The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for February, 2021


e-learning

One challenge I see for those who are just getting started with e-learning is that while they have the authoring tools to build the courses, they tend to lack the other connections and resources to pull the courses together.

It’s important to build a network of contributors and resources. And this starts with having the right people because they come with the right content, reviews, feedback, and approval.

Here are a few considerations:

  • Client. Someone is commissioning the course. They provide objectives, scope, deadlines, and access to resources. They also sign-off on what is to be done.
  • Subject Matter Experts. You may be the subject matter expert (which is common for e-learning) otherwise you’ll need access to the subject matter experts. And you’ll need to determine the source of truth for the content. And who is the final authority to confirm that?
  • Analyst. You want the learning objectives to be measurable and know the source of measurement; you need access to the metrics and how they’re measured. Otherwise at the end of the project you have no way of knowing if the objectives were met.
  • Project Manager. How is the project managed? There are a lot of steps involved and co-dependent elements between approval of content, assets, assessments, and implementation.
  • Learners. It’s important to get the perspective of the learning audience since they’re the ones who take the courses. I like to pull in new people who just learned the material. They provide a perspective that a seasoned subject matter expert may overlook.
  • Reviewers. Who will review the course? And at what point. It’s a good idea to get the content reviewed and confirmed before investing too much time in building the course. When building the course, especially with interactions and assessments that take more time to build, create quick prototypes and get them tested rather than build complete modules.
  • Programmers. Someone will assemble the course. It may as easy as opening the authoring tool and dropping in content. But you may want to do some hacks or add other elements that require some programming knowledge.
  • Multimedia Developers. Courses consist of visuals and multimedia such as audio and video. Who is designing the look of the course? Do videos need to be recorded and edited? What about special animations? Again, a lot of the simple stuff can be created in the authoring tool, but you may want access to someone who can create custom media.
  • IT Support. From my experience, most of the e-learning problems happen right before implementation. Where does the course live? Who has access to the servers or LMS? What happens with technical issues?
  • Marketing. The marketing team may not play any role in your course design. However, they often have a lot of critical information and collateral that has already been vetted. I’d seek them out for brand consideration, messaging, and media collateral like images and videos.

The reality for many e-learning developers is that they play the role of all (or most) of the people above? If that’s the case, the considerations are still the same. They just need to be scaled back a bit.

Question for you: when you build e-learning courses, how many people tend to work on the course with you? And how much are you doing on your own?

 

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.

 




Starting an E-Learning Project

February 16th, 2021

e-learning

“Help, I am just getting started with e-learning and don’t know where to start!”

There’s obviously a lot that goes into e-learning. And creating courses can be a bit daunting for those less experienced. So let’s break it down a bit to help you get started.

People Don’t Have Course Deficiencies

People don’t sit around waiting to take e-learning courses. Those courses exist as a solution to something. The goal isn’t to build the course. The goal is to meet some objective and the course is a means to getting there.

This seems obvious, but a lot of e-learning is usually repurposed content with no real connection to any tangible objective.

The best place to started is to make sure you’re building a course to meet a need.

Things to Consider When Getting Started

  • Meet with your client and determine what the training requirements are for the e-learning projects. Your goal is to establish measurable objectives. To do so, you need to know if the request from the client is really met with a training solution. Often, it’s not. Focus on what the expected outcome is and not just that a course is to be built.
  • Get the client thinking. I usually send over a list of a few core questions so that they’re prepared and have thought about some of the issues like the audience and what they hope to accomplish.
  • Determine timelines. When is the project due? How much time do you have to work on it? Is the request in line with time available? What is the least work you can do to meet the objectives?
  • Are there existing resources? Collateral from other projects? Data? If you need access to subject matter experts or others on the team, it’s important to know that and how you’ll get that access.
  • Is there a budget? Many organizations just expect that courses get built because you have the e-learning software, but they don’t offer a budget for the assets and work that may be required to be successful. Find out if there’s a budget.
  • Identify the final authority on who can make the important decisions and sign off on work. And then you want that person involved before you do any significant production. The last thing you want is a “final course” that needs to be reviewed. Ideally, all the content is reviewed and signed off prior to any significant construction.
  • Leave the initial meeting with next steps and action items. And every meeting you have after should require some decisions. If not, don’t have a meeting.

There’s obviously a lot that goes into build an e-learning course and this is just a few quick bullet points. The main things before building any e-learning course: make sure you need a course, determine objectives, and determine who owns the project.

 

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

Here’s a cool PowerPoint hack. I had an illustrated character and needed a font style that matched the illustration style. To get the effect I used PowerPoint to create a title font and changed the format. In this post, I’ll show you how.

Free Illustrations for E-Learning

I used one of the free illustrations from Blush which is a great site for illustrations. The paid account gives you a bunch of options to customize. As you can see, the illustration style is organic and looks a little hand-drawn.

free illustration

Creating Matching Font Style in PowerPoint

As you can see below, I added a big, bold font for effect. It’s OK. But how do I get a font to match the illustration style?

PowerPoint hack

Convert Font into Vector Graphics

The first step is to convert the type into separate graphics. In PowerPoint, you need at least two objects selected. I created a temporary oval shape.

Then go to Shape Format > Merge Shapes > select Fragment. That converts each letter into a shape that can be modified and edited.

PowerPoint

Assign Colors to the Objects

Once the letters are individual shapes, you can fill them with any color and change the line stroke. In this case I color picked the blue from the illustration for the fill and color picked the hair for the line color.

Then I used the format painter to apply the colors to the other letters.

Apply a Sketched Line

Adding the organic, hand-drawn effect is a matter of using one of the sketched line options in PowerPoint. I applied a line style that works.

Then made the line size larger to match the illustration. And format painted onto the other shapes.

Whatever you create can be saved as an image. To do so, select the object and right-click to save as image. Or got to the file saves as options and save the slide itself as an image.

PowerPoint Tutorial

Here’s a video tutorial that walks through these steps in more detail.

There you go: a really easy way to convert the regular type to individual vector shapes that can be edited to match the original illustration.

 

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.

 




Step Away from that Content

February 2nd, 2021

e-learning

Instructional design isn’t really that complicated. At its core, it’s about teaching something to someone who acquires new skills and knowledge and can apply them to meet some objective.

The challenge with a lot of e-learning is that courses are designed to be presentations of content, but not focused enough on the teaching and application. Content is obviously a key component of learning. But learning is a process where the content is synthesized with experience, activities, and feedback to do something new or perhaps better. Just looking at content with no application of what’s learned is a deficient instructional design process.

Content by itself is mostly irrelevant. Content pasted into an authoring tool doesn’t make it a course or great learning experience. The e-learning course isn’t the objective. The objective is to accomplish something specific, and the course is part of the solution to do that.

Step Away from the Solution

When I first learned about instructional design, we focused on backwards design where we looked at observable skills and then what was required to get the person there.

The natural inclination is to package content. But you need to step away from content. Instead look at what actions are required of the learner and then step backwards into the content. Here’s a simple way to think about backwards design.

In the real world:

  • What does the person need to do?
  • How do they demonstrate that they can do it?
  • How do they practice the skills required to demonstrate them?

In the e-learning course:

  • How do they demonstrate their understanding in the course? What assessment activities can you create?
  • What practice activities can you build for them to practice the skills?
  • How much do they need to learn to practice?
  • What content do they need to learn so that they can practice?

This is a simplified version of backwards design. The main focus is on the desired action and not content. What does the learner need to do? How do they practice it? What do they need to know? At some point you get to the content that supports the activity. This is how you get to the right content for the course versus just a content dump that becomes the course.

As you can see, focusing on action gets you to performance. And content is there to support what needs to be learned. You don’t start with content because it’s not tied to an action. And that’s where most courses fail.

The next time you build a course, identify the measurable performance expectations. What do they need to do? And then build backwards which will help determine the content you need.

 

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.