This guest blog entry was written by Articulate VP of Community Tom Kuhlmann.
A lot of people like to talk about President Kennedy’s challenge to get a man on the moon as a larger-than-life goal that helped move the country forward. Lofty goals are good because they help us innovate and push our skills. And what’s good for NASA is good for us.
A good lofty goal for e-learning is to design award-winning courses. Everywhere I’ve worked, one of my goals was to produce award-winning courses. Now that didn’t always happen, but it is important to have goals that force us to do more than we normally do. It keeps us fresh and focused on quality. Without stretch goals, we just keep building the same types of courses over and over again.
The Articulate Guru Awards are a great opportunity to push your skills.
Flex Those E-Learning Muscles
You’re free to submit something you’ve already worked on. But many times the courses we build for our customers aren’t always the types of courses we’d like to build. Too often we get lost in an assembly-line process where one course looks just like the other.
Take up the challenge and build the type of course you’d build if you could build a course with no draconian customer demands. Gone are the crappy PowerPoint templates, locked navigation, and ridiculous branding requirements. You have complete control to apply all of your skills to the course of your dreams. Go for it.
Build a Portfolio Project
With the Guru Awards is an opportunity to get that e-learning portfolio in order. Build a demo that you can show off to others. With this economy you never know when you’ll be looking for a new opportunity. Don’t get caught cold. Use the award as motivation to build a “highlight reel” course.
Even if you don’t win, you end up with a good project to show off, and it might even get some exposure in the Community Showcase. That’s got to count for something.
Quit Your Belly Achin’
I hear my fair share of complaints about PowerPoint and rapid e-learning. Most of them come from experienced instructional designers who complain that subject matter experts aren’t qualified to build e-learning courses. Well, here’s your chance to show them how it’s done.
A talented instructional designer should be able to build a great course with some duct tape and an empty peanut butter jar. 🙂 As I showed in a recent blog post, the tools you use shouldn’t really hold you back So take up the challenge. Show us how it’s done.
For those still trying to figure out what do, here are some quick tips:
- Build what you want. You’re free to use an existing course, but you can also build something new. And the subject matter is not that important. The judges will be looking at how you use the Articulate tools to build an interactive learning environment. They don’t care what you’re teaching, just as long as you do a good job.
- Just submit an excerpt. Let’s say you’re starting with a current course, but you want to make it look better and add more interactivity. That’s fine. Just take a small part of the course and rework it.
- Connect with LINGOs or some other non-profit group. If you entered the LINGOs competition, you can submit that course for this award, as well. Use the extra time to make some modifications, or just pull a small part out of the course and make that a really great example.
- Partner with someone else. You’re a great instructional designer but don’t have graphic design skills. That’s OK. Find someone who does and enter together. Or enter as a work team. If you’re a teacher, get your students to submit something based on what they’re learning. If you’re in a Master’s program, take the time to put some meat to those learning theories. It would be a great class exercise.
- Review other courses for inspiration. Check out the Community Showcase for ideas. Or go online and look for other great examples of e-learning or multimedia projects. For example, there’s no reason why you can’t build something like this scenario from Cathy Moore with the Articulate tools.
- Get inspiration from the many great community tutorials and community members. There are more than 500 community tutorials that can help you learn the tools and come up with some inspiring ideas. Here are a couple recent examples from community members that stand out: Sumeet’s blog post on rapid elearning with a great demo and Stephanie’s Articulate-powered web site. What I like is that they do more than the basic PowerPoint conversion and really stretch your understanding of what you can do with rapid elearning.
- You don’t need to own the software. You can always use the 30 day trial. It’s free and fully functional. Just be sure to plan ahead so you get the most out of the 30 days. Also, feel free to jump into the user community to get help if you’re stumped on how to do something.
Building an e-learning course is more than converting some PowerPoint slides to Flash. Generally you have three main elements that make up the course: visual design & communication, content structure, and learner interactivity. If you focus on those three areas, you’ll create a good course that is also interactive.
To help you learn more about rapid elearning development, community managers David and Jeanette are going to do a series of posts on e-learning basics next week. They’ll focus on key principles and provide some tutorials to help you build great courses, whether or not you enter the Guru Awards.
So stay tuned…