The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for August, 2020


In an ideal world, you create an e-learning course, publish it, and put it online. And everything works perfectly.

The reality is that there are many variables between the technology and the individual users and how they access the courses. And these variables can create issues which make it a challenge to troubleshoot e-learning courses when problems arise.

In a previous post, we looked at the HTML5Test site as a way to check the browser and how it’s current support for HTML5 which is important to know when adding interactivity and multimedia to projects.

browser details

To go with that post, here’s another good site. It’s a simple site that allows you to collect information about the user’s computer, such as:

  • Which operating system are you using?
  • Which browser and version?
  • Screen size?
  • Browser window size?

All of the information above is key when trying to troubleshoot because many of the people who run into technical issues can’t easily find and share that information about their systems. So if you need to troubleshoot why a course isn’t working, send them the link above. It’ll capture info about their system and browser which they can easily share with you. That’ll save a few back and forth questions.

As a bonus, here’s a previous post where I share Ten Tips for Troubleshooting and Technical Support. One of them is to share your system info.

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.

 




html5

Before we get started: Flash is going away soon. And if you have a lot of older e-learning courses, it’s something that you should be dealing with now before it’s too late. Start pulling together the original source files because you’ll have to republish or maybe rebuild a few of the older courses. If you don’t have the sources files, a couple of the resources below should help.

What made Flash work is that everyone had the same player and, for the most part, things kind of worked the way they were supposed to. Without the Flash player, courses run through the browser. Thus the demand for HTML5 courses.

The challenge however is that you don’t have control over the browsers and devices people use to consume e-learning courses. Ten years ago, almost all courses were Flash-based and ran on a personal computer. Today, courses are accessed via computers and mobile devices (which could mean a tablet or smart phone).

There are thousands of different devices between personal computers, Android, and Apple. Each device has its own technical constraints such as memory, processor, and screen size. They can run on different operating systems and different versions of those systems.

Also, how many different browsers are there for these mobile devices and computers? And really, why is any organization still using Internet Explorer 11?

And here’s the main point in all of this: the browsers that have to display the e-learning courses are not all the same or created equal.

What that means for you is the course you build may not work as intended when accessed by someone on a different device using a different browser. That’s why it’s so important to test, test, and test.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, create a demo course with media, interactivity, and animations. And use that to test the user’s learning environment. You also want to test on multiple devices to make sure things work the they way you want.

Despite all of the testing, you’ll still have customers who have expectations that are outside your control. Some customers and clients just don’t know enough about this stuff so their expectations may not be aligned with reality. They may want a lot of media or animations, that may not work for their users.

In those cases, I recommend referring them to this site: HTML5 Test

What I like about the site is that it’s a great way to SHOW the differences in browsers and devices and use that as a way to discuss what needs they have, what can be be built, and how the courses may respond.

html5

You don’t need to go into some long-winded technical explanation about HTML5. Use the site as a means to expose them to potential issues or constraints and ways to work around them. The last thing you want is a fancy product that doesn’t work in the end-user’s browser.

So, make sure you get prepared for the end of Flash and know how to set expectations for the courses you do build. The good news is that the technology is changing, the devices are getting better, and expectations and what you can deliver are converging.

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 course

The other day, I had a service technician from Xfinity come by to troubleshoot an issue with my cable connection. While we were waiting for the cable box to reboot, I asked about how he gets trained and what types of training he has to take.

He does most of the same types of compliance training we all do. And then as expected, there’s also a lot of technical training. Part of his training is blended with some face-to-face, peer guidance, and online modules. Much of it is delivered via his mobile phone.

I’m in the e-learning community every day helping people troubleshoot their e-learning courses. Sometimes I help them think through what they need to do to build a certain type of interaction. Often, it’s a matter of troubleshooting how the course is constructed.

In the community, there’s usually some conversation about instructional design. One thing that is often missing (but will easily derail an e-learning project) is not understanding the environment in which a person takes the course. So we invest a lot in building it, but often not as much in how it’s delivered.

Like the Xfinity technician, people take courses on a variety of devices and in various environments. The learning environment needs to be a factor when developing and delivering online training.

How Much Bandwidth is Available?

What are the bandwidth limitations of the learner? We can be tricked into the comfort of our own bandwidth and think the experience may be the same for the end user. Or, all we do is publish on our local machines and never test the course on other networks.

derail elearning bottleneck

Build a test course that is made up of some videos, audio, and various interactions (with some animations, to boot). An easy way to build one is download all of the slides of a Content Library template, add some large videos, and then publish.

Test the course performance on the client network. How does it perform at different locations or on different devices? This may not be an issue, but what happens if you roll out the course and 10,000 people click the link at the same time?

What About the End User’s Access to Technology?

Years ago, I built a course for a client that wanted a lot of audio narration. It was for an internal training group so I just assumed they had the same computer set up that I had. Well, I was mistaken.

The courses were delivered to a number of remote locations in various production environments (of which I was not made aware). The computers had no speakers or headsets, which made the narration a bit pointless. Also, some sites had one computer for everyone to share. Even if they did have speakers, it didn’t matter because the training environment was too loud.

derail e-learning technology

If you can, meet with the learners and get to know where they work and how they’ll consume the content. Are they on a computer, tablet, or mobile device? Will they be able to hear the audio and watch the video? Are they in a separate room or in a production environment? Are they sitting in a vehicle?

Also, not all devices are created equal. What works on a desktop and laptop computer may not work on a smart phone. Be sure to test those things before building a course.

Same advice as above, create a media heavy test course and test it on multiple devices and in different environments. No one likes sitting around waiting for a course to download. If things in the course bog down, you may want to loosen the load: get rid of some media and make smaller, more digestible courses.

There’s obviously a lot that goes into building a great learning experience. But if the end user has technological or environmental constraints, all of your hard work is for naught.

Test. Test. Test.

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.

 




convert Storyline PowerPoint

It never fails that after building an e-learning course in Storyline, someone asks if they can get a PowerPoint version of the course. There are many reasons for this request, such as using the content for face-to-face training, wanting a slide deck for subject matter experts, or creating a PDF handout out of the slides.

Today, we’ll look at a simple way to convert what you created in Storyline and make it a PowerPoint file.

PowerPoint and Storyline are Different Applications

Before we get started, let’s review a few key points when working with PowerPoint and Storyline.

  • PowerPoint and Storyline may look similar, but they are two different applications made by two different companies so they’re not interchangeable files.
  • PowerPoint is designed mostly for linear presentations. Storyline is designed for interactive e-learning.
  • PowerPoint has some interactive features and things one can do to hack a certain level of interactivity, but it doesn’t have a lot of sophistication with things such as mouseovers, drag/drops, variables, etc. Thus going from Storyline to PowerPoint is a bit challenging if the original Storyline content is interactive.
  • Storyline has an import PowerPoint feature to convert the PowerPoint slides to Storyline slides. PowerPoint doesn’t have an import Storyline feature.

The above seems obvious, but I bring this up because many people start with PowerPoint content, import it into Storyline, and then later want to export the Storyline content back into PowerPoint as if they are interchangeable applications and file types. They aren’t.

While there is no feature in PowerPoint to import Storyline, there are some simple things you can do to get your Storyline content into a PowerPoint file.

Tip #1: Start All Course Development in PowerPoint

My first tip assumes you know that you’ll need a PowerPoint version of the course.

If you know you need your content to be in both PowerPoint and Storyline, then plan your projects accordingly. PowerPoint doesn’t support all of the interactive features of Storyline, but in terms of what’s visible on the screen, it’s mostly the same: text, shapes, pictures, etc. With some planning, you can have your course content in both formats.

Here’s what I’d do:

  • Build all your content in PowerPoint first (with forethought as to what you want to be interactive and specific to Storyline).
  • Get final sign-off on the PowerPoint content since the content should be the same. The Storyline specific content is most likely more interactive.
  • Import the approved content into Storyline.
  • Make your interactive edits.
  • Publish your Storyline course.

Using this approach, you end up with a PowerPoint file and interactive Storyline file. If you need to make edits, it should be for interactive features only since you got sign-off on the content while it was in PowerPoint.

Of course, this approach does requires that you plan it all up front, which doesn’t always happen (or the client makes last minute changes). I’d tell the client upfront that this is the production process and that edits after sign-off are outside the scope of the project.

Tip #2: Publish to Word & Extract Screenshots

Let’s suppose you already built a course in Storyline and now you need a PowerPoint version of the course. Like I mentioned above, PowerPoint can’t support the layers and interactions, however, most of what’s in the course is a screen with content that’s made up of text, pictures, and shapes.

The following tip lets you capture all of the content that displays onscreen. It is not going to capture your state changes and other interactivity. But it works for most cases and captures all of the slides and layers.

Click here to view the tutorial on YouTube.

Below are the basic steps, but watch the tutorial above for more detail:

  • Once the course is complete, publish the Storyline course in Word. Select to publish layers and large images. This creates a Word doc with all of the slides and layers exposed.
  • By default, Storyline saves to an older version of Word with the .doc extension. This is so people with older versions can open the file.
  • Open the Word .doc and save as .docx. This will allow you to unzip the file and extract the images.
  • Unzip the .docx file to extract the images. I use 7zip (a free application).
  • Insert the images into a new PowerPoint album.
  • Save the file and you’re all done.

The output using this method is a series of PowerPoint slides with each Storyline slide and layer captured. From there you can make simple edits or save as a PowerPoint or PDF file. In any case, you have your Storyline content in PowerPoint format.

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.