How To Use Animation In eLearning

In order to engage the learner of today, eLearning courses and modules need to be on par with the visual imagery modern learners are used to; the one they engage with every day while they surf the net, scroll through social media, watch movies and gaze at advertisements. Why do you think these industries use visuals so much? Because we, human beings, respond best to visual stimuli. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

How to Create Custom Maps for E-Learning

create custom maps for e-learning

Here’s an issue I run into quite a bit: I need a map for my e-learning courses; but I don’t need a detailed map.

Stock image sites are fine for generic illustrated maps but they’re usually too generic. The other option is to do a screen grab of an online map, but then that’s often too detailed.

Recently, I was working on a map demo where I needed a specific map, but I didn’t want a real map screen shot because it was too busy and I knew the stock sites couldn’t provide what I needed because it was too specific. Fortunately, I found this site, Snazzy Maps, that makes it easy to customize Google’s online maps.

Examples of Custom Maps for E-Learning

Here’s why this comes in handy.

Most maps have too much visual information. For example, if I built a labeled graphic map of some historic sites in Washington, D.C. I need a simple map for reference, but I don’t need all of the street names and colors that may distract from my labels. Instead I want a map that gives me some context, but allows the label to be the star of the show.

Washington DC labeled map interaction

In the example above, the real online map has way too much visual info. It’s hard to know where to look first. In fact, it’s difficult to see the markers because of all of the colors, text, and roads. I’m not using this map to drive an Uber so I probably don’t need all of the detail and distracting visual information.

Washington DC gray map label interaction

This next example above is the complete opposite. All of the colors are turned off as well as many of the roads. A gray scale map like this allows the accent colors from the labels to really pop. In fact, one of the best simple tips for course design is to get rid of competing visual information like colors and then only use color to accent or highlight content. In this example, the marker colors are much more distinct.

Washington Dc interaction color map

For this particular interaction, I like having a little color to show the park and monuments in relationship to the city and water. I turned off the titles and some of the roads. You can still recognize it as a map, yet it’s not quite as busy.

Customizing the Maps

To be honest, I don’t have the patience to learn how to use the Snazzy Map site. So I started with one of the maps someone with more patience created. And from there it was just a lot of clicking around to see what I can edit. Most of it makes sense and with a little practice you can get almost any look you need.

Washington DC custom maps examples

If you need a custom map for your e-learning courses, check out the site. I may come in handy.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events


Coming to Australia and New Zealand. 2020

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.

 

E-Learning Example: Leadership Training Template

We all like to see good e-learning examples. That’s one reason I really enjoy the e-learning challenges. They’re little nuggets of creativity. They’re usually not full-fledged courses, but they often have some interesting elements.

In a recent challenge on course starter templates for leadership training, community member, Andrzej Jabłoński, shared a really nice example. Check it out below.

e-learning example leadership template

Click here to view the demo.

Here’s what stood out:

  • The visual design is fun and clean. I think often our e-learning courses look too formal or corporatey (if that’s a word). We think because it’s a serious topic that the visuals need to look serious. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I like this design because it doesn’t look like a typical corporate course. Yet it’s professional and engaging.

e-learning example

  • The subtle animations work well. They get your attention, but they’re not gratuitous. Break down the course and look at how he used the animations.
  • Leverages existing illustrations. He used an image from freepik to create the visual elements for his demo. As he says, “I mainly work on redesigning and adjusting images for my projects. It’s also a good way to learn how to design when you have to work on ready-made elements. I often try to add something more from myself to develop graphic skills.”
  • Andrzej also shared the source file so you can open it up to see how he created the animated effects and other slides. You can find it in the recap post.

Look at what he did, find an image, and see what you can do to apply similar effects for your own template design.


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.

 

PowerPoint Tip: Here’s a Simple Way to Build E-Learning Graphics

PowerPoint tip graphics

Here’s a PowerPoint tip: build your e-learning course graphics in PowerPoint. PowerPoint is great for simple graphic design projects. In fact, I use it quite a bit for this blog and some of the graphics I need in my e-learning demos.

In a previous post, I shared visual design tips for graphics I built in Rise 360 for an e-learning scenario. All of those graphics were built in PowerPoint.

PowerPoint for graphic design example 5

In this example, the images all need to be wide, but short rectangles so that I could get them about the same height as the text and squeeze them as close as possible to the button stacks in Rise 360.

I created a custom slide size 13 x 4 inches. When I save the PowerPoint slides as images that results in an image that is 1280 x 384 pixels.

Here’s a detailed tutorial that walks through the process of creating similar graphics in PowerPoint. I cover a lot of little PowerPoint tips.

Click here to view the PowerPoint tutorial on YouTube.

The links below take you to specific parts of the tutorial. The last two links show how to create the final pill shape with the character’s head extended outside of the image.

The tutorial above shows how I created the images. But here are a few key points to consider.

PowerPoint Tip: Step Away from PowerPoint as a Presentation Tool

If you’ve read much of this blog, you know that I’m a big advocate for using PowerPoint to build simple graphics. It’s easy to use, most people have it, and there’s not much you can’t create with PowerPoint once you learn a few things.

Is it Photoshop or Illustrator? No! And if you have expertise with those tools, then have at it. But for those who don’t have a graphics editor and need a simple solution, give PowerPoint a try.

PowerPoint tip for e-learning graphics

Here are some previous posts that show what you can do:

PowerPoint Tip: Save Slides as Images

Whatever you build in PowerPoint you can right-click and save as an image. I usually save as .PNG. This preserves the color clarity and any transparency. If you save as .JPG, the transparent areas fill with white.

PowerPoint tip right click save as image

For most cases (especially when working with Rise 360), I like to use the slide as my entire image. So I build what I need and then save the slide as image rather than PPTX. While there are a number of image options, like above, I stick with .PNG.

PowerPoint tip save slide as image

PowerPoint Tip: Create Custom Slide Sizes

The default PowerPoint slide is 16 x 9 aspect ratio. In most cases that is fine. It works great for Rise 360. However, there may be times when you want a custom slide. For example, if you want a square image, you need to change the slide size. I usually use 10 inches by 10 inches which gives me an image that is close to 1000 x 1000 pixels (give or take).

Go to the Design Tab and select Slide Size to change the settings.

PowerPoint tip slide size

PowerPoint Tips: Install Studio 360

Many of you are you are using Articulate 360 which comes with Rise 360 and Storyline 360. Those are obviously the go-to apps for building courses. Because of this, many people ignore Studio 360 which comes with Articulate 360.

PowerPoint tip Characters

Even if you don’t use Studio 360 to build courses (why would you when you have Rise 360), it’s still a good idea to install it. The main reason is that you get access to all of the assets including the characters from Content Library 360. And when you build graphics for your e-learning courses, especially as I did in Rise 360, it helps to have all of the characters in PowerPoint.

If you aren’t using a graphics editor or don’t know how, then PowerPoint is a really easy way to build graphics for you e-learning courses.


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.

 

Deconstructing Simple Visual Design for E-Learning

visual design for e-learning tips

The other day I made some images for a course menu page in Rise 360. I spent some time playing around with different ideas. When I reviewed my final image, I realized that there were several iterations.

Today I’ll share some of the different ideas I considered and why I made changes.

Visual Design: The Set Up

I’ll start by stating that most of this is subjective, so there’s not a right or wrong.

With this particular menu, I needed an image that had a 10:3 aspect ratio. In this case, the images are 1280 x 384. The aspect ratio calculator is a good resource if you ever need to figure out an aspect ratio or the resolution of images.

visual design for e-learning aspect ratio calculator

The short but wide aspect ratio creates a challenging constraint with what you can show. And that’s why I played around with different ideas.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 1

PowerPoint for graphic design example 1 visual design for e-learning

Because of the dimensional constraints, I started with just text. But the text looked empty and uninteresting. Since these images were part of an interactive scenario, I wanted to add a bit more personality.

I added a character to the text. This creates a visual connection to the scenario. I also wanted some white space so it was easier for the eye to scan the screen. Generally, it looks good and the white space is nice as the Rise course responds to the mobile devices.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 2

PowerPoint for graphic design example 2 visual design for e-learning

I wasn’t keen on the smaller character but as noted before, the height of the image created some constraints. So I played around with making the character larger. This meant is had to go off screen.

I was also concerned that perhaps the larger image would be too busy if it remained in color. So I got rid of the color and then lighten up the image a bit.

I liked the gray image and text overlay. But it just didn’t feel right, especially in the mobile view with the top of the heads cut off.

The second design is OK. But it looks a bit unbalanced. The right side of the menu has text and a strong visual element with the button. It kind of fills the right side. But the left side just looks odds to me.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 3

PowerPoint for graphic design example 3 visual design for e-learning

Sticking with the grayscale, I played around with making the character image a bit larger to fill that side of the menu. It does add some heft, but I wasn’t fond of the way the faces were cropped.

I do like it in the phone view because it fills the column and the lighter image with the darker buttons works.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 4

PowerPoint for graphic design example 6 visual design for e-learning

In a previous post, I shared an easy graphic design tip that I call the transparent echo technique. The idea is to add the same image twice. One is muted and serves as the background and the other is a focal point.

The image above was my first attempt. The examples in the blog post linked above look nice. But this one felt a bit busy and the eyes were too big. It feels a bit creepy.

So I added a color overlay that I color picked from the button. I also moved the image around and used his shirt and not the face. I like the texture that the echo creates. You can see part of the shirt so there’s some very slight visual context and the texture adds depth which I like better than just a solid color. But the echo isn’t distracting.

PowerPoint for graphic design example 4 visual design for e-learning

The design seems blocky and the buttons are heavy. My original goal was to have white space. Now I have an image design I kind of like, but it’s just too square and heavy.

Visual Design for E-Learning: Example 5

PowerPoint for graphic design example 5 visual design for e-learning

To gain white space and get rid of the block I decided to play off the pill shape of the buttons. That gives it some visual cohesion by tying in the header with the button.

By extending the heads outside the pill shape, it creates additional white space. And the round corners with the characters poking out of the shape feel a bit more organic and informal, which lends itself well to an interactive scenario course.

I also lightened the buttons so that they were a little more subdued and not as heavy. They’re just a bit lighter than the pill shape.

Visual Design Principles

Again, most of this is subjective. But I thought I’d give you some insight into my thought process as I created the graphics and made iterations. While the images are subjective, there are a few core principles to consider when creating the visuals for your courses.

  • Use white space to give your eyes a break. White space also helps to discern what content is there and how’s it related to other content on the screen.
  • Visual consistency between design elements. I like the final image and that it works with the pill shaped buttons. The colors also work to tie the objects together.
  • Play around with color. Remove colors from the images to neutralize them. Then add a few accent pieces or a single color to draw focus. It’s easy to do and a good basic tip for those of us who are visually challenged and opt to over work our images.

In the follow up post, I’ll show how I used PowerPoint to quickly create all of these images and make edits in seconds.

Which design do you like best? Is there something you would have done different?


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.

 

Free eBook: Top 10 Best LMS Websites 2019

Gordon Johnson and Lynne McNamee evaluated over 300 websites of suppliers in the LMS space to make your life easier. And when I say you I mean a vendor; a vendor who sells a Learning Management System, a Learning Experience Platform, a Learning Content Management System or any of the other names which exist for technology solutions supporting Learning, Training and Development. This eBook covers three major topics; SEO, content, and design. Concluding with a prime list of the 10 best overall LMS websites. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Weekly Challenge: A Couple of Visual Design Tips for E-Learning

As mentioned previously, I like to take part in the community’s e-learning challenges. They’re great to practice ideas and learn more about using the e-learning software.

In a recent e-learning challenge, we were asked to create a demo module and use the 2019 Pantone Color of the Year (which is Living Coral). This came at a good time, as I was pulling together some content for a workshop and wanted to show a few different ideas around color in a course’s visual design. The examples below go from subtle to “in your face.”

Visual Design Tip: Make Everything Greyscale & Use One Accent Color

One tip we share often is to make everything greyscale. And then select a single accent color. One benefit is that it tends to make the screen content look a bit more elegant. And the accent color really pops. And it gets rid of a lot of conflicting colors and helps direct the eye.

e-learning example visual design

Click here to view the example.

In the example above:

  • Converted the car interior image to greyscale
  • Used the Pantone color for the label markers
  • Used a color schemer to create a second color to complement the Pantone accent color

Often less is more, and in this case getting rid of color in the image and working with one (or two accent) colors really makes them pop and it cleans up the visual design.

Visual Design Tip: Use Silhouettes and Bold Colors

This other example is a bit more bold and in your face and it’s create to draw attention. I’d use it sparingly, but it’s great for making key points or title screens. And it’s easy to do.

e-learning example visual design tip 2

Click here to view the example.

Silhouettes are easy to create from people and objects. They work best with strong contrast. I like them because their ambiguous which comes in handy for people imagery.

  • Create a bold background color
  • Insert a character
  • Adjust the brightness and contrast settings to create either a white or black silhouette.

Check out some of the other Pantone 2019 challenge entries. If you don’t participate in the e-learning challenges, you should. You’ll learn new things and be amazed at what others create and how different everyone is in approaching the same challenge.

If you do participate, write a post and share what you learned or a technique you used to build it.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • March 26-28 (Orlando). Learning Solutions Conference.
  • April 10 (Madrid): E-Learning Workshop. Workshop covers general e-learning topics and not tool-specific. Register now.
  • April 12 (Milan): Digital Learning Tour. My workshop will be in English. You can sign up for just my session if you don't want the entire package.
  • May 19-22 (Washington DC): ATD International Conference & Expo.
  • June 3 & 4 (Toronto). Articulate Roadshow. Sign up for one day or two: register today. Early bird ends April 30.
  • June 6 (Halifax). Articulate Roadshow. Register today. Early bird ends April 30.
  • July 24 & 25 (Minneapolis). Articulate Roadshow. Sign up for one day or two: register today. Early bird ends May 17.
  • August 14 & 15 (Seattle). Articulate Roadshow. Sign up for one day or two: register today. Early bird ends May 31.
  • November 4 (Manchester, UK). Articulate Roadshow. Details coming soon.
  • November 6 & 7 (London, UK). Articulate Roadshow. Details coming soon.
  • November 8 (Edinburgh, UK). Articulate Roadshow. Details coming soon.
  • We're currently working on additional locations and dates for 2019.

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.

 

Create Free Emoji for E-Learning

create free emojis

Most e-learning courses have some sort of positive and negative feedback. And often we use symbols like a check or X mark to indicate good or bad.

Why not use emojis?

In a previous post, I explained when to use emojis for e-learning and three ways to insert them into your courses.

free emojis

Create Free Emojis

Here’s a site where you can create free custom emojis. The site is easy to use and you can create all sorts of fun emojis to provide feedback in your courses.

Here’s quick tutorial that shows how to use the free emoji site. And here are a couple of silly examples where I use the free emojis as a way to offer hints on a slide and as a way to provide right and wrong feedback.

free emoji

Click here to view the demo.

Of course the example above is silly, but you could find more creative and appropriate ways to use these free assets in your e-learning content, especially if working with a younger audience. Since the image files you get are the same dimensions, they’re perfect for buttons with various states.

If you did create some free emojis, how would you use them in your courses?


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.

 

Free Images for Interactive Scenarios

free images for interactive branched scenarios

Here are some free images for interactive scenarios. They go with the other free images I shared earlier. I use them for practice files in our e-learning workshops where we learn to build interactive, branched scenarios. They’re perfect for your scenario-based training and free to use.

These images are focused on hallways and such and a bit more generic with the white walls.

interactive branched scenario

As you can see below, they’re perfect for staging conversations and scenarios and they work great with both the photographic and illustrated characters that come with Articulate 360.

interactive branched scenarios

interactive branched scenario example

As noted in the previous post, one tip is to add all of the images to a single file and then you can dynamically switch the backgrounds as you need. Open the master slide and create a layout for each image. Save the file as a template and you’re all set. Here’s a tutorial that shows how to create templates for reusable interactive scenarios.

how to use interactive branched scenario images

Free Downloads


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • February 13-14 (London): Learning Technologies. Swing by booth H50 and say hello.
  • February 15 (Edinburgh): Articulate User Meeting.
  • We're currently working on additional locations and dates for 2019.

 

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.