The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for September, 2019


low recording levels

If you find that you’re microphone audio levels are too low, here are some tips that may help.

I record a lot of demos and webinars. With that comes the quest to find decent quality audio. I have a boom arm on my desk that I can swing into action. On it I have a Blue Yeti microphone. Overall, I really like the quality of the sound and this set up works great for recording tutorials where I work from my main screen. I also like that the microphone has its own gain controls which resolves the issue I have below.

However, the challenge with the Blue Yeti is that I work from a home office and if people outside my office are yacking, then the mic picks up their chatter. I can usually work around it a bit. However, webinars are live and I have less real-time control.

For webinars I prefer to use a headset mic because they seem to do a better job blocking out background noise. I’ve used a Plantronics mic for years. It does a great job recording my voice and blocking out the other home office sound. However, the audio is a bit thin and sounds like I’m Lionel Richie on a phone, checking to see who’s home.

Because of this, I recently purchased a Beyerdynamic headset mic. It’s a bit higher end but it’s a great mic with a nice sound. However, it is an XLR mic which requires a different connection to my computer and a pre-amplifier.

And this is where the Windows 10 audio issue is exposed and fixed.

Where’s the Microphone Boost?

Like many Windows 10 users, the audio recording input signal is too low. Earlier versions of Windows had a way to boost the recording input, as seen in the image below. However, in recent versions, there’s no option.

audio recording input low

If you do not have the option to boost your audio input, one potential fix is to select the Advanced tab from the Microphone Properties window and deselect the option to “Allow application to take executive control of this device.” This works for some people.

The other option is to use a pre-amp. I have an older Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 which is generally simple to use and should work. However, I ran into an issue. The pre-amp has an input range of 1 to 10, but it only seemed to have an impact from about 8 to 10. I just wasn’t getting enough initial boost and the 8 to 10 range didn’t give me enough wiggle room. Since it’s a USB pre-amp, I figured that perhaps it just didn’t have enough juice for the phantom power and signal boost since it was pulling its power from the computer.

Focusrite Clarett pre-amp

So I tested the Focusrite Clarett. It has its own power source and not pulling it from the computer via USB. However, I ran into the same issues. The range was limited to 8 to 10 with little room for adjustments. Both Focusrite devices are good devices and should work. In fact, on older versions of Windows, the Scarlett worked perfectly. However, with the latest version of Windows 10, I just can’t seem to boost the input levels and there no longer seems to be a way to do it from the drivers or the audio control panel.

So where’s the fix?

Install APO Equalizer. It’s an open source project on Source Forge that includes a pre-amp which will boost your incoming microphone signal. In addition, there are some other audio options to enhance your audio input and outputs.

APO eaulizer for low audio recording volume

I’m no audio engineer or APO Equalizer pro. However, the installation is easy, and the setup is pretty simple. Don’t let all of the meters and lines make it seem complicated. Once it’s set, you really shouldn’t have to do much with it. Below are some resources to help you get set-up.

The YouTube tutorial above does a great job showing the basics. It’s probably worth learning a little more about some of the filters and how they can improve your audio input. In fact, many of us record in less than ideal circumstances where we may have background noises like air conditioners or computer fans. Some of those filters may help fix the issues.

If you have issues with low recording volumes, hopefully these tips help. If you have additional tips, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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 tips before starting a course

Here are three time-saving tips to consider before building your e-learning course.

Determine the Story Size

Many e-learning courses are 4:3 aspect ratio. The other common aspect ratio is 16:9. However, you’re not confined to either one of those aspect ratios. What if you want something more like a book? Or perhaps square?

e-learning course size

Determine the story size and resolution before you start working on the course.

What we often see is that someone opens the e-learning software and starts working on the course using the default settings. And then somewhere in the process wants to change the size and resolution of the course. This can be problematic because when you modify the aspect ratio of the slide, it means the existing content may get skewed or require a bunch of tweaking to get it re-aligned. Thus you want to determine the course’s aspect ratio before adding content to the slides.

Choose a Template Before Building the Course

Another common process is that the course author starts to build content and then later wants to apply a template. However, templates are made up of specific layouts and theme elements. If the content the author builds doesn’t start mapped to a layout and the theme features, applying a new template to it somewhere in the process can cause issues and require a lot of extra work.

e-learning templates

The point of a template is to guide the design and speed up production.

Before you start working on the course, curate your content and then pick a template appropriate to the context of your course and the type of content it has. From there, add your content to the template and then make some simple modifications to the theme colors and fonts. Choosing the template first will definitely save time.

Set the Theme Colors and Fonts

e-learning theme fonts

Generally, most e-learning courses have two core fonts: headers and body. You really don’t need 8 million fonts in your course, two is usually fine. On top of that, many fonts are part of a font family with different variations so you could get by with one font family. Then just determine which font is used and when.

After choosing your fonts, set one as the header font in your theme and one as the body. This way if you want to apply a different theme you can do that easily. If you don’t use the theme fonts it requires slide-by-slide editing to make changes.

The same thing can be said about theme colors. Determine the colors you want to use in your course and then set those colors in your theme. This way every object you insert will have the same theme colors. And like the fonts, can be swapped instantly.

e-learning theme colors

When you create theme colors, remain consistent in how you use them, You get six accent colors. There’s no rhyme or reason to how they should be used. They’re just six color options. However, I like to use accent 1 as my main color. And I use accent 2 (and sometimes accent 3) as complimentary colors. I don’t use all six colors so I don’t worry about coming up with six colors to fill out the accent color options.

custom theme colors for e-learning

The main point is that regardless of how you use accent colors options, be consistent in how they’re used. This makes it easy to swap the theme colors.

Do those three things above before you invest time building out the content. It will save you a lot of production time. And it forces you to be a bit more intentional in how you are building your courses.

Do you have any other quick production tips before starting the course construction?

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 e-learning tips

Technically converting a PowerPoint file to an “e-learning course” is fairly easy. You can import the slides into Storyline or just publish them from inside of PowerPoint with Articulate Studio 360.

But is that really a course? Maybe, but probably not because it’s not about just putting content in front of learners.

Here are three things to consider when converting a PowerPoint file into an e-learning course.

Presentation content isn’t the same as an e-learning course. Sure, presenting content in your course is part of the process, but it’s a passive form of learning. The solution is to find a way to make delivery of the content more active.

PowerPoint presentations used in face-to-face training tend to have a PowerPointy look. An e-learning course doesn’t need to look like a PowerPoint slideshow. Use some of the Content Library templates to get away from the presentation look. You can even customize them to fit your organizational brand.

However, there is a look that fits the content and objectives of your course, and that’s where you want to put your energy.

Convert bullet points to interactive content. Instead of showing screen after screen of bullet points, why not convert them to micro interactions? For example, three bullet points could be three interactive tabs.

Those are three real quick tips when converting PowerPoint to an e-learning course. Of course, there’s more to it.

Why not join me for my free webinar, Here’s How You Can Transform PowerPoint Content into Interactive E-Learning, on September 25. There are two times available: 1:00 PM EDT and 7:00 PM EDT. We’ll look at other things to consider when converting PowerPoint to an e-learning course with a lots of practical tips and tricks.

Hope to see you there.

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.