The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for May, 2017


free web page creator and print web page as PDF

Here are two really cool applications. The first is an easy way to create quick, disposable web pages using your email. And the other is a way to save web pages as PDF for later reference.

Create Free Web Pages

Publishthis.email lets you create quick and simple web pages. Basically, you put the content into an email, send it to a specified email address (which you can find on their site), and they send you a link back with a web page.

The animation below shows how simple it is, and here’s a link to a webpage I created.

free web page creator

This a neat solution that comes in handy for a few things. I use it for workshops if I have a list of links and resources and want to quickly pull together a shareable link. It’s also a great way to put together a quick shareable portfolio. Add a few images and links and you’re all set.

Save Web Pages as PDF

Often people ask me how they can print off blog posts. Well here’s an easy way. Add the Print Friendly & PDF extension to your browser.

When you find a page you want to save, click on the extension and the page is loaded. You do have the option to clean out some of the content you don’t need or want to see.

For example, in the image below, I removed the header and gratuitous images to clean it all up for the PDF. And here’s the PDF version of the page I saved.

free print web page as PDF

This is an easy way to save content for later access. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind, though:

  • honor the copyright of the author
  • don’t violate the spirit in which the content is available to you

Can you think of any use cases for a simple web page creation?

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.

 




e-elearning project management

Managing all of the to-do lists and activities for your e-learning projects can be really time time-consuming and a pain. I’ve worked in organizations where it seemed we spent more time managing the bureaucracy related to the project than we actually spent on it.

Someone asked what I use to manage projects. Personally, I prefer a simple process with the least amount of friction as possible. I started using Sortd with my email account and that has really saved me some time. I may do a blog post on that down the road. But for my project management, I use Trello. It’s easy to use and free.

I’ve been using Trello for a few years and what I like best is that it keeps me focused on the actionable items and makes it easy to see the progress I’m making on projects.

Today, I’ll show a few simple tips. This isn’t a comprehensive overview but I’ll show a few of the basic things you can do. And you can take it from there.

Manage E-Learning Projects with Boards, Lists, and Cards

trello-board

  • BOARDS: start by creating a project board for your course. Give it a name and you’re all set.
  • LISTS: inside the board, you create lists. I usually use lists to represent either clear milestones in the project or places where I need to hand tasks off to others.
  • CARDS: each list contains cards. Cards are great to house individual tasks. They contain checklists and details specific to the tasks. As you move through your project, you move cards from one list to another.
  • MENU: lets you see the activity and other settings within the board.

Here’s a video overview of using Trello to manage your e-learning projects to go with the instructions above.

Click to view the video on how to use Trello.

Some Bonus Tips

  • Combine Trello with Articulate Review and you have a really powerful way to not only manage projects but also manage the review cycle with your clients and subject matter experts.
  • Come up with a system that works and use it consistently. Initially, I found that I was a bit helter-skelter in my approach. This was fine when I only managed a couple of projects, but as I added more, it became less fun and more time-consuming.
  • Project management requires management. It’s not set and forget. Develop a routine to check on the progress of your projects. You can invite people as teams and assign cards to them, but you still need to stay on top of things.
  • It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your boards, cards, and lists. That’s why it’s important to come up with a process. Also, Trello is a great product as long as you keep it simple. But it can quickly get a bit complicated, especially if you have a lot of boards and cards. I know people who have boards to manage boards. To me, that’s too much. I love Trello for the simplicity and that’s the key: keep it simple.
  • Take advantage of the power-ups. The free plan gives you one power-up. If you’re a freelancer explore the options you have to append your Trello boards. For the most part, the free option should be fine.
  • Trello has a good guide that offers some instruction and help. If you want to learn more, check it out.

e-learning project management

 Also, check out this free e-book on how to manage e-learning projects. If you already use Trello, feel free to share your own tips and suggestions in the comments. If you use a similar low-cost or free solution, let me know.

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 text to speech narration

Occasionally, I get questions on free text-to-speech applications. While there are a number of free text-to-speech applications out there, many have character limits or don’t allow for commercial use. I’m not sure how many people have personal use cases for text-to-speech, but if you do, there are plenty of options. Another challenge is that many blogs in our industry create linkbait lists of text-to-speech applications, but for the most part, those lists are worthless.

Today we’ll look at a really good solution if you need a free text-to-speech application.

Why Use Text-to-Speech?

Despite the mechanical voice quality, there are some viable use cases for text-to-speech in e-learning (outside of accessibility issues):

  • For example, text-to-speech makes sense if you send a script out for professional narration. Use text-to-speech to create placeholder content for your reviewers so that you can get the voiceover script approved before sending it out for professional recording. This will save on the cost of do-overs.
  • Another good use case is the training content changes often. It is time-consuming to continually update and record narration. Text-to-speech applications make that easy. And because the content is somewhat disposable, people will most likely tolerate the mechanical voice.
  • Often we have international developers where English (or other languages) isn’t the first language. They can produce the courses and insert audio narration generated by text-to-speech applications.

A word of caution, though: most text-to-speech doesn’t sound that great. It’s been getting better over the years, but the mechanical voices can be grating and hard to sit through for long form content. That’s something to keep in mind. It’s bad enough to sit through most of the e-learning people experience today, let alone having it narrated by a robot.

With all that said, here’s how to use this text-to-speech application that is free and available for commercial use.

Balabolka: Free Text-to-Speech Application

I’ve reviewed most of the free applications and find that Balabolka offers the best benefit for text-to-speech narration. Here are some of the benefits and things you can do with it:

  • It’s free. Although, I do recommend that if you get value out of the free software it is a nice gesture to support the developer with a donation.
  • Run it via USB. No need to install it. You can run the software from a  USB drive.
  • It uses the SAPI voices that are already installed on your computer. In most cases the sound fine. You can also add additional voices. I added the new mobile voices from Microsoft and they work for my needs. There are other services where you can buy more natural sounding voices. But you’ll have to do your own research on how to set those up.
  • Insert your entire narration script and output either a single audio file or split the narration into multiple audio files.
  • Leverage the Google text-to-speech service for an additional voice. Output as an audio file.

Balabolka Text-to-Speech Examples

Below is a link to an example module where I converted some text from a blog post into text-to-speech audio. I created a few different examples so you can hear the quality of the voices and how they sound in the context of an e-learning demo.

text to speech narration

Click here to view the text-to-speech demo.

Balabolka Text-to-Speech Tutorials

Here’s a quick video tutorial where I walk through the basics of text-to-speech conversion:

  • Insert text and output audio
  • Create multiple audio files from one script
  • Batch convert audio from a script

Click here to view YouTube video.

If you’re looking for a free alternative for text-to-speech narration, then this solution should work for your courses.

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.

 




e-learning professional portfolio

As an e-learning developer, it’s important to document your work experience and skills. One way to do this is with a professional work portfolio.

In previous posts, we discovered why you need a portfolio as part of your professional development. And we even looked at one community member who does a great job demonstrating her skills by showcasing her e-learning modules in her portfolio. Today, we’ll look at a few things to consider when creating a professional portfolio.

Most people I meet don’t maintain a portfolio. So before we get started, I’ll give you two good reasons why you need to actively maintain a portfolio.

Most likely you don’t own the e-learning software to create courses. Let’s suppose you lose your job. Now you’re scrambling to find a new job which means you need to pull together a portfolio. Oh no! You don’t have access to the courses you built and you don’t have access to the software to rebuild them.

When I posted a job for instructional designers, one requirement was to see the applicant’s portfolio. More than 80% of the people told me they didn’t have one and that they were interested in the job, but needed to create a portfolio. Which was fine.

You know what happened, though? I reviewed those applicants who did have works samples ready-to-go and they ended up getting interviews. By the time others sent me their portfolios, we were already into the second round of interviews of those who had them to start.

Your Portfolio Shows Your Work

show your work in your e-learning portfolio

The main point of the portfolio is to show your work. It’s easy to talk about what you can do, but in a multimedia industry (that’s mostly visual) it’s important to show what you can do.

Ideally, you can show real projects, but as we know that’s not always possible. In those cases, you either have to create dummy versions of the courses or build your own modules. I prefer the “build your own” route. This way you can build demos that are more interesting than the typical type courses you may be forced to build at work.

What’s in the Professional Portfolio?

what's in your e-learning portfolio

The portfolio is intended to highlight your skills and experience. It’s not supposed to be an exhaustive inventory.

  • Keep it short. No one likes to look at 800-slide courses where every screen looks the same. Find a few interesting (and interactive) parts of the course and show those. Or build some modules from the weekly e-learning challenges. That’s what many in our community do. They’re short and relatively easy to build. And perfect for a portfolio project.
  • Looks matter more than instructional design. It is a visual medium so make your visuals strong. Stay away from defaults and add some custom elements. Add some novel interactivity to catch their attention.
  • Identify common types of courses and build some modules for your portfolio. Here are a few: drag and drop interactions, decision-making scenarios, software tutorials, and custom navigation. This will give you a diversity of projects.

How to Organize the Portfolio Content

how to organize e-elearning portfolio

Ultimately, e-learning is a solution. What was the problem and how did the course help? There are four things you should outline in your portfolio:

  • Who was the client?
  • What was the need?
  • What did you do?
  • What was the result?

This can be listed as bullet points like above or just a simple statement, such as: At ACME we introduced a new processing machine and needed to train 5,000 employees. The onboarding course I created taught them XYZ and we had all employees trained in 2 weeks and saved a gazillion dollars.

Key point: no one wants to read the War & Peace version of your course. Keep it simple and provide just enough information.

Your Portfolio Builds Your Brand

Create_portfolio_10

Your peers are all over the Internet posting articles, sharing their work, and connecting with others. You can do the same with your portfolio.

  • Use it to build your brand. There are quite a few I’ve known over the years who I’ve seen grow their personal brand to the point where they’re now recognized experts. For example, it was fun to see Jackie Van Nice at the recent Learning Solutions Conference get mobbed by people who recognized her work in the community.
  • Share your work. A great way to build your brand and expand the reach of your portfolio is to share your work. Build simple templates and give them away. Show your work and then share the source files when possible. To the person who values that source file, you’re an expert. Montse Anderson does a great job sharing her nice-looking templates.
  • Build your network of peers. Many people make the mistake of just pushing their content out. The best networkers know how to pull people in. It’s important to connect with others. But it has to be real. No one wants to feel like they being played, sold to, or sucked into some sort of multi-level marketing scheme.
  • Altruism is the first step. Share freely with no strings tied. Just know you’re helping someone (perhaps thousands). Share as you learn. I love the way Melissa Milloway is always experimenting and then shows what she does. There’s a humility in her approach that works and pulls people in because it’s authentic and not just some salesy thing. You understand her learning journey and feel like you’re part of it.

There are many reasons to have an e-learning portfolio. It’s a good way to stimulate and document your own learning. But most importantly, it’s a great way build your industry expertise and show what you can do. You never know when the next opportunity presents itself, but you want to be ready when it does.

Do you have a portfolio you’d like to share? If so, share it via 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.

 




simple-tips

Here are two simple tips to help save time and frustration as you work through the day. One shows how to autosave files so you don’t need to worry about losing your work. And the other lets you see which tabs and extensions in Chrome are eating up all your RAM and processing power.

How to Autosave Your Files

The first thing I learned when working with multimedia was to save my work and save all the time. It’s inevitable that an application freezes or the system shuts down and work is lost. At all the workshops I always state how important it is to save work. And with all that said, I don’t know how many times I’ve lost work not following my own advice.

AutoSaver is a free application that autosaves files. This is super handy if you forget to save your work as you go. You can download it here. Basically, you select your apps and then at what frequency you want to save. Or you can set it to autosave every app with some exceptions. Pretty simple.

Of course, if you use Storyline, you don’t really need this because there’s an AutoRecovery feature built into Articulate Storyline.

auto recover Storyline

What’s Consuming Your RAM?

Often I find my system gets a bit sluggish and when I look at my task manager I see that my browser is consuming most of the memory in my system. That’s because I have all sorts of extensions added to my browser.

Ever wonder which tabs or extensions are consuming the most of your memory? Well, if you use Chrome, just hit SHIFT+ESC and you’ll see. This displays a list of extensions and tabs. I was surprised to see an extension I rarely use, eating up the bulk of my memory, so I just deleted it.

chrome-task-manager

I don’t know about you, but the AutoSaver has saved helped me quite a few times. And cleaning up memory can help speed up your computer. What simple tips or hacks like this do you use to save time?

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.