The Rapid Elearning Blog

Many of the blog’s subscribers are new to elearning.  Because of this I get a lot of questions and many of them are similar.  So today I’m going to do a recap of a few of the more common questions.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - What type of microphone do you use?

What mic I use is the most frequent question I get.  There are all sorts of good mics out there.  I can’t speak to all of them, but I can share my experiences.  I used to use a headset mic, but I didn’t like that it was more susceptible to picking up the “popping p” sound.  So I switched to a desktop mic and haven’t looked back. 

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Samson CO1U and Samson Go Mic

I’ve been using a Samson CO1U for the past three years.  But I just bought a Samson Go Mic from Amazon for about $50 (about half of what I paid for the CO1U).  I really like it.  I’ll probably make it my default microphone because it’s much smaller, sounds great, and it gives me three audio recording modes.

Here’s what I like about desktop microphones.  They tend to produce a richer sound; and you can share them.  I don’t know how you feel about this, but I don’t want someone else’s spit on my mic.  You also have more control over recording because you can position the microphone where you want for the best sound.

Some people run their audio through a mixer.  Not me.  I just plug the mics into my computer and record.  In fact, here’s my audio set up.  Pretty simple, huh?  Fortunately, the Essential Articulate Studio ‘09 is such a well-documented book, because its size makes the perfect portable mic stand. 🙂

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - adjustable mic stand

For those who want to hear the difference, here’s a test I did of the Go Mic.  And here are a couple of demos that show the difference between a headset and desktop mic.  There are also a few community members who also shared what they use and recorded some demos

I like my Samson mics, but there are a lot of other affordable options.  The key point is that your audio should sound good.  And you really hurt your elearning course it if looks great but sounds bad.  If you do a lot of narration, then a desktop mic is the way to go.

Related links:

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - How cna I make my courses look different?There are a few common issues when working with rapid elearning tools.  A form-based application makes creating your course real easy.  But since it’s a form, you’re locked into a distinct look.  Think of it like a Jell-O mold.  You get what the mold is designed to give you.

Typically, with a form-based tool, you have limited customizations outside of changing the template colors and fonts.  But, with some creativity you can make the output appear different.  For example, in the LINGOs course we built, we inserted the Engage interactions as Flash files and then moved the .SWF up to hide the black title bar.  If you use Quizmaker ‘09, make sure to take advantage of the Slide View feature.  This lets you break the standard form look and create a product that can be very rich-looking, like the example below.  This lets you be as creative as possible.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Quizmaker example Click here to view demo.

Another issue is when working with PowerPoint.  We tend to gravitate towards the templates and placeholder structure that PowerPoint provides.  While it’s fast to assemble content, the trade off is that you get stuck in that dreaded “PowerPoint” look. 

The first thing I recommend is to get rid of the templates and placeholders, and start with a blank slide.  Then I suggest getting inspiration from web design sites.  These are great places to get ideas for color schemes and page layout.  That’s where I got the ideas for these free PowerPoint templates.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - template idea

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - template idea

After you do a few of these types of designs, you’ll start to get a better feel for how to move past bullet-point elearning and start to work on something more creative.

Related links:

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - How do I add Screenr vidoes to my elearning

Screenr’s a great product for quick tutorials.  In fact, since it launched a few months ago there are already a few hundred free elearning-related tutorials that cover all sorts of topics.  While it’s not an option for everybody, if you can use Screenr videos for your training here are a few ideas: 

  • You can insert the Screenr video in PowerPoint using the developer tab and inserting the .SWF link from the embed code.  Here’s a tutorial that shows how.  This works fine if you are working in PowerPoint only.  If you’re publishing your course to Flash, follow the steps below.
  • Insert the tutorial as a web object.  Screenr gives you an embed code.  Use that embed code to insert the video as a web object.  Here’s an example of what it looks like.  This tutorial explains the two ways to use the web object feature with Screenr
  • Download the video as an .MP4.  The first two options require that the learners have Internet access.  By downloading the .MP4 video file and inserting the video into the slide, the learner won’t need Internet access.  Screenr has some preset record options.  720×540 is the 4:3 ratio of PowerPoint slides.  You can also record at 980×560 and insert the video using the no sidebar option in Articulate Presenter.  That’s what I did in this demo.

Concerned about the 5 minute limit and lack of editing in Screenr?  That’s easy enough to fix.  Just record your video in chunks.  Don’t worry about edits or the time limit.  Then download the .MP4s and edit them in Microsoft MovieMaker.  It’s free and easy.  Plus you get all of the advantages of editing video applications like cool transitions, inserting additional audio, and adding titles and captions.  Here’s a tutorial that show you how to edit the Screenr videos in MovieMaker.  

Related links:

 The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Show off your elearning super powers

Good question.  We just announced the 2010 Articulate Guru Awards.  It’s a great way to show off your rapid elearning skills.  If you don’t have a real course to work on, create a fake one.  Do one on setting goals or how to make toast.  The content really doesn’t matter.

Now’s the time to show the world what you can do.  As I tell some of my friends, “Quit your belly achin’ about what’s wrong with elearning! And show me what YOU can do.”

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Articulate Guru Awards 2010

If you have any specific questions or things you’d like to see covered in the blog, let me know.  I’ll see if I can work them in.


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.

19 responses to “Answers to Frequently Asked Rapid E-Learning Questions”

Here’s a question for you. Where do you find your graphics? You always have great graphics in your courses and blog.

It is often a challenge to find quality graphics, especially if they need to be free (copyright free too). Any recommendations? Thanks.

The graphics are modified from the Microsoft clipart.

I have been using the Samson C01U for about three years as well. This is a great mic at a relatively low price point! I’ve couple mine with a pop screen, or d-esser, or whatever you want to call it, and have gotten really good results.

Hi Tom,

I’ve been using the Samson CO1U for years as well…without the handy stand. I just attached it to an extra tripod head I had; works well as a desktop mike, but also can be put on the tripod for other locations.

I’ll have to try the Go Mike; looks like a really great portable option. I’ve lugged my CO1U around all over the US and frankly, it’s a little big for that and I’m always afraid I’ll damage it.

Thanks for some more great tips! You should write another book! 🙂


I, too, quickly ditched my $10 headphone mic. Got a Samson C03U. Same as your C01U, except the “3” means that it’s switchable between unidirectional, omnidirectional, and figure 8 pattern. Also, that “U” means it plugs into your USB port. And I use Audacity, which is free, for sound editing before importing into Articulate. Love it!

Something I do that’s worth considering is mount the mic on a floor stand with a boom. This isoates it from any vibrations on my desk. And without the desk stand, there’s nothing between me and my keyboard. I can push it out of the way when I want to do some editing and whatnot, and it swings right back into its appropriate position when ready to record again as the boom simply pivots from the stand.

Hey Tom, that Samson reminds me of mid 20th century radio announcers…not that I’m that old, I’m just sayin’ 🙂

I use the Logitech headset and it seems to be working just fine for me. I don’t share so it’s my goober all over the mic!

@Jeff – I conducted a survey on The eLearning Guild’s LinkedIN group on this very subject. I was researching where folks got their graphics from for a presentation at LS2010 held back in March. From that I updated a list of resources I use. Check it out here >>

May 19th, 2010

Hi there Tom,

Having just started my journey into creating audio files, I decided to get some training. Jenise Cook, who frequents this blog, recommends voice coach Beverly Bremers who is located in the Southern California area. Beverly offers private tutoring and classes in her home.

I did the whole thing; a couple of classes, purchased the recommended equipment, and followed up with tutoring as needed. Beverly recommends the M-Audio Fast Track Pro Interface, and the Shure SM58 microphone. (I feel so grown with all this equipment). I record my files using Audacity and then upload them into Articulate.

I’ve attached a photo of my recording area. It is in one corner of my office with fabric screens placed to absorb some sound. I record sitting on a bar stool and attempt to have a conversational voice rather than sounding as if I’m reading the text. That means that I have an audience; in this case Tom Hanks. I remind myself to ‘SMILE’ (notice sign) and use facial expressions and body language in my recording, much the same as I would if in a face to face situation.

This isn’t perfect, but a journey in the right direction. Check it out at

[…] Tom Werner on May 19, 2010 Tom Kuhlmann answers some real-world questions about rapid […]

May 19th, 2010

hey Tom… thanks for the conversation yesterday… I did a little write up on Articulate post conversation.

About the mic, I currently have 2 ways:
1) – professional
mixer: Yamaha 01V96 V2
mic: AKG C414 B-TL II

2) – not professional
soundboard: M-audio Fast track pro USB
mic: Shure SM58

@Kevin, Thanks for your graphics resource. It’s fantastic. Cool menu too.

[…] Many of the blog’s subscribers are new to elearning.  Because of this I get a lot of questions and many of them are similar.  So today I’m going to do a recap of a few of the more common questions. What mic I use is the most frequent question I get.  There are all sorts […] Original post […]

August 3rd, 2010


I’ve one simple question for you. What’s the font type that you use to write some coments on your graphics?

Thanks 🙂

@Luciana: the font is skippy sharp. It’s not a free font, but you can find some here in this post.

August 3rd, 2010


August 6th, 2010

nice 🙂

[…] Answers to Frequently Asked Rapid E-Learning Questions […]

[…] one more thing in during travel, so I was intrigued when I read about the Samson Go Mic in an older blog post by Tom Kuhlmann, Vice President of the Articulate® Community. Talk about portable! Take a […]