4 Tips On Making Your Microlearning Strategy A Success

With Millennials increasing in the corporate environs we need to keep our microlearning engaging. Here are four tips on how you can create a successful microlearning strategy.


Microlearning is an interesting way of teaching concepts to, in short, focused nuggets or micro-bites. As a matter of fact, microlearning is a trend that is here to stay. According to studies by Alorica, by 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce and the average attention span for the generation would be 90 seconds. With short attention spans, do you think having microlearning as a learning strategy would effectively address the challenges of shriveling attention spans and distractions?

Before we continue, let’s have a look at the cause of shriveling attention spans and distractions.

The Why Behind Subsiding Attentions Spans

According to Pike’s 90/20/8 rule, a concept or content can be thought for 90 minutes without a break; however, the content needs to be chunked into 20-minute sections with interaction for every 8 minutes. How does it affect a microlearning strategy? Let’s look at it next.

Brian Dwyer explains that, according to brain research, a learner’s ability to sustain attention is affected by the periodic variations of the neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate attention. The brain works in periods of high attention levels followed by multiple periods of low attention levels. These variations occur at regular intervals of 90 minutes. Learners stop focusing or tune out if adequate breaks are not incorporated in training.

Maintaining the attention of millennial employees had become a difficult task in organizations due to the variations in their attention spans. This was when “microlearning” was introduced in organizations. An impactful microlearning nugget is not more than 3-5minutes, which means that learners can effectively comprehend and retain information. This is crucial, as it impacts the microlearning strategy that is devised for impactful learning.

Microlearning In Corporate Environs

In today’s corporate environment, what is needed is a wholesale transition from theoretical knowledge to practical action-based knowledge. This comes from accepting the fact that a person’s job is fluid and what he/she already knows matters less when compared to how quickly they can learn.

To build this rapid learning culture, organizations began experimenting with microlearning. A solid microlearning strategy involves delivering short, impactful learning experiences for employees, to help them learn effectively and efficiently while working.

But, how do we implement a microlearning strategy successfully?

How To Make Your Microlearning Strategy A Success

Microlearning is inherently agile and captivating when it comes to learning. But, the real benefit of microlearning relies on how it is drafted, designed, formulated and implemented.

Here are four guidelines you can keep in mind while devising a microlearning strategy to drive better employee performance.

1. Learning For The Moment Of Need

A moment of need acts as a catalyst when the employee/s require help, guidance, or learning to accomplish their tasks. Most standard eLearning is hard to aid at the moment’s need; so, by the time employees get to the task, they are already occupied with something else. Thus, leading to less engagement, less utilization, and less impact.

As employees approach the moment (for example, sales meeting, solving a real-time problem, a presentation, or even promotion) they use microlearning to prepare. For example, say a salesperson wants to give an elevator pitch to one of the important clients. Before going to the pitch, he will brush-up his skills on the subject using microlearning nuggets. During the pitch, he puts what he has learned into practice. After the pitch, depending on the client feedback, he takes up a microlearning module to improve his performance.

Here is how microlearning can act as a catalyst for better learning:

2. Architecture For Change In Micro-Behaviors

The main aim of microlearning should be to change what people do rather than what they know. Workplace behaviors – like constructive feedback, design thinking, or decision making – are complicated to implement in practice. Microlearning makes new behaviors less intimidating by helping employees to gradually build consummate fluency at focused periods.

3. Add More Of Micro-Interactions

The best part about microlearning is that you can help learners get straight to the point where they practice and learn the concepts.

Instead of a swipe-swipe experience, the objective of a microlearning course should be to actively engage the learners. For this, we need to have micro-interactions.

Micro-interactions could be a simple moment where learners need to perform an action that shows what they have learned in the module by simply selecting the like button. They can also answer a quiz and receive stars for the performance. The micro-interactions help learners to focus more on the content.

Micro-interactions are small, but add an engaging element to the learner.

4. Put It Into Practice

Learners need to be constantly engaged, and what best than to end a module with a call-to-action. It helps in proving the progress to learners. For example, here is one at the end of a health and nutrition course:

Call-to-action is simple, concrete and a small win. After the completion of the action, the learning is likely to feel good.


Together, these four strategies will get employees in the habit of learning and developing all the time. Microlearning helps employees to develop a habit of continuous learning which in turn helps organizations succeed.

Suggested Reading

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Custom Play/Pause button (Use case system variables)


Many years ago I did write this blog about a custom Play/Pause button.  Meanwhile lot has changed in Adobe Captivate: new simple actions were added, multistate objects appeared, shape buttons became possible with InBuilt states and custom states. Due to a question on my personal blog, due to the recent posts about using System Variablees, time to write out a short article with a step-by step workflow to create a custom Play/pause button using a Shape Button.

Why Shape Button?

I wrote about States in this  article: States and State Commands. 

Captivate has 4 types of buttons, they all have the 4 InBuilt states: ‘Normal’, ‘Rollover’, ‘Down’, and ‘Visited’. They can all have supplementary custom states, which allows to create nice toggle buttons showing the situation at that moment. Examples: TOC open/closed, Audio playing/muted, CC visible/invisible etc.  The three first states are included in the object style of the button or the shape, the Visited state is not included. Custom states are neither included in the style.

Text buttons, Transparent buttons (which are not necessarily transparent), Image buttons can NOT be used on master slides, can not be timed for the rest of the project.  A shape button can be used on master slides, can be timed for the rest of the project. For a toggle button Play/oause this is a big advantage: you need only one shape button for your project. If you choose for one of the older button types, you would need a button on each slide.


Shape Button – creation

You have to know what the start situation is in your course. By default (after having launched the course) everything will be in ‘Play’ situation. In that case the start look of the Shape button has to be ‘Pause’. You have to create that button on a slide, you cannot create states on a master slide.

  • Create a shape and check off the option ‘Use as Button’.
  • Open the State panel, using the button ‘State View’ in the Properties panel.
  • In the Normal state, fill the shape with an image or text you want to show when the course is playing, to pause the course.
  • Delete the InBuilt states ‘Rollover’ and ‘Down’, using the right-click menu on those states (you cannot use a simple Delete key).
  • Add a Custom State, and label it (I use Play as label)
  • In this custom state fill the shape with an image or text you want to show when the course is paused, to resume Playing.

Here is a screenshot of the states I created:

Location Shape button

Once the button is ready, you have to decide where to put it, and take out the Pausing point. Reason: you want this button to be available all the time, but not a pausing point like you need for a Submit or a Next button. There are two possibilities for its location;

1. On master slides

If you want to use the Play/pause button on all slides, and you are creating a non-responsive project or a responsive project with breakpoint views, the easiest way is to copy/paste the button to the Main master slide. The daughter master slides can inherit the button. Careful: in some themes the Title master slides is not using the main master slide objects, you’ll need the button also on that master slide in that case.

For a fluid boxes responsive project, you cannot use the main master slide (cannot have fluid boxes). You will need to insert the button on each used master slides where you want that functionality.

To turn off the pausing point: open the Actions tab of the button, and uncheck the option ‘Pause project until user clicks’.

Timed for the rest of the project

The alternative for the master slides, is to have the Play/pause button on the first slide, and time it for the rest of the project, always on top. That has to be done in the Timing Properties of the button. At that same place you can also turn off Pausing:

Advanced Action

The success event of the button has to trigger a rather simple advanced action. Check the ‘Conditional Tab’ and create this action:

Explanation: I am checking the value of the Boolean variable cpCmndPause (see article). If that value = 0, the course is playing.

In that situation I will use the command ‘Pause’ (‘Pause’ is exactly the same as ‘Assign cpCmndPause with 1) and change the state of the button SB_PausePlay to the Play state.

If the course is paused however, that variable would not have the value = 0 (but = 1) and the ELSE commands are done: the state of the button is reset to Normal, and the playhead is released by the command ‘Continue’ (which is the same as Assign cpCmndResume with 1, which is also setting cpCmndPause back to 0).

Warning: not everything is ‘paused’!

As I explained more in detail in my sequence of blogs about the timeline, even an absolute pause (‘Pause’) will not pause everything.  Here in short the most important:

  • Animations of all type (animated GIF, SWF, OAM….).
  • Event video if it is playing
  • Audio which was started with the command ‘Play Audio’

For more information:

How and Why Pause Timeline

Pausing Timeline and Audio

Same would happen with the Pause button on the default Captivate playbars. It is not due to the fact that this is a custom button.

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Negotiate Your Learning Management System (LMS) Contract

Congratulations, you’ve gone through the process of selecting the perfect learning management system vendor for your learning and development organization! All that stands between you and that beautiful piece of learning technology is the vendor contract, and the associated price tag.

During one of my conference sessions last year, I was asked whether it’s possible to negotiate the price of an LMS. And the answer is – absolutely you can! Buying technology is somewhat similar to buying a car. It’s a big investment, and you can negotiate many elements of the contract with your vendor, particularly the cost.

As the video states, it’s important to know exactly what you are paying for. If the vendor gives you a “lump sum” for your three-year contract, have them break it out so you see the line items that contribute to the overall cost. You may be able to strike features and services you don’t need, or negotiate a lower cost for some of the line items. Also discuss payment schedules. Can you get a lower overall price if you pay more up front, for example?

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions and propose changes to the contract! It’s a critical part of your LMS selection process, and your learning technology vendor should be willing to collaborate with you. Contract negotiation is the exciting last step of your LMS selection process, and it signals the beginning of your LMS implementation!

Information in this video and post is taken from my book LMS Success.  Please subscribe to Learn Tech Collective for more LMS and e-learning videos.  Follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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Free Webinar: Social Learning, User Generated Content & LMS Gamification

Social learning has been the most discussed topic during my webinars over the past six months! Learning professionals face many challenges when implementing social learning, and yet the potential payoff is huge in terms of learner engagement. If social learning and gamification are priorities for you in 2019, come join one of our last group discussions of the year. Also, user generated content is going to be a hot topic for the industry next year, so I’ll provide some information around that trend.

Register with eLearning Industry for free. The description is below. See you soon!

Engagement Upgrade: Social Learning, User-Generated Content & LMS Gamification

Engagement is one of the most common demands for L&D professionals struggling to get more buy-in from an ever-busier workforce. There are hundreds of tactics and strategies that are credited with enhancing engagement, but which of them really have the potential to work?

In this session, Katrina Baker, Adobe’s Senior Learning Evangelist, will explore three engagement enhancement options and discuss their potential to enhance the learning culture within your organization. This webinar goes beyond theory and focuses on what gamification, user-generated content, and social learning LMS features can do for your training program.

Join Katrina Marie Baker and explore how to:

  • Facilitate a culture of learning with user-generated content recommendations and sharing.
  • Moderate and aggregate user-generated learning content.
  • Align gamification initiatives with business objectives so they contribute to your organization’s goals.
  • Use learning technology to drive engagement using badges, leaderboards, and rewards.
  • Facilitate learning object-oriented discussion and conversation among your trainees.

This webinar includes examples of engagement features found within Adobe Captivate Prime.

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5 Ways To Use Microlearning In Compliance Training

Compliance training is mandatory and crucial for organizations. However, although it is essential and cannot be avoided, no employee loves it. In this article, I showcase how you can use microlearning to make your compliance training engaging.

Microlearning In Compliance Training: 5 Possible Approaches With Examples

Policies, procedures, and guidelines (from government and regulatory bodies) are typically the reasons to have compliance training. The training is crucial for organizations and needs 100% conformance.

However, even though it is a mandatory training, employees have no intrinsic motivation to take it. Also, more often than not, the compliance trainings are rendered in a rather obvious (preachy), prescriptive (boring) format.

But, this should not be the case. There are several ways to create an engaging compliance training using immersive learning strategies and supplement the primary compliance training with additional measures that will keep the learners cued in. Increasingly, microlearning-based techniques are being used to enhance the impact of compliance trainings.

In this article, I show you how the usage of microlearning in compliance training can provide you a wide range of options that can help you meet your mandate.

What Is Microlearning, And Why Is It the Flavor Of The Season?

Microlearning based training is the flavor of the season and for several reasons.

  • It uses bite-sized learning nuggets (between 2-5 mins long and normally not exceeding 7 mins).
  • However, microlearning is not just eLearning lite (it is not just having shorter pieces instead of a longer run length course), but each microlearning nugget is designed to meet a specific learning outcome.

Microlearning would have the following key characteristics:

  • It provides learners the flexibility to consume content across devices (ranging from desktops/laptops to smartphones and tablets).
  • It can be rendered as a stand-alone nugget, but is more often a part of a learning path.
  • It uses rich media formats (notably videos), and different nuggets in a given learning path can have different formats that can present the content more effectively.
  • It is action-oriented and encourages the usage of varied formats to learn, practice, solve a problem, and apply the learning on the job.

How Can Usage Of Microlearning In Compliance Training Add Value To The Compliance Mandate?

Microlearning can be used in compliance training to effectively provide following offerings:

  1. Higher engagement.
  2. Higher completion rates (within the stipulated time).
  3. Long-term retention.
  4. Triggers to behavioral change (leading to the right behavior, in line with the compliance mandate).

Specifically, the benefits it offers to the learners are:

  1. Flexibility to take the training on the go.
  2. Flexibility to take the training across devices and on the device of their choice.

The compliance teams can use the microlearning-based approach to create higher impact training’s through the following two approaches:

For the main compliance courses: Use the diversity of available formats in microlearning to offer courses that are engaging and create sticky learning experiences.

Support/supplement the main compliance courses: Use the core strength of the microlearning technique to:

  • Connect with the learners prior to the formal compliance training (create awareness of the significance of the compliance training and their role in meeting the mandate, and so on).
  • Provide room for reinforcement or practice (post the formal compliance training).
  • Create “communities of compliance practice” to sustain the compliance focus and keep the learners cued in (rather than the discrete connections through annual compliance trainings).

How Can You Uplift The Compliance Training Mandate?

We have adopted an integrated approach to compliance training to create higher impact, as shown here:

  • Adopt strategies that create a sticky learning experience: Over the years, we have worked closely with the compliance teams of our customers in creating engaging courses that feature learning strategies including gamification, scenario-based learning, storytorials, and so on. These approaches have helped us create highly sticky learning experiences.
  • Supplement the formal compliance training through microlearning: One of the aspects we have used extensively is the usage of microlearning to support the compliance program (pre- or post-formal training). This includes campaigns that include newsletters, posters, and teaser videos prior to the formal training, as well as reinforcements post the formal training program that keeps the learners connected to the compliance mandate.
  • Redesign the formal compliance training in the microlearning format: Increasingly, the compliance programs are being designed as a learning journey featuring multiple micro learning nuggets.

Here Is A List Of 5 Possible Approaches That Show You How You Can Use Micro learning In Compliance Training:

Example 1: Micro learning In Compliance Training

An integrated approach to compliance training – This is a case study where we used various formats of microlearning at various stages of the training life cycle to instill the spirit of compliance into learners.

  • Prior to the training, we used an animated video format to introduce the compliance mandate and build awareness.
  • During the training, we used short scenario-based nuggets like “Choose the right path” where the learner was put into a situation and had to make choices, which made learning more experiential.
  • Post training, short learning summaries were shared with the learners in the form of sharp info-graphics that provide key takeaways from the training.

a. Animated video: Introduction to the concept

b. Online course: Overview with a focus on “Doing it the right way”

Online course: Overview with a focus on Doing it the right way

c. Poster: Sharp summary

Pre-Formal Training (Assets To Support The Formal Compliance Training)

Example 2: Microlearning In Compliance Training

Using infographics – Infographics can serve as a great microlearning asset to provide training overviews before the formal training commences.

This example of training on data security shows how we used relevant infographics in a scrollable webpage format to generate interest and provide a prelude to the actual training.

Pre-Formal Training - Microlearning In Compliance Training Using infographics

Pre-Formal Training - Microlearning In Compliance Training Using infographics

Example 3: Microlearning In Compliance Training

Using videos – Videos are a very high-impact medium, and they can be used to support compliance trainings in many ways (as teasers prior to key programs and as reinforcement post the main program).

This example was a training on workplace safety, and it was important for the participants to understand the adverse consequences of non-compliance. An animated video that presented real-life situations and crisp messages to draw attention was used to drive the learners to take the right action.

Pre-Formal Training - Microlearning In Compliance Training Using videos

Pre-Formal Training - Microlearning In Compliance Training Using videos

Post-Formal Training (Assets To Support The Formal Compliance Training)

Example 4: Microlearning In Compliance Training

Reinforcement video – Featuring the whiteboard animation technique

Post-training refreshers are critical to helping learners retain the key takeaways of the training better. Microlearning helps us do this in various formats, significantly through the use of videos.

Here, we used a whiteboard animation video approach that uses hand-drawn graphics animated with synced audio. It helped provide novelty to the whole viewing experience of this short nugget on the key takeaways of a “Conflict at workplace” training.

Pre-Formal Training - Microlearning In Compliance Training Reinforcement video

Example 5: Microlearning In Compliance Training

Cheat sheets – Featuring the kinetic text-based technique

Cheat sheets in the form of checklists, best practices, and guidelines can serve as great takeaways from any compliance training course. These short microlearning nuggets can be in the form of infographics, simple text, and supporting image formats or animation videos.

This is an example of a cheat sheet that shows a checklist using the kinetic text-based animation video approach that the learners can access on their smartphones (in line with the compliance mandate).

Microlearning In Compliance Training Cheat sheets

I hope this article provides insights on how you can use microlearning for compliance training. As the featured examples show, you can use microlearning to support the primary compliance training. But this is not all; you can use the microlearning based approach to craft your primary compliance training too.

Source: https://www.eidesign.net/5-ways-to-use-microlearning-in-compliance-training/

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Job Aids – What you should know

What is a Job Aid?

A Job Aid in the Adobe Captivate Prime LMS is any kind of content, such as a document /excel sheet/ video, that helps a user do their job/ complete a task. For example, a customer service executive dealing with product returns or exchanges on an online portal, could use a video tutorial to understand the steps required to fulfill a return request. The video they watch is a Job Aid, and one they can download and use as reference material anytime they like.

Depending on the kind of user and the Skills they are assigned, corresponding Job Aids are made available in Prime. A learner can explore the available Job Aids in the catalogs. The Job Aids that they select will appear in a widget on their Learner Dashboard. An Admin or Manager may also assign relevant Job Aids to a learner.

Roles and Job Aids

  1. An Author creates Job Aids that assist learners in the roles they fulfill at work. Supported formats include:
  • PDF
  • PPT
  • PPTX
  • XLS
  • XLSX
  • DOC
  • DOCX
  • All video file formats

The Job Aids are assigned Skills that then make them relevant to the learner and help in filtering the Job Aids. To learn more about the process of creating a Job Aid, visit the Adobe Helpx section on Job Aids.

Note: Using a Job Aid does not contribute towards the achievement of a Skill.

  1. The Author, after publishing the Job Aid, can use the drop-down menu from the settings icon beside every Job Aid to edit, preview or withdraw the Job Aid.
  1. Can assign a Job Aid to a learner:

A Manager has access to the repository of Job Aids, and can only view Published Job Aids, sort them according to Skills, and manage the assignment of Job Aids to learners. If a Manager decides that a certain Job Aid is relevant to a certain task/function, or in the achievement of certain Skills, they can assign it to learners in their team as deemed required.

Please note: A Manager cannot create, publish, or withdraw a Job Aid.

You can also find this information in the Adobe Helpx section on Job Aids.

  1. Publish a Job Aid

As soon as content is created, it is automatically available in the catalog (visit the Helpx section on Catalogs). An Admin can publish a Job Aid; however, an Admin cannot create a Job Aid. To create a Job Aid, an Admin must log in as an Author. When a Job Aid is published, it becomes available on the (enabled) catalog for Users/Learners to see and potentially download/access

  1. Withdraw a Job Aid

If, after it has been published, a Job Aid becomes unnecessary or irrelevant, it may be withdrawn from the catalog – just like how courses can be retired. Only an Admin or an Author can decide when a Job Aid should be withdrawn.

  1. Assign a Job Aid to a Learner/User

If an Admin decides that a certain Job Aid is relevant to a certain task/function, or in the achievement of certain Skills, they can assign it to Users/Learners as required.

To learn how to do the above, please visit the Adobe Helpx section on Job Aids for Administrators.

  1. Create a Job Aids Report. The Admin is the only role that may use the reporting feature in Prime to generate a Job Aids report. Below is a summary of what a Job Aids report entails.

Note: All the above roles can preview Job Aids to see what they look like before publishing and without downloading them.

Job Aids Report

An Admin of an LMS is the only role that can export a Job Aids Report.

Admins can export reports using the data gathered in the LRS (Learning Record Store) to understand the usefulness of Job Aids in Prime. A Job Aids Report provides data such as the number of downloads, by whom, when, and various other details that provide valuable information to Admins.

A Job Aids Report provides information about all Job Aids and their respective downloads. The image below is a sample representation of the kind of information that a Job Aids Report contains:

Example of a Job Aids Report:

Primarily, a Job Aids Report allows an Admin – and thus the L&D and other authorities – to use the information found to understand patterns about Job Aids. All information regarding the downloads and the Users/learners who downloaded the Job Aids is available here. The data may also provide an understanding of the usefulness of Job Aids in comparing the performance/ achievements of Users/Learners who did not use them with those that did.

To learn how to generate a Job Aids Report, go to the Adobe Helpx section on Job Aids Reports.

For further assistance please contact captivateprimesupport@adobe.com .

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Trends in Training & Learning Management (Includes Webinar Recording & Slides)

On November 21, I facilitated a discussion of major trends in learning and development.  Fun and data was had by all, thanks to our awesome audience from around the world!

If you would like to check out the full session recording, click here.  The description is below.  And here are the slides:

Join Adobe’s Senior Learning Evangelist Katrina Marie Baker for this lively conversation about the latest trends in training & development. Based on recent studies and research, the session will explore what people are doing in organizations around the world, and how organizations can achieve great results with modern learning programs.

Katrina will discuss the:

  • Impetus behind creating and developing virtual universities
  • Growing demand to encourage learner immersion and ongoing engagement
  • Rise of mobile learning
  • Role of skill-based learning in business training
  • Use of gamification for learner engagement and motivation
  • Ongoing expectations of learners for video
  • Proving the value of your learning program through more relevant reporting

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Blended Learning For Better Results

Using Blended Learning

Types of Blended Learning

  • Face-to-face driver – where the teacher drives the instruction and augments with digital tools.
  • Rotation – students cycle through a schedule of independent online study and face-to-face classroom time.
  • Flex – Most of the curriculum is delivered via a digital platform and teachers are available for face-to-face consultation and support.
  • Self-blend – Students choose to augment their traditional learning with online coursework.
  • Online driver – Students complete an entire course through an online platform with possible teacher check-ins.   All curriculum and teaching are delivered via a digital platform and face-to-face meetings are scheduled or made available if necessary.

Many companies put up content on the LMS, add a quiz and sit their trainees in front of a computer and expect world-class learning to take place.  This is fine if the company has put the required research and expertize into the courses created, and created a comprehensive course for their trainees to complete.  but more often than not they will trim it down, leave out or take out what they deem to be materials that are not required for the trainee to complete the training on their own. They give the trainee little face-to-face time or hands-on time to learn the skills they require for their role in the company.  This is especially true of many businesses in the hospitality sector as they need to use staff ASAP, this leads to bad service, not because the trainee is bad at their job, but because of the lack of blended learning within the business and not focusing on the training needs of the trainee.

How Blended Learning Works

Blended learning is best done (in my opinion) when we use online learning systems to deliver courses to trainees that they can take at their own pace, along with practical on the job training that is checked against the checklist for the online training for the particular course, and face-to-face time with a mentor when to answer any questions or issues that the online and practical training has not answered completely for the trainee.

As an example, one of the courses that I roll out frequently is that of Food Safety & HACCP, and this is a subject that requires both online, classroom and face-to-face time with a mentor to ensure that the trainee receives a full understanding of Food Safety & HACCP, and can demonstrate in a real workplace situation what actions need to be taken to ensure that all food produced or handled, meets the legal requirements and limitations that are there to protect the trainee, company and the customer or end user.  It’s simply not good enough to assume that because the trainee has acquired the knowledge through online learning that they are ok to work in a commercial service kitchen environment.  In the face-t0-face with the mentor, the trainee must demonstrate all four types of contamination, high and low-risk food, chemicals, required temperatures and the range of critical control points that control the flow of production through the kitchen before they are signed off to work in the commercial kitchen.

In my research, I have found that trainees who completed the online training only, remembered less than 40% of the content if they returned to work within two days and that if they returned to work after three days that figure dropped to 25%.  I also found that trainees who completed the online training and the practical & face-to-face retained 80% of the training even after being away for a week.

Getting Best Results

Using blended has proven to bring better results to the trainees as they get to us a wide variety of tools to complete their learning, from pretests, videos, text, interactions, PDF’s evaluation quizzes, practicals and face-to-face mentors.  This gives the trainee the highest rate of succeeding in the workplace.  This also allows us to tailor our practicals and mentoring to suit each trainee and their learning styles.  Trainees that go through blended learning programmes retain more information than trainees that don online training alone.

Using proper blended training will allow you to train your trainees to a very high standard and also will result in a greater retention rate of trainees.   If you tell a trainee what to do they will remember less than 20% of the lesson, if you show them how to do it they will remember up to 50% of the lesson and if you allow them to do the task themselves, they will remember up to 80% of the lesson.  Learning takes the form of the following for most learners:

Tell the Trainee (up to 20%)

Tell your trainee how to do the task required.  Make sure that you give them enough information that they can absorb, but not so much that you overwhelm them.

Show the Trainee (up to 50%)

Show your trainee how to do the task.  Talk through the process and encourage the trainee to take notes or draw diagrams.

Let the Trainee Do the Task (up to 80%)

Allow your trainee to do the task and to talk through the task with you to show their understanding of the task and/or instructions at hand.


Review the trainee’s work and give constructive feedback so that they can correct any issues that they encountered in the task.

Let the Trainee Apply the Task & Fly (up to 100%)

Allow the trainee to practice and apply the newly acquired knowledge in real life task and let them spread their wings and fly.


The more options and ways of learning that you can offer your trainees and the more time you put in to researching what blended learning system is right for your trainees, then the more successful your training will be and your trainees will have a solid grounding and knowledge of the tasks required and how to implement them in the workplace.

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Understanding/Using System Variables – part 2


In a first blog about System variables I offered a free table with description an references for all system variables. If you didn’t get that table yet, please get it from that article. That older post described shortly all caregories. It had focus on the variable categories s which are read only, and how they can be used to show information in a course and/or for editing/debugging reasons (like cpInfoCurrentFrame).  Not treated in that first part was the Quizzing category because I already had a detailed explanation in this blog post.

Here the focus is on that very special category ‘Movie Control‘. It is special because those variables cannot be inserted for viewing in a course.  More important is that they can be controlled, changed by the developer on runtime which is not possible for any variable for the other categories. Learning how to control these variables can be a good step up to getting started with advanced or shared actions: more complicated actions than the simple actions which you find in the dropdown list on the Actions tab of an interactive object.


Since this post is meant for users starting with variables, I want to explain some terms that are important expecially when working with system variables of the Movie Control category. You can skip this part is it sounds familiar to you.

Slides versus Frames

In questions on the forum I often see confusion between those two terms. A normal cptx project is slide-based. That leads many users to suppose that Captivate is functioning like Powerpoint, but that is not true. Essentially Captivate will lead to a movie, not to a sequence of slides which is typical for a presentation. That movie is more than a simple video, because interactivity is based on offering control to the user and to do so you need to  pause the movie. This is not the case with a video: the learner can pause the video, but the developer has no influence of therm with the exception of the interactive videos. I use the term interactive movie for a fully interactive published Captivate file. An interactive video is not better at all, more of a hype at this moment, because is interactivity is more limited. Although a PPT can have animations with some duration and seqeuence, it is not a real movie unless you capture it as a movie.

Any video/movie is played at a certain ‘speed’. The speed is defined in frames per second or FPS. The default speed of a published cptx file is set to 30FPS (but a video demo at 15FPS). If you keep the default length of a slide in CP, which is 3 seconds, that means that you have 90 frames in that slide.

I explained these terms already many times. As you can see in the table, several system variables in the Movie Control category are linked to navigation between slides or frames. Understanding the difference is required.

Boolean variable

A variable can have any value in Captivate: a text (often called string) or a number. When you look in the table you will see the typical values of the system variables. Many of them also aren:  from the ‘Boolean’ type. That is a variable that will have only two possible values: 0 or 1, true or false. You can interchange them easily, I prefer using the numbers 0/1 because it is less typing.  In the Movie control category many variables are indicated as Boolean: cpCmndCC, cpCmndMute, cpCmndNextSlide, cpCmndPause, cpCmndPlaybarMoved (pretty useless, internal), cpCmndPrevious, cpCmndResume, cpCmndShowPlaybar, cpCmndTOCVisible and cpCmndLockTOC.

Like other variables Booleans have a default (or start) value which you find also in the table. Often it is 0, which means the situation described by the variable is turned OFF. But there are exceptions. Some examples:

  • cpCmndMute: default value = 0, which means that audio is playing
  • cpCmndPause: default value = 0, which means the course is not paused
  • cpCmndShowPlaybar: default value = 1, which means that the playbar is visible
  • cpCmndTOCVisible: default value = 0, which means that the TOC in overlay is not visible


When used as a verb, this means ‘switch between two situations’.  I didn’t use the word ‘state’ to avoid confusion with states in a multistate object. You can toggle a playbar between the visible and hidden situation, audio between muted and not muted, a TOC in overlay between expanded and collapsed, any object or group between visible and invisible. There is a close relation between Boolean variables and toggling. For that reason a couple of versions ago the new command/action Toggle’ appeared in the dropdown list of the Actions tab, and in the advanced actions dialog box.

Some people also use Toggle to indicate a Toggle button. That is a button which allows to switch between two situations£. Several buttons on the Captivate playbar are toggle buttons: turning CC on/off, play or mute audio, pause or continue the movie.

Use Cases

Toggle buttons

CC on/off

If you use custom buttons instead of a playbar, which is recommended for any non-linear project, you can create a toggle button to turn Closed Captioning on/of. Beware: in versions before CP2017, Closed Captioning was always turned off when the course started. That is the reason why the default value of cpCmndCC  is still indicated as O. With the new more elaborated features for CC, you also have the possibility to turn CC on for a project. In that case the variable will have the value 1.  To create a toggle button for this feature you can use a shape button on the main master slide (no need for pausing) if you are in a non-responsive project. For a responsive project with fluid boxes, using the main master slide is a bad idea (no fluid boxes possible), you’ll have to use the other master slides. Use guides for the creation of the footer fluid box, so that it is consistent for all the master slides.

Create this simple action to be triggered by the Success event of the button:

Since you don’t need this button to pause the slide, you have to uncheck the option ‘Pause Project until user clicks’.

Audio on/off, Playbar on/off, Overlay TOC expand/collapse, TOC lock/unlock

The workflow is exactly the same as for the CC toggle button. In the screenshot you see that the appropriate system variables show up and can be selected.

It is of course possible to replace a toggle button by two  buttons. Example: a button to show the overlay TOC  and another one to hide it. In that case you could use the commands ‘Show TOC’ (same result as Assign cpCmndTOCVisible with 1) and ‘Hide TOC’ (same result as Assign cpCmndTOCVisible with 0). This is  an alternative for the tiny expand/collapse buttons attached top left of the slide. A toggle button saves space on the slide, easier to manage.

Two buttons are also possible for Playbar on/off  (Show Playbar/Hide Playbar) and for locking/unlocking the TOC for navigation (Lock TOC/Unlokc TOC).

For Audio on/off you do NOT find such simple actions in the Actions tab.  ‘Play Audio’ is meant only to play an audio clip, but has no effect on slide audio, object audio, nor background audio. Similar with ‘Stop Triggered Audio’ which can only stop clips started with the command ‘Play Audio’. If you want two buttons, you will need to use the system variable cpCmndMute, with the Assign command:

  1. Assign cpCmndMute with 1    will mute audio
  2. Assign cpCmndMute with 0     will have it play again

To create a toggle button with a different look when the situation is toggled, you’ll need an advanced or shared action. Have a look at:

Multiple Toggle Buttons with one Shared Action

Shape category ‘Buttons’ – Challenge

Being a tutorial for newbie (no advanced/shared actions, I will not explain using the navigation system variables for two reasons:

  1. You probably never will use the slide navigation variables  for navigation between slides. It is intuitive to use ‘Go to Next Slide’, muc more than ‘Assign cpCmndNextSlide with 1’
  2. The navigation variable cpCmndGotoFrame is  very important in micro-navigation but that is a more advanced topic that needs the use of advanced/shared actions. If you are interested, have a look at: Intro to Micro-Navigation

However I have a challenge for you! The shape dialog box has a special category labeled ‘Buttons’.

Typical for these shapes: the option ‘Use as button’ is checked off (no pausing point by default). They will trigger an action, which for most buttons is a simple action. You will see that the Mute button  is assigning “1” to the system variable cpCmndMute. The three buttons marked in the screenshot trigger an advanced action: the Home button and the Start button (both marked in red) use the advanced action ‘startSlide‘, the End button (marked in green) uses ‘endSlide‘.  You can open th action in the Advanced Actions dialog box,  by clicking the Browse icon:

Look at the use of the system variables in startSlide :

  • Assign cpCmndGotoSlide with 0          this means: go to the first slide (index starts with 0)
  • Assign cpCmndResume with 1              is the same as Continue

Can you explain the script ‘endSlide’?


A lot more is possible when using the movie control variables in advanced or shared actions. I already posted some links before. Here is a link to a blog post about ‘Replay Slide‘ where you’ll find different scenarios. It will help to understand the importance of frames: if you only get back to the first frame of the slide, reset will not happen if this is done by an On Enter action, or if you have Text Entry Boxes/Drag&Drop slide.

For newbies I plan a third article about user variables and simple use of them (still without advanced/shared actions). Would love to get some comments.

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Science of Learning

Our Talent Management division is currently focusing on the “science of learning” topic and  several experts have given presentations about what that looks like for both the learner and the developers. By definition: Learning sciences (LS) is an interdisciplinary field that works to further scientific understanding of learning as well as to engage in the design and implementation of learning innovations, and the improvement of instructional methodologies. (wikipedia) Some of you may recall Multimedia Learning during your graduate work if not it is the study of learning to design for online learning.

What does all of this have to do with Captivate? Well, as I get more immersed in using web authoring tools like Captivate we have to keep in mind that although the learner may not know that why we design courses the way we do we are well aware of what we are trying to accomplish. Anymore, packaging the development tool with the respective LMS will give us the complete picture if the products we are developing are measuring the learners true learning capabilities. Because of the nature of my customers environment the science of learning is becoming very important for some of our topical areas.

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