A Simple Way to Track Courses without an LMS

no LMS

Generally, delivering e-learning courses is a two-step process: 1) create the course in your favorite e-learning software and 2) host the course in a learning management system.

There are many small organizations that don’t use formal learning management systems; however they want simple tracking of the courses. I had someone ask how they could track people in their organization who have taken a compliance course. He didn’t have a lot of learners and wanted something simple.

Here are two quick solutions that work well. They don’t require a lot of work to set up and they’re mostly free.

This solution assumes that the user gets a URL that links to the course. We have no identifying information so we need a simple way to collect who they are and track their completion.

Create a Form

Create a form using a hosted service. In these examples I am using Google Forms and Jot Form. However, you can use a different service if you want (or create your own form on a server). It doesn’t matter. The main thing is you have a way for the person to share info and send it your way.

form no LMS

Embed the Form

Once you have the form, you’ll embed it into the course. In these examples we’re using Rise’s embed block. If you use Storyline, the web object works perfectly for this.

Embed form no LMS

Create a Gate to the Form

The goal is to only expose the form when the course is complete. There are many ways to do this. For these demos, I’ll show two ways. In the first, I use a continue block that is locked until the learner affirms completion of the course and agreement with the content. In the second example, I use a quiz to serve as the gate.

no LMS two options

Examples of Embedded Forms

These are simple examples to show how the form looks embedded in the course and how you could create a gate to get to the form.

  • Jot Form Example: the course has free navigation and user affirms completion to unlock the the gate
  • Google Form Example: the course is locked and passing the final quiz unlocks the certificate of completion

Jot Form offers a bit more control and looks more integrated with the course. I colorized the block to match the form’s color.

JotForm example no LMS

On the other hand, Google Forms has that enormous header space and scrollbar. I removed the header image and filled it with white to avoid the Frankenform look but it still looks like something pasted into the course. It would be nice to have more control over the look, but it still works fine for what we need and it’s free. Also, the integration with Google Sheets saves a few steps later.

Google fomr example no LMS

Upload the Course

Since we’re not using an LMS, we need a place to upload the course. I use Amazon S3 which I showed how to set up in a previous post; but it could also be Google Storage. But it can be any web server.

no LMS Amazon S3 free

Track Course Completion

The form collects the data and sends it to the service. Jot Form displays a table with the option to download. Google Form sends the data to a Google Sheet.

Google Sheet no LMS

Of course, there are many other ways to do something similar to avoid using an LMS, especially if you have programming skills.

At a previous place, we used the course URL to drop a cookie on the person’s computer. At the end of the course, we inserted an .ASP file via a web object. The .ASP file collected the info from the cookie and sent it to the database. Thus we knew who took the course, when they completed it, and their minimum passing score.

Do you have any other ways you use to track the course without using an LMS or paid service? Please share in the comments.


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How to Simplify E-Learning Templates

e-learning templates made simple

E-learning templates are a great way to save time. This is especially true for those of us who build repetitive content and courses. And it’s even more true for those of us who aren’t graphic designers since many of the e-learning templates provide nice looking visual design.

However, working with templates can be challenge. Sometimes they’re so big and present too many choices (which can debilitate). Another challenge is that modifying templates often requires a more involved understanding of the authoring tools. This isn’t easy for the person just getting started.

Templates should save time and streamline the production process. Otherwise, why use them? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

E-Learning Templates Are the Second Step

Figure out what you need before you build. A big time waster is not knowing what you want in the course but building it anyway. Then realizing it’s not what you want, you tear down and rebuild. Or worse, moving forward with a bad idea and letting it dictate the rest of what you’re doing because of the time already invested.

I like the weekly e-learning challenges as a way to play around with ideas and see what others do. The challenges help develop fluency with the software and build awareness around ideas that can be implemented before you work on a project.

ACTION ITEM

Let the Content Determine the Right Template

Templates are great, but don’t let the template dictate your content. This is one of the biggest issues with templates. We like a template because it has sixty cool layouts and then we force our content to the template. Or we think we have to use all sixty layouts so we have similar types of content but it all looks different throughout the course because we changed up our layouts.

ACTION ITEM

  • Review your templates and the various layout options. Then determine when you use them and why. Even if you have a lot of great layouts, it’s a good idea to reduce the layouts you use. This provides visual consistency and repetition is key to good visual communication.

Keep E-Learning Templates Simple

Templates don’t always need to be big all inclusive files. It helps to have single purpose templates like just one tabs interaction. The more single purpose the template is, the better you can use it. It’s also easier to customize one slide to match your course than it is to customize an entire template.

e-learning templates

One of the most under used features in Storyline is saving the files as templates. This makes the slides available for the next course. You can insert a single slide(s) or the entire file. The new teams feature in Storyline 360 makes it even better because the slides can be shared among the team and easily inserted in courses.

In Rise, you can build lessons and save them as templates. Once inserted, they can be modified to meet the course objectives. And they don’t need to be big lessons, you may just want to customize some blocks for easy re-use.  This is especially helpful if you want to use a multiple colors or change the text sizes.

rise e-learning templates

ACTION ITEM

  • Create single slide templates in Storyline and save them as templates. If you’re on a team account, share them with your team.
  • Learn to create and save templates in Rise. I like to create branded blocks where I add different colors and text sizes.

Learn to Edit the E-Learning Templates

Inevitably you’ll need to modify the template. There are things you should learn about the software so that when you need to change the template it doesn’t take forever (otherwise you lose the time-saving benefit of the template).

ACTION ITEM

  • In Storyline, learn more about master slides and how they work. Also, theme fonts and colors allow the content to change dynamically.
  • Rise is a lot easier to learn. Focus on theme settings, duplicating courses, and saving lessons as templates.

Templates are a real time-saver. But to save time, plan ahead, and learn to use the software you use to build e-elearning courses.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • July 17 & 18 (St Louis, MO)Articulate Community Roadshow. Register here. ATD St. Louis members get a 25% discount. Contact ATD St. Louis for more information.
  • September 12 & 13 (Durham, NC): September 12 & 13. Articulate Community Roadshow. Register here.
  • November: finalizing details for UK and EU workshops in November.

 

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.

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Save Time & Money with Hybrid E-Learning Design

Years ago I developed a hierarchy for course design. I used it to help manage my team and allocate our limited resources.

Back then, most e-learning was custom-built in Flash. Those courses took more time, required special skills, and cost a lot more to produce. However, with Articulate Presenter and PowerPoint we could build about 80% of what we needed. It was fast and easy. So our default was Articulate Presenter unless we could justify why it didn’t meet our needs.

 

PowerPoint had its limits. But when we needed custom interactivity, we’d build just those pieces in Flash and insert them into our PowerPoint-based courses. That meant we got fast development and custom interactivity: a win-win.

There were courses where PowerPoint or a hybrid approach just didn’t work. As a final option we custom built our courses in Flash. Because this was the most expensive and time-consuming option, we tried to limit this and do most of our custom development using the hybrid approach.

We always started with rapid e-learning and only moved to more expensive development when we could justify doing so. It made no sense, to custom build Flash when we could do the same thing faster and less expensive with PowerPoint.

Today, we have a similar challenge so let’s revisit the hierarchy of course design for a new generation of rapid e-learning designers.

General E-Learning Content

A screen’s a screen whether it’s simple linear content or interactive. When you look at the screen, you’ll see text and some media such as images, illustrations, and video. If there’s an interactive element, at its core the interaction just changes what’s being exposed on the screen.

How screens are laid out is generally limited to left, right, up, and While we can be creative and do exotic things there are 20 or so common screen layouts.

The Updated E-Learning Course Design Hierarchy

Both Rise and Storyline are part of Articulate 360. Often, I’ll get questions about when to use Rise and when to use Storyline. To answer the question, I lean on the same strategic approach I used when managing my team and having to choose between rapid authoring with PowerPoint or custom development in Flash.

Operate at the Speed of Business

Most e-learning content exists because of regulatory and compliance requirements. Those courses are more explainer content and less interactive. Thus it makes sense to use the easiest tool and quickest production process possible.

And this tool is Rise. It’s super easy to use and getting courses, especially simple ones out the door is a breeze. On top of that, whatever you build can be saved as a template. And as far as interactive content, there are a number of interactive choices that come with Rise (and those get updated frequently). Rise is also fully responsive which is perfect for today’s mobile workforce.

 

The reality is that not all content is explainer content and often there needs to be more custom interactivity than what you get out of the box in Rise. That’s OK because when Rise doesn’t provide the content type you need, use Storyline by building single slide interactions and then insert them into your Rise courses with the Storyline block.

With this approach, you get easy authoring for the majority of the content in Rise and custom interactivity when you need it in Storyline. It’s a good balance between speed of production and providing the appropriate level of interactivity. That’s a win-win.

Manage Resources for Custom Interactivity

There are times when working directly in Storyline makes more sense than working in Rise. For example, if you need to build complex interactions, adaptive learning paths, variable-based navigation,  or interactive scenarios then it makes sense to build them in Storyline. Storyline gives you a lot more flexibility because you start with a blank screen and build from there.

This doesn’t mean working with Storyline is complicated. It’s still relatively easy to learn and grows with you. It just means that for simple content, especially, Rise is usually a better solution.

Want a tabs interaction? In Rise you select the tabs interaction block and add your content. You’re done. Building the same thing in Storyline requires time to think about what it will look like and how it will function; and then you add the objects, layers, and triggers. It’s easy enough to do, but just a bit more time-consuming to do it. And time is money.

So when people ask which tool to use, I suggest that all things should start with Rise. If you can’t build it with Rise, explain why. If you need custom interactions, build the core content in Rise (you have a lot of options with the various blocks) and add Storyline interactions where necessary. And if your course requirements are more complex and they can’t be met with Rise, then by all means, use Storyline.

The main thing is you’re managing your limited resources.  If you spend a week building something in Storyline when you could have built it in one day with Rise, you’re not being a good steward of your resources. And when you need more time for custom work, you won’t have it because you spent it on simple content.

That’s where the content creation hierarchy comes in handy. It’s all about managing resources and delivering a viable product on time and within budget.


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Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

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The Future of E-Learning

future of learning technologies

Here’s an excerpt from a recent presentation on the future of learning technology.

I went to school to be a video producer. Right after I graduated, the video industry changed from analog to digital. At the time digital video technology was cutting-edge and super expensive. And I was stuck in a job with an organization that had no money, so I felt that everything was was passing me by and I’d never catch up.

I see a lot of the same things in our industry today. So much is changing and it’s hard to keep up. It can be quite stressful.

We’ll look at some emerging technologies and how they impact our jobs and then how it really impacts you.

E-Learning Democratized

future of learning technologies e-learning democratized

A few years back, it was expensive to build e-learning courses. That changed with the PowerPoint-to-Flash tools like Articulate Studio. Those tools let all organizations into the e-learning world and made it possible to bring course content to the masses.

Over time, the tools evolved as we went from PowerPoint to Storyline.

E-Learning Made Easy

e-learning made easy future of learning technologies

It took a lot to build web pages a few years back. Now you have sites like Wix where you can build a pretty sophisticated site in minutes. The same thing is happening with e-learning. Look at how easy it is to build a course in Rise.

There are the naysayers who complain about this. I actually had someone tell me that we should limit access to the software to only people with the training to build courses. That may have worked in the Soviet Union, but I prefer a less elitist approach. Give them the tools and then help them learn to use them better is a more charitable approach.

Besides, organizations will always opt for quicker, cheaper delivery (especially when most of their courses are explainer-type content).

Virtual Reality is Virtually Here

One emerging technology is virtual reality (VR). When done right it can create truly immersive experiences. I’ve seen some really cool demos and it’s definitely going to create opportunities for different ways to learn.

With that said, many of the virtual reality demos I see are simple 360° videos with clickable hotspots. They’re not much more than labeled graphics. There is a novelty to them, but it seems like a lot of work to create video labeled graphics. Not sure how much more valuable they are than static images once you get past the novelty of viewing them.

future of learning technologies virtual reality made real

The real value in virtual reality is being able to interact with the environment and not just move around and click for information, like in the images above where you work in a simulated dental office.

The reality (that’s not virtual) is that building an immersive virtual environment is cost prohibitive for most organizations. Until the costs to produce come way down, for most organizations virtual reality will be a pipe dream.

Augmented Reality is a More Affordable Reality

With augmented reality (AR) a lot of the cost of production is reduced. Instead of trying to create a virtual world, we augment the real world with additional content and experiences.

future of learning technologies augmented reality in the real world

Ikea and other sites allows us to put furniture in real rooms to see how it will fit.

future of learning technologies augmented reality to translate content

We can use our phones to translate content in real time or learn what’s around us.

future of learning technologies augmented reality to train new skills

And we can learn new things, just in time at our point of need.

If you want to play around with augmented reality, check out HP Reveal and learn more about what some of the tech leaders are doing:

The Technology That Will Really Change Your Job

Virtual and augmented realities are cool and obviously have a role in our industry, but the technologies that will really change your jobs are artificial intelligence (AI) and big data.

future of learning technologies chatbots to deliver training

future of learning technologies automated response

Most of what drives e-learning is compliance and regulatory training. Often, we’re just rehashing content that already exists someplace else. Soon, that’ll all be automated. Organizations will be able to pull custom content together to meet the needs of its learners. They’ll be able to create chatbots and other tools to push what you need when you need it. This emerging technology will create articles, documentation, guided instruction, and probably even videos. In that world there won’t be much need for instructional designers.

While it’s exciting to see and anticipate these emerging technologies, it does induce a bit of stress. Can we keep up? Will we be out of work?

I’ll leave you with this one thought.

Twenty-five years ago when I created custom presentations using Harvard Graphics (pre PowerPoint) I thought that one day people will know how easy this is and I’ll be out of work. Today, close to three decades later, not much has changed. Sure we’ve got a lot of cool technologies and all of that. But the presentations and the courses are still mostly the same quality (for good or bad).

So take heart in knowing that you’re part of an exciting industry with emerging technology, but don’t fear being out of work anytime soon.


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

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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

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The Role of Today’s Trainer

role of today's trainer

The other day I was at Costco about to buy something. But before I made the purchase, I got online to do some research….right there in the store. I learned enough to make an informed decision. In fact, I was so “informed” that I was able to provide some assistance to another shopper. Despite all of that, I’m no expert on the product, but I am expert enough to meet my own needs.

And this is the world our learners live in, as well. As they have a learning need, they can access what they need when they need it because technology has changed the role of today’s trainer (or at least part of it).

At the start of my career in training, most of the content required to learn wasn’t always easily obtained. Thus it did require some research, meetings with subject matter experts, and a formal training plan to build and deliver training. Otherwise, those on the other end wouldn’t be able to access what they needed.

Today, a lot of that has changed. With the Internet, we have access to all sorts of information. And we can get it at the time we need it. Gone are the days for much of the formal training we used to build. They took too long to build and deliver. And often were hard to maintain.

Does it mean there’s no need for trainers? No! But it does mean the role is a bit different.

I like to think the new trainer has two areas of focus to ensure the training mission is complete:

  • Structured training
  • Convenient training

The Role of the Structured Trainer

the role of trainer structured

I see this as more of the traditional role of trainer where you meet with content owners, understand their needs, and put together a training plan. It’s designed to create a specific learning experience to meet a specific goal.

There’s a lot of value in a formal training process. A well-designed training plan can speed up the time to learn and mitigate potential issues. For example, many people have access to content, but it doesn’t mean the content is vetted or compliant with the organization’s needs.

On top of that, compliance and regulatory training often has to have specific content and be delivered a certain way. In those cases, the structure is important.

The Role of the Convenient Trainer

role of trainer convenient

This is where most people are. They have needs, they research them, and then do something with what they’ve learned. Does it means they’ve become experts? No. But it does mean they’ve gotten enough to do what they need to do.

So what’s your role in this world?

  • Curate content. Just because we can find information doesn’t mean it’s always relevant. And it takes time to find it. The trainer is a conduit to the content expert. Curate important information and make it easily available to those who need it.
  • Build a network of learners. A community is built around a shared interest and desire to grow in expertise. Find ways to connect learners so they can communicate, share, and learn from each other.
  • Keep it informal. This is usually where it breaks down. Organizations (and trainers) want structure and control. Thus, it’s hard to let things flow without imposing a bunch of organizational mumbo jumbo.

There’s a place for formal, structured training (see above) and there’s a place to keep it more organic. Organic allows people to choose the content that best serves their needs.

The two roles aren’t an either-or proposition. It’s not one way over the other. It’s just the reality that formal training doesn’t always have to be the plan. And a good training initiative builds on the informal aspects of learning and sees its trainers as part community managers who bring content and people together.


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

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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.

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Understanding Today’s Empowered Learners

To quote the famous bumper sticker, “Learning Happens!”

I use that quote all the time with the entry-level instructional designers I train. It’s a reminder that people learn regardless of the training plans we put in place. And often they learn despite them.

Learning is innate to being human. It’s part of our nature and we’re never in a mode where we’re not learning something. It doesn’t mean that we always learn the right things or make the right adjustments to what we learn, but we are in a continual process of learning.

In that sense, learning hasn’t changed much over the years.

Training Today Versus Yesterday

What has changed is how we acquire and use content to learn. In the past, training teams (or the content owners) controlled access to most of the content. In a sense, they were the knowledge brokers. They organized content into “training” and provided “certification.”

Learners Today

Today, it’s a bit different. Learners are empowered in ways they weren’t a few years ago.

  • The Internet (and internal networks) make it easier to catalog and find content.
  • Online communities connect peers who can extend the one person’s realm of expertise.
  • What they find, they can save, curate, and share with their community of learners.
  • Mobile devices mean people can access content at a point of interest or need. It gives them information at the right time, and often at the right place.
  • There’s an app for everything (or so it seems). And in the same vein, there’s a YouTube video for everything, too. Thus, you may not gain a deep understanding of the content, but you generally can get a functional understanding.
  • Do you need to be a certified expert? Seems people are more inclined to become micro experts with their fingertip learning.

Trainers Today

What can today’s trainer do to respond to these changes?

  • Focus less on formal training programs that tend to be too long and provide more content than is needed.
  • Lean more on bite-sized learning modules that are chunked to focus on single objectives.
  • Learn from online tech and marketing. They track people and know what to deliver and when. I’m not a big fan of online ads, but I will have to say I’m always impressed with the ads that Facebook serves. Usually, they are things that interest me. The same with when I travel. Google knows where I’m at and serves up relevant information, often before I need it. Seems that training could implement similar ideas.
  • Build a community and let it be organic. There’s a place for formal training. But there’s also a place for learning communities where people can curate and share. And they can do that with little formal oversight.
  • There’s still a need to vet content, but what’s vetted can be packaged differently in formats more flexible to meeting real needs.

The reality is that people learn. And they don’t always depend on what we put in front of them. In fact, often they learn faster than we can teach. Are we adjusting to the needs or still relying on an old-school model?

How are you addressing the changes in our industry?


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

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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.

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Build Effective Courses That Put the Learners in Charge

effective e-learning tips

Here’s part two of a recent presentation I did on letting learners drive. It presented foundational ideas on how to build engaging e-learning courses and then focused on tips that help make the courses more learner-centric.

In part one, we looked at how to create engaging training. And in this part, we’ll look at how to make it effective.

Generally speaking, most training is info-centric where content plays the main role. Obviously, content is important. But when it comes to building a course, content in a meaningful context is what matters.

Here are some tips on how to create courses that focus on the learner’s context.

Effective Courses Creating Relevant Context

effective courses are relevant

As we mentioned in the previous post, content needs context and that context needs to be relevant to the end user. How is the content used in what they do in real life situations?

Effective Courses Address Diverse Learner Needs

effective courses

Some people come to the courses as experts and some as novices. Thus, courses can’t all be one size fits all. Do a user analysis to understand the learners and their needs. Then build mechanisms in the course that give them the freedom to learn where it works best for them.

Effective Courses Give the Learners Control

effective courses let users choose

Think of your course live a textbook. Many are designed to flow in a linear path, but most people jump around topics for reference. They don’t always read everything. They usually just read to learn what they need.

That’s how it works online, as well. Want to learn something? Do a  search on YouTube.

effective courses free navigational control

My guess is you jump right into the heart of the matter and skip over a lot of nice-to-know content that wasn’t critical to your search objective.

Why not design the learning experience more like that? Why does it have to be linear?

Effective Courses Expose the Need for Learning

effective courses expose the need to learn

We tend to push content out, but we want the learner to pull it in. But we need to give them a reason to pull. One way is to expose the need to acquire content. We could challenge what they know—challenge their understanding.

This could happen with a simple assessment upfront. Not designed to pass or fail them, but instead, it’s designed to expose their need to know more. Or the assessment can be more complex like an interactive scenario.

Effective Courses Let the Learners Explore

effective courses let learners explore content

The learning experience is more than just presenting information. Information needs to be used in context. A great way to do this is to allow the learner to explore and discover content. Of course, they need to have a reason to explore.

Effective Courses Provide Contextual Scenarios

effective courses decision-making scenarios

One way to get learners to pull in contact is to have them make decisions. Create decision-making scenarios where they have to solve a problem or take some sort of action. Then use that as a way to present content they can explore, collect, and consume to make the best decision.

Effective Courses Sort Learners by Experience

effective courses sort learners

One way to provide better learning experiences is to sort learners. This can be by role, tenure, or competency. The sorting process can be simple or complex, adaptive learning paths. In either case, it helps you build a better course and it creates a better experience for the one who has to go through it.

Effective Courses Sort by Understanding

effective courses sort by understanding and competency

An easy way to sort learners is by how much they understand. This is an effective way to design annual compliance training. At the front end, challenge their level of understanding. If they demonstrate competency, then move them past content (or to the end). If they can’t demonstrate competency, move them through the content.

Effective Courses Sort by Experience or Role

effective courses sort by experience

Another common way to build the learning path is by role or experience. Create a mechanism at the front end to sort learners and then create a path that adapts to how they were sorted. If there are places where this is common content, put that up front and then branch them once they get past it.

There’s a lot that goes into building effective courses. It all starts will clear objectives that can be measured. From there, create meaningful and contextual decision-making opportunities. Ultimately, a course is designed for learning, so giving the learner as much control as possible in the process will only make it that much more effective.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

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.

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How to Create Engaging E-Learning Courses

engaging e-learning checklist

Here’s a presentation from a previous workshop on how to create interactive e-learning. For this workshop, I focused on how to create an engaging e-learning experience for the end-user.

Here are a few core points from the presentation on how to create engaging e-learning courses.

Engaging E-Learning Starts with Not Building a Course

engaging e-learning future learners are bored

That’s probably not the right heading but it is the right position to take when it comes to building e-learning courses.

Often the client defaults to training as a solution. But there are more things at play than just training. Good performance consulting helps root that out.

  • What are your goals?
  • Why aren’t they being met currently?
  • Is training the right solution?

Sometimes, people don’t have the right tools, systems, or management to meet objectives. Building an e-learning course may help them learn something, but that something they learn may not help meet the real objectives.

Engaging E-Learning Starts with the Right Content

engaging e-learning ROI

Not all courses are created equal. Some focus on performance where there are clear, measurable objectives. And some are more about information or awareness. Understanding the type of course required helps you allocate your resources.

Sometimes a simple, linear course is perfect for an awareness campaign. Or perhaps, it’s just a matter of presenting a relevant case study. And other times, a course requires interactive decision-making.

You have limited resources so spend them wisely. Don’t waste them on a course that doesn’t require it.

Engaging E-Learning Meets the Needs of Many

As a course designer, you’re a bridge between the organization or client that wants a course and the learner who has to take it.

For the client, you need to be cost-effective and build courses that meet some measurable objective. And for the learner, you need to build a course that engages them, doesn’t waste time, and helps them learn.

Ideally, the client and learner have the same objectives, but this isn’t always the case, especially with many of those compliance courses that are often pointless for the person who has to take it, but a necessity for the organization trying to set standards and communicate policies.

Engaging E-Learning Mimics the Real World

engaging e-learning relevant context

Do you want people to learn? Put the information in a context that mirrors the real world. Don’t tell them about policies. Instead, build activities where they develop competencies by using the policies to make the right decisions.

  • Find out how they’ll use the information in the course.
  • Give them ways to practice the same things they need to do to be successful on the job.
  • Provide feedback to help them learn and make the adjustments they need to make.

The key to creating effective and engaging e-learning is to build meaningful courses. They need to be meaningful for the client, thus they need to be cost-effective and meet objectives. And they need to be meaningful for the end learner by actually teaching something relevant and worth learning.


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

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A Simple Way to Build PowerPoint Graphics for Mobile Learning

PowerPoint graphics

In a previous post, I shared how I built an interactive scenario in Rise. I’ve gotten lots of emails asking how I built the graphics like the headers and the flashcard interactions for the interactive scenario. So in today’s post, I’m going to show you a simple way to build graphics for your Rise e-learning courses.

PowerPoint graphics headers for Rise blocks

PowerPoint graphics flashcard interaction

Understanding the Image Blocks in Rise

Rise offers a number of blocks that support inserted images (such as image, gallery, and some of the interactions). Most them work perfectly in one of two aspect ratios:

  • 1:1 (square)
  • 16:9 (rectangle)

There are a few blocks that have text overlay where the image is scaled. Those are mostly decorative images so we won’t worry about them.

Understanding PowerPoint Slides

PowerPoint is easy-to-use screen and with some practice, you can build almost any type of visual. Because of this, I build my simple graphics in PowerPoint and save the slides as images.

In PowerPoint, we need to do two things: set slide size and then whatever we build we export as an image.

  • Go to Design>Slide Size and modify the slide size.
  • To save the slide as an image, go to Save As and choose an image format. You can save a single slide or all slides. I usually save in PNG format.

Create PowerPoint Graphics to Use in Rise

Since there are two aspect ratios, I create two PowerPoint files for my Rise graphics. One is 1:1 and the other is 16:9. You can see the PowerPoint files I created for the scenario demo.

PowerPoint graphics example of file

PowerPoint is a freeform slide. I can build virtually anything I need quickly. In the interactive scenario, I created 1:1 images for the flashcards. One side of the flashcard has the question text and the other has the feedback.

I used the various image editing features in PowerPoint to colorize the graphics. I also used the emjoi features to create some simple feedback graphics. While it’s easy enough to build these graphics with other tools I just find PowerPoint to be easy and fast. However you’re not confined to PowerPoint, you can use the tool of your choice.

PowerPoint graphics flashcard questions

PowerPoint graphics flashcard answers

The images above are relatively simple. The images below required a bit more work. I had to build it so the character extends out of the frame. You can see that I created a couple of versions. I opted for the lighter version because it made the Rise screen seem more open with more white space.

PowerPoint graphics header image

When you’re all done building your slides, save the slides as images rather than a .pptx file. Then you’ll have a folder of images that work with your Rise courses.

Bonus PowerPoint Graphics Tip

With Articulate 360, you get Studio 360 that includes Presenter and works with PowerPoint. That means you have access to all of the Content Library characters and templates. So if you want the same Content Library characters in Rise, use PowerPoint slides to build the graphics like I did above.

Here’s another example I mocked up for the blog post using the same techniques.

PowerPoint graphics interactive scenario 2

So there you have it. In the first, post we looked at how to build the interactive scenario in Rise. And in this one, we reviewed how to use PowerPoint to quickly build the graphics you need.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

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.

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3 Ways to Save Your Training Job

training

Whenever an organization needs to re-organize or make cuts to its staff, the training people are usually the first on the chopping block. There are a lot of arguments as to why that’s the case but it’s a reality for anyone who’s been in the training industry for a while.

The good thing is that e-learning is still a hot part of the training industry, thus far many of us have been spared. But as the tools become more efficient and others are empowered to build their own training content, there will be a reckoning and we’ll have to continue to show our value.

Here are a few common reasons why training gets the boot and what you can do today to avoid being the one booted.

Training Creates Value

Training is supposed to create value. In an ideal world, training is aligned with the organization’s goals and all training efforts contribute to meeting those goals. But the reality is that not all courses (or what are called courses) focus on performance. And that’s probably why it’s easy to gut training departments when times get tough.

Here are a few considerations that help position you for long-term success.

Training Aligns with Business Initiatives.

Often the training department lags behind everyone else and tends to react to what the business is doing. Because of this, plans are made without your input.

When you know that the organization is pushing an agenda, your first thought should be where can I contribute? Then figure out how to make it happen. Learn more about the projects and their objectives. Connect with decision-makers. You’ll be seen as a valuable partner when you’re proactive in helping the organization meet its goals.

Training Connects with Metrics

Training should be measurable. However, what’s being measured needs to be meaningful. Years ago I learned that lesson when I shared some metrics with one of our directors. While the metrics were great, they were completely irrelevant to what he needed to make decisions.

Get connected with the numbers people. There’s someone in the organization who tracks performance metrics. Find out who that is and learn more about how they track the metrics. You want to know that your courses are aligned with what’s measured. Often you’ll find that your training focuses on one area but the metrics and incentives tied to them focus on different areas. A financial specialist can help you see that.

Trainers Are Assertive

Training groups tend to be passive and react to the organization’s needs. Instead, the teams should be aligned with the organization’s goals and offer proactive solutions. Sometimes this is out of your hands because you don’t have a seat at the table. However, that can change.

Consider the two steps above:

  • Understand the organization’s goals and push back to ensure your projects are aligned. Worst case you’ll get a better understanding of why you’re doing what you do. However, you may help steer your team towards more productive work.
  • Take the initiative to be part of the knowledge network. Most people don’t leverage this resource and kind of go with the flow. That flow may not go where you want it to.

Ideally, you want your work to be aligned with the organization’s critical path. The more you to do assert that goal, the more apt you are to be where you need to be and have your contributions valued.

Don’t remain an order taker. Get connected and involved before the decision to create training is determined. This allows you to be a better partner focused on productive training courses that help move the organization forward.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

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.

Image already added