The Rapid Elearning Blog

One of my favorite features of some rapid elearning tools is their ability to insert a Web object.  What’s so cool about it is that whatever you can do online or with a Web technology, you can pretty much add to your rapid elearning course.  That’s a lot of power and it’s super easy to do. 

However, I find that inserting Web objects is probably the least used feature in the rapid elearning tools.  So today, I’m going to share 5 things that you need to know about the Web object feature so that you can use it to add even more power and functionality to your elearning courses.

1. Understanding the Web object.

The Web object feature is pretty basic.  You take a Web address and then insert it into your slide.  You have the option of keeping it in the slide or opening outside.  I prefer inside.  Because once people leave the course, they’re like dogs chasing after a rabbit.  No matter how loud you scream, they aren’t coming back.

The image below is an example of an inserted Web object.  See how the Google page just seems to be part of the slide.  What’s amazing is that it’s not a screenshot.  It’s the live site.  That could be any Web site.  Pretty cool, huh?

 The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Google web object  

2.  You’re not limited to just Web addresses.

This is where some of the real power of the Web object comes in.  You can create a HTML page and then insert it from your local drive.  So whatever you put on that page becomes part of your course.

The image below is an example of a music search site that gives me an embed code so that I can add the site’s content to a blog or Web site.  In this case, I just pasted the code into a blank HTML page and saved it to my hard drive as index.html.  Then I inserted it as a Web object. 

There are so many Web applications and sites now that let you embed their content into Web pages.  Why not take advantage of those free resources, if you can?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Seeqpod web object

3.  Insert a Web object and then hide it.

That’s right!  Insert it and then hide it.  Now you’re probably scratching your head thinking what’s the point of that.  Well let me tell you.  Whatever you can put on a Web page, you can put it in a Web object.  That means instead of using the Web object as a way to show information, you can use it as trigger or a means to collect information.

All you do is insert the Web object and then move it off the screen.  The image below shows what it looks like inside PowerPoint.  When you publish the course, the user never sees the Web object.  But when they get to the slide with the Web object in it, whatever you put in that index.html page is activated.  So you can do all sorts of behind-the-scenes stuff if you have the programming skills.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Moved web object

At a previous place of employment, we didn’t have a formal LMS so we created a Web object that was placed on the last slide.  When the user reached that slide, the Web object was activated and it sent some information to a Remedy database.  That’s how we tracked the course completion.

This approach to using the Web object requires some programming skill, but it really opens the doors to all sorts of possibilities.

4. Insert your company Intranet.

It seems that a lot of elearning is just rehashing information that’s already available to the learners through the company’s Intranet.  So instead of rehashing what’s already available, just insert the relevant Intranet pages in your course. 

For example, here’s an image of my page on our private beta site.  This could just as easily be your company’s Intranet site.  It’s secure.  Only the people who have access to the network can see the pages.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Insert secure intranet site as web object

If you take this approach, you have less course content to manage.  You could build an activity like a scavenger hunt into your course. So instead of dumping info into the laps of your learner, you have them go out and find it.

For example, ask the learner to look up a certain policy and then answer some questions or work through a scenario in the course.  This helps them learn to use the network resources and you don’t have to spend as much time creating the specific content.  Instead, you’re spending your time figuring out how to get them to use the information. 

5. Create top secret hidden pages just for your courses.

I did a project for a human resources group that was always changing certain pieces of information.  It meant we were always updating the course.  To make it easy for everyone, we created a HTML page that blended right into the course.  Then we inserted its link as a Web object.  The page was on the customer’s server.  It wasn’t linked anywhere else and only used for the elearning course so no one would stumble upon it.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Use secret web pages as web objects

Whenever they wanted to make changes, they just updated the HTML page and the course was always up-to-date.  That saved them time because they didn’t need our help.  And it saved us time because we didn’t need to support all of the updates to their content.  And as we all know, saving time is saving money.

Here are some Web objects in action.

I put together a simple demo of some of the ideas I shared in this post*.  Hopefully it gives you some inspiration about how you can use the Web object feature.  I also included the two index.html files I used so you can practice on your own.  Download index.html files.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Web object demo

Click here to view the Web object demo.

There are all sorts of ways to leverage the Web object feature in your rapid elearning tool.  In a future post, I’ll show you some of my favorite uses.  I’m interested in ideas you have about how the Web object feature could be used.  Feel free to share them in the comments section.

Note:

*The demo is dependent on sites I have no control over, so it’s possible that those sites are either blocked by your corporate firewall or have download streaming issues.


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32 responses to “5 Ways to Bring the Web Inside Your E-Learning Courses”

Hey Tom,

As always a great post. A couple new features in your Presenter… must be using the beta of the new version?

We use web objects to pull the proper forms for our new hires during onboarding. Since the LMS knows who the user is and which office they belong to it allows many of our forms to be auto filled (for that user) saving our managers time.

I am looking forward to seeing how others use it.

Regards,
Mike.

May 27th, 2008

Even though I am not behind a company firewall, the iPaper doc would not load and gave me an error code. How should you propose to instruct learners to go the the fall back plan (such as “hey if this doesn’t load then go to the attachement”).

Nice, showing off the anotation tool in AP’08.

Great ideas. FYI- When I view the Web Object demo, the only image that displays on slide 4 is the arrow graphic.

Man, Tom, you are really teasing us here, huh? Screenshot of your intranet Studio ’08 Beta and new featured published AP or Engage presentation for the demo. I’m waiting anxiously for the release of Studio 08. Hopefully, it’ll come before the end of my fiscal year so I won’t lose my budget allocation. 🙁

Keep up the great work and ideas!

Hi Tom,
thank very much for your post!
Since months, web objects and AP is out of my brain … but now I have to try it again!
Unfortunately, the web objects in the demo don’t work with Safari (3.1.1/OSX 10.5.2). They are invisible.
With Firefox (Mac) and Windows Explorer there is no problem.

Sincerely, Jörn

May 27th, 2008

Great post. I just started using web objects recently. I like being able stick a published engage presentation into a presenter presentation with this feature. I am having some problems with Presenter reconginizing the index.html file, however. I downloaded the demos you had but when I used the wizard to embedd a web object, it didn’t recongnize the index.html file. I tried copying and pasting the path in but it gave a bad path or file name error. Any ideas? Thanks for the post and your help.

Raju

Hi Tom,

Great post.

I’m wondering if your using a newer version of articulate presenter? The skin looks a bit different.

May 27th, 2008

Hi Tom, this is a great post. One idea of using the webobjects that was just popping up in my mind when reading your post is to embed a live-webform in a sales or marketing presentation enabling prospects to sign-up for a demo software, a whitepaper download or to request a callback from the company without having them to leave the presentation.
For pure training purposes a similar webform could be used to link to an online chat service or screensharing application where the learner can request live assistance from a specialist.
Regards,Margreet

Tom,
In your demo, it seems to me that you are trying to remind users that they can use embedded website (such as google) as part of their elearing course as your demo has shown. However it is my understanding that in a SCORM/AICC LMS elearning course that they cannot use frameset.

Don’t you think that can be a bit misleading when you said “elarning” since it can be so broad and general?

Hmm, the Web objects in your demo don’t appear in Safari (v. 3.1.1) on Mac, but do appear in Firefox for Mac.

Unfortunate…

And being the smartest browser users on the planet, don’t Mac Safari users deserve the full breadth of Articulate’s love? 🙂

http://www.iqleague.com/group/smartest-browser-and-os

I was initially very excited about the possibilities of web objects. Unfortunately, until they are compatible with Safari, we can’t use them. I am hoping that will come very soon.

May 27th, 2008

Does it matter if the file is named “index.html” or “index.htm”?
In your instructions you state to name it “index.html”, but in the downloaded samples you provided they are “index.htm” files.

Thanks again for another great post! I’m sure we will put some of these ideas to use!

Thanks for the great feedback. I anticipated that some would have problems with the web objects. if you used them for a real course, then a major consideration is that everyone have access to the websites.

The key is less the web objects in the demo and more about being able to use it…if it works for your course. It doesn’t work for every situation or every course.

I think Wendy brings up a good point about SCORM. There are other considerations like Chris’s point about the browser. So if you built a course where you had no control over the user’s browser, you might not use the WO. In a corp environment, they typically have a standard browser, so it works.

@Pink Lady: I made the index.htm in Dreamweaver, so as long as it is an index.html/htm fiel it seems to work fine.

@Wendy: You’re right about elearning being broad. I don’t think it’s misleading though. I try to throw out different ideas and approaches. They don’t always work for everyone because like you said elearning is a broad subject and can mean many things.

@Raju: the index files are pretty basic. Are they unzipped? Are they on your hard drive? Has anyone else run into any issues using them?

@Jason: I used our beta product for the annotations (I love those things), but the player is actually a hack and not part of the new product. I’ll explain how I did that in a future post, but probably in the Articulate blog since it is a little technical and specific to Articulate Presenter.

The annotations feature looks awesome. That will save me loads of time vs. doing the equivalent with animated arrow shapes that fade in and out. A real pain when you get a half dozen (or more) of them on a single slide. And they never seem to render in exactly the right spot in AP5.

… one problem of Safari is the Pop-Up-blocker. If it is deactivated the content will appear. But only in a new window … (only tested with my home-Mac; 10.3.9; Safari 1.3.2)

Bye, Jörn

May 28th, 2008

It seems like a great idea to embed content from sites like Scribd, YouTube, etc, but I would never do it in the courses I create since I have no control over that content/website. It could be here today and gone tomorrow.

Also, I’ve experimented with Web Objects but can’t use them unless everyone on a Mac and PC can view them without issue. I don’t want to leave people out just because of their platform.

May 28th, 2008

The issue I was having was with seeing the index.html file. It was on my hard drive and it was not zipped up. Do I need to put them on a server somewhere to make it work? I was hoping to put the in locally and then load the entire file package.

Hi Tom,

Very good post! I like this idea. I see example as a great way to keep learners engaged within the e-learning course rather than have them go completely out and hope they’d come back to the course to finish where they left off.

@Raju: you won’t see the index.html. All you need to do is go to the folder where it’s at. Presenter will recognize if there’s an index file in the folder. If not, you’ll get a message. Hope that helps.

May 28th, 2008

Great ideas!! I tried inserting a document from Sribd as you did in your demo. I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about how to create an HTML document. I copied and pasted the embed code into a Word document, then saved as a web page called index.html. But obviously I am not doing something right because when I went to insert the web object in Presenter, it was looking for a web address and I couldn’t see the file in the Browse listing. Can you give me a bit more info on how to create this web object link?

Thanks.

Tom

Great post! I have been working on an elearning course about how to geocache. Some of it involves interacting with the geocaching.com website. I have been using some screenshot, but now will adjust my approach and bring in the live site.

Thanks again,
Mike

@pclemmer: see my comment to Raju. You won’t see the index.hml. Browse to the folder that it’s in and that’s all you need to do.

Here’s a tutorial on inserting the index.html.

@Mike Barlow: send a link when you try it, I’d love to see the demo.

@Wendy: Web Objects should still work in a SCORM and AICC environment, at least they do for me in Moodle, Saba, and Articulate Online.

As far as I know, SCORM and AICC specs don’t prohibit this. I am curious where you heard that they cannot use frameset.

Someone pointed out that if you’re having problems viewing the web object from your local drive than it could be that you’ll need to load it on a web server to see the web object. Here’s a link that explains more for those interested.

I use Web objects to display our company e-learning wikipage (Jump-start to e-learning) that lists resources for our Subject Matter Experts. This way these information are easily updateable.

Hello Norman. I used to use the web objects in a similar manner. It really helps. Of course, like some have mentioned, it doesn’t work for every project or circumstance.

June 2nd, 2008

Tom

This is totally awsome. I like the demo and willing to try this for myself to see how I can use this. Thanks for the great information.

How do you embed a link to survey monkey inside an articulate course to do a course evaluation?

As the start of the semester gets closer, I’m putting several of your ideas into my distance learning course. The web object is a great technique. Is there a way to control the start of a video from, say youtube, rather than rely on the user clicking on the start button on the youtube player? Thanks.

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