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

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. 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.

8 E-Learning Production Tips for Your Next Gamified Course

gamified e-learning

The other day I got one of those marketing emails that I tend to delete without looking over. However, this one featured some ideas on gamification. And what got me most interested was looking at their examples. As we all know, gamification is a hot topic and it’s always neat to see how different groups build the gamified elements in their courses.

Ingenuiti put together a portfolio page with three different gamified examples. They use three micro games to teach and demonstrate some core gamification concepts.

I reviewed their modules and want to highlight a few production tips that not only work for gamified e-learning courses, but are just as useful in other contexts. For today’s post, I’ll focus on the first micro game.

Here’s a link to the video tutorial series.

Gamification Micro Game #1

gamified e-learning example

The first micro game focuses on three types of learning activities:

  • Simple Game: challenge the learners understanding in a common game format. It’s a great way to rehearse and recall information and do it in a fun way that is familiar to most people.
  • Explore Activity: have the learner explore the environment and collect information or rewards. I always consider exploration to be one of the core building blocks for interactive learning. Given the right context, exploration is a great way to engage and inspire critical thinking.
  • Simple Scenario: the learner observes an interaction, reflects on it, and then offers constructive input. Mimicking real-world type interactions is a good way to reinforce the learning experience. They do some clever things with the commenting, liking, and bookmarking.

There’s a lot going on in their modules. I isolated a few things that they did so that I can show some production tips and nuances of the software. Keep in mind, there’s always a few ways to do the same thing in software. So if you have different or even better ideas, feel free to share them in the comments.

Here are some videos that offer some real quick tutorials on how you can create similar effects and interactions in your own e-learning courses. I’m using Storyline because it’s easy to use, but you’re free to use the software of your choice, especially if you have plenty of time on your hands and not rushed to get things done. 			</div><!-- .entry-content -->
	    
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Here’s an Easy Way to Share Your E-Learning Courses

share your e-learning courses header

This is a tip I stumbled upon this week and thought I’d share it because one of the most frequent questions I get from people trying to manage a work portfolio is how to quickly share e-learning courses.

Let’s quickly review some of the options that we’ve mentioned in the past:

Today, we’ll look at another option. It’s not free, but it’s inexpensive and comes with other benefits.

Share Your E-Learning Courses with pCloud

I subscribe to AppSumo because they often have good deals on multimedia-related apps or graphics. I really like when they present offers with lifetime access. This week, AppSumo had a great deal for lifetime access to pCloud for $49.

I won’t bore you with all the details and benefits regarding pCloud because you can learn that on your own. To keep it simple, it’s a cloud-based storage service similar to Google Drive and Dropbox. What I like that’s different is that it works like a virtual drive so I don’t need to have all of the files on my computers like I do with Dropbox.

Examples of E-Learning Courses 

Anyway, I was testing out their public folder and loaded a few published Storyline courses to see if they work and guess what, they do. Here are three demos:

As you can see, the courses play fine. Thus making it a simple solution for those who want to easily share their courses.

Steps to Share Your E-Learning Courses

Here are a few general steps to share your courses using pCloud.

share your e-learning courses public folder

  • Create a folder inside of your Public Folder to share courses.
  • Copy your published course to that folder. pCloud looks like a drive on your computer so you just need to move the files to the pCloud drive.
  • The files are uploaded to pCloud.
  • Go to your my.pCloud.com site and access the folder where you saved your published course.

share your e-learning courses link

  • Locate the story.html and click on Share>Get Link. That creates a link to the HTML file which loads the course. You don’t want to share the HTML file itself because the user will only be able to see the HTML file and not see the course load and play.
  • Here’s a quick video tutorial that walks through the steps.

I did notice that when accessing the files from the mobile app, you can only share the file and not a link, so it looks like you can only use the share link from the desktop app.

I find pCloud to be a good solution for my online storage needs, especially since I don’t need to have all of the files on my computers like I do if I want to access them in Dropbox. I also like the upload folder option for people who want to share their files at workshops. The current pCloud deal is a good price, but I’ve seen similar deals at other sites. So if the AppSumo deal is gone, you can probably wait for another if you don’t want to pay the regular price.

If you’ve tried pCloud to share your courses, I’d love to hear about your experience. 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.

 

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.

Everything You Need to Know About Drag & Drop Interactions

drag and drop interaction essentials

There are three main ways to interact with the course: click, mouseover, and drag. While click-based interactions are the most prominent, a good drag and drop interaction is usually more engaging. In fact, anytime I feature a drag-based interaction in a blog post, I’m always asked how it was created.

Drag and drops are engaging, they let the user “touch the screen” or lean into the course a bit, and they’re novel because they’re not used as often as the other types. With that said, here is everything you need to know about drag & drop interactions from previous posts:

essentials of drag and drop interaction

So there you have it, everything you need to know to get started building effective and engaging drag and drop interactions for e-learning. And if you want to learn to build them, check out these tutorials and take part in these drag and drop challenge activities: challenge #16 and challenge #21.

Is there anything you’d suggest when building drag and drop interactions?


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

e-learning Articulate workshops

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. They're great activities to help you learn more about the tools. Sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
  • Toronto: August 9 & 10. Early bird rate expires July 21. Register here.
  • Seattle: August 21 & 22. Early bird rate expires August 7. Register here.
  • Austin: September 12 & 13. Early bird rate expires August 28. Register here.
  • San Francisco: October 10 & 11. Early bird rate expires September 15. Seats limited for this event. Register here.
  • London: November 13 & 14. Details coming soon.
  • Manchester: November 16 & 17. Seats will be limited. Details coming soon.
  • There are a couple of other events planned. Once we get all of the bookings confirmed, we'll add the registration page and info.

 

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.

Let Amazon S3 Do Your Text-to-Speech for Free

free text-to-speech narration

Previously we looked at how to create free text-to-speech narration using a free application. The audio quality is decent enough for those who need the text-to-speech audio. Today we’ll look at a free (or inexpensive) way to create your text-to-speech narration that’s just as easy and hardly costs anything, if at all.

Earlier I showed how to create an Amazon S3 account as a way to share your courses. The first 5 GB is free and after that, it’s very inexpensive. If you use a site like Wix for your e-learning portfolio, Amazon S3 is an easy way to add URL links to your courses since those sites don’t allow uploading course content.

Once you have an Amazon S3 account, you have access to Polly, a service where you can create free text-to-speech narration. And the voice quality is very good, much better than the default SAPI voices you get with your computer.

Here’s an example of a few narration files I downloaded from Polly.

text-to-speech Amazon S3 Polly demo

Click here to view the text-to-speech examples.

As you can hear, the audio quality is decent and makes the robot voices tolerable. And odds are you won’t go past the initial free allocation.

How to Create Free Text-to-Speech Narration in Amazon S3 Polly

Creating the narration is really simple. First, you’ll need an Amazon S3 account. Here’s a link that shows how to get one.

Don’t worry about the prices, they’re nominal. You get a cushion of free space and after that, you pay $4.00 per million characters. That’s about 23 hours of audio. To put it in perspective, if you narrated “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, it would cost about 66 cents.

demo os Amazon S3 Polly text-to-speech

Basic Steps

  • From the Amazon S3 console, select Polly.
  • Insert your narration script.
  • Select a language.
  • Select a voice.
  • Preview and download the audio file.

It’s all pretty simple. Once you have the audio file, you can do some post-production editing (if necessary) and then insert into your course. Easy as that.

So there you have it, one free application where you can create text-to-speech narration and this inexpensive (or free) solution via Amazon that should meet most of your free text-to-speech needs.

If you use Polly, feel free to share your feedback.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • June 20-21 (San Diego). FocusOn Learning conference.
  • Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general type e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. Learn more and sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
  • There are a couple of other events planned. Once we get all of the bookings confirmed, we'll add the registration page and info.

 

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 Do You Need to Know to Gamify Your E-Learning

gamified e-learning gamification

I hear a lot of people ask about gamifying their e-learning courses. And the examples they show are usually simple games modeled after shows like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. Those are fine and have their places in e-learning, especially for quick knowledge checks. But they’re not the same as gamification.

In today’s post, I’ll share a few simple things to help get your brain muscles going.

What Do You Need to Know?

When it comes to building the courses in an authoring tool, you basically need to know how to use variables. Variables allow you to track and evaluate the user to provide relevant feedback, scoring, tokens, and all the other things that make up gamified e-learning courses. And once you know how to work with variables, you can build all sorts of things.

gamified e-learning

Here are some resources to learn more about variables:

On April 19, I’m also hosting a workshop where we learn about variables in the context of building a few common gamified elements. It’s a great way to learn more.

Learn More About Gamification

You can do a search and read all sorts about gamification especially now that it’s also a buzzword. Essentially you are taking game concepts and applying them to a non-game context. As you play games, ask what about the game is compelling and what similar element could work in your next e-learning course.

I think the greater challenge in building gamified courses is less in constructing the mechanics and more in building a narrative that integrates gaming psychology. Building things in the authoring tools is relatively easy compared to understanding what to build.

Here are three good books on gamification.

gamification books

What Can You Build in Your E-Learning Course?

When it comes to authoring the courses outside of a management system where you can track multiple users and build things like leaderboards, you’re confined to simple game elements such as:

  • Timers
  • Personalization
  • Progress meters
  • Tokens
  • Rewards management
  • Scoring
  • Autonomous navigation

You can make some very compelling courses that instructive and engaging. However, there’s a lot more to gamification than these simple elements above. How do you motivate learners and create the right tension between boredom and failure? Make sure you invest the right resources and develop a good strategy. Otherwise, your gamified course will transform from game to gimmick.

If you’re not quite sure where to get started, check out some of the cool examples in the community. They’ll give an idea of some of what you can do with the authoring tools. Here are three nice examples:

gamification example 1

Click here to view gamified e-learning course.

gamification-example-2

Click here to view gamified e-learning course.

gamification example 3

Click here to view gamified e-learning course.

And there’s nothing wrong with starting simple. If all you need is a Jeopardy-style quiz, then download this free file. It’s a great way to work with a context you know. But make a commitment to learn more about variables and start to add some of those gaming elements above to your courses. And if you can, join us in the April 19 workshop to learn more about variables.

Have you built any gamified e-learning? If so, share a link in the comments.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events


 

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.

Three Ways to Use Hotspots in Your E-Learning Courses

hotspot

Hotspots are commonly used in e-learning course design. They’re invisible, yet functional. Today, we’ll explore some common use cases for the hotspot in your online training.

Invisible Button Hotspots

The most common use for the hotspot is the invisible button. Essentially it allows the developer to add an interactive choice on top of another object. This can really speed up production. For example, the image below starts with a single image of a world map. By adding separate hotspots over each continent there’s no need to create separate images with links. This really comes in handy when you start with a single image and don’t have the means to break it into smaller components.

hotspot interaction

Example Screen Space with Interactive Hotspots

The hotspot can also be used as a means to expand real estate via a mouseover interaction. A click interaction requires a click to activate and then an additional click to deactivate. Whereas a mouseover interaction is a bit smoother. Mouseover the hotspot to reveal content, mouse away to have it disappear.

mouseover hotspot

In the example above, I added access to additional content using a mouseover hotspot. This is content that doesn’t need to be persistent but does need to be available. The mouseover or hover interaction assigned to the hotspot is a great way to expand screen real estate with fluid precision.

Invisible Barrier Hotspot

The two examples above are pretty common and what you’d normally expect for hotspots since the hotspot is usually defined as an invisible button or interaction. However, the hotspot is also good as a barrier to avoid interactions. Think of it like plastic wrap over a piece of cake. You can see the cake, but you can’t touch it because the wrap is covering it.

Here’s a recent example where I used the hotspot as a barrier. In this anatomy interaction, each part of the digestive system is actually a slider connected to the main slider. It’s a great effect to move the pieces in and out of the body using a single slider. However, I only want the user to interact with the main slider, so I placed a hotspot over the body image and the other sliders. The hotspot serves as a barrier and prevents the user from interacting with what’s underneath.

Check out the two examples below to see the difference.

Example with No Hotspot Barrier

no hotspot barrier

Click here to view the demo of no hotspot barrier.

The first demo above has no hotspot barrier which means any of the other sliders are active. Grab one of the body parts and see what happens. It’s not as elegant.

Example with a Hotspot Barrier

hotspot barrier

Click here to view the demo of hotspot barrier.

The second interaction has a hotspot barrier over the body parts which prevents the user from interacting with anything other than the main slider. This makes for a much better user experience and a more elegant interaction.

So there you have it. You can use hotspots to trigger all sorts of interactions or you can use them as a persistent invisible barrier that prevents an interaction.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events


 

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 Built that Free Microlearning Template

free microlearning template

Earlier I shared this free microlearning template. It is easy to use and edit. However, I did receive some questions on how it was created and how to add additional cards. So in today’s post I’ll share a few tips so you can make your own template and edit the one I shared.

Here’s a series of video tutorials that show how to create the simple, yet powerful microlearning template. Check out the last tutorial on how to quickly edit the text.

How to Create the Animated Card

We want the card to animate onto the screen and pause. And we want to click on the card to see the other side (of the card, not the spirit world).

Click here to view the tutorial.

  • The first step is to create a card.
  • Add an entrance and exit animation.
  • Add a selected state to the card to create the click and reveal feature.
  • Add a trigger to the card that pauses the timeline when the entrance animation completes.

When you preview, the card should animate in and pause. You can click on the card to select or deselect it.

How to Edit the Normal & Selected States

We want the selected state to have an animated object that comes on and off the screen when the card is selected and deselected.

Click here to view the tutorial.

  • Select the card and double click inside the state you want to edit.
  • Add placeholder text in the normal state.
  • Add a shape to the selected state and add placeholder text to the shape.
  • Add entrance and exit animations to the shape in the selected state.

When you preview and click on the card, it will trigger the entrance animation of the selected state. And when you click on it again, it should trigger the exit animation.

How to Bring a Card On & Off the Screen

When the card animates on the screen it will pause. This allows us to “flip the card” by clicking on the card. When we’re done looking at the card, we want it to exit the screen and trigger a new card.

Click here to view the tutorial.

  • Create a button with a trigger to resume the timeline.
  • Duplicate the card and position it on the timeline after the first card. Repeat as necessary.

When you preview the microlearning interaction, the card enters and pauses. Clicking the button causes the timeline to resume which triggers the exit animation of the first card and the entrance animation of the next card.

How to Edit the Content on the Cards

Clicking into the states of the various cards can be tedious. Here’s an easy way to edit the text for each card.

Click here to view the tutorial.

  • Go to File>Translate>Export to export the text from the course.
  • Edit the text in the document and save it.
  • Go to File>Translate>Import to import the text into the cards.
  • Preview the microlearning interaction to verify that the text alignment is correct.

Importing the text should work well and as long as you don’t add too many characters you shouldn’t have to do any editing.

Here’s another free microlearning template for you to deconstruct and see how it was built.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • We'll be adding events for 2017 soon. If you'd like to see one of our workshops in your area just let me know.

 

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.

Free Microlearning Template

free microlearning template

Here’s a free microlearning template I created for a workshop on interactive e-learning. The template uses the popular overhead desktop theme. I’m using the interaction as a simple microlearning module. But it could also be a quick knowledge check like this one. It just depends on how you want to use it for your own course.

Example of Free Microlearning Template

Here’s an example of the template in action.

free microlearning template

Click here to see the microlearning example.

How to Edit the Free Microlearning Template

What makes this microlearning template work is that it’s really easy to use and modify. The construction is really simple.

  • Create a card with selected states.
  • Add an entrance and exit animation to the card.
  • Create a trigger to pause the timeline when the card’s entrance animation completes.
  • Create a button to resume the timeline.

Want more cards? Just duplicate them and the triggers are duplicated, as well. You can create as many cards as you like. All you need to do is stagger them on the timeline.

Bonus tip:

  • The template starts with a single card. Since I don’t know how many cards will be in the final module, I created a cue point on the timeline. Look at the free file to see what is triggered by the cue point. If you add a bunch of cards, just drag the cue point to the end and all if its triggers move with it.

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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • We'll be adding events for 2017 soon. If you'd like to see one of our workshops in your area just let me know.

 

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.

My Favorite Microphones for Recording Audio Narration

best mics for audio narration

While I’ve covered audio recording tips and tricks in the past, one of the most frequent questions I’m still asked is about microphones. So today, I’ll show you the different mics I use and demo how they sound.

I’ll have to admit, I’m no audio pro and I’m also a bit less dogmatic about audio quality than some elearning developers. My main goal is to get decent sounding audio without a lot of post-production.

The reality is that most end users are hearing the audio through cheap headsets or small device speakers where everything sounds hollow. Also, if you record tutorial videos or do webinars, the audio compression mitigates some of the distinctions you hear in different qualities of audio.

With that said, here are a few thoughts and some recommendations based on the mics I use.

Simple Audio Recording Tips

Here are a few simple ground rules. You learn more by clicking on the links below.

  • You want to record the best audio quality you can initially. There are some things you can do to clean up the audio, but you can’t make bad audio good. If you can only do one thing, get crisp audio.
  • Try to eliminate background noise like air conditioners. Sometimes if I can’t get rid of the noise, I will play some music softly in the background–not Eminem, but something a little softer.
  • Don’t worry about being perfect. You can spend a lot of time finagling your audio only to have you end user listen to it through cheap headphones or speakers where everything sounds muffled and tinny.
  • You should learn a little about audio and some basic editing. You don’t need to be an audio engineer, but learning some recording techniques, how mics work, and how to do some post-editing will really come in handy.

Microphone Recommendations

There are a lot of good microphones out there and they’re not that expensive. I’d plan on spending from $100-$200 on a microphone. You should also invest in a pop screen, a stand, and perhaps some sort of barrier. Here are some of the microphones I use.

I created a quick demo in our new Rise application to show the different mics in use. You can view the link on your mobile devices and compare how they sound versus how they sound on a desktop. I noticed that my iPad which has one speaker masked the issues that I could hear on my desktop. I also noticed that with my iPhone, the ambient audio was more evident that elsewhere.

rise-course-microphones

Click here to view the microphone demo.

Desktop Microphones

  • Blue Yeti Pro. This is what I have in my home office. I like it because I can control the gain and the pickup pattern. This is a big plus. The pickup pattern helps eliminate unwanted sound entering the mic. The Pro costs about $230. But you can buy the Blue Yeti (which is also a good mic) for about $120 and it comes in a bunch of colors to placate the needs of easily distracted millennials.
  • Blue Raspberry. I’ll be doing a lot more recording on the road so I wanted to upgrade my microphone. I just purchased this microphone and will do an update after a few road trips.
  • Samson C03U and Samson C01U. I’ve used both of these mics and think they’re great a great value. Both mics are in the $80 range but for about $120, you get the microphone, a pop filter, and shock mount. Not a bad deal. I’d choose the C0U3 because it has better pick up patterns. I quit using the mics when I received the Blue Yeti Pro. If you’re on a budget the Samson mics are worth it.
  • Samson Go Mic. I love this little mic. At $40, it’s a great price and sounds good. The build quality is really solid and I’ve gotten lots of use out of it over the past few years.

Headset Microphones

I’m not a fan of headset microphones for recording narration because they tend to pick up a lot of breath sounds. However, they are relatively inexpensive and decent enough in output. But because they’re headset microphones you don’t get a lot of control over the pickup.

I do like to use headset microphones for recording tutorials and doing webinars because it allows me to operate hands free and not worry about moving around and away from the microphone. I also prefer wireless headsets over wired ones.

Here are the three headset microphones I currently use:

  • Plantronics Audio 995. It’s wireless which gives me some range of motion. I don’t like having a bunch of cables running over my desk when I record. Having the wireless mic is nice if I have to record some audio narration from my subject matter experts.
  • Plantronics 478. This is similar to the one above but it has a USB cord. Both of those microphones have noise canceling features. Usually that means there’s one mic that records your audio and another smaller one that records ambient sound and cancels it out.
  • Logitech H800. I just got this one. I like it because it’s wireless and has a built in charger. I also like it’s portability for traveling.

One question you may ask is why I have so many microphones, especially headset mics. I travel a lot so I want good portable options and I like the choice of desktop and headset microphones. I do recommend getting a few extra headset mics, one for you and the others to share if you do recording with subject matter experts.

Previous Posts on Using Audio for Narration

Again, I’m not an audio pro and recording in a controlled recording environment. Instead I’m a one-man recording studio, in a home office, with a limited budget. I want good quality audio at an affordable price. From my experience most rapid elearning course authors are in the same boat.

Which microphones do you use and why? Feel free to share in the comments.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • No live events for the rest of 2016. We'll be adding events for 2017 soon.
  • Swing by the Articulate booth at Devlearn this week and check out all of the Articulate 360 goodness.


 

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.