The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for April, 2019


free subject matter expert handout

Recently, we explored how to manage the working relationship with subject matter experts. One of the key components is curating all of the existing resources. Here’s a free handout to help guide the conversation with subject matter experts and clients so that you get all of the resources you need to build the best courses possible.

What you need to curate is part of three core groups: existing training content, additional resources, and media assets.

 

Subject Matter Expert Checklist: Collect Existing Training Material

subject matter expert checklist training content

Make sure to get all of the existing training material. You’ll also need to figure out what to keep and what to discard. At some point you want to archive older material so there’s no conflict later when you need to update the course content.

Subject Matter Expert Checklist: Identify Additional Resources

subject matter expert checklist resources

There are all sorts of supporting resources such as product documentation, procedural manuals, and company policies. Not only do you want to identify what’s available, you want to make sure it’s up-to-date (get rid do old content), and find ways to integrate searching for and using the resources.

Subject Matter Expert Checklist: Pull Together All Media & Visual Assets

subject matter expert checklist media assets

The organization often has branding requirements that may include imagery, colors, and typography. You need those. You also need any images, videos, audio, and whatever other media exists to support the training. If none’s available, make a list of what you need.

Often you can find relevant assets in marketing collateral, web sites, or shareholder annual reports.

This checklist is a great way to collect what you need and also help steer some of the conversation you’ll have with your subject matter experts and content owners.

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.

 




Three R's of subject matter experts

Subject matter experts often play a key role in the development of your e-learning courses. We’ve covered this quite a bit in previous posts and in a free e-book available to you through the e-learning community. You can find the links below.

A couple of weeks ago I did a workshop where we discussed working with subject matter experts and my computer crashed. Since I had to do the presentation again, I wanted to simplify the key points just in case I didn’t have the presentation file, so I came up with the three R’s when working with subject matter experts: relationship, role, and resources.

Establish the Relationship with Your Subject Matter Experts

  • Be prepared and respect their time. Often, they’re not as vested in the success of the project as you are.
  • Pull together a list of questions for them to review. Don’t give them 200 questions. Start with top five to ten questions so it’s manageable.
  • Get them to share their ideas about how they’d approach the training. You want to understand how they see things so you can anticipate potential conflicts.
  • Ask lots of questions and don’t make assumptions.

Define the Subject Matter Expert’s Role

  • You’re trying to get them to help you build an effective course. Use a backwards design to get them to think like instructional designers. What’s the appropriate action that demonstrates success? How do you measure that action? What do they need to practice to be successful? What information do they need to practice? The point is stepping away from information and focusing on actionable performance.
  • Establish clear expectations built around the project’s objectives. Who does what and when? What is does the subject matter expert deliver. What are their action items? Come to a documented agreement. Don’t schedule meetings with them unless there’s an action item.
  • Who is the final reviewer of the content and course? Is the subject matter expert the one who signs off on the course? Or is there someone else? Get that person involved at the forefront.

What Resources Can the Subject Matter Provide?

  • What existing training content exists?
  • Have the subject matter expert provide assessment questions and viable choices (or the framework for viable scenarios).
  • Identify supporting resources such as articles, intranet content, policies, etc.
  • Who will collect the metrics to track before and after accomplishments?

Obviously, there’s a lot more to working with the subject matter experts when building e-learning courses. Most of that is covered in the resources below. However, if you lean on the three R’s you’ll remember to cover the basics: maintain a good relationship, establish clarity around the role and expectations, and collect the appropriate resources.

Free Checklist

subject matter expert checklist media assets

Here’s a free checklist to help curate all of the appropriate content and resources.

Rapid E-Learning Blog Resources

Here is a list of relevant blog posts.

Free E-Book

Here is a free e-book with all sorts of tips to know when working with subject matter experts.

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.

 




PowerPoint tip graphics

Here’s a PowerPoint tip: build your e-learning course graphics in PowerPoint. PowerPoint is great for simple graphic design projects. In fact, I use it quite a bit for this blog and some of the graphics I need in my e-learning demos.

In a previous post, I shared visual design tips for graphics I built in Rise 360 for an e-learning scenario. All of those graphics were built in PowerPoint.

PowerPoint for graphic design example 5

In this example, the images all need to be wide, but short rectangles so that I could get them about the same height as the text and squeeze them as close as possible to the button stacks in Rise 360.

I created a custom slide size 13 x 4 inches. When I save the PowerPoint slides as images that results in an image that is 1280 x 384 pixels.

Here’s a detailed tutorial that walks through the process of creating similar graphics in PowerPoint. I cover a lot of little PowerPoint tips.

Click here to view the PowerPoint tutorial on YouTube.

The links below take you to specific parts of the tutorial. The last two links show how to create the final pill shape with the character’s head extended outside of the image.

The tutorial above shows how I created the images. But here are a few key points to consider.

PowerPoint Tip: Step Away from PowerPoint as a Presentation Tool

If you’ve read much of this blog, you know that I’m a big advocate for using PowerPoint to build simple graphics. It’s easy to use, most people have it, and there’s not much you can’t create with PowerPoint once you learn a few things.

Is it Photoshop or Illustrator? No! And if you have expertise with those tools, then have at it. But for those who don’t have a graphics editor and need a simple solution, give PowerPoint a try.

PowerPoint tip for e-learning graphics

Here are some previous posts that show what you can do:

PowerPoint Tip: Save Slides as Images

Whatever you build in PowerPoint you can right-click and save as an image. I usually save as .PNG. This preserves the color clarity and any transparency. If you save as .JPG, the transparent areas fill with white.

PowerPoint tip right click save as image

For most cases (especially when working with Rise 360), I like to use the slide as my entire image. So I build what I need and then save the slide as image rather than PPTX. While there are a number of image options, like above, I stick with .PNG.

PowerPoint tip save slide as image

PowerPoint Tip: Create Custom Slide Sizes

The default PowerPoint slide is 16 x 9 aspect ratio. In most cases that is fine. It works great for Rise 360. However, there may be times when you want a custom slide. For example, if you want a square image, you need to change the slide size. I usually use 10 inches by 10 inches which gives me an image that is close to 1000 x 1000 pixels (give or take).

Go to the Design Tab and select Slide Size to change the settings.

PowerPoint tip slide size

PowerPoint Tips: Install Studio 360

Many of you are you are using Articulate 360 which comes with Rise 360 and Storyline 360. Those are obviously the go-to apps for building courses. Because of this, many people ignore Studio 360 which comes with Articulate 360.

PowerPoint tip Characters

Even if you don’t use Studio 360 to build courses (why would you when you have Rise 360), it’s still a good idea to install it. The main reason is that you get access to all of the assets including the characters from Content Library 360. And when you build graphics for your e-learning courses, especially as I did in Rise 360, it helps to have all of the characters in PowerPoint.

If you aren’t using a graphics editor or don’t know how, then PowerPoint is a really easy way to build graphics for you e-learning 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.

 




visual design for e-learning tips

The other day I made some images for a course menu page in Rise 360. I spent some time playing around with different ideas. When I reviewed my final image, I realized that there were several iterations.

Today I’ll share some of the different ideas I considered and why I made changes.

Visual Design: The Set Up

I’ll start by stating that most of this is subjective, so there’s not a right or wrong.

With this particular menu, I needed an image that had a 10:3 aspect ratio. In this case, the images are 1280 x 384. The aspect ratio calculator is a good resource if you ever need to figure out an aspect ratio or the resolution of images.

visual design for e-learning aspect ratio calculator

The short but wide aspect ratio creates a challenging constraint with what you can show. And that’s why I played around with different ideas.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 1

PowerPoint for graphic design example 1 visual design for e-learning

Because of the dimensional constraints, I started with just text. But the text looked empty and uninteresting. Since these images were part of an interactive scenario, I wanted to add a bit more personality.

I added a character to the text. This creates a visual connection to the scenario. I also wanted some white space so it was easier for the eye to scan the screen. Generally, it looks good and the white space is nice as the Rise course responds to the mobile devices.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 2

PowerPoint for graphic design example 2 visual design for e-learning

I wasn’t keen on the smaller character but as noted before, the height of the image created some constraints. So I played around with making the character larger. This meant is had to go off screen.

I was also concerned that perhaps the larger image would be too busy if it remained in color. So I got rid of the color and then lighten up the image a bit.

I liked the gray image and text overlay. But it just didn’t feel right, especially in the mobile view with the top of the heads cut off.

The second design is OK. But it looks a bit unbalanced. The right side of the menu has text and a strong visual element with the button. It kind of fills the right side. But the left side just looks odds to me.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 3

PowerPoint for graphic design example 3 visual design for e-learning

Sticking with the grayscale, I played around with making the character image a bit larger to fill that side of the menu. It does add some heft, but I wasn’t fond of the way the faces were cropped.

I do like it in the phone view because it fills the column and the lighter image with the darker buttons works.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 4

PowerPoint for graphic design example 6 visual design for e-learning

In a previous post, I shared an easy graphic design tip that I call the transparent echo technique. The idea is to add the same image twice. One is muted and serves as the background and the other is a focal point.

The image above was my first attempt. The examples in the blog post linked above look nice. But this one felt a bit busy and the eyes were too big. It feels a bit creepy.

So I added a color overlay that I color picked from the button. I also moved the image around and used his shirt and not the face. I like the texture that the echo creates. You can see part of the shirt so there’s some very slight visual context and the texture adds depth which I like better than just a solid color. But the echo isn’t distracting.

PowerPoint for graphic design example 4 visual design for e-learning

The design seems blocky and the buttons are heavy. My original goal was to have white space. Now I have an image design I kind of like, but it’s just too square and heavy.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 5

PowerPoint for graphic design example 5 visual design for e-learning

To gain white space and get rid of the block I decided to play off the pill shape of the buttons. That gives it some visual cohesion by tying in the header with the button.

By extending the heads outside the pill shape, it creates additional white space. And the round corners with the characters poking out of the shape feel a bit more organic and informal, which lends itself well to an interactive scenario course.

I also lightened the buttons so that they were a little more subdued and not as heavy. They’re just a bit lighter than the pill shape.

Visual Design Principles

Again, most of this is subjective. But I thought I’d give you some insight into my thought process as I created the graphics and made iterations. While the images are subjective, there are a few core principles to consider when creating the visuals for your courses.

  • Use white space to give your eyes a break. White space also helps to discern what content is there and how’s it related to other content on the screen.
  • Visual consistency between design elements. I like the final image and that it works with the pill shaped buttons. The colors also work to tie the objects together.
  • Play around with color. Remove colors from the images to neutralize them. Then add a few accent pieces or a single color to draw focus. It’s easy to do and a good basic tip for those of us who are visually challenged and opt to over work our images.

In the follow up post, I’ll show how I used PowerPoint to quickly create all of these images and make edits in seconds.

Which design do you like best? Is there something you would have done different?

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.