowerPoint and e-learning” and stumbled upon this Articulate company and Articulate Presenter. And it changed my life forever and my perspective on the industry.

articulate rapid e-learning PowerPoint

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to take what I built in PowerPoint and easily convert it to an e-learning course. Back then I even used a hidden notes panel to create a simple learning management system where a person searched their name and the courses they need to take showed up in the menu.

For me the big eye opener was that anyone could build courses. This was going to change the industry and take a lot of course construction away from programmers and put it in the hands of instructional designers. From that point on, anywhere I went I was touting this rapid e-learning stuff. Of course, most people immediately tuned out because they heard PowerPoint (which comes with its own baggage) or they were the Flash programmers (the equivalent to Swiss watch makers during the quartz revolution).

Eventually I prevailed and was able to bring the rapid e-elearning applications to a number of organizations. And at each, the teams that used those tools outperformed the Flash development teams.

Here’s one of my favorite stories. I won’t mention the e-learning company (because they’re really well known in our industry).

Shortly after getting hired at Articulate, I was at a big e-learning conference. Someone from one of the big well-known e-learning companies came by and asked if I knew someone who could take a bunch of courses off their hands. Some of their customers had PowerPoint slide decks and wanted to convert them into courses. Essentially she said that they built “real” e-learning and that this type of work was beneath them. None of their developers wanted to work on the courses.

I challenged her thinking and stated that the PowerPoint slides were just content and that any good course designer could convert the content into an effective and engaging course. Who cares how it’s built? And besides, this rapid e-elearning thing wasn’t a trend but the future of e-learning. She literally laughed at me and walked away. Today, they no longer employ Flash developers and the bulk of their courses are built using a rapid e-learning product.

How the E-Learning Industry Has Evolved

The industry is evolving and the tools are getting easier to use. And that’s not going to change. It started with simple PowerPoint-to-Flash conversions but today you can build some pretty complex interactions with no programming background. Here are a few things I see:

  • Most companies have some sort of investment in rapid e-learning. In fact, Articulate is in over 60,000 companies and most of those have replaced their Flash teams with Storyline developers.
  • Most of the Flash developers I know have shifted to Storyline. They do some customization using JavaScript and other hacks. But they’re still not doing a lot of custom programming because the software has made it easy to do.
  • Most of the complainers of rapid e-learning are e-learning companies who charge a lot for custom development. It hurts them to see you empowered to build your own courses. You know who they are because all of their blog posts complain about what’s wrong with e-learning. I see them as the elephant companies that are big and slow. But the reality is that most companies are looking for cheetahs and not elephants. If you’re an elephant, you’ll have plenty of time to look at your gorgeous mechanical watch.
  • There’s always a need for sound instructional design (which should be part of any course, rapid or not) and custom development. In fact, I think the advent of rapid e-learning has helped our industry grow which has created more opportunity for the custom developers and those who can help organizations build better e-learning and do more than push out bullet point screens.
  • Today, rapid e-learning has progressed beyond simple PowerPoint conversions. Essentially you have a choice between tools like Storyline that allow for custom development or form-based tools like Rise, where you assemble content and drop it into specific forms. Both form and freeform authoring are viable options to meet different needs.

What You Need to Do in 2017

  • Templates are powerful. They get dismissed, but you can build a template for anything and they don’t need to be those simple bullet point templates. They can include all sorts of pre-built interactivity. One of my favorite features in Storyline is to save any interaction as a template. Here’s an example of a simple interaction that could be a template for quick knowledge checks. It’s one slide and no layers. Adding a new card is just a matter of copying and pasting. Super easy to build and make into a template. And it’s a big time saver when you need this type of interaction. Make an investment to build a few interactive templates or download some of the free ones and then you always have a tool chest of interactive templates.
  • Build the right course for the right project. Not every course requires elaborate decision-making interactions. And at the same time, instructional design is more than slapping some content on a screen. Figure out which requires what and then spend your resources wisely. And remember most learning doesn’t happen in the course. Here are a couple of posts to know if you’re building the right course and separating information from performance courses.
  • Smaller courses are easier to consume (and create). There’s a trend towards microlearning as if it’s something new, but it’s not. It’s just that creating the content in smaller chunks is now more viable and the reality is people can only take in so much content. It’s easier to build smaller modules and then deliver them over spaced intervals. You’ll most likely see more impact and you’ll definitely be able to maintain and update the smaller modules more efficiently.
  • Understand the tools. Generally you have a choice between form and freeform applications. Form-based tools allow you to copy and paste content into pre-determined forms; or you build your content in a freeform environment. Both are great options but they each have different requirements. If you use a form, you’re mostly constrained to the form. If you don’t want those constraints, then use a freeform application, but understand you need to determine how things will look and work as opposed to just adding them to forms.
  • Focus on your development. Commit to a few e-learning challenges this year to build your skills and your professional network. Read some e-learning books and then apply what you learn to your courses. Build a portfolio to document your skills.
  • Share what you know and do. I am a big proponent of community and I know that many course developers are either by themselves or on small teams. The community provides a place to interact with and learn from your peers. It’s also a place to trade files and show examples. If you need more help figuring this out, read Share Your Work.

What are your plans for the 2017? Do you have any e-learning goals? How has the industry changed for you? What are you looking forward to?

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.