Ways To Apply The Pareto Principle To Learning

How can you apply the Pareto principle to learning? Ask any teacher, and they will tell you that they dedicate 80% of their time to 20% of the students. But there is more to this than just the time spent. When designing adult learning programs, there are rules you may want to keep in mind. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

3D & eLearning

These two things generally don’t go together, given the system resources needed to create 3D elements. However recently, I am starting to see more 3D applications come from Adobe targeting inexperienced users. For example you can now embed Cinema 4D files into Illustrator for realistic print visuals. There is also a new Adobe product called Dimensions that allows you to easily incorporate 3D elements into marketing materials. I often use 3D, very much like Photoshop, it is way easier more realistic to create a real shadow, than a fake one. I was wondering is anyone else using 3D in their eLearning workflow?

If Design is a Language, What is Your eLearning Saying About You?


When Moses came down from the Mount. He didn’t have a flimsy papyrus scroll slipped under his arm, with the Ten commandments scribbled on them. No, he had two state-of-the-art stone tablets firmly held in each arm. Each of the commandments meticulously carved, each letter expertly chiseled: It was obvious, it took, time, care and deep thought to create them. When the Isrealites saw them, they knew immediately that this was an important message. Why else would someone go to all the trouble to showcase them in such a manner if they weren’t? Before uttering a single word, Moses had communicated the value and gravity of the lesson through design.

Creating compelling eLearning is very similar. Its all about choices, and not just the obvious ones like defining learning objectives or creating tests. It is much subtler than that, more nuanced. From the first second a learner opens your course they are evaluating its worth, and will in all likelihood assign a value that will directly correlate to the amount of attention they will pay to it. After all if you don’t care as the designer, why should they?

They will look at several factors to assess how serious you are:

  • Does it load quickly and without issues?
  • Is it professionally scripted and narrated or did someone just wing it with a laptop mic?
  • Is there a cohesive custom colour design or did they use a stock PowerPoint template?
  • Is it tightly scripted and logically organized or a rambling mess?
  • Are the graphics (photos, info-graphics) relevant to the lesson, or just thrown in randomly?
  • Is there mixed media (video, animations etc.,) or just stock photos?
  • Does it respect their intellect in tone and delivery or treat them like children?

All this occurs in the first five slides and will determine your Learner’s overall attention and retention levels. Design is critical to engagement. The more thought design that goes into your training module, the more successful it will be.

Making Information Security eLearning Fun/Engaging

Hi all.

I’m designinig my first eLearning course outside of work, where I’m a developer, and it’s on Information Security/Cyber Awareness for employees.

I’ve never designed a course before, and am struggling to find a way to make it interesting for the learners. I’ve looked around and a lot of people use animation of characters/cartoons, but I don’t have this skillset, and feel it doesn’t treat adult learners as adults, like Paul Wilson talks about. I’ve also worked my way through some, which are unbareable and are just information dumps with a quiz at the end.

I was wondering if anyone has experience in compliance and if you have any tips to for non-instructional desingers. I am learning about instructional design, but it’s more the approach I’m struggling with.



1 Hour of Responsive Design in Adobe Captivate – How long does it take you?

Image of four businesswomen interacting at meetingI know this has been a topic that has been discussed on other sites but I would really like to engage in a discussion on this topic with other Captivate developers. What are your thoughts?

Consider that not all eLearning is created equal so let’s discuss this with level 1, 2, and 3 eLearning in mind, where level 1 is minimal to no interaction such as question slides and basic navigation; level two is intermediate interaction such as tabbed content, scenario based and basic branching; and level 3 is full interactive scenario based training with multiple branching paths. Also, let’s consider that you are just developing the project from a fully realized design. I know some of us are also designers but let’s assume that design time would be roughly the same for most of us.

Here are my initial thoughts.

1 hour of development for level 1 could take me anywhere 40 – 50 hours. I think you could add 20 – 30 hours for level 2 and perhaps 20 – 30 hours for level 3.

Maybe I’m wrong but I would love to hear some other thoughts.


Using Fluid Boxes in Adobe Captivate 2017

User experience has taken a front seat in design thinking and creation. As learners detach themselves from traditional learning methods, our attention turns to the use of mobile devices for consumption by learners.


Fluid boxes in Adobe Captivate 2017 give you the ability to place content in these intelligent containers and have Adobe Captivate resize and adapt the objects for any device size, the device specific preview menu (another new addition to this release) gives you complete control over previewing your content without having to hit the preview button.


One of the recent webinars we did for the launch of Adobe Captivate 2017 was to create interesting layouts for mobile devices using Fluid boxes. I used the concept of wireframes from web design to create web page like layouts which render well on various mobile devices.


I will be creating a short tutorial on how to create these frames and using the Fluid Boxes properties inspector to align and wrap objects to suit different device sizes.


Here are some screen shots of the preliminary design.

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 11.58.03 AM

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 12.25.15 PM Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 12.25.31 PM Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 12.25.50 PM

Wireframes in elearning design is still being used very sparingly, I found this approach to be very visual when it came to creating content for mobile devices. Once you start exploring this route for prototyping or storyboarding the possibilities become endless as there are new thoughts and ideas for web design and layouts coming through each day.

If you have already used Adobe Captivate 2017, you would have experienced the powerful Adobe Typekit Integration as well, the catalog of fonts which are tailored for web use will give your content that typographical edge on changing screen sizes.

Will have the tutorial out to all of you very soon.



Knudge.me, A Successful Example Of Gamification Applied To Learning.


A few weeks ago, I downloaded Knudge.me, a mobile application that intends to help its users master the English language. What attracted me at first, was that I could choose from different Courses based on my English level.

Once downloaded, I discovered a smart application, that really got me motivated to learn. It inspired me for my future eLearning projects, and that’s an experience I want to share with you. As described on their site, “Knudge.me is a mobile learning platform to help people improve their English leveraging AI and gamification. The new-age learning platform attempts to simplify the learning process by using various teaching methodologies, including infographics, gamification, personalized adaptive content and spaced learning to help people excel in English.”

As explained in the “How does it work?” section of the app, Knudge.me works on 3 major principles:

         1. Micro Learning 

“Research suggests that distributed/bite-size learning can increase information transfer by 17% and results in greater understanding, application and retention than a day long equivalent.”

Here is how it works: you receive the content in the form of cards, each of which gives you a new word to learn. You receive those cards through notifications at regular time intervals, which you can set up according to your preferences.

Knudge 2
Knudge 5
Knudge 3
          2. Spacing Effect
“Learning is greater when studying is spread over time, as opposed to studying the same amount of time in a single session. Spaced effect minimizes what we forget.”

You get quizzed several times about the same word over a long period of time, until this word is considered “mastered by you”. It then gets listed among your “Mastered goals”, to which you can go back anytime for revision.

 Knudge 1
Knudge.me Screenshot (19)
Knudge.me Screenshot (18)


         3. Adaptive Intelligence

“The method and pace of instruction customized for each learner help to achieve best possible academic outcomes.”

Based on what you’ve learned or not, the app keeps sending you appropriate content. Each word is categorized as either Mastered, or In Progress, or Pending. If you manage to answer several quizzes about the same word sent to you across a long period of time, the word will be considered Mastered. However, if you make mistakes, reminders will be sent to you accordingly to consolidate your knowledge.

Screenshot 20

Knudge.me Screenshot (17)


But what I really loved about this app, is the way they create games that make you feel like learning new words, again and again! Here are a few examples:

Knudge 8 Knudge 9

Knudge 10 Knudge 11

Knudge 7 Knudge 6

So, does this get you inspired for your future eLearning projects? What do you think about it?

Revisiting the Systematic Design Model

“If you don’t know where you’re going,” the Scarecrow said to Dorothy, “it doesn’t matter which road you take.” ~ The Wizard of Oz

It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.” ~ Peter Senge



In their book The Systematic Design of Instruction, Walter Dick and Lou Carey list three reasons for using a systems approach to design. First, from the very beginning it causes the designer to focus on what the learner should know and be able to do when they have finished the course.

instructional system designSecond, a systems approach also recognizes the connection between each component.

Third, a system should be an empirical and reliable process. Instruction is designed for multiple uses and with replicable outcomes.

Dick & Carey have written the book on Instructional Systems Design (ISD). As you will find, however, many people have written “the book” as well. ISD in reality is another variation on the steps of the scientific process:

  1. Identification of the problem
  2. Review of the literature/what is known about the problem
  3. Formulating a hypothesis
  4. Testing the hypothesis/collecting data
  5. Analyzing the data
  6. Interpreting the results
  7. Evaluating the results and process

Every profession has a paradigm that the professionals point to that reflect their beliefs. Currently, in the online course design world, the paradigm is the systems model.

Dick & Carey are absolutely right with their three points. And one of the strengths of using a systems design is that you have a step-by-step process to follow to make sure you cover everything. It keeps you from approaching the course design process like the Scarecrow in the quote listed above. 

But note: you can still produce low-quality instruction while following every step of a design model faithfully. As Senge quote states, “it is not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.”

So what is that extra needed step which will ensure success? Think about that as you work through the materials in this section.



course designWhen designing online learning units, it is still necessary for learners to acquire specific knowledge prior to moving on to more advanced levels of performance. In the classroom lectures are often used – on the Web the linear presentation of materials is not effective. In the place of a written lectures, micro-videos, audio files, instructional articles and/or sites that distill the major concepts addressed in the lessons are more appropriate.

Online instructional units should be short and concise modules conveying relevant, critical information to support concepts, procedures, and/or performance-based skills. An instructional unit should be written specifically to communicate the content-knowledge necessary for improved, more advanced performance.

When designing instructional units:

  • Ensure that each instructional article, web site, media source or game supports the learning objectives/goals of the course.
  • Get the learner’s attention immediately by clearly making the topic relevant to something important within the learner’s frame of reference (e.g. job, studies, professional development).
  • In the body of each unit introduction provide an introductory paragraph, one or more explanatory paragraphs, and a summary paragraph.
  • Integrate questions or other interactive activities — such as exercises, problem-solving situations, games, or short simulations into the body of the unit.
  • Always limit the unit to one or two main ideas or concepts.
  • Use only the most important “need-to-know” supporting details.
  • When possible, support the unit content with audio and/or video clips containing relevant information, such as background information, “how to” instructions, or examples that further clarify key learning points.

Recommended Design Checklist

It is suggested that the following items be taken into consideration when developing courses.

Critical Element



Course Outcomes

These are the necessary terminal knowledge, skills, dispositions, and abilities a student must demonstrate in order to successfully pass the course. Course outcomes should define and contextualize the enduring student cognitive performance(s) and qualify the essential criteria for successfully meeting the outcome. Ideally, course outcomes would be derived from the larger program outcomes and vision.

Course outcomes are measurable and represent appropriate scope, complexity, and rigor for program and course level. Course outcomes visibly map to program outcomes and embody framework principles (example: multi-dimensional, enduring, relevant, and terminal).

Learning Objectives

These are the specific, itemized goals describing the various student performances and expectations of the module. These should be more concrete, measurable, and have fewer dimensions than the course outcomes for purposes of accurate measurements. Ideally, learning objectives are derived from the course outcomes and, as a whole, represent a logical path to those terminal knowledge, skills, and abilities that illustrates a trajectory in student cognitive performance from the beginning of the course to its conclusion.

Learning objectives are measurable performances assessed in the module and all map at least one of the course outcomes. Objectives are unidimensional and discrete and provide a logical learning path to outcomes.


Vehicles are critical components of the pedagogical approach. These are the activity types employed in the course (e.g., short papers, blogs, journals, wikis, discussions, problem sets, etc.).

All activities are pedagogically appropriate for the type of student performance of experience desired. The contextual purpose of the activities is transparently communicated.

Cohesive Design

The course contains the big picture, enduring topics, principles, or questions that are threaded throughout and bring a sense of cohesion to the course.

Employs central themes, draws connections to previous topics, and stages future learning to create cohesion between modules. Course narratives purposefully and meaningfully guide students along the learning path.


This is the “home page” of the course, in which the salient course information (e.g., course description, course purpose, outcomes, connection to personal and professional contexts, special navigation issues, etc.) and learning path are advertised to the student. See the appendix of this document for a sample conceptual map.

Introduction situates the course within the larger body of knowledge and defends its relevance for professional and personal contexts. Narrative includes a conceptual map or other creative representation of the essential nature and approach of the course.


Alignment is the extent to which the summative assessments align to the course outcomes. Alignment to course outcomes is essential for comprehensive measurement and data mapping of the course outcomes.

All key performances of the summative assessments map back to at least one course outcome, each outcome is summatively assessed, and alignments are made explicit for students.


Authenticity of assessment concerns the emulation of real-world performances.

Summative assessments fully represent or emulate real-world performances or applications.

Summative Grading Metrics

Methods of calculating numerical grades on summative assessments.

All summative grading metrics are valid and reliable for the constructs being measured. Metrics include annotations (i.e., glossary, exemplars, etc.) to build clarity of expectations and objectivity in scoring.

Formative Assessments

These are low-stakes opportunities that scaffold to the summative assessments.

Formative opportunities are low-stakes, directly align to summative assessments, and represent true practice opportunities.

Formative Grading Metrics

Methods of calculating numerical grades on formative assessments

All formative activities indicate a grading metric. All grading metrics are valid instructional tools that align to the summative grading metrics.


Weight is the distribution of graded components that make up the final course grade.

Assessments are given appropriate weight to ensure that the summative assessments are critical for passing the course. The grade weight schema aligns with the programmatic vision or guidelines.


This is the extent to which the instructional materials have direct relevancy to the assessments of the course.

All instructional materials have direct relevancy and set students up for success in the assessments. Materials also represent innovative or creative approaches for creating student engagement and success.


This includes the appropriateness of the workload for the level and complexity of the course.

Course activities, materials, and workload reflect appropriate difficulty and complexity for the level of the course. Creative methods for distributing workload without inhibiting rigor are employed.

Instructional Clarity

This is the intelligibility and ease of consumption of all directions and instructional communications in the course.

Directions provided to students and instructors are clear and consistent. Directions exemplify positive, economical, and effective communication.

Content Accuracy

This is the extent to which the content of the course reflects the most current and accepted body of knowledge in the field.

Content underwent review to ensure accuracy, and contributors were appropriately qualified and credentialed.


These are the various formats in which instruction is provided (e.g., resource types, platforms, deliverable types, etc.) that allow for multiple learning styles to be addressed and actively engaged.

Course activities and materials employ innovative or creative modalities for providing students with multiple modalities for active learning.


The use of technology for grading and providing immediate feedback to students

The appropriate evaluation of higher-order critical tasks is automated using innovative and creative practices.


The overall “look” of the course and technical accuracy of the communications with respect to standard conventions

Course embodies the professionalism and polish of the institution and effectively promotes the brand.

Tools and Technology

These are any special applications, widgets, tools, or other technology employed in the course.

Course fully integrates emerging tools and technologies in a way that significantly improves engagement.