Making Conferences More Affordable

Affordable Conferences

Pick conferences that are affordable, to begin with. For example, choosing the Adobe eLearning Conference in Washington DC or the Adobe Learning Summit in Vegas are good choices because these conferences are entirely complimentary. In addition to the complimentary registration, Adobe will provide you with a great breakfast and lunch while attending the conference. These are two meals you won’t have to buy that you might have to at other conferences.


The conference is usually at a larger hotel that has conference facilities. These are not usually inexpensive places to stay. Do your research as to where you can stay nearby that will make it more affordable. If you are staying an extra day, try to find a hotel that includes a complimentary breakfast so you can save a few dollars as well. Consider the parking situation if you’re driving. With the price of parking in a downtown hotel, it might be worth leaving your car at the inexpensive hotel and catching an Uber instead. If there are other nearby, consider sharing a ride with them also.


You don’t have to fly first class to get to your conferences. I fly economy and while I have my prefered airlines, I’m not afraid to look at other carriers to see if I can save some money here and there. Use services like Expedia or Priceline where you can compare rates across many airlines to find the lowest price possible. Also, consider alternative times to fly. Sometimes I’ll choose an earlier or later flight just because it might save me a few bucks, but consider the money you might spend waiting in an airport for a later flight. If you save $30 but have to buy a meal while you wait, it might not be worth it.


Obviously, you will have to buy some meals while you are attending a conference. do some research ahead of time and find out what restaurants are nearby your hotel or the conference facilities. It’s great to try new restaurants and perhaps treat yourself from time to time, but there is nothing wrong with grabbing a sandwich at a sub shop or picking up some cheap eats at a local taco shop. I’ve also picked up a prepackaged sandwich and a bottle of iced tea at a nearby pharmacy. Nothing too terribly wrong with an egg McMuffin either.

Apps & Memberships

Here is one you may not have thought of. There are sometimes apps for the city or the hotel chain that can save you a few dollars. For example, Marriott offers free Wi-Fi to guests who are members of their loyalty program. At what the hotels can sometimes charge for in-room Wi-Fi this can really be worth it. Another App you can get on your phone or tablet that could come in handy for Las Vegas is the myVegas series of apps. This app allows you to play Vegas-style slot machines without spending any real money. You can actually accumulate points that can be traded in for complimentary nights in the hotel and discounts off restaurants and other activities. Please just be careful of the in-app purchases.


And the last thing I want to mention is that you can volunteer yourself to participate in the conference. Prior to the first Adobe eLearning Conference in Washington DC, I reached out and volunteered as a speaker. They accepted my request to help out and have invited me to the live events a total of seven times. As a speaker and frequent participant of the Adobe eLearning Community, they cover many of my expenses to these conferences. I’m not saying that everyone can do this but if you are an influencer in the Adobe eLearning Community, it’s worth looking into and seeing if they want your help for the next conference.

So there are just a few ideas that you can implement to save a few dollars if you’re footing the bill yourself. I’d love to hear other suggestions that you might have. Please put your comments below and perhaps we can keep this thread going for some ideas for Vegas in the fall. Looking forward to seeing all of you in Washington and Vegas.

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4 Websites to inspire the design of your next eLearning course

When creating the user interface and visual language for an eLearning course, it’s helpful to look for inspiration online. Inspiration doesn’t necessarily have to come from existing eLearning courses, but can come from websites, landing pages, apps and even printed material. In this post I’d like to highlight four websites that let you browse a variety of visual content, save images for further reference and in some instances even showcase your own work.

  1. Dribbble (
    Dribbble is a resource well known in the graphic and digital design world. While originally the platform was meant for uploading a designer’s “work in progress” shots (with the aim of receiving feedback from other participants), it now also features fully fleshed out designs, both for pint and web. As a user you can search by keywords that designers have tagged the work with and browse designs by colour. You can also save an artwork’s colour palette in ACO format to use in your own projects. Just keep in mind that in order to upload your own work (which might be beneficial for your exposure online, especially if you’re a freelancer), you must have a Dribbble account and the platform is per invite only.

  2. Behance (
    Very similar to Dribble is Behance (owned by Adobe). Here you can also find a variety of different artwork posted by Designers and are able to simply login with your Adobe ID. On the platform you can view artwork curated by Adobe or filter projects by country, colour or creative field (such as UI/UX design, motion graphics etc.). Unfortunately there isn’t a category called instructional or eLearning design, but you can search for specific keywords via the search function. Additionally you can filter by the software used (and enter “Adobe Captivate to see only projects created with the software). Since there is no invite needed to join the platform, anyone can upload their own work if desired.
  3. Pinterest (
    Everyone knows Pinterest. The platform lets you search by keyword, but you’ll have to do some digging through content to find exactly the kind of work you’re looking for. While both platforms mentioned above are solely showing artwork created, Pinterest links to a variety of other content such as infographics or articles. It’s often helpful to look for specific boards contain content from a particular category.
  4. Awwwards (
    Awwwards is a site where designers can submit their work for evaluation. A jury assesses each site (for a fee) and the sites selected as being “the best” are then displayed on the Awwards website. What this means for the average user is that he or she can browse through a variety (mostly) high quality sites as a source of inspiration. There are a variety of filters (such as colour, technologies used or category). While, again there’s no “eLearning” category, you can search via the standard search bar on site.

Have you got any favourite sites you go to for inspiration? Share them in the comments!

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Black Holes, Ruffians and Storyboards

My position on storyboards for eLearning has changed quite a bit over the years. Previously, I was in the frame of mind that storyboarding was only necessary when filming. Why? Well, not to be cliché but “time is money” and if you’ve ever had to pay for studio time, a crew, or compel your busy friends and coworkers to moonlight as unpaid actors in your training video then you already know  the importance of having every aspect of the shoot planned so that you don’t end up having to pay more, or beg your volunteers to come back for a second day of shooting.  The shift in my mindset regarding storyboards occurred the day my project and I was taken down by two strokes known in the Computer-Verse as Big Delete and his accomplice Sneaky ERB (as in, Empties Recycling Bin)! That’s right… No script! No storyboard! Just Captivate and I enjoying a Han Solo adventure before abruptly being swallowed up by a black hole.

Today, I have the learned experience to know that most people need some type of blueprint to collaborate and grow their ideas and for us Instructional Designers this usually takes the form of a Storyboard. Aside from the logistics of staying on budget and on schedule and NOT losing your project… here are two other reasons you should consider using a storyboard with your next eLearning project:

 1.    Storyboarding Helps Identify Grammatical Errors and Inaccurate Content

Most eLearning software utilizes timelines and layers that do not support spell checks within the application. The best way to make sure that your content is free from errors is to copy and paste it into your project from a Word document. This can at times feel tedious, but you know what is more frustrating than the repetition of copy and paste? The professional embarrassment of presenting a project to your peers during beta testing that is riddled with errors! Yikes!

 2.    Storyboarding Can Put the Anxiety of Ambiguity to Rest

One thing I learned early on as an Instructional Designer is that you are given an enormous amount of trust and responsibility in your role. The hand holding and the oversight you may have received in your previous positions is in the past. Often, Subject Matter Experts (SME) will simply hand over their existing training materials in the hopes of never having to deal with it (or you) again, in which case the storyboard becomes an even more vital tool because it might be one of the few opportunities for you to collaborate and get feedback from a busy SME.

 I remember building a project where I customized some of the background slides by shooting images of the common areas in the office building using my DSLR camera. One photo was of a beautiful mural in the lobby, which I incorporated into a scenario scene with cut out people for a soft skills training about respect in the workplace. To this day that is still one of my favorite interactions that I created with Captivate. Later, to my disappointment, I found out that the mural included images and logo’s that couldn’t be used in any internal company documents.

 While it’s your responsibility to ensure that the content is interactive, engaging and andragogic you must also be careful that their mandates don’t kill your creative efforts. This can be achieved by having your stakeholders view the storyboard prior to building the interactions, ensuring the content is accurate and that your efforts won’t have to be duplicated.

 Recently, I read a blog post by Steve Penfold where he wrote, “It’s said that when Mozart wrote down musical parts for the first time, he never made a mistake. The music was fully formed and flawless in his head before he started writing. Sadly, you and I probably don’t have this ability in music – or when developing eLearning”. I wish I would have received this insight prior to entering the deep space of my first eLearning internship and course build.

Ultimately, storyboards will ensure the expectations of all the stakeholders are being met, the production is efficient, and your creativity won’t be killed by policy or black holes and keystroke ruffians from the Computer-Verse.


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Adobe eLearning Conference & Captivate Specialist Training

I’m not just a speaker at the upcoming Adobe eLearning Conference in Washington DC on March 13th, 2019, but I’m also an attendee. For those who are unsure if this event is worth your time or the effort to convince your boss, consider the following.

During the previous years events, I met a bunch of people like myself who design eLearning for their living. It’s really great sharing similar experiences with one another, and knowing we are not alone in the challenges we face. More importantly, though, I got to hear other ideas and solutions as to how to solve elearning challenges. As a freelancer, I just don’t get that in my home office. My two office companions are great for other reasons but they don’t offer any suggestions for improving my eLearning designs.

Each Adobe live event offers a glimpse of what eLearning at Adobe will look like in the future. I first learned about virtual reality, fluid box responsive design, and interactive video at past Adobe live events and I’m looking forward to learning about new features this spring.

As I said up front, I’m also an attendee. When I’m not speaking or sitting in on the general sessions, I will be attending my fellow speaker’s sessions. Thanks to them, the effort I put into preparing material to speak about is returned to me tenfold. The creative solutions I’ve learned from my fellow speakers has allowed me to offer a wider range of eLearning solutions to my clients. I’m very thankful for the knowledge my fellow speakers have given me.

A new feature of the last few Adobe live events has been the Adobe Captivate Specialist training. The Adobe Captivate specialist training is a separate registration and requires a fee of $499. A short time before the conference you will get you access to pre-session training material. The pre-session training material is over seven hours of tutorials from Dr. Pooja Jaisingh. If you don’t know Pooja, she is the leading expert in Adobe Captivate and works as a Senior Evangelist for Adobe eLearning.

On the day of the Specialist training, you will register and be assigned to one of several classes. Breakfast is included and then you will begin your Captivate training until it’s time to break for lunch (also included). Later in the afternoon once all the training is concluded you will begin your assessment. You’ll know right away if you are successful and then you’re free to break until the conference the next day, where you will also get your certificate and a digital badge that you can add to your LinkedIn profile that is verifiable by potential employers.

Probably the most important aspect of this conference is the value. The conference itself is completely free, and if you elect to get your Adobe Captivate Specialist designation it’s only going to cost you or your organization the $499. Breakfast and lunch are included for the conference. Sure you have to pay for your transportation and accommodation but that would be true of any conference you decide to attend in 2019. Most eLearning conferences without any certifications are a thousand or more dollars just to register. If you use Adobe Captivate, are switching to Adobe Captivate, or are considering Adobe Captivate this is the conference for you.

I hope to see you in Washington DC on either March 12th, March 13th, or on both days.

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Want to create a click button with changing display per click

Here is what I cannot figure out:  On a single slide I want to have multiple spots for which the learner selects an entry through consecutive clicks (for each individual “spot”). To be specific: On one screen in several places, the learner has to select either an “up arrow”, “down arrow”, or a “dash”. I tried drag and drop the icons in theses places, but can only do one place per slide; and the submit button that comes with drag and drop is not suitable.

Once I have mastered that, can the trainee’s entries carryover to the next slide? I then want to add comments on the correctness of his/her entry.

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How to – Link to External and Internal Documents from an Adobe Captivate Project

There comes a time in a project when it is necessary to link to external or internal documents.  The following steps may be of assistance in helping to accomplish the task.


Note: A PDF document is used in this example.  However, other document types will also work.

1. Create a button in your project.

Button Link

2. Under the Actions: Set the On Success to option Open URL or File in a separate window.

3. In the URL type the name or browse for the PDF. Note: Browse for the location of External files.   For internal files only use the name and its extension.  For example: PDF and extension .pdf (see image below).

Button Link Setup

4. Save and publish the HTML5 project. An external document will launch when the button is clicked in the published project.

However, linking to internal document require more steps.

5. Once published, locate the HTML5 Output.

6. Place a copy of the file(s) in the HTML5 Output. Refer to the following example shown below.

HTML5 Output

When the project is launched and the PDF button is clicked, the PDF should open in a separate window.

The Downside of Using the Internal Linking Method:

Each time changes are made to the HTML5 project and is republished, the internal files will need to be copied back into the HTML5 Output directory.

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Adobe Captivate 2019 release

Fluid Boxes – Adobe is Listening!

When Fluid Boxes were launched in Captivate 2017 Release, I was pleased with this approach to responsive design. However, I felt like some aspects needed improvement. For me, the main thing was resizing of Fluid Boxes. Resizing Fluid Boxes was done by using the blue selection handles and dragging your mouse. Even using Rulers and Guides this was a difficult task of precisely setting up Fluid Boxes of an exact size. I’m pleased to report that with Captivate 2019 you can select the Fluid Boxes to resize them to a precise number of pixels or percentage by selecting the Fluid Box and navigating over to your Position panel. From there you can type in a percentage or pixel count, and you’re done. This is useful when you have a Fluid Box that serves the same purpose on many different slides in your project. For example, a Fluid Box dedicated to slide titles or navigation controls.

Another improvement that we’ve been asking for is the ability to correct for misaligned or improperly distributed objects within a fluid box, or for that matter wrongly distributed fluid boxes within a parent fluid box. Adobe has provided a simple button to distribute these object equally. This works well when I’ve resized something by accident.

I think my favourite improvement to fluid boxes in Captivate 2019 is the ability to align Static Fluid Boxes. Regular Fluid Boxes are great when your content is side by side. However, if you need your content to overlap, or require additional state objects, you need a Static Fluid Box. As we now know, Static Fluid Boxes have to maintain their aspect ratio. This means that as you shrink from one screen size to another, the content in a Static Fluid Box always shrinks with it. In Captivate 2017 the Static Fluid Box would always remain centered within the area for that Fluid Box. It wasn’t always what I had in mind with my design. Fortunately, with Captivate 2019 you can now choose a custom alignment for Static fluid boxes. You can align the Static Fluid Box any number of ways both horizontally and vertically.

This next improvement isn’t an improvement to fluid boxes, but I sure could have used it earlier this year when designing a series of modules for a client whose target device was iPads. This organisation doesn’t use computers, but each location has several iPads for a variety of purposes including training. No problem for me because I have an iPad. There was just one problem. Every time I wanted to test a version of one of the modules, I needed to publish it for HTML5, upload the published course to my web server, email myself the URL so I could pick it up on my iPad and then launch the course. With all the iterations of each module and a total of about two dozen modules, this was time-consuming. Thankfully now I will have access to Live Preview on Devices, a new preview method in Captivate 2019 that displays a QR code on your computer screen. With a mobile device on the same Wi-Fi network as your computer, you point your camera at your screen, and the course magically launches on your device.

I know that some eLearning designer-developers downplay the importance of responsive design, but look around at some of the remote workers and see what equipment they are using. In the early 2000s when the price of laptops came down, we started seeing remote workers using laptops. For example, you might see appliance repair persons, telecom installers and various others using laptops for managing what was traditionally done with pen, paper and clipboards. I’ve been observing these workers using a variety of different tablets and in some cases even larger smartphones. I’ve also seen a restaurant using tablets for the servers to take guest orders. This tells me that responsive design will be the way we all design some day. I predict that if in 5 years time if you’re not designing responsive elearning, you will not have a competitive edge. When you look at the improvements to fluid boxes in Captivate 2019, it is clear that Adobe is preparing for that eventuality.

New Features for Experiential Learning

As you start to work with the new features in Adobe Captivate 2019, you start to see a theme with many of the features. For me, that theme is experiential learning. Of course, some of you would argue that you cannot have experiential eLearning. eLearning isn’t close enough to real life. While we may not be able to immerse learners entirely in reality, this version of Captivate takes a few big steps toward that direction.

For a few years, I’ve been listening to other Captivate developers talk about virtual reality and the dream to design 3D eLearning. That dream is now a reality with Captivate 2019. You can now create a virtual reality eLearning project that learners can view on their computer screen, mobile device and even using a VR headset. Learners can turn in all directions and view whatever environment you wish to display to them. You can make it truly interactive by adding hotspots to perform a variety of different actions. You can play additional audio, display additional images, show the learner a text passage and much more. I’m very interested in seeing how other developers use this feature. If eLearning was a video game, we’ve just gone from Donkey Kong to World of Warcraft.

VR is cool, and everything but I predict that the breakthrough feature of Adobe Captivate 2019 will be the new Interactive Video feature. An interactive video gives you the ability to design video-based learning interactions for your learners that are truly engaging and immersive.  You can insert bookmarks on the video timeline and jump to those bookmarks from anywhere in your eLearning project. You can also add overlay slides that will hover over the paused video for learners to gain additional information. You can also add question slides as overlays. You can have the outcome of the question determine where you navigate your learners to depending on how they answer. So for example, if the learner gets a question wrong you can navigate to a portion of the video where the video instructor provides remediation to the learner, or alternatively offer praise to the learner for getting the answer correct.

I’m really excited to not only see what other developers will use these features for, but I’m excited to start telling my clients about what we can now do in eLearning that we couldn’t do today. I’d love to hear what your ideas are. Feel free to put your own suggestions in the comments below and please share this article with your fellow eLearning designer-developers.

Virtual Reality Projects

In this video tutorial, I show you the new Virtual Reality Projects in Adobe Captivate 2019.

Interactive Video

In this video tutorial, I show you what I predict will be the standout feature of Adobe Captivate 2019, Interactive Video. I will show you how to add overlay slides to your videos, and interactive items like knowledge check questions. In addition, you will be able to easily add really cool remediation to your interactive videos.

YouTube Streaming

In this video tutorial, I will show you the changes in the Insert Video window in Captivate 2019. You will also learn about the new way to insert YouTube videos into your eLearning project and how to make YouTube videos interactive.

Live Preview on Devices

Before Captivate 2019, if I wanted to preview my designs on a mobile device, I had to publish the whole project, upload it to my web server, email myself a hyperlink and then launch the course from my mobile device. In this video tutorial, I show you how easy it is to do the same thing just by using a simple QR Code reader in iOS or Android devices. No web server required.

Webcam Video Demo

In this video tutorial, I show you how you can record and insert clips from your webcam into your video demo tutorials recorded in Adobe Captivate 2018 Release.

Enhanced Fluid Boxes

In this video tutorial, I show you how fluid boxes have been enhanced and improved in Adobe Captivate 2019 Release

CSV Import for Questions

In this video tutorial, I’ll show you how easy it is to import a variety of question types into your Adobe Captivate project using CSV files that you can edit or create using spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers.

PowerPoint in Responsive Projects

In this video tutorial, I show you the new ability to import PowerPoint slides into your Adobe Captivate 2019 responsive design project. I probably won’t use this feature, but I see the value in having this feature available to new Captivate users.

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Incorporating Virtual Reality Content, Tools, and Devices into Learning Solutions

Incorporating Virtual Reality Content, Tools, and Devices into Learning Solutions

The concept of virtual reality dates as far back as 1938 when Antonin Artaud, a French director, and actor, referred to theater objects and characters as “la réalité virtuelle” in his essay collection called “Le Théâtre et son double”.  The English translation of this book, published in 1958 as The Theater and its Double, is the earliest published use of the term “virtual reality” (Artaud,1958).

Using Existing Content

Think about the use of existing virtual reality content in education.  Limitless possibilities await Instructional Designers/Developers.  The opportunities are there.  Instructional Designers/Developers can create learning solutions based around exploration type content that already exists. Much of this content is available free.  Imagine designing/developing learning solutions based around exploring the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC.  Virtual museum tours already exist such as the tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. These tours can be viewed using a mobile device or computer.

Let’s dive deeper and talk about tools and devices that allow users to totally immerse themselves in a 360-degree virtual reality experience.

Designing, Developing and Deploying Virtual Reality Learning Solutions Using Adobe Captivate 2019

With Adobe Captivate 2019’s built-in interactive features designing, developing and deploying realistic virtual reality situations and scenarios is a cinch.  Adobe Captivate 2019’s virtual reality capabilities can also increase productivity by decreasing the amount of time it takes to complete a VR project.  Interactive elements such as hotspots can add to learner engagement.  For more information on how to use Adobe Captivate 2019’s virtual reality features view the article “Adobe Captivate (2019 release) and Immersive learning with VR experiences” by Pooja Jaisingh (Senior Learning Evangelist) it is a helpful and insightful resource.

Popular Virtual Reality Devices for Content Playback

There are several devices on the market today that will allow playback of virtual content.  We will touch on a couple of these devices below.

Samsung’s Gear VR with Controller

In today’s world of technology, virtual reality is most recognized with products such as Samsung’s Gear VR with Controller which has a consumer cost at around $129.99 at Samsung.  When Gear VR is paired with a Smartphone such as the Galaxy S9+, Galaxy S9, Galaxy Note8 and more, the experience is awesome.  The user is immersed in a 360-degree world.  Also, the current Gear VR model weighs 0.76 lbs (without the Smartphone).  The Samsung Gear VR with Controller has been identified as a product for playing games and viewing movies.  This tool would be great to use in an exploration type learning solution as well.  There does not seem to be an educational type of package offered in any way for the Gear VR with Controller.  Google on the other hand does, so we now will take a look at Google Cardboard.

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard is the most economical way to provide learners with that great virtual reality immersive experience.  Build your own viewer using everyday items (download the kit) or take advantage of one of Google’s certified viewers.  Just pair it with your smartphone.  Also, choose from a variety of low-cost Google viewers.  However, keep in mind that purchasing kit bundles such as Google’s Expeditions kits come at a high price.  The kits are priced according to the number of registered students. For example, at Best Buy kits range in prices between $4,750.99 and $10,499.99.  Also, there is the Google Daydream View Headset which we will not go into the details of in this article.

References and Resources:

Antonin Artaud (1958), The Theatre and its Double Trans., Mary Caroline Richards. (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1958).

Google Cardboard, Get your Cardboard. Retrieved from

Pooja Jaisingh (2018), Adobe Captivate (2019 release) and Immersive learning with VR experiences, Published August 22, 2018.  Article retrieved from

Samsung, Samsung’s Gear VR with Controller, Information retrieved from–galaxy-note8-edition–sm-r325nzvaxar/

Smithsonian Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Tour, Retrieved from

Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC, Retrieved from


Article Photo by Bradley Hook from Pexels, Retrieved from at

Wikipedia, Antonin Artaud., Article retrieved from

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