The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for March, 2021


e-learning course

What do you think when someone says, “We need to build an e-learning course?”

My first thought is, “Do you really need a course?”

An “e-learning course” can mean many things and serve many purposes. Some people use the word “course,” but what they really mean is “we need to make content available.” What they see as a course is more like a marketing campaign. And for others a “course” is only a course if it’s focused on performance.

Which gets into understanding what people want and why they want it. Then we can build the right courses.

Information-based Courses

These courses are driven by information-sharing. It could be simple compliance training or information about policy changes. The information is important and impacts work, but at its core it doesn’t change the way work is done. There is no new performance expectation with the course, instead it’s more about awareness of the information.

Sexual harassment training is a good example of this. It’s obviously important (especially if you run a state government) but typically we don’t present the training because there’s an organization full of harassers and then after the training harassment has declined X percentage. Instead, we make people who aren’t harassers aware of sexual harassment issues and policies.

There’s obviously a performance component to not harass and or to understand what to do when we see it, but at its core, the training’s purpose is more about awareness and less about specific changes in performance.

Performance Support Courses

Another way people view “courses” is that they’re performance documents on steroids. Instead of a simple PDF or cheat sheet they build interactive pages using their e-learning software.

Some people say you shouldn’t call that a “course” and instead create a simple cheat sheet or some other performance documentation. I don’t agree. Those courses may be glorified performance documents, but it doesn’t take much more time to create them than a PDF, they can be delivered online, and they’re usually more engaging than simple documents.

Performance-based Courses

And for the training purist, a “course” is something that changes behavior. A course has measurable objectives that teach how to do something and then can be assessed for understanding.

“We expect XYZ to happen (objective). You need to learn ABC (training content) so you can learn how to do XYZ (performance assessment).”

In an ideal world, all courses have meaningful and measurable objectives. But this isn’t always the case. Often, what we call a course, may just be information that’s acquired online, and then the performance-based component happens in real life interactions.

It’s important to acknowledge that while we use the same words, we don’t always mean the same thing. I see this all the time at conferences.

Sam builds linear, explainer content and attends ACME E-Learning Conference where some expert tells him that what he builds is crap and not real e-learning. And then goes on some rant about what is real e-learning.

In the meantime, Sam’s thinking, “We just rolled out a new bonus program and my course is to let them know about the program and what to expect. Am I supposed to build some interactive role-playing scenario where they pretend to be managers who talk with employees about the bonus program? Seems all they need is a few bullet points and links to some resources?”

I try to keep it simple when it comes to building courses. Essentially, it all starts with some content:

  • Why does this content exist?
  • Who needs it?
  • What are they supposed to do with it?

For simple “courses” the only objective is to package and share the content. And for more complex “courses” the focus is on using the content to do something different. And from there, one can build simple linear courses. Or if the course requires some sort of change in behavior the content is structured to mimic the real world and the decisions one must make with the content.

Why is understanding this important?

There’s a lot of back and forth in our industry about e-learning. But while we use the same words we may not be talking about the same things. Understanding why you’re building what you’re building will help you understand how much time and money to commit to building the right product.

I’ve seen simple content converted into long drawn-out scenarios to make them interactive and engaging. They only wasted the learner’s time.

And on the other side, there are courses that required activities to practice and assess understanding but were only presented as screens of bullet points.

Determine a way to classify the types of courses you build. This will help evaluate what resources and effort they require. You’ll save time, money, and make courses better aligned to your objectives.

 

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.

 




closed aptions for e-learning

A guest post by Elizabeth Pawlicki, Training Program Manager, Articulate.

If you’re a Google Chrome 89+ user you now have access to Live Caption which is an accessibility feature that provides real-time captions for audio that plays through the browser.

This is a really excellent feature for audio that runs through your browser when viewing courses that have videos or narration, especially if the audio doesn’t have captions. Check it out below.

Initial Thoughts on Google Live Caption

I tested the Live Captions on a few different e-learning products that had audio including courses in Storyline 360, Rise 360, and Review 360. The captions worked well, surprisingly well, as you can see in the image below.

Google Live Caption demo closed captions

I also like that even if you turn off the audio, the captions work. As a user I am no longer constrained by whether or not the audio I am consuming has closed captions built-in to the product. The browser does the heavy lifting.

This is a big step forward for those who require captioned audio. I look forward to how this feature evolves going forward.

How to Access Google Live Caption

Google Live Caption closed captions

  • First, make sure you’re using Google Chrome 89 or higher.
  • Click the three dots on the top right.
  • Then go to Settings and select Advanced>Accessibility.
  • Click the toggle for Live Caption.

Once you have enabled Live Caption, you’ll see an option to toggle the captions on and off without going in and out of the settings.

Google Live Caption closed captions toggle

Key Considerations for Google Live Caption

  • This tip requires Google Chrome 89 or above. If you have learners who need captions and you can’t provide them in time, you at least have the option to recommend Chrome 89.
  • It’s a new feature so there are some limitations such as size, position, and language. However, I assume the feature will be enhanced and my guess is other browsers will play catch up.
  • From what I can tell the caption choices in Windows OS don’t seem to impact the captions displayed in the browser.

Google Live Caption is a step in the right direction and a great tool for those who need captions when they’re not provided.


 

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

Here’s a quick tip for those building e-learning courses: as a course developer you serve as the intermediary between the organization and the learner. You are the bridge between both parties.

Not All E-Learning Courses Require Learning

Before we continue, let’s assume that we’re not talking about compliance training which often doesn’t have specific learning objectives. With compliance training, the organization commissions the course to meet some sort of compliance requirement.

However, the person who takes the course wouldn’t be taking it to meet real objectives. They’re only taking it to meet some mandated requirement.

In that world, learning isn’t necessarily the primary objective. It doesn’t mean there’s no learning, it just means that learning isn’t the course objective.

Performance-based Learning Objectives

We’ll assume we’re talking about performance-based training where the organization has a certain objective or requirement for the learner and the learner desires to apply what is learned to meet the organization’s objective.

You as the course developer are a bridge between these two parties. You need to build a course that meets the organization’s goals. At the same time, you need to build a course that is meaningful and relevant to the person who takes it.

How is this done?

  • Put on the performance consulting hat to determine the real training needs.
  • Determine measurable objectives for the course.
  • Ensure the objectives are relevant and meaningful to the learner.

The organization (or customer) has specific needs. The learner has specific needs. Your analysis is about marrying those two needs. What does the organization want to do and what to the learners need to do?

I meet with the customer to understand what they want and why. I also like to know why it’s currently not the way they want it. And then I like to meet with the people who need the training. What are they currently doing? Why aren’t they able to meet the objectives? What do they need?

Often, I find there’s a disconnect between the client’s requirement and how the work is done in the real world. Being a bridge between the two parties helps you identify these issues and work to resolve them.

This is a simple tip but one I see neglected often. One thing you do want to avoid is only taking content from the client and never considering the way it’s used by the person who needs to learn it. I see this all the time and it ensures the least optimal training possible.

What are ways that you bridge the interests between the client and those who take the e-learning courses?

 

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.

 




multimedia

E-learning courses are mostly screens of content made up of media: text, shapes, illustrations, pictures, and video.

Adding those things to your course is simple, usually just a matter of inserting said media onto the screen. However, building a cohesive course is more than just inserting stuff on a screen. There are other considerations.

Design the Look of the E-Learning Course

What’s on a screen?

  • Fonts. They are more than the text you read; they’re also a graphic. Which fonts are you using in your course? Are they contextually aligned with your content?
  • Shapes. Shapes can have straight edges or rounded; they can have outlines or not. The shape can represent something elegant or informal.
  • Illustrations. There are all sorts of illustrative styles. One popular style today is the corporate Memphis look. Of course, there are many designers who find it to be barren.

And this brings us to a key consideration when working with multimedia: the bullet points above speak to some visual design requirements. Who will design what you need? What is the correct imagery and use of fonts and desired color schemes?

A challenge for many e-learning developers: having ideas about what you want and executing on those ideas is not the same. I see lots of good courses that are not designed well. The cause is usually that the e-learning developer lacks the technical skill to construct the right media.

Create Audio and Video Resources

There are similar considerations for other multimedia such audio and video.

Recording audio is easy and straightforward in most of the authoring tools. However, they don’t tend to have a lot of sophistication when it comes to editing or managing the audio.

For simple audio, recording from the authoring tool is fine. But for longer audio, there are considerations about how to record, who will record it, and how it’s all managed.

You can do it all in-house or DIY, but you do get what you pay for. I figure non-professional talent gives you presentation quality audio. It’s inexpensive, gets the job done, yet isn’t going to be perfect. But it’s not the same as pro-quality narration.

The good thing today is that there are many voice over artists and talent services where getting professional audio at a reasonable cost is viable.

Video is another one of those tricky issues. Today’s smart phones have better capabilities than I had doing professional video work 25 years ago. It’s easy to shoot video and edit it. But there is a significant difference between a DIY video and getting something done professionally. Or at a minimum, spending time on edits to get things to look right and not drag on.

The big question for any of the course’s multimedia is who is going to determine and design what you need? And then who is going to produce the media?

I throw this out because the course will look like something. And you’ll put something on the screen. And there’s a cost associated with it. Doing it yourself may cost less money but may impact the quality of what you produce.

Thus, at the beginning of the project time needs to be spent on the media requirements and production considerations. And then determine if there needs to be a budget to accommodate those requirements.

How do you determine those things when you start an e-learning 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.