The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for October, 2017


kickstart e-learning career

I once had a manager who told me everything I report to him should be presented as five things on a notecard. He didn’t want all of the detail or nitty gritty. He just wanted a quick overview of the five most essentials points.

I get a lot of emails from people who want to transition from their current jobs into e-learning development. They want to know what they need to do (or know) to get moving in that direction. So here are my five things if you want to start a career in e-learning.

Learn About Learning

Sure, a formal instructional design degree helps, maybe. But today it’s not as critical, assuming you can prove that you really know what you learned. There are all sorts of ways to learn:

  • Go to school and get a degree. Another less costly way is to get a certificate (especially if you already have a formal degree). Certificate programs take less time, seem to be more project-focused, and are a bit more pragmatic when it comes to applying what you’re learning. Here’s a list of programs recommended by the community.
  • Read and learn on your own. There are plenty of good books and I’ve written about the few I’d start with. We also have a great e-learning 101 series to learn more. You can sign up here and get it delivered via email. We also offer a ton of free e-books that cover a broad range of e-learning topics.

Build These Types of Courses

You’ll need practical experience. There are all sorts of things you can do to get it. Volunteer to build courses for NGOs, churches, hospitals, or anywhere else that has limited funds and would welcome some free training.

You don’t want to build the same course over and over again. Instead get experience building diverse modules and types of training. Here’s a good list to get started:

  • Assessments. Create a few different types of assessments. The default, blocky type quizzes are fine, but the more custom you can make them, the better.
  • Scenarios. They are always popular and they show how to build situational training that closely mirrors real-world interactions.
  • Interactions. There are three main ways to interact with the screen: click, hover, and drag. Build some modules that demonstrate your skills creating different types of interactions. Lean more on dragging than clicking.
  • Software Training. Most organizations do some sort of software training. Show your skills with screencasts and software simulations.
  • Make it interesting. Most e-learning isn’t very good and usually very boring. Convert one of those types of courses into something interesting. Make it look good and make it interactive.

Learn to Use E-Learning Software

Your success hinges less on your academic credentials and more on demonstrable skills and fluency with e-learning software. There’s a lot of e-learning software out there. You can’t learn everything. I’ll give my plug for the Articulate tools for two main reasons:

  • Do a job search and most organizations are looking for Articulate course developers. You can’t go wrong getting the skills that potential employers desire.
  • All of the demo modules I mentioned above can be quickly built in both Storyline and Rise. You’ll be able to build a professional portfolio using those tools especially if you take advantage of the community resources and the Content Library that comes with Articulate 360.

Build an E-Learning Portfolio

Whenever I hire an instructional designer, I’m more inclined to review their portfolio rather than a resume that documents their experience and education. An instructional design degree is great but to me, the proof is in the pudding. And without a portfolio how can you SHOW your work and skills?

The portfolio highlights your skills and experience.

  • Keep it short. Find a few interesting (and interactive) parts of the course and show those. Or build some modules from the weekly e-learning challenges. 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 (as noted above) and build some modules for your portfolio. This will give you a diversity of projects and showcase different skills.

Learn More About These Topics

There’s a lot that goes into building an effective e-learning course. Here are some additional topics and skills you’ll need to understand to be a good course designer. You don’t need to be a pro at everything but you should be able to speak to them when needed.

There’s obviously a lot more you need to know to be successful transitioning into an e-learning job. What are the five things you’d recommend to that person? Feel free to share them in 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.

 




e-learning prototypes

Many e-learning developers spend too much time building courses that are almost complete before they solicit feedback about the course. This could be a waste of resources because by that time, they’ve invested a lot of resources and it’s a real challenge to get things changed that late in the game, especially if the changes are significant.

A better solution is to quickly prototype the course, get some feedback and make adjustments. This is even more critical if you have a lot of interactive content. The good thing is that this is really easy to do in Storyline (or event PowerPoint).

Here are a few tips on how to approach the prototyping.

E-Learning Prototype: Start Backwards

What is the objective of the course and what does the client expect the learner to do? Slapping a bunch of information together over a series of screens is probably not going to meet your objectives. 

It’s all about the action, boss.

It doesn’t take much effort to prototype a bullet point screen. That’s not where you want to put your effort when you prototype. Instead, focus on the actions and prototype the activities that let the learners practice and demonstrate understanding.

What do they need to do and what interaction can you build that allows them to do that?

E-Learning Prototype: Build Something that Works

One of the many things I like about Storyline is how easy it is to prototype all sorts of interactions. In fact, someone told me that she was in a meeting with a potential client who shared their course requirements and what they hoped to get out of the course.

While the potential client was talking, the e-learning developer opened Storyline and built a quick mock-up of how the course could work with some simple interactions and decision-making scenarios. The client intended to send her away to build something to pitch later. Instead, the e-learning developer showed her the interactive prototype right there in the meeting and got the job on the spot. All because she was able to focus on the desired activity and build a working model. 

E-Learning Prototype: Don’t Worry About Looks

At our workshops, we like to present a few challenge activities. This lets people workout ideas and build quick interactive modules. However, there are always a few attendees who end up spending all their time on the visual design and never end up building a working interactive prototype.

It’s an easy trap to fall into because we tend to lean on the visuals first. They help us think about the project. However, it’s a trap that wastes time. Don’t worry about the way the module looks, worry about the functionality and the desired output. 

Of course, you do want it to be visually organized. If not, the customer will still focus on the way it looks. But you don’t need to make it visually rich. A good cheat though, is to start with the content library templates and then work from there.

To sum it all up, building quick prototypes is a better option for course development than building almost complete courses and then soliciting feedback, especially since you’ll probably have to make a bunch of changes anyway.

How do you build your prototypes? Do you start with a storyboard? Or do you jump right into the software and start building?

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 porfolio

I get questions all the time about work portfolios. One of the most frequent questions is “What types of courses need to be in the portfolio?”

Why Have an E-Learning Portfolio?

The portfolio is your proof of skills. It shows that you have more than a resume list of education and experience. It documents some of your projects and also shows your specific skills.

The challenge for many is that the work we do is proprietary and we can’t show what we know. That’s OK. If that’s the case, you want to create a few sample modules that demonstrate your skills and get the attention of the person reviewing your portfolio. And let’s face it, some of the projects that we get stuck on at work aren’t things we want to show anyway.

Here’s What Should be in Your E-Learning Portfolio

Here are the five things you need to showcase in your e-learning portfolio.

  • Assessments. Quizzes are the most common element in e-learning courses. Create a few different types of assessments. The default, blocky-type quizzes are fine, but you want to show more than copy and paste skills. Make the quizzes look different and modify the default settings. The more custom you can make them, the better.
  • Scenarios. Interactive scenarios are always popular. They’re more fun than click-and-read content and they show how to build situational training that closely mirrors real-world interactions.
  • Interactions. No one wants to look at 60 slides of the same content. Instead showcase mini interactions, or pull some of the interactions out of the 60 slide course. There are three main ways to interact with the screen: click, hover, and drag. Build some modules that demonstrate your skills creating different types of interactions. Lean more on dragging than clicking because it’s novel and people like to move things on the screen.
  • Software Training. Most organizations do some sort of software training. Show your skills building software training. Add a short screencast video as well as an interactive software simulation.
  • Make it interesting. Most e-learning isn’t very good and usually very boring. Convert one of those types of courses into something interesting. Make it look good and make it interactive. Show a before and after version of your course/module.

Here’s a bonus tip: people are drawn to the visual design more so than they are to the instructional design. You want your portfolio to look good.

If you’re trying to figure out how to build those demos or what types to do, check out the weekly e-learning challenges. There’s a lot of variety and plenty of ideas. Any one of them would make a good module to include in your portfolio.

Do you have an e-learning portfolio? If so, what type of content do you have in yours?

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 checklist

On a recent flight, I watched the flight crew go through a pre-flight checklist. This is a series of things that need to happen prior to taking off. While watching them I wondered what we’d consider being part of an e-learning pre-flight checklist. 

  • Information vs Performance. I like to put courses in one of two buckets: performance or information. Performance-based courses seek to change behaviors and have people learn and do something new or different. Information-based courses are more about awareness of certification. Knowing which bucket to place the course,, helps me know what type of resources to commit to it.
  • What are the objectives of the course? Some objectives are to change performance or teach new skills. And some objectives are more like certification and awareness. Knowing the objectives helps you determine the proper metrics to evaluate success.
  • Who is the final approver of the project? This is one of the first questions I ask. It’s important to know who the final decision-maker is. Often you’ll work on a course and then right before launch someone higher up in the food chain gets involved and wants to make changes. Find out who this person is before you get too involved in the project and be sure to keep them in the loop throughout. And most of all, make sure you get approval at various milestones in the project. As David likes to say, “When things go right, the managers take credit. But when things go wrong, it’s all on the trainers.”
  • Is there a budget? I’ve worked for larger organizations with large projects and rarely did we get a budget to build the courses. I was always told I was the budget. It’s a good idea to initiate the conversation about having a budget. Perhaps you start small and say you need $500-$1000. Even if you don’t need the money, it’s a good idea to build the expectation that you need a budget to go with your training project.
  • What expectations does the client have? This goes back up to understanding the type of course that is being commissioned and determining the objectives. Often, the client has a default position that their goals or problems are solved by training. This isn’t a good starting point. It’s important to do some performance consulting to better understand the client’s needs and if training will help. Doing that sets clear expectations.
  • What expectations do the learners have? Let’s face it, the bulk of most e-learning courses are compliance training or annual updates with little impact on the person’s day-to-day responsibilities. Thus, for many, the expectations are very low. We can’t always control the content and client objectives, but there are things we can do to make the experience better and more interactive.
  • What do you know about the audience? Ideally, the course is designed in a real-world context. To do that requires an understanding of the audience’s real world.
  • What resources are available? The most important resource is access to the subject matter experts. Other resources are existing content, technology, media, and the numerous assets required to build good courses. Of course, with services like Content Library, some of that is mitigated and not as big of an issue as in the past.
  • How will you evaluate it? If you define clear objectives you can define metrics to determine if they’ve been met. Thus one part of the evaluation is having measurable objectives. The other part is knowing how you’ll collect and process them. That’s not as easy and probably why most organizations don’t bother evaluating their training properly.
  • What’s the implementation plan? Once the course is loaded into the learning management system, what’s next? How do the learners know there’s a course for them to take? How do managers know? What marketing strategies do you have for the course launch?
  • Does it need to be mobile? Personally, this is somewhat moot. Modern e-learning courses work on mobile devices. However, there are some considerations when it comes to mobile and how you construct the course. Ideally, you use something like Rise where all of the design considerations are already made. If you use Storyline, you’ll need to think about the interface and how things are laid out and how they work on the smaller screens.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. What would you add to your e-learning pre-flight checklist? Share your thoughts in 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.

 




gamified e-learning

The other day I got one of those marketing emails that I tend to delete without looking over. However, this one featured some ideas on gamification. And what got me most interested was looking at their examples. As we all know, gamification is a hot topic and it’s always neat to see how different groups build the gamified elements in their courses.

Ingenuiti put together a portfolio page with three different gamified examples. They use three micro games to teach and demonstrate some core gamification concepts.

I reviewed their modules and want to highlight a few production tips that not only work for gamified e-learning courses, but are just as useful in other contexts. For today’s post, I’ll focus on the first micro game.

Here’s a link to the video tutorial series.

Gamification Micro Game #1

gamified e-learning example

The first micro game focuses on three types of learning activities:

  • Simple Game: challenge the learners understanding in a common game format. It’s a great way to rehearse and recall information and do it in a fun way that is familiar to most people.
  • Explore Activity: have the learner explore the environment and collect information or rewards. I always consider exploration to be one of the core building blocks for interactive learning. Given the right context, exploration is a great way to engage and inspire critical thinking.
  • Simple Scenario: the learner observes an interaction, reflects on it, and then offers constructive input. Mimicking real-world type interactions is a good way to reinforce the learning experience. They do some clever things with the commenting, liking, and bookmarking.

There’s a lot going on in their modules. I isolated a few things that they did so that I can show some production tips and nuances of the software. Keep in mind, there’s always a few ways to do the same thing in software. So if you have different or even better ideas, feel free to share them in the comments.

Here are some videos that offer some real quick tutorials on how you can create similar effects and interactions in your own e-learning courses. I’m using Storyline because it’s easy to use, but you’re free to use the software of your choice, especially if you have plenty of time on your hands and not rushed to get things done. 🙂

E-Learning Tip #1: Gate Screens

gamification example gate screen

Many courses have starter pages with simple instructions. Also, it’s also a good idea to stop progress in the course when changing directions on types of interactivity or navigation. It helps set expectations and orients the user. I call those gate screens.

E-Learning Tip #2: Custom Markers with Animated Content Boxes

gamified e-learning example custom markers

In their demo, they used the marker feature but turned off the marker labels and had their own content appear. Also, after clicking the marker, the pulsing stops. When clicking the marker, the background fades and the content box animates in and out (upon leaving).

E-Learning Tip #3: Turn Audio On/Off

In a few places, they have running background audio which can be turned on or off. Normally, one oculd use the player volume control, but since the player isn’t present, custom controls need to be enabled.

E-Learning Tip #4: Simulated Posting of Chat Response

gamified e-learning example simulated conversation and text chat

I really like the way they build this mini scenario and the simulated chat. Have the user post a response to a chat. You notice that you can post and edit comments. As you do that, the other comments are disabled.

E-Learning Tip #6: Free Dragging Objects

gamified e-learning example free dragging interaction

This exploration activity let’s the user drag objects and move them. Normally, dragging objects are associated with drag and drop activities. However, these are free moving objects with no specific interaction to them. They just let the user move objects freely out of the way to see what’s underneath.

E-Learning Tip #7: Changing State of Selected Objects

gamified e-learning example selected states

When a correct choice is made, the object displays a star to indicate it’s been selected correctly. You’ll also notice that the side panel indicates which objects are selected and which remain.

E-Learning Tip #8: Play Again Option

gamified e-learning example retry interaction

Let the user quit or play the game again. This resets the interaction to the initial state.

These are a few of the cool things the Ingenuiti developers did in their module. Whether you’re building a gamified e-learning course or something else, these production tips should come in handy.

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.