The Rapid Elearning Blog

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - become a rapid elearning pro, fat wallet not needed

People are always asking me about how to get better at building elearning courses.  They want to know which books to read, which classes to take, which school to go to, etc.  It’s like they’re walking around with these big fat wallets wanting to spend money.

While all of the aforementioned options are valuable, there’s a way to learn that doesn’t cost you a dime.  All it requires is some time and willingness to share what you’re learning.

Here are three cool experiences that demonstrate a great way to learn and the value in sharing what you know.  You’ll even get some practical tips to boot.

Find Free Tips & Tricks

Stephanie Harnett of ICE shows a cool tip for creating a transparent tape effect in PowerPoint.  The effect is easy enough to learn and practice in a few minutes.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - transparent tape effect in PowerPoint

There are also a lot of uses for the effect.  For example, you can combine it with the notebook template I shared a while back.  Or use David’s Polaroid idea and “tape” them to a wall on your elearning course screen.

Click here to view the tape effect tutorial.

There are a lot of free tips and tricks like this on the internet.  Probably the best place to start is the user community.  There you can connect with like-minded people.  So, become a member of your software’s user community.

If you’re a rapid elearning developer, you can find a bunch of great demos and examples on Screenr.  If that doesn’t work, look for a local user groups, connect with people via Twitter or follow personal blogs.  Here’s a great example from Sumeet Moghe where he walks through the process of creating a course on a limited budget.

If you’re an Articulate rapid elearning developer, we’ve got a lot of help in our community tutorial list (and there are new ones almost daily).  In either case, the first tip is to find and follow the people who can teach you new skills.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Watching tutorials and reading blog posts will only get you so far.  You have to practice the things you learn from them.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

If you practice what you learn, not only will you learn new techniques, odds are you’ll also become more efficient at what you do.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Pallet Jack elearning demo

Click here to view the Electric Pallet Jack demo.

Here’s an example from a recent conversation I had with David Anderson.  The other day someone in the community forums asked how Prometheus had built the Electric Pallet Jack demo above.  Specifically, they wanted to know how they built the animation effect on slide 19.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - use ascend and descend animation

David wanted to do a quick screencast.  So he looked at the example, came up with an answer, and then proceeded to practice it.  Initially, he tried to combine the fade in and motion path animations.  However, they just didn’t look right.  So he tried a few things before he stumbled upon the often overlooked ascend and descent animations.

What David found was that his initial solution wasn’t the best approach.  But he only realized this after practicing the technique. Once he had a good solution, he built a quick prototype and created a screencast to share with the community.  You can see his solution right here and learn to build a similar effect for your own elearning courses.

The main point here is that when you see something (or have an idea) practice doing it.  You might not have it down the first time, but eventually you’ll come up with a solution that works.  And you’ll develop a production process that helps you become faster and more efficient.  That’s what happed with David. And it’s also what I advocate in posts like this where I discuss building templates and graphics to better learn PowerPoint.

Share What You Learn

You don’t have to be a recognized guru to share what you know.  Stephanie’s tape tutorial doesn’t require a Master’s in Graphic Design.  Yet it offers real practical uses.  And that’s more important than some abstract tip from an 80-year old elearning sage.

I’m sure that there are plenty of tips and tricks and things that you’re learning right now that can benefit others.  Why not do a quick tutorial?

Here’s an example of how sharing what you know makes the community stronger and contributes to you learning more and expanding your skills.

The other day, Tracy Hamilton shared a quick tip on how to nudge PowerPoint objects by pressing the ALT key and dragging with your mouse.  She used the technique while creating a mitered frame look.  Watching her demo, made me wonder about different ways you could build a picture frame.  So I played around with some ideas.

What’s cool about this is that Tracy shared what she knew.  It prompted some ideas to play with. And I created this screencast to share what I learned.  It’s a great example of how we learn by sharing and building off of each others’ ideas.  The same could be said of Sumeet’s post above.

Here’s one final example that really speaks to the power of community and offers some good tips for your next elearning course, too.  It combines the folder template I shared with Jeanette’s hands animation to create a completely new tutorial with additional tips that you can use for your next elearning course.

Click here to view the folder tutorial.

While going to school is good, there’s no reason why you can’t learn a lot of what you need to know from your community of peers.  All it takes is a commitment to learn, practice, and a willingness to share with others.  If you do that, you’ll probably learn a lot of stuff you wouldn’t have learned in school anyway.  And it’s all free!

What rapid elearning tips do you have to share?  They don’t have to be long and drawn out.  They could be real quick like Tracy’s and Stephanie’s.


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.

49 responses to “Become an E-Learning Pro without Spending a Dime”

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by articulatebrian: RT @tomkuhlmann: Become an E-Learning Pro without Spending a Dime:
People are always asking me about ho… #elearning…

Can’t resist this – here’s one on creating rapid elearning portal using Google sites and Articulate.

Tom- Here is my contribution to the community. It’s a lesson on how to set up PowerPoint 2007 for Rapid e-Learning authoring. I’ll also post some more detailed lessons over the next few weeks. The Articulate community rocks!

Also, I’m happy to throw in one of my character packs to your drawing for comments on this blog post. 🙂

March 2nd, 2010

Great stuff, as always, Tom. I’m curious about one element I noticed in the Electric Pallet Jack demo. On the “labeled graphic” interactions created with Engage, some of the label windows had additional “triggered animation”. So, when you click the label and a window opens, that small window has interactive buttons which trigger simple animations like “lift, lower, forward, back”. How is that done? I sometimes put flash video in those tab windows but I’d love to be able to add free-form buttons.

March 2nd, 2010

I have benefited so much from all of the tips, screencasts, demos, etc. that the user community has been willing to share. You’ve helped me save time, solve problems, and given me inspiration. I do feel badly that I haven’t returned the favor by sharing in return. I hope to jump into the waters of sharing soon. Meanwhile, know that all of you who have taken the time to share with us are very much appreciated! Keep them coming!

Hey Tom,
I often get the same questions about what and where to learn new skills. My first repsonse is always this question: “What community forums do you visit?” In today’s plethora of tools, resources, examples, tutorials, etc…if one doesn’t at least visit community forums often, they’re missing out!

Here’s one I did awhile ago. Not sure if this qualifies whether you need recent ideas. “How to create a push-pin clipart graphic in PowerPoint 2007” –

Just happens that I started mapping out a very cool new one just yesterday…I’ll post it tomorrow.

By the way, when’t the drawing? 🙂

Thanks for this fantastic resource, Tom. I had been wondering about creating a taped-on effect – and the demo from @slhice was just what I was looking for.

I am wondering if you have any tips for how to find clipart/graphics that contain a variety of push pins, to enhance the technique you described a while back about creating a soundboard / bulletin board look? I’ve been inspired – but have yet to take action as I’ve been searching for the right kind of push pin graphics. Thanks for any guidance you or one or your readers can provide.

March 2nd, 2010

Here is a look at how the slide background fill effect can be used to add some realism to objects. I use it to show how to create a realistic looking CD:


March 2nd, 2010

I wait for these posts because, while I have a degree in Instructional Design for Online Learning, most of my experience has been teaching elementary school. I love these articles because I get good ideas that can be used for others and future projects.

March 2nd, 2010

Just getting started with e-Learning and Articulate, and I’m finding this site to be a very valuable resource. Thanks, Tom!

March 2nd, 2010

Hi Tom
Like Becky, I’ve also learned a lot from these posts but have give back only once or twice. I’ll keep the community in mind as I solve issues that come up in the future. I especially like the setup lesson by Bryan Jones. It’s taken me over a year to learn most of what that 5 minute screencast taught – and there’s some info there I have yet to find. Great learning tool for the teachers.

March 2nd, 2010

I love these tips!!! But I have question on how you insert the Screenr recording into this site without having it launch the Screenr web site. Or how do I insert it into, say PowerPoint so as soon as the slide that contains this recording comes up, people can click on Play to launch.

March 2nd, 2010

Hi Tom

Love the posts and everyone’s feedback, it has really helped our team develop. We were thrown together a year ago and have come a long way since. Being in New Zealand does create challenges as the opportunity of attending courses to support our development is limited so the posts have become really important to us and I agree totally that the community is one of the best learning mechanisms around.

However our company does have it’s challenges. We have a large network of frontline staff to train but can not rely on their systems supporting audio or video. Our systems too are are tightly managed and we have to continue to work with PowerPoint 2003 and an older version of Flash that does not support Screenr postings. So sadly we miss out on a lot of learning content from the posts. If anyone can point us in the direction of blogs that we would be able to view we would be forever grateful.


March 2nd, 2010

Just like the other 53,637 readers to this blog, I find myself looking forward to my Tuesday morning read.

As I look at the examples, and they always bring a smile to my face, it reminds me of a post Tom made quite some time ago about motion paths vs. flash once feature in PowerPoint. His example was of a plane landing and how much more realistic it was to use flash once feature.

For the longest time I kept trying to figure out how I could land a plane in one of my courses. I didn’t need a plane, but I did have an occasion to use a rolled dice. It was very effective using flash once.

So much of what we see becomes a nugget for future ideas in our courses.

Thanks Tom and David and Jeannette and all the participants of this amazing community.

Judith Norton

March 2nd, 2010

Hey, Tom~

Being like Becky and John in the contribution department, I owe you and your fellow gurus a great deal of thanks.

I’m a state agency trainer and have seen many budget/job cuts the past year. I’ve been able to cut training expenses down by suggesting elearning alternatives because of the knowledge I’ve gained through this community. I’m now “too valuable to lose.” Thanks for helping me keep my job while giving me a creative outlet to handle the pressure!

I hope to return the favor soon (with interest) while turning state training on its ear. :0)

P.S. Why, oh, why did you have to post the Font Conference link? My special needs son now says “Airplane, eightball, yin-yang, glasses, mailbox…open mailbox” instead of goodbye each morning.

[…] Become an E-Learning Pro without Spending a Dime » The Rapid eLearning Blog […]

Thanks for prompting us to do this Tom! We read your blog avidly and one of the key things that drew us to use Articulate almost exclusively in our eLearning development business is the thriving Community.

We’ve learned a lot and seen great Screenr posts that have got our brains twirling with new ideas.

Here’s one I did about our moveable avatars: all made with free Clipart in Powerpoint and spurred on by your post about breaking apart Clipart images:

@Jeanine: Not sure this helps, but I also post the videos on Youtube, you can find them here.

@Rita: Here are a some of links that might help: Screenr basics, use web objects, add to blogs and wikis, and add to PowerPoint.

@Bonni: I look for clipart with push pins and then remove them from the clipart. I usually search for bulletin boards, pins, notes, etc. Kevin Thorn has a push pin demo in the comments section here.

@Brent: those buttons are little .swf files inserted into the interaction.

@All: thanks for the many kind comments and for the tutorials, thus far.

Here is an another screencast I made some days ago.

It shows how to create different kinds of realistic painting styles starting from a picture.

Warning: italian language 🙂
I think you’ll understand the same, a picture (or a video) says a thousand words! 😀


[…] the London Assembly next month has wri… 3 Tweets MicroECoP 3 Tweets Become an E-Learning Pro without Spending a Dime » The Rapid eLearning Blog 3 Tweets Google Voice Helps Students Learn Spanish At Holmdel High School in […]

March 4th, 2010

Tom, you do such great work inspiring this community! Thank you!

Here’s a Screencast I made after presenting for an Online Forum for the ELG back in January. A little background – with your advice I had the group do some live brainstorming of a metaphor for eLearning and the popular topic we worked on was “driving enthusiasm for learning social media tools.” Of course we didn’t have time to build out our ideas, so I created this Screencast to quickly create a Twitter homepage mockup using PPT and Articulate.


One more screenr about creating webcomics. Blog post to follow shortly –

Hey Tom, all this is very well and good, but why don’t you do some articles on how to improve performance?

[…] Tom Werner on March 8, 2010 Wonderful post from Tom Kuhlmann about how to become an e-learning pro without spending a […]

March 8th, 2010

Here’s another screencast on animating objects to pivot as they fall in Articulate

March 8th, 2010

Dear Tom,

I’ve been trying to watch the video about the tape tutorial. It’s been nightmarish…I updated my Flash player and nothing…I have installed , reinstalled, uninstalled and nothing…I have version 10…Do you think you can re-upload the video?

Thanks in advanced.

@Ernesto: I tested the video on three of my PCs and they run fine. Personally, I’ve had intermittent problems with the recent Flash player upgrade (esp in Firefox). Unfortunately there’s not much I can do for you at this end. You might try a different browser.

Thanks for the Comic Strip files! That is awesome.

Thank you Tom for all the valuable information and tips you share with us in your blog. I wrote some quick tutorials in my blog which I want to share:
I am trying to help spanish readers learning some useful free web resources.

This was a great post, thanks! Can anyone recommend a few good PowerPoint user communities/groups?

@Ron: Check out the PowerPoint MVP sites, they have a lot of good help as well.

March 9th, 2010

Thank you Tom, I’ve done it! Beautiful pieces and great help!

March 14th, 2010

This blog provides a wealth of information to the novice instructional design student….a instructional design for dummies style. Information on how to design PowerPoint with transparent tape was interesting and demonstrated the limitless of using e-learning an as instructional designer. This site continue to advocate practicing the concepts presented and array of technological tools and strategies I can use in designing e-learning content. Finally, I agree with advice of networking with others in the field electronically and suggest if more individuals would utilize communities such as this blog, many fields of service would develop, test and practice best practices.

Thanks for all your work and the opportunity to connect with a community of peers.

[…] be in Orlando next week.  You can continue to submit your elearning tips until I get back.  Then I’ll do a drawing for the copy of Patti Shank’s Essential […]

March 16th, 2010

Here’s a new tutorial on creating a Snapshot Focus Effect in PowerPoint/Articulate

Cool tip from Mike Chapman. Create an LCD panel in PowerPoint.

I’ll have a more detailed tutorial soon with a free PowerPoint file.

Hi, Tom

I’ve been reading all the archived posts on your blog during my morning break for about the last 6 months (I didn’t even know what Instructional Design was 6 months ago! LOL!) and I’ve learnt soooooooooooooooo much. OMG! THANK YOU!

This is my first comment. I took my first crack at the Articulate Suite this week (downloaded the free trial) and fired up PowerPoint for (pretty much) the first time ever (yeah, really!) to make a job application. I thought it might be more interesting than the standard, tired old cover letter + resume approach, y’know.

And I must say, I’m pretty happy with what I managed to achieve for a TOTAL noob. I’d only ever used PowerPoint to make some graphics (based on something in one of your previous posts). So… given that, yeah, I’m chuffed.

Link is here for anyone who’s interested:

Hopefully, it’ll be inspiring to folks out there who look at all this and think it’s too complicated. Honestly, I started making this on Monday — with, I repeat, next to NO knowledge of PowerPoint and having never used Articulate before — and I had it done by Thursday night.

This thread is clearly fast-becoming a TOTALLY AWESOME RESOURCE (that’s a technical term, by the way ;-P ) and I’m competing with some pretty amazing folks for a shot at Patti Shank’s book.

Nevertheless, I’d like to share a Sreenr vid and accompanying pdf of a flowchart I used to create a branching scenario based on an idea you gave me in a previous post.

When you re-did the “Dump the Drone” presentation, there was a part where you talked about “tracking” the User and giving each completed section a checkmark. I really liked it so I incorporated it into my presentation.

The link to the Screenr vid is here:

And the link to the pdf with the detailed flowchart is here:

Thanks again for sharing such AMAZING tips every week. Truly fantastic.

All the best,

@Leslie: thanks for the comment and all of the work you put into the documentation. Great job.

Tip on how to use istockphotos to find good images for elearning.

[…] few weeks ago I offered some advice on how to become an elearning pro without spending a dime.  The essence of that post […]

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