8 Unconventional eLearning Infographic Elements To Consider

Does your eLearning infographic leave a lasting impression, or is it underwhelming your online learners? In this article, I’ll share 8 unexpected eLearning infographic elements you may want to add to your eLearning infographic design. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

3 Reasons to Use Animated GIFs in E-learning

animated gif reasons to use for e-learning

At a recent workshop we discussed the popularity of working animated gifs and how they can be used in e-learning courses. Here are three reasons you can use them in your courses.

Animated Gifs for Novel Visual Design

E-learning courses are still mostly visual. And one part of engaging you learners is to create visually rich experiences. This doesn’t replace instructional design, but it does help make your course look more interesting and contributes to capture the person’s attention.

I love this example created by one of our community managers. She did a great job using animated .gifs to enrich the visuals in her Rise demo. How many animated .gifs do you count in her demo?

animated gif

Click to view the Rise demo.

Speaking of novelty, in the example below I added an animated gif to a slider that represents the module progress. At a certain point, the state of the slide thumb changes from one waling character to another.

animated gif demo

Animated Gifs to Add Humor

One reason animated gifs are so popular is they’re perfect for sharing funny things and memes. And they’re exaggerated with the looping animations. Why not leverage the humor that these offer and work them into your courses? A couple of considerations: many of the gifs probably violate some copyright laws and training isn’t supposed to be funny. Well, maybe it can be funny, but there’s a good chance that regardless of the content someone will complain. If you do use humor, you’ll really want to make sure that it’s appropriate to your audience.

animated demo

 

Animated Gifs to Show Procedural Steps

The two reasons above are less instructional. This next one fits better with instructional design and training. Use animated gifs to quickly show procedures or steps in a process. If you’re showing steps, it’s good to add some reference points because the content loops and people may not be clear where in the process the steps fall.

Here’s an animated gif that shows the root canal process.

root canal animated gif

Click here to view the animated gif (19 MB)

And here’s a prototype built in PowerPoint that demonstrates showing four steps.

animated gif powerpoint demo

Animated gifs work well for e-learning courses. If you use them in your courses currently, feel free to share ways that they’re used. In the meantime, check out these previous articles on creating animated gifs:


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Your Branched Scenario Needs to Look Like Something. Is this it?

branched scenario tips

Developing the content and flow of an interactive branched scenarios is one thing. Creating the visual structure is another. In today’s post we’ll look at some key considerations when building scenarios and come up with a simple storyboarding process to help think through the scenario design and layouts.

Branched Scenarios: 3C Model

Years ago, I introduced the 3C model to build interactive scenarios: challenge, choices, and consequences. It’s a simple model to help think through the content requirements. It starts with challenging the learner’s understanding through some sort of contextual and real-world situation where decisions need to be made. Give them some choices to make. And the choices produce consequences.

3C model branched scenario

The consequences can be simple with immediate feedback or the 3C model can be compounded where each consequence produces another challenge and branches indefinitely. Of course, it’s hard enough to get your subject matter expert to give you ten good multiple-choice questions, let alone provide all of the content and nuance to build a complex branched interaction. I prefer a simple scenario structure.

Branched Scenarios: Visual Structure

A branched scenario starts with a blank screen. And from there, we add the scenario structure. But what exactly is it that we need and how do we design the screen layouts?

Let’s start with what needs to be on the screen. Here are a few of the main onscreen components that make up many branched scenarios:

  • Background: the background (or environment) is an easy way to establish context. I usually look for a single image that helps do that.
  • Characters: generally speaking there are actors in the scenario. Sometimes they can be implied and don’t need to be onscreen. For example, looking at an email or text message implies that someone in the scenario is viewing it. Or perhaps, the learner is the character. However, in many cases, the scenario actually features characters. Is it one or more? How do you show back and forth conversation?
  • Challenge: the screen consists of some text that presents the situation and challenge. That text needs to go somewhere. Does it go up, down, left or right? Is it there to start, or does it get exposed when the user does something like click a button?
  • Choices: once the challenge is presented, the learner has to make a decision. That usually means there’s an assortment of choices and then some sort of button (or other interaction) to make the selection. Where will that be on the screen?
  • Consequences: each choice usually includes some sort of feedback. It could be all of the feedback or perhaps an alert that the decision has created a new challenge. In either case, how is that displayed?

Branched Scenario: Simplify with a Storyboard

As you review the list above, it becomes apparent that there’s a lot to put on the screen. In workshops we usually create a blank slide and then a box to represent all of those things above. Then we play around with layouts to see what we can get onscreen. After that, we explore different ways to move the content offscreen and use triggered actions to expose the content.

branched scenario layouts

There’s a lot that makes up the scenario layout. The image below represents some common scenario layouts.

Of course, there are all sorts of ways to structure a scenario. Keep in mind not everything needs to go on one screen. You can use layers and lightboxes to expose additional content. Mouseover interactions are great to expand information without requiring that the person leave the current screen.

branched scenario layout ideas

One way to get started is to create three blank slides: one for each part of the 3C model.

  • Challenge slide: set up the scenario by adding visual context and all the supporting text. You’re not writing War and Peace. Keep it short and get right to the point.
  • Choice slide: determine how many choices the person will have. Also determine if you will present ancillary options. For example, you may want some links to talk to team members or contact HR for more assistance. What will those look like, where will they be placed on the screen, and what does the content look like?
  • Consequence slide: what feedback needs to be displayed? Is it just text? Will there be a character?

Once you have the three elements on separate slides, it’s easier to see what you have to expose during the scenario. From there you can begin to assemble the screen. Some people create cheats. For example, create a “folder” that can be placed on a different slide or layer. The folder is a good metaphor and fits a lot of contexts. It’s also a nice visual that can hold a lot of content. It allows you to get rid of character images, buttons and a lot of the other clutter that you have using a single slide.

In a previous post, I simplified the process by suggesting that you use a visual container. The container adds context and holds the text. That’s one option. But there are a lot more. The key is to determine what you need first using the three slides. And then from there play around with ideas on what to add to the screen and what to expose later and when to expose it.


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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 to Create Custom Layouts for Interactive Scenarios

interactive scenarios backgrounds

There’s a lot that goes into building interactive scenarios. Obviously content is king and critical to building a branched scenario that is both engaging and effective. One key part of the scenario construction is establishing context. The good thing is that a single image often suffices to establish the scenario context.

The free stock images I shared recently are perfect for building interactive scenarios and establishing visual context.

I’ve had a few questions on how to set up the slides using the scenario images, so I’ll show a couple of easy ways to use them.

Interactive Scenarios: Create Multiple Layouts

interactive scenarios

You can create as many layouts as you like in the master slide. Thus you can create a scenario slide with dozens of layouts and save it as a template. Anytime you want to build a scenario, start with the scenario template and it saves you from looking for the images and inserting them into the slides. Everything’s already there and ready to go.

Here’s a quick tutorial to show how that works.

Click to view the scenario tutorial.

Interactive Scenarios: Create Multiple States

interactive scenarios states

Another reusable option is to insert a background image and then establish a number of states for that image. You can set any state as the initial state and never have to access the other states. And if you want to be clever, you can use triggers to dynamically switch the background from one environment to another using a single image.

Here’s a quick tutorial that show how to set up the background states and dynamically change them with triggers.

Click to view the scenario tutorial.

There are advantages to each method:

  • Working from the master slide means that the background image can be applied universally to the layout and impact all of the slides that use the layout.
  • Working with image states on the slide level gives you more control over the background and how it’s used with triggers specific to that slide.
  • There’s no reason you couldn’t apply the image states to the layouts which would mean fewer layouts. The layouts can be swapped using triggers and variables.

Key Point: it’s easy to get lost in building complex scenarios which can consume a lot of production time. I always work from the perspective of keeping production simple and as reusable as possible. And with Storyline 360, you can share with your co-workers using the team slides feature.

Inserting the images into a file and saving it as a template will save you lots of time and means you won’t have to dig around looking for the images. They’ll always be right at your fingertips.


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

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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 Branched Scenario Backgrounds

branched scenarios

A while back I shared some free illustrated backgrounds that you can use for your branched scenario courses in e-learning. Those worked great for the classic illustrated characters.

branched scenarios

I’ve been working on interactive scenarios for a few upcoming workshops and created some background images that we’ll use to build interactive branched scenarios. As you can see below, the backgrounds work well for the modern illustrated characters as well as with the photographic characters.

branched scenarios

The free download includes the original images as well as a folder with images cropped to 16:9 so they fit perfectly in 16×9 slides.

Bonus Tip for Branched Scenario Images

One way to use the images, is to create a course file and insert all of the backgrounds on different layouts in the master slide. This way you can have one starter file for those interactive scenarios and then dynamically select the layout when creating new slides.

branched scenarios

Free Downloads

Here are links to download the backgrounds to use with your branched scenarios.

I hope you can use them in your courses and for your branched scenarios. If you do, let me know.


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.

 

9 Quick Fixes For Aesthetically Appealing Online Training

There’s no moment to spare when it comes to sprucing up your online training content and grabbing corporate learners’ attention. In this article, I’ll highlight 9 fast fixes to improve the aesthetic appeal of your online training course. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.