When to Use Emojis for E-Learning

emoji e-learning

Emojis are the today’s hieroglyphics. I can imagine thousands of years from now as archaeologists try to reconstruct our culture. They’ll spend years collecting emoji messages and then additional years to decipher them. And after all of that time, they’ll come to learn that we worshiped the goddesses known as Kardashians.

It’s a frightening thought indeed, but one we can counteract in how we use emojis in our training programs.

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Are Your Learners Confused Before They Even Start the E-Learning Course?

expectations e-learning

We recently finished our E-learning Roadshows in Europe and the United Kingdom. One of the things I really enjoyed about the trip was riding trains. Where I live in the United States, there aren’t many opportunities for me to ride trains between cities.

One thing that does make me a bit nervous when taking a train ride (especially in new places) is not knowing how to find my way around the station to ensure I don’t miss the train. And it doesn’t help when each station seems to have its own system to manage the schedule boards. I’m sure to the person who rides the train frequently, it all makes sense. But when it’s a new experience, it can be a bit nerve-wracking, especially when pressed for time.

Which gets me to some points that are relevant to e-learning course design.

Set Clear Expectations

Not knowing my way around the train station or even the local language means I’m a bit off balance. And since each station looks different, the experience is different. When I travel, I usually Google map the area and take a virtual walk. This helps me know more about the location and what to expect when I get there. However, this isn’t possible for most train stations around the world.

Thinking about your e-learning course: how is the experience for a new learner? Is there a comfort level when starting the course or is it all new and a bit unsteady? Let people know what they should expect in the course and what is expected of them.

What is going to happen? What are the requirements? What type of experience should be expected?

Provide an Orientation

Often it’s assumed that the user interface or experience is intuitive, but that may not be the case. A person who rides the train every day knows the way around the station and what the signs mean and probably doesn’t even need them. The person who rides a train once in a lifetime looks for signs and probably will need more time to figure them out and how to move around the station.

The same can be said for your e-learning course. Provide an orientation so that the user knows what’s there and when and how to use the resources. It doesn’t mean you need a course on how to take the course but you need to make things familiar and provide a means for people to figure out how things work.

Create a Consistent Experience

Each train station I visited had different types of reader boards and most had their own layouts with icons and not means to discern what they were. It was all a bit confusing and it took more time to find what I needed. At one station, I think it required having an engineering degree to ride the train.

Review your e-learning courses and ensure that how you present content and interactive experiences are consistent. This is especially true if you change the flow of content such as going from a screen of text to an interactive decison-making activity.

The more consistent, the less time you need to explain the course and the more time the learner can spend on the actual learning.

Familiarity is a Key Part of Learning

The goal of the course is generally to teach something. To teach means we need an environment that is conducive to learning. One consideration is how familiar the learning process is to the learner. Do they know what’s going on and what to do?

Familiarity can exist in how the content is structured to the user interface that displays it. For the learner, it’s important to have a level of understanding and know where things fit contextually. Once that’s in place, it’s easier to learn.

As a course developer, I used to complain about not being able to customize my course player. I always wanted to create something new for each course. However, over time I came to realize that there’s a lot of value in a consistent and familiar player. The same can be said for how you structure interactions like tabs and more complex ones like scenarios.

The more uniformity you can add, the better. But I will say that it’s also based on the context of what you’re doing. Not all courses need to look the same or behave the same. However, whatever you choose to do should be consistent and as intuitive as possible. The goal is to help people learn and the method to do that shouldn’t get in the way of learning.

Look at your courses with fresh eyes and try to experience them from the learner’s perspective. Are there any things you’d change?

 


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  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.
2018
 

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 elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

Save Time By Pre-Building Parts of Your E-Learning Courses

At a bookstore, you’ll see all sorts of books covering all sorts of content. But one thing you’ll notice is that while they may have different content and even look different they mostly share a similar structure.

What’s in a Book?

What do books have in common?

  • Cover images
  • Title Page
  • Author Information
  • Table Contents
  • Version
  • Chapters
  • Index
  • Appendix

Despite the topic, at some point, the publisher assembles the book and puts it into a structure similar to what’s listed above.

What’s in an E-Learning Course?

E-learning courses are very similar to books. While they cover a range of topics, there are elements that are common to most courses. What are they?

e-learning templates common structure

  • Course Title Screen
  • Table of Contents (as a menu)
  • Instructions Screen
  • Course Objectives Screen
  • Section Title Screen
  • Gate Screens
  • Resource Screen
  • Summary Screens
  • Quiz Instructions Screen
  • Exit Instruction Screens

Since you know those screens are in most courses, why not pre-build them and make them part of your starter template? It’s also a great way to work in the company brand without messing with the content screens.

e-learning templates teams in Articulate 360

Also, if you’re using Articulate 360, you already have a bunch of templates that have a lot of that structure. So it’s a great starting point and big time-saver. And as an added bonus, if you’re using Articulate 360 Teams you can add those slides to your Teams account and everyone on your organization’s team can access those slides. This is a big time saver and lets you maintain the quality and consistency many organizations require.

What pre-built screens would you add to the list?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

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2018
 

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Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

3 E-learning Tips Before You Start Your E-Learning Project?

e-learning tips

One of the e-learning tips I give at workshops is to be intentional about your e-learning course design and production. Many course developers start with the default settings and then make changes later. However, that could impact the course and cost time and money.

So today, I’m sharing three things you should do before you start working on your e-learning course.

E-Learning Tip: Determine Your Course Size

It’s important to determine your course size before you start working on the slide. If you do some work and then change it later, you may skew things on the slides and have to do a lot of adjustments. Also, popular screen sizes today aren’t what they were a few years ago. Computer screens are wider, more pixel dense, and a lot of course developers like to step away from the default player.

e-learning course size settings e-learning tips

Here are a few considerations:

  • By default the course size is a 4:3 aspect ratio set at 720×540 pixels. This is a good aspect ratio and the course can be set to scale with the browser, so pixel width isn’t as big of an issue.  The image below shows the 4:3 aspect ratio with a sidebar menu.

e-learning tips 4x3 aspect ratio

  • You may want to go with 16×9 since most screens are widescreen. And that looks nice on mobile devices in landscape mode. Although newer phones are going to 18:9. The image below shows the 16:9 aspect ratio with a sidebar menu.

e-learning tips 16x9 aspect ration

  • Are you using a sidebar menu? If yes, I like the 4:3 aspect ratio. The more squared slide fits nicely with the sidebar. However, if you go with a 16×9 aspect ratio, having the sidebar makes the course look wide. In that case, get rid of the menu, or set it as a drop down from the top. And that’s what I show in the image below. You can see the menu drop down on the player. It’s there, but doesn’t consume screen space.

e-learning tips drop down menu

E-Learning Tip: Determine the Color Scheme & Create Theme Colors

Before you start working on your course make sure to determine the colors you are going to use. There are a few ways to get the right colors for the course:

  • Company brand: many companies have branded colors. Even if you don’t have the official colors, you can go to the website and do a color pick of the main colors used.
  • Single color: find one color and use a color schemer to create other colors.
  • Color picker: I like to pick colors from images inserted on the screen. Or I’ll use the main company color from a logo or official image and then build out my color scheme from there. Here’s a link the color picker I like to use.

Once you have determined the colors, build a color theme and only use the theme colors in your course. Generally, you have black and white and the six accent colors. There’s no pre-defined use for the accent colors. Basically you get six options. I’d use them consistently, though. For example, accent 1 is the main color. Accent 2 may be the secondary or complimentary color. And you don’t need to have six colors. Some people just use two.

theme colors e-learning tips

If you stick with theme colors you can always change themes and all of the theme colors will change with it. If you don’t, then you have to go through the course slide-by-slide to make color corrections.

E-Learning Tip: Determine the Font Pairs & Create Theme Fonts

Same as the theme colors, determine your font pair prior to building your course. And then create theme fonts. You’ll have a title font and body font.

When you insert text on the screen, stick with the theme fonts only. Don’t go digging through the font list to find that one cool font. I’ll state it again, when you insert text on the screen, stick with the theme fonts only.

theme fonts e-learning tips

If you need to make changes to your fonts, all you need to do is apply a new theme and the text that uses theme fonts changes in the entire course and on the master slides. However, if you insert text from the font dropdown list, you’ll need to change those fonts individually. That’s why you want to stick with theme fonts.

theme font selection e-learning tips

So there you go, three e-learning tips before you start building your e-learning courses:

  • determine the size of the course
  • create theme colors
  • create theme fonts

Doing those three things up front will save you lots of production time while building your e-learning course.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.
2018
 

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 elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

A Simple Way to Get the Most Out of Your E-Learning Tools

e-learning tools

Over the weekend, I was supposed to paint the house but was watching TV instead. My wife asked why I wasn’t painting and I told her I couldn’t because I lost the paint lid opener and couldn’t open the paint can. She handed me a screwdriver.

“No dice,” I said. “That’s for screws. I can only use a paint lid opener.”

Ridiculous, right?

E-Learning Tools from a Different Perspective

Here’s the deal, e-learning vendors make products and those products have a purpose. However, the products often do more than they’re designed to do. It’s just a matter of looking at the tools from a different perspective. I always tell people to look at the e-learning applications as a means to create multimedia content and not just to create e-learning courses.

For example, Articulate’s Quizmaker obviously is great for building quizzes. That’s why it’s called Quizmaker. However, if you step away from its title, the features allow it to create simple decision-making scenarios or pop-up videos. All of these are more than the quizzes promised by the software’s title.

The same with PowerPoint. It’s a great tool for presentations…and illustrations…and video production…and much more. In fact, years ago, I used to use PowerPoint to create posters that I’d print on large format printers. You just have to step away from PowerPoint as a presentation tool and see it as a means to create multimedia. And once you do that, you’ll get more out of the investment you’ve made in the software.

Here are few tips to help you get there:

  • Learn to use the tools. The more fluent you are, the more you’ll be able to leverage the features. We always promote the weekly e-learning challenges so that you can learn to see and use the tools in different ways. They’re also intended to push you a bit out of what you may do at work, especially since most work projects are the same ones over and over and over.
  • Understand the features and then think outside the box on how to use them. For example, years ago I came up with a simple formula for building interactive scenarios: the 3Cs…challenge, choice, and consequences. If there’s a place in the software where I can interact and expose content, there’s a place to create an interactive scenario. Common click and reveal interactions like tabs, accordions, markers, etc. become simple interactive scenarios. Are they labeled as interactive scenario features? No. But that’s what you can create with them.
  • Look at what other people build with the same tools. There are all sorts of great examples in the community, in the weekly round-ups, and in the challenge activities. Review what they did, deconstruct them, and try to build the same.
  • Find ideas outside of e-learning. Looks for any type of interactive content and ask if you can do the same with your software. You may not always be able to replicate what you find, but often you can and worst case, you still build something neat and learn a few new production tips that will help on your next e-learning project.

What do you do with your software that it wasn’t designed to do?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.
2018
 

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 elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

How I Created This Interactive E-Learning Course

e-learning mars rover demo

I created a demo course in Rise for a workshop. One of my goals with the demo was to show off different ways to add content and how the various blocks work and look in a real-ish project. This produced a lot of questions in the community on how I built it.  So I’ll try to answer them here.

First, I’ll have to admit that I didn’t really do all that much because Rise did all of the heavy-lifting. There is one custom piece in lesson 6 where I inserted a Storyline interaction. But for the most part, I just opened Rise and added my content. Then Rise did the rest.

Of course, some of the assets are colorful and eye-catching, but I didn’t create those. I used the information from the NASA site (which by the way is pretty darn cool). Check out what’s in the works for Mars 2020.

[If you haven’t worked with Rise, here’s a good overview video.]

Visual Design

Like I mentioned earlier, the actual assets in this demo module are from NASA, so they get all of the credit. However, I will add that when you create e-learning projects, it is important to have consistency in image quality and the assets used in your courses.

Just because you can add content easily into the Rise courses, doesn’t mean you need to. Like any e-learning module, you want to be intentional and avoid the Frankencourse.

One thing that does really catch your eye in this particular demo is the animated .gif cover screen. I think it looks cool and gives the module some personality. That’s a key first step in engaging learners. You’ll also notice animated .gifs in some of the other lessons.

Lesson 1: The Mission

For this lesson, I opted for a full-width image. I think it anchors the content well. This works best with higher resolution images. By not having margins, it kind of forces your eyes down the page.

I also added a hyperlink to the text body.

Lesson 2: Learn More…

I wanted to show a way to create an easy branching structure to direct people to specific lessons. This feature could also be used for simple branched scenario interactions.

e-learning branching interaction

I also added a disclaimer using the Notes block. It’s a great way to draw attention to important points.

Lessons 1 and 2 are the pre-content. The lessons after those are broken into three distinct groups and you’ll notice I used Section Titles to show those groups.

Lesson 3: The Trip to Mars

I leveraged the image carousel and the captions to provide more information about the trip to Mars. This content could be presented in a number of ways, but I like to give the user a way to touch the screen and this is a good interaction type for that. I also increased the size of the caption text.

e-learning image carousel interaction

Lesson 4: Fun Facts & Trivia about Mars

This lesson includes a lot of features. There’s a clickable image gallery. Again, the animated .gifs look nice and pull you in. Click on the thumbnail to zoom in and see the entire image.

I attached some additional content and you can download a PDF.

The Mars Trivia section includes a couple of dividers. One just holds back information until the user is ready and clicks. And the other forces the user to complete the interaction before advancing.

e-learning lock navigation

The trivia section includes two different types of knowledge checks: traditional quiz question and one that requires watching a video before answering.

Lesson 5: Did You Know?

There are a few different ways to insert videos into a Rise lesson. This is the pre-built lesson block which is full width and contains no additional content.

If you want to add additional content like text to the video block, you’ll need to create a custom block and insert the video that way. That’s what I did in lesson 8.

Lesson 6: Explore the Rover

This is the lesson that generated the most questions (and will require an additional blog post and tutorial). One of my favorite features is the Storyline block in Rise. In this lesson, I create a single slide interaction in Storyline, the 3D Rover, and inserted it into Rise.

For the Storyline module, I created a transparent player and got rid of the player features so it sits in the block and looks like it’s part of the Rise lesson and not something inserted into it.

e-learning interactive Mars Rover

This block gives me the best of both worlds: fast and easy production in Rise coupled with custom interactivity from Storyline. I’ll do a more detailed write up on how I created the 3D Storyline interaction in an upcoming post.

Lesson 7: Access Mars – Virtual Reality

This only works in the Chrome browser.

This is a webpage inserted into Storyline as a web object. And then the Storyline slide is inserted into Rise. It lets you navigate Mars in virtual reality.

e-learning Mars rover virtual reality 360

For course developers, this means you can insert all sorts of interactive web content into your Rise courses using web objects and the Storyline block.

Pretty cool, huh?

Lesson 8: Rover POV – Five Years on Mars

This is a different way to insert a video. In lesson 5, I inserted the video as a video block. In this lesson, I inserted it using custom blocks. The advantage of the custom blocks is being able to combine more blocks with additional content, interactions, and knowledge checks.

Lesson 9: 3D Ride Along with Rover

This is yet another way to insert a video. In this case, the video comes from YouTube and it’s also 360 so you can move around the screen. This really opens up what you can do with your videos, especially as the 360 video production is becoming more affordable. Look at how inexpensive the cameras are.

e-learning insert Youtube Mars rover 360

I did notice that the 3D doesn’t work on my smartphone iPhone 6 (it did work on my Android Pixel 2XL), which is something to keep in mind when adding media content to your courses: be sure to test different devices.

Lessons 10: Free Posters

Just another image gallery. Secretly I just wanted to point to the free posters. They’re pretty cool. I did use an animated .gif for the title image.

Again, those animated .gifs just add a lot of pop to the course content.

Lessons 11-13: Inserted Web Sites

Adding resource links is pretty common. These lessons are are the URL/embed blocks. As you can see Rise pulls in the metadata from the site to make the link more interesting. You can turn that off if you want.

e-learning Mars training program ASU

So there you have it, a really quick run through of the Rise Rover demo module. From the Rise perspective, it’s super easy to build. It’s just a matter of collecting your content, determining the lesson structure, and then dropping it in. Just don’t tell your boss how easy it is.

What I think really wowed people was how nice the content looks. Part of that is the way Rise handles lessons and makes everything nice and clean. And the other part is that I had great assets from which to work.

I’ll do a followup post on the 3D rover interaction in Storyline. Let me know if you have any more questions about this module and go check out all of that great content on the Mars site.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

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Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Antwerp: Nov 7. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • Utrecht: Nov 9 & 10. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • London: November 13 & 14. Articulate Community Roadshow. Register here.
  • Manchester: November 16 & 17. Articulate Community Roadshow. Sold Out. Register here.
  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.
2018
 

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 elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

5 Ways to Kickstart Your E-learning Career

kickstart e-learning career

I once had a manager who told me everything I report to him should be presented as five things on a notecard. He didn’t want all of the detail or nitty gritty. He just wanted a quick overview of the five most essentials points.

I get a lot of emails from people who want to transition from their current jobs into e-learning development. They want to know what they need to do (or know) to get moving in that direction. So here are my five things if you want to start a career in e-learning.

Learn About Learning

Sure, a formal instructional design degree helps, maybe. But today it’s not as critical, assuming you can prove that you really know what you learned. There are all sorts of ways to learn:

  • Go to school and get a degree. Another less costly way is to get a certificate (especially if you already have a formal degree). Certificate programs take less time, seem to be more project-focused, and are a bit more pragmatic when it comes to applying what you’re learning. Here’s a list of programs recommended by the community.
  • Read and learn on your own. There are plenty of good books and I’ve written about the few I’d start with. We also have a great e-learning 101 series to learn more. You can sign up here and get it delivered via email. We also offer a ton of free e-books that cover a broad range of e-learning topics.

Build These Types of Courses

You’ll need practical experience. There are all sorts of things you can do to get it. Volunteer to build courses for NGOs, churches, hospitals, or anywhere else that has limited funds and would welcome some free training.

You don’t want to build the same course over and over again. Instead get experience building diverse modules and types of training. Here’s a good list to get started:

  • Assessments. Create a few different types of assessments. The default, blocky type quizzes are fine, but the more custom you can make them, the better.
  • Scenarios. They are always popular and they show how to build situational training that closely mirrors real-world interactions.
  • Interactions. There are three main ways to interact with the screen: click, hover, and drag. Build some modules that demonstrate your skills creating different types of interactions. Lean more on dragging than clicking.
  • Software Training. Most organizations do some sort of software training. Show your skills with screencasts and software simulations.
  • Make it interesting. Most e-learning isn’t very good and usually very boring. Convert one of those types of courses into something interesting. Make it look good and make it interactive.

Learn to Use E-Learning Software

Your success hinges less on your academic credentials and more on demonstrable skills and fluency with e-learning software. There’s a lot of e-learning software out there. You can’t learn everything. I’ll give my plug for the Articulate tools for two main reasons:

  • Do a job search and most organizations are looking for Articulate course developers. You can’t go wrong getting the skills that potential employers desire.
  • All of the demo modules I mentioned above can be quickly built in both Storyline and Rise. You’ll be able to build a professional portfolio using those tools especially if you take advantage of the community resources and the Content Library that comes with Articulate 360.

Build an E-Learning Portfolio

Whenever I hire an instructional designer, I’m more inclined to review their portfolio rather than a resume that documents their experience and education. An instructional design degree is great but to me, the proof is in the pudding. And without a portfolio how can you SHOW your work and skills?

The portfolio highlights your skills and experience.

  • Keep it short. Find a few interesting (and interactive) parts of the course and show those. Or build some modules from the weekly e-learning challenges. They’re short and relatively easy to build. And perfect for a portfolio project.
  • Looks matter more than instructional design. It is a visual medium so make your visuals strong. Stay away from defaults and add some custom elements. Add some novel interactivity to catch their attention.
  • Identify common types of courses (as noted above) and build some modules for your portfolio. This will give you a diversity of projects and showcase different skills.

Learn More About These Topics

There’s a lot that goes into building an effective e-learning course. Here are some additional topics and skills you’ll need to understand to be a good course designer. You don’t need to be a pro at everything but you should be able to speak to them when needed.

There’s obviously a lot more you need to know to be successful transitioning into an e-learning job. What are the five things you’d recommend to that person? Feel free to share them in the comments.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

e-learning workshop

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Antwerp: Nov 7. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • Utrecht: Nov 9 & 10. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • London: November 13 & 14. Articulate Community Roadshow. Register here.
  • Manchester: November 16 & 17. Articulate Community Roadshow. One ticket left. Register here.
  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.
2018
 

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 elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

5 Ways to Kickstart Your E-learning Career

kickstart e-learning career

I once had a manager who told me everything I report to him should be presented as five things on a notecard. He didn’t want all of the detail or nitty gritty. He just wanted a quick overview of the five most essentials points.

I get a lot of emails from people who want to transition from their current jobs into e-learning development. They want to know what they need to do (or know) to get moving in that direction. So here are my five things if you want to start a career in e-learning.

Learn About Learning

Sure, a formal instructional design degree helps, maybe. But today it’s not as critical, assuming you can prove that you really know what you learned. There are all sorts of ways to learn:

  • Go to school and get a degree. Another less costly way is to get a certificate (especially if you already have a formal degree). Certificate programs take less time, seem to be more project-focused, and are a bit more pragmatic when it comes to applying what you’re learning. Here’s a list of programs recommended by the community.
  • Read and learn on your own. There are plenty of good books and I’ve written about the few I’d start with. We also have a great e-learning 101 series to learn more. You can sign up here and get it delivered via email. We also offer a ton of free e-books that cover a broad range of e-learning topics.

Build These Types of Courses

You’ll need practical experience. There are all sorts of things you can do to get it. Volunteer to build courses for NGOs, churches, hospitals, or anywhere else that has limited funds and would welcome some free training.

You don’t want to build the same course over and over again. Instead get experience building diverse modules and types of training. Here’s a good list to get started:

  • Assessments. Create a few different types of assessments. The default, blocky type quizzes are fine, but the more custom you can make them, the better.
  • Scenarios. They are always popular and they show how to build situational training that closely mirrors real-world interactions.
  • Interactions. There are three main ways to interact with the screen: click, hover, and drag. Build some modules that demonstrate your skills creating different types of interactions. Lean more on dragging than clicking.
  • Software Training. Most organizations do some sort of software training. Show your skills with screencasts and software simulations.
  • Make it interesting. Most e-learning isn’t very good and usually very boring. Convert one of those types of courses into something interesting. Make it look good and make it interactive.

Learn to Use E-Learning Software

Your success hinges less on your academic credentials and more on demonstrable skills and fluency with e-learning software. There’s a lot of e-learning software out there. You can’t learn everything. I’ll give my plug for the Articulate tools for two main reasons:

  • Do a job search and most organizations are looking for Articulate course developers. You can’t go wrong getting the skills that potential employers desire.
  • All of the demo modules I mentioned above can be quickly built in both Storyline and Rise. You’ll be able to build a professional portfolio using those tools especially if you take advantage of the community resources and the Content Library that comes with Articulate 360.

Build an E-Learning Portfolio

Whenever I hire an instructional designer, I’m more inclined to review their portfolio rather than a resume that documents their experience and education. An instructional design degree is great but to me, the proof is in the pudding. And without a portfolio how can you SHOW your work and skills?

The portfolio highlights your skills and experience.

  • Keep it short. Find a few interesting (and interactive) parts of the course and show those. Or build some modules from the weekly e-learning challenges. They’re short and relatively easy to build. And perfect for a portfolio project.
  • Looks matter more than instructional design. It is a visual medium so make your visuals strong. Stay away from defaults and add some custom elements. Add some novel interactivity to catch their attention.
  • Identify common types of courses (as noted above) and build some modules for your portfolio. This will give you a diversity of projects and showcase different skills.

Learn More About These Topics

There’s a lot that goes into building an effective e-learning course. Here are some additional topics and skills you’ll need to understand to be a good course designer. You don’t need to be a pro at everything but you should be able to speak to them when needed.

There’s obviously a lot more you need to know to be successful transitioning into an e-learning job. What are the five things you’d recommend to that person? Feel free to share them in the comments.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

e-learning workshop

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Antwerp: Nov 7. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • Utrecht: Nov 9 & 10. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • London: November 13 & 14. Articulate Community Roadshow. Register here.
  • Manchester: November 16 & 17. Articulate Community Roadshow. One ticket left. Register here.
  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.
2018
 

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 elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

The Power of Functional Prototypes for E-Learning

e-learning prototypes

Many e-learning developers spend too much time building courses that are almost complete before they solicit feedback about the course. This could be a waste of resources because by that time, they’ve invested a lot of resources and it’s a real challenge to get things changed that late in the game, especially if the changes are significant.

A better solution is to quickly prototype the course, get some feedback and make adjustments. This is even more critical if you have a lot of interactive content. The good thing is that this is really easy to do in Storyline (or event PowerPoint).

Here are a few tips on how to approach the prototyping.

E-Learning Prototype: Start Backwards

What is the objective of the course and what does the client expect the learner to do? Slapping a bunch of information together over a series of screens is probably not going to meet your objectives. 

It’s all about the action, boss.

It doesn’t take much effort to prototype a bullet point screen. That’s not where you want to put your effort when you prototype. Instead, focus on the actions and prototype the activities that let the learners practice and demonstrate understanding.

What do they need to do and what interaction can you build that allows them to do that?

E-Learning Prototype: Build Something that Works

One of the many things I like about Storyline is how easy it is to prototype all sorts of interactions. In fact, someone told me that she was in a meeting with a potential client who shared their course requirements and what they hoped to get out of the course.

While the potential client was talking, the e-learning developer opened Storyline and built a quick mock-up of how the course could work with some simple interactions and decision-making scenarios. The client intended to send her away to build something to pitch later. Instead, the e-learning developer showed her the interactive prototype right there in the meeting and got the job on the spot. All because she was able to focus on the desired activity and build a working model. 

E-Learning Prototype: Don’t Worry About Looks

At our workshops, we like to present a few challenge activities. This lets people workout ideas and build quick interactive modules. However, there are always a few attendees who end up spending all their time on the visual design and never end up building a working interactive prototype.

It’s an easy trap to fall into because we tend to lean on the visuals first. They help us think about the project. However, it’s a trap that wastes time. Don’t worry about the way the module looks, worry about the functionality and the desired output. 

Of course, you do want it to be visually organized. If not, the customer will still focus on the way it looks. But you don’t need to make it visually rich. A good cheat though, is to start with the content library templates and then work from there.

To sum it all up, building quick prototypes is a better option for course development than building almost complete courses and then soliciting feedback, especially since you’ll probably have to make a bunch of changes anyway.

How do you build your prototypes? Do you start with a storyboard? Or do you jump right into the software and start building?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

e-learning workshop

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Austin: September 12 & 13. Articulate Community Roadshow.
  • San Francisco: October 10 & 11. Articulate Community Roadshow. Seats limited for this event.
  • Antwerp: Nov 7. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • Utrecht: Nov 9 & 10. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • London: November 13 & 14. Articulate Community Roadshow. Register here.
  • Manchester: November 16 & 17. Articulate Community Roadshow. Seats are limited. SOLD OUT!
  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.

 

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 elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

What’s in Your E-Learning Pre-Flight Checklist

e-learning checklist

On a recent flight, I watched the flight crew go through a pre-flight checklist. This is a series of things that need to happen prior to taking off. While watching them I wondered what we’d consider being part of an e-learning pre-flight checklist. So I jotted a few quick notes in my Rocketbook (my latest gadget).

  • Information vs Performance. I like to put courses in one of two buckets: performance or information. Performance-based courses seek to change behaviors and have people learn and do something new or different. Information-based courses are more about awareness of certification. Knowing which bucket to place the course,, helps me know what type of resources to commit to it.
  • What are the objectives of the course? Some objectives are to change performance or teach new skills. And some objectives are more like certification and awareness. Knowing the objectives helps you determine the proper metrics to evaluate success.
  • Who is the final approver of the project? This is one of the first questions I ask. It’s important to know who the final decision-maker is. Often you’ll work on a course and then right before launch someone higher up in the food chain gets involved and wants to make changes. Find out who this person is before you get too involved in the project and be sure to keep them in the loop throughout. And most of all, make sure you get approval at various milestones in the project. As David likes to say, “When things go right, the managers take credit. But when things go wrong, it’s all on the trainers.”
  • Is there a budget? I’ve worked for larger organizations with large projects and rarely did we get a budget to build the courses. I was always told I was the budget. It’s a good idea to initiate the conversation about having a budget. Perhaps you start small and say you need $500-$1000. Even if you don’t need the money, it’s a good idea to build the expectation that you need a budget to go with your training project.
  • What expectations does the client have? This goes back up to understanding the type of course that is being commissioned and determining the objectives. Often, the client has a default position that their goals or problems are solved by training. This isn’t a good starting point. It’s important to do some performance consulting to better understand the client’s needs and if training will help. Doing that sets clear expectations.
  • What expectations do the learners have? Let’s face it, the bulk of most e-learning courses are compliance training or annual updates with little impact on the person’s day-to-day responsibilities. Thus, for many, the expectations are very low. We can’t always control the content and client objectives, but there are things we can do to make the experience better and more interactive.
  • What do you know about the audience? Ideally, the course is designed in a real-world context. To do that requires an understanding of the audience’s real world.
  • What resources are available? The most important resource is access to the subject matter experts. Other resources are existing content, technology, media, and the numerous assets required to build good courses. Of course, with services like Content Library, some of that is mitigated and not as big of an issue as in the past.
  • How will you evaluate it? If you define clear objectives you can define metrics to determine if they’ve been met. Thus one part of the evaluation is having measurable objectives. The other part is knowing how you’ll collect and process them. That’s not as easy and probably why most organizations don’t bother evaluating their training properly.
  • What’s the implementation plan? Once the course is loaded into the learning management system, what’s next? How do the learners know there’s a course for them to take? How do managers know? What marketing strategies do you have for the course launch?
  • Does it need to be mobile? Personally, this is somewhat moot. Modern e-learning courses work on mobile devices. However, there are some considerations when it comes to mobile and how you construct the course. Ideally, you use something like Rise where all of the design considerations are already made. If you use Storyline, you’ll need to think about the interface and how things are laid out and how they work on the smaller screens.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. What would you add to your e-learning pre-flight checklist? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

e-learning workshop

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Austin: September 12 & 13. Articulate Community Roadshow.
  • San Francisco: October 10 & 11. Articulate Community Roadshow. Seats limited for this event. Register here. Last US roadshow for 2017.
  • Antwerp: Nov 7. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • Utrecht: Nov 9 & 10. Articulate User Day 2017. Register here.
  • London: November 13 & 14. Articulate Community Roadshow. Register here.
  • Manchester: November 16 & 17. Articulate Community Roadshow. Seats are limited. Register here.
  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.

 

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 elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.