The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for July, 2018


interactive e-learning

I get a lot of questions about interactive e-learning. Often people are looking for specific “interactive” features in the software. However, the key isn’t specific features as much as it applying a few simple strategies and understanding what can be done with the e-learning software.

Part 1: Interactive E-Learning Strategies

Here’s a simple strategy I use when building interactive e-learning courses: focus on a few basic building blocks (which I’ve written about before).

  • Relevance: the first step is to make sure the content is relevant to the learner. Courses have content but often it’s not framed in a relevant context. That means it’s difficult to engage and motivate the learner.
  • Pull: most courses tend to push content out. It’s how we usually teach. We push content in learning docs, cheat sheets, videos, lectures, etc. One goal should be to get the learner to pull content in. Give them a reason to explore and consume content.

3C interactive e-learning model

I also try not to formally grade the interactions (especially decision-making activities) while they’re in the learning process. I want them to freely make decisions; and if they get things wrong, that’s just part of the learning experience. It’s also an opportunity to continue teaching. Formal grading tends to shut that down.

Part 2: Interactive E-Learning Features

I like to think of the e-learning software as a tool that creates multimedia. Most of the time that is used for training, but not all online multimedia needs to be training.

Most e-learning software has out-of-the box interactions like tabs, process, and labeled graphics. However, I try to step away from the intended interactivity and look for different use cases. I look for features that lets the person interact with the screen and then try to find ways for the person to interact with the content using the onscreen interactions.

Flash Card 3C Model

For example, in the simple scenario below, I created a 3C structure and used the Flash Card interaction as a means to review choices and get feedback. The Flash Cards aren’t technically designed for scenarios, but because one can click and reveal, they’re perfect to ask and answer questions in a scenario. And because the learner can click the other options, it lets them explore.

interactive e-learning flash card

Process Interaction Many Ways

Below is another example to show how to stretch the features to create all sorts of interactive content. I took the same general content which fits perfectly as a process interaction and applied it to different types of blocks to see how they’d work. Essentially they’re all a process interaction, it’s just that I used different features to package the content.

Click here to view the demo.

interactive e-learning 1

Obviously, some make more sense than others. But the point of the exercise is to review the features available and think of different ways to use the interactive parts. Today, it’s a simple process interaction, but next time it could be a decision-making scenario.

E-learning interaction alternative

3C Model: Labeled Graphic

Here’s an example, where I leveraged the Content Library characters with Studio 360 and PowerPoint to create a decision-making image with the labeled graphics.

interactive e-learning labeled graphic

3C Model: Combined Blocks & Accordion Interaction

And another example of a 3C model where I combined a few blocks to create the structure (which I can save as a reusable template) and leveraged the accordion interaction as the way to ask and answer questions in the scenario.

interactive e-learning scenario

As you can see, it’s easy to combine the basic building blocks with interactive features to create an assortment of interactive options that go beyond what the software gives you out-of-the-box. The secret is to start with a simple model and then leverage the interactive features (whether designed for decision-making or not).

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 video in PowerPoint

PowerPoint’s one of my favorite multimedia applications. It’s easy to use, almost everyone has a copy so it’s easy to share what’s created, and it does more than create presentations.

In fact, I regularly use PowerPoint to create the graphics and custom assets for my e-learning courses. Here are a few examples:

As you can see, PowerPoint is great for all sorts of multimedia production especially when combined with great e-learning software.

Create a Shaped Video

Recently someone in the community asked how to create a circle-shaped video for an e-learning interaction in Storyline.

circle video in PowerPoint

A real easy solution is to create an image with a circle hole in it and then place the video underneath only allowing the video to show through the circle hole. That’s fast and doesn’t require any editing of the video.

PowerPoint circle hole over video

If you want a circle-shaped video, you can create one in a video editing application. However, this requires having a video-editing application that allows you to do that and also having the expertise to use the video editor (which most of us don’t have).

And this is where PowerPoint comes in handy. It’s a tool most of us have, and it can do exactly what you need with minimal effort.

Here’s a video tutorial that quickly walks through the steps outlined below.

  • Customize slide size. A circle has a 1:1 aspect ratio. Change the custom slide size to 1:1 (something like 10″ wide and 10″ high). That should give you a video that’s almost 1000×1000 pixels.
  • Insert a video. Choose your favorite video.
  • Crop video to 1:1. Most likely the video is 16:9 or 4:3. You’ll need to crop it to 1:1 to get a perfect circle.
  • Scale the video to fill the slide. You want the video to be as big as possible inside the slide.
  • Save the file as video. Select .mp4. If you have an older version of PowerPoint you may have to save as .WMV. That’s OK, you can still use it in Storyline and Rise. You won’t get a circle video. The video is still going to be rectangular. But inside the rectangle will be the custom-shaped video.

Bonus tips:

  • Play around with some of the video formatting options in PowerPoint. There are lots of neat things you can do.
  • Same thing with animations and transitions. Anything you create in your PowerPoint slides can be save as video.
  • The corners are not going to be transparent. You’ll want the video background to match the course background to get a seamless experience.

Hope that helps and is something you can use in an upcoming e-learning course.

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.

 




successful e-learning

Successful e-learning is measured in many ways. It’s important to provide measurable value. However, a large part of success revolves around how others view your contributions. Thus it’s important to manage how you work with customers and how they understand your contributions.

If you’re just getting started, here are some things to keep in mind:

Successful E-Learning Pleases the Customer

Your customer is why you have a job. Thus it’s important to ensure the customer’s needs are met.

Who is your customer? The obvious answer is the one who commissions the e-learning course. However, there’s also the dynamic between you and your manager (who may not be the customer) but is the person who influences your employment.

How to Please the Customer

There are many things you can do, but here are a few basics:

  • Establish clear expectations. Write them down and get affirmation. This way everyone is on the same page. I create a Service Level Agreement that documents the project details and expectations.
  • Find ways to make your customers look good. Often I’ll send encouraging emails and CC their managers. I try to deflect credit from myself and pass it to others. Give them the credit when possible.
  • Control your costs and resources. Everyone’s on a budget and has limited time.
  • Finish ahead of schedule. I try to pad extra time into the production, get agreement on the production schedule, and then work to be done early. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re early because they may not be prepared for it, but it builds your reputation and how they perceive you.
  • Take care of details before they become issues. Be proactive and do this before the customer is aware. The more projects you do, the more you’re able to anticipate potential issues. I always make a list of things that may derail the process so that I can think through a work around before it happens.

Successful E-Learning Knows that the Business is the Business

Ultimately you’re hired to help meet specific organizational goals. Sometimes we lose sight of that. It’s easy to get stuck in the way things have always been done or on our own pet projects. Keep your focus on what the organization says is important and the metrics they use.

When working with customers, try to steer them towards measurable results and not just content. From there you set clear objectives that are tied to a metric which helps measure the course’s efficacy. If the client has no metrics (sometimes that happens with compliance training) measure cost and production time as well as a reduction in training time.

How to Report the Results of Successful E-Learning

It’s important to show the results of your work. The challenge is knowing what to report, getting the numbers, and how to report them. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Performance results. Create courses with measurable objectives. That gives you something to measure. How does the client know that they need training? What metrics are they using? Use the same process. Connect with the team that collects and curates results. Often training is a small part of the process thus you may not see significant results from training alone.
  • Measure before and after performance. Create a means to pre-assess the learners and then compare how they did after the training. You may not directly impact real-world performance but you can state that before the training they were at X and after they were at Y.
  • Measure what was saved. Some training is not performance-based. Thus it’s a challenge to report performance metrics. In those cases, track how much training costs before and how the e-learning courses saved time by reducing travel costs, etc. Another benefit is the flexibility training offers because it is time-shifted. Worst case, compare your production costs to that of an outside vendor.

Building engaging and relevant e-learning is the main measure of success. That happens in the context of supporting a customer and your organization. Develop some strategies to manage those relationships and the expectations. Help them focus on real results and do a good job reporting your success. And their success will be your 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.

 




no LMS

Generally, delivering e-learning courses is a two-step process: 1) create the course in your favorite e-learning software and 2) host the course in a learning management system.

There are many small organizations that don’t use formal learning management systems; however they want simple tracking of the courses. I had someone ask how they could track people in their organization who have taken a compliance course. He didn’t have a lot of learners and wanted something simple.

Here are two quick solutions that work well. They don’t require a lot of work to set up and they’re mostly free.

This solution assumes that the user gets a URL that links to the course. We have no identifying information so we need a simple way to collect who they are and track their completion.

Create a Form

Create a form using a hosted service. In these examples I am using Google Forms and Jot Form. However, you can use a different service if you want (or create your own form on a server). It doesn’t matter. The main thing is you have a way for the person to share info and send it your way.

form no LMS

Embed the Form

Once you have the form, you’ll embed it into the course. In these examples we’re using Rise’s embed block. If you use Storyline, the web object works perfectly for this.

Embed form no LMS

Create a Gate to the Form

The goal is to only expose the form when the course is complete. There are many ways to do this. For these demos, I’ll show two ways. In the first, I use a continue block that is locked until the learner affirms completion of the course and agreement with the content. In the second example, I use a quiz to serve as the gate.

no LMS two options

Examples of Embedded Forms

These are simple examples to show how the form looks embedded in the course and how you could create a gate to get to the form.

  • Jot Form Example: the course has free navigation and user affirms completion to unlock the the gate
  • Google Form Example: the course is locked and passing the final quiz unlocks the certificate of completion

Jot Form offers a bit more control and looks more integrated with the course. I colorized the block to match the form’s color.

JotForm example no LMS

On the other hand, Google Forms has that enormous header space and scrollbar. I removed the header image and filled it with white to avoid the Frankenform look but it still looks like something pasted into the course. It would be nice to have more control over the look, but it still works fine for what we need and it’s free. Also, the integration with Google Sheets saves a few steps later.

Google fomr example no LMS

Upload the Course

Since we’re not using an LMS, we need a place to upload the course. I use Amazon S3 which I showed how to set up in a previous post; but it could also be Google Storage. But it can be any web server.

no LMS Amazon S3 free

Track Course Completion

The form collects the data and sends it to the service. Jot Form displays a table with the option to download. Google Form sends the data to a Google Sheet.

Google Sheet no LMS

Of course, there are many other ways to do something similar to avoid using an LMS, especially if you have programming skills.

At a previous place, we used the course URL to drop a cookie on the person’s computer. At the end of the course, we inserted an .ASP file via a web object. The .ASP file collected the info from the cookie and sent it to the database. Thus we knew who took the course, when they completed it, and their minimum passing score.

Do you have any other ways you use to track the course without using an LMS or paid service? Please share 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.