3D & eLearning

These two things generally don’t go together, given the system resources needed to create 3D elements. However recently, I am starting to see more 3D applications come from Adobe targeting inexperienced users. For example you can now embed Cinema 4D files into Illustrator for realistic print visuals. There is also a new Adobe product called Dimensions that allows you to easily incorporate 3D elements into marketing materials. I often use 3D, very much like Photoshop, it is way easier more realistic to create a real shadow, than a fake one. I was wondering is anyone else using 3D in their eLearning workflow?

If Design is a Language, What is Your eLearning Saying About You?


When Moses came down from the Mount. He didn’t have a flimsy papyrus scroll slipped under his arm, with the Ten commandments scribbled on them. No, he had two state-of-the-art stone tablets firmly held in each arm. Each of the commandments meticulously carved, each letter expertly chiseled: It was obvious, it took, time, care and deep thought to create them. When the Isrealites saw them, they knew immediately that this was an important message. Why else would someone go to all the trouble to showcase them in such a manner if they weren’t? Before uttering a single word, Moses had communicated the value and gravity of the lesson through design.

Creating compelling eLearning is very similar. Its all about choices, and not just the obvious ones like defining learning objectives or creating tests. It is much subtler than that, more nuanced. From the first second a learner opens your course they are evaluating its worth, and will in all likelihood assign a value that will directly correlate to the amount of attention they will pay to it. After all if you don’t care as the designer, why should they?

They will look at several factors to assess how serious you are:

  • Does it load quickly and without issues?
  • Is it professionally scripted and narrated or did someone just wing it with a laptop mic?
  • Is there a cohesive custom colour design or did they use a stock PowerPoint template?
  • Is it tightly scripted and logically organized or a rambling mess?
  • Are the graphics (photos, info-graphics) relevant to the lesson, or just thrown in randomly?
  • Is there mixed media (video, animations etc.,) or just stock photos?
  • Does it respect their intellect in tone and delivery or treat them like children?

All this occurs in the first five slides and will determine your Learner’s overall attention and retention levels. Design is critical to engagement. The more thought design that goes into your training module, the more successful it will be.

Video in Captivate – Embed Vs Stream


Video in Captivate – Embed Vs Stream

Video and multimedia in general, is increasingly becoming a staple in on-line learning. YouTube has led everyone to believe accessing video is easy. Just a couple of clicks and it all works seamlessly. It can be, but quite often, it isn’t.

Progressive Download vs Streaming Download

Video files are often large. The longer the video, the larger they are. You have heard the term “30 frames a second or FPS” to denote film shooting speed. What that means is 30 full size pictures, a second, are created. Think about that!

If your video is 60 seconds long, then it has 1800 pictures, and that doesn’t even include the larger audio files that comes with them.  To accommodate these bigger files Captivate offers two workflows.

Progressive Downloads

A progressive download means you are importing the file directly into your project. When the video is clicked it loads and plays it from the already cached project file. Like all multimedia choices, there are pros and cons to this approach.


• You have much more control over how the video looks, and plays
• There are multiple player options for skins (playback buttons etc.)
• The quality of the video is often higher because of better compression at publishing.
• Once loaded, it plays smoothly and completely, every time.


• The video won’t play until the whole video file is loaded.
• It increases the overall size of your project, sometimes drastically, this will impact your overall loading times for the project when housed on a web server or LMS.

Streaming Downloads

Almost every video you see on the web is streaming from a dedicated media server. The more notable ones are YouTube and Vimeo.  What makes this such a popular choice is the end-user experience.

Streamed video starts the minute you click it, because it streams the video as its needed to play, as opposed to pre-loading the whole thing. This instant playback makes viewing videos on the web far more enjoyable. Captivate exploits this feature by “embedding” the video’s playback code into a Web Object. This allows your video to play in your project, but housed from an external video server. There are pros and cons to this approach as well.


  • Instant playback
  • Scalable within your Captivate page


  • Streaming means its travelling over the Internet, if your WiFi connection is weak, or your bandwidth is low, then your video stops, as it buffers the next sections. Super annoying.
  • You can’t control how the video controls appears, or what happens to it when it ends, from within Captivate. If you have a paid account you may be able to make some limited changes, but the choices are limited.
  • Sites like YouTube, employ very aggressive algorithmic compression techniques to make the overall file size smaller. This can make your video look and sound far worse, than what you originally uploaded.

If you are not already using video in your training you will be shortly. So choose carefully!



Show, Don’t Tell – The Power of Visuals in Educational Media


Show, Don’t Tell – The Power of Visuals in Educational Media

Have you ever noticed how drug commercials follow a similar pattern? They highlight a medical disorder, for example, depression, diabetes, overactive bladder, etc. They then introduce their solution — a pill, a shot, a patch. Finally, they list a litany of “side effects” as mandated by federal law.

These narrated effects range from slight nausea, to death — all while B-roll plays of grandpa frolicking with the grand kids in a pool, mom, on a candlelit dinner date with her dashing new boyfriend or Suzie, closing the deal in a 50th floor boardroom. Those viewers who sufferer from that particular affliction often remember the name of the product, but never retain the potential side effects. This is the goal of the advertiser, they want customers to recall the product title, to be able to discuss it with their doctors, but they don’t want them to associate the deleterious effects with the product. This is the power of well designed visuals to influence and guide watchers to a desired conclusion.

So, what does this mean to instructional designers. Increasingly visuals, in all their forms, are becoming a powerful primary channel of information flow. Not just a secondary, complimentary channel as they were in the days of PowerPoint training. (Don’t get me wrong, Stick People were cool, just a little simplistic.)

When you consider adding visuals to your training today you need to consider active video, 2D/3D simulation, competent narration, or a hybrid of all three. You need to seemlessly weave those elements throughout your training, in a way that compliments your primary lesson objective, but doesn’t distract your learner.

Fortunately, its never been easier to do this, also unfortunately, its never been easier to do this.

Like the early days of PowerPoint, there is a lot of shaky iPhone video, rambling narrated software simulations and cheesy 2D animations in many training courses. In order to benefit from the power of multimedia, you need to understand it, but more importantly, you need to adequately plan for, and resource it. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on equipment or hire professional actors. It does, however mean that you need to think and plan carefully when creating the media and understand what constitutes strong educational multimedia, not what is just distracting noise.

In this blog series, we will cover educational multimedia creation from nuts-to-bolts: planning, design, writing, equipment, execution, tools, tips and more. To hopefully shed some light on the subject, and help create a community of best practices for educational multimedia.




Multimedia, Microlearning and Fluid Boxes

When Captivate 2017 debuted the new Fluid Box workflow, my thoughts immediately turned to mobile training, and in particular Fluid Boxes’ ability to handle multimedia. Could the responsive design accommodate short, high impact video clips across devices easily? If so, what are the design implications when building, and finally does the sequential learning object approach work?

I thought, since this is new, I would bring you along on the journey so we can learn together, in a series of posts — if it interests you.

One two

4 3


 About the Course

I work with Project Managers who oversee the entire multi-year project. Training is just one small part of it. Competing for their time and attention, particularly at project-cycle-end is difficult, as resources are diminishing and deadlines are fast approaching.  If they don’t fully understand the training project cycle (process and deliverables) then it can drastically impact my development and deliverable timelines. I created this microlearning course to address this.

Why Microlearning

This style of course lends itself really well to Microlearning. Microlearning and smartphones are made for each other.  I envision my Project Manager drinking a coffee and taking this 8-minute course just before our first meeting.  So, in essence it really is a blended learning model.

 Fluid Boxes and Multimedia,

The short answer is yes! The boxes scale flawlessly and provide an elegant and dynamic way to separate the videos from the static content.

Early Alpha,

One of the first things I learned was that you have two serious restrictions when developing microlearning for mobile.

  • One, every word, graphic and interaction has to earn its right to be in the training, for both technical and educational design reasons.
  • Two, you have to keep the file size as low as possible, so you have to weigh the use of every multi-media element (for example motion backgrounds and music overlays) in terms of how much does it add to the overall weight against the value it provides.
  • Three, you have to bear in mind that different phone browsers handle video differently, for example Apple automatically loads all video full-screen, which can detract from the overall design aesthetic.

So, with that in mind my course comes in a just a little over 7 mg currently, which is awesome, considering I have two videos in there so far. I won’t be able to add more complex motion graphics or a sound design until I test it on multiple devices for user feedback. (Load times, usability etc)

 Technical Issues

This course is formatted specifically for a mobile device, it will scale in a web browser because of its responsive design, but it won’t look nearly as cool. To access it on your phone just copy the link or send it to yourself in a txt/email or copy it here. If you do use a browser, I suggest you make the browser scalable and scale it to a phone dimension.

Please Note: It will not load properly in a iPhone 5 as the screens are too small. I purposely chose this constraint, due to design impact on overall project.

Finally the content will change as I move to a completed Beta,I will complete the final two  probably add more custom graphics and change the narration as well.

Here is the link:  http://chilp.it/f36a211


I can emulate different devices but I need the actual phones to really tell if its rendering and playing as expected. If you do load this onto your phone I would really appreciate your technical feedback – but be aware that it will take cellular bandwidth to play it, unless you are connected to WiFi.

  • What type of phone?
  • How fast did it load?
  • Did the navigation make sense?
  • Were there any technical issues


Microlearning and Fluid Boxes

The more courses I create, the more I am intrigued by Microlearning. I have really come to realize the smaller form factors of smart phones and diminishing attention span of people provides a whole new opportunity for custom design and instructional modes that may have a more relevant impact. One instructional style does not work for all people or output devices and I think we are at the beginning of an important new instructional technique.

Microlearning is creating short learning objects that are stand-alone or can be combined to give a more fulsome understanding of the training. These lessons can be conveyed by graphics and text, video, podcasts, motion graphics or any combination of them all. The key is “short, bite size” learning objects, usually between 90 seconds and 3 minutes.   While not exclusively the domain of mobile devices, micro lessons are ideal for this device since they are lightweight, and the student always has the “classroom” with them.

This is where I think the new Fluid Boxes will play an important part moving forward. I really like the way they keep each learning object, separate but orderly, also their ability to scale multiple devices, seamlessly are awesome. I’m looking forward to playing with complimentary learning objects on the same slide and seeing how they work, if timed properly, on target devices.

I am planning on creating a dedicated micro learning module in the next couple of months. I will let you know how it goes.