Familiarity

Over the years and role changes I’ve used a variety of different VLEs. From Blackboard to FutureLearn, and from custom in-house developed VLE to customised large-scale MOOC platform. So, how important is familiarity when working, designing and developing on these platforms?

Firstly, are we talking about the familiarity I need to navigate the multitude of features and processes to get the course built and delivered? Or do we mean the familiarity the learner needs in order to have a smooth and tangible learning experience, whether they sit down and structure their learning or dip in as and when they can? Let’s try and deal with both.

Explain everything

  • For me: If you’re new to the platform it’s good to write notes to yourself as you do something new, work out how a feature works, etc. This is also a great resource for you or the rest of the team to open discussion around the how and why of particular approach to presenting a learning resource. Keep ideas, plans, design/colour schemes, times, asset library, etc. all in one place for easy reference. 
  • For the learner: Accept that the learner may not have read your carefully scripted course page or expensive course promo video and repeat it at the beginning of the course. The odds are that you put a lot of effort into that content so make sure it’s of use at the start of the course. It will need to be modified, you don’t need the marketing/promotional terminology here, so make sure it reads like the rest of the course (the ‘voice’ of the learning). Carry this approach to the whole course, not just the start: explain why you’ve included a video to watch and what the learner should think about while they watch it. Explain the structure of the course and what it means for their journey, and how the journey ends. And what happens after that. 

Structure and navigation

  • For me: A new platform will mean a lot of different, well, everything! Who hosts, manages or supports the platform? Who are they, where are they, when are they available? Make them your new BFF and ask for help as well as providing a fresh pair of eyes and offer feedback from your own experience on other platforms to see if you can provide efficiencies or development to improve. Always ask questions and always explain why, as well as showing them your results. 
  • For the learner: A consistent structure and navigation to the course will help the learner feel more comfortable and relaxed, therefore are more likely to retain the knowledge you’re presenting them with. As with the previous item, explain how the structure works, explain how to use the navigation, and above all keep the consistency of design that you’ve worked hard to develop. If you use colour of font size as a code of activity or resource identification, use it every time (you’ d be surprised how often I’ve seen inconsistencies, usually across courses rather than within the same course).

Example: FutureLearn navigation, Warwick’s ‘Leadership for healthcare improvement and innovation’.

Template

  • For me: Personally I hate templates or a forced way of working, but the method and structure they offer are hard to ignore. There’s a reason why templates work and that, as I mentioned previously, provides a consistency across courses, programmes, and team members. if you’re working in isolation, then the template probably doesn’t make sense to you as you already know what you’re doing. If you working a part of a larger team then the template provides the working structure you all need to adhere to to get that consistency I talked about.
  • For the learner: The template should not be something the learner ever really notices. The template is there to provide a consistent learning experience for the learner. If it works they wont notice it. If it fails they’ll complain of not understanding what they should be doing, or when, or how, or why. The template will provide familiarity and structure.

Text and images

  • For me: Nothing bores me more than a course full of pages and pages of text, no visual cue at all as to what’s happening. If nothing else a well placed image showing the general theme or topic helps bring the page to life. While some subjects are clearly more visual than others, there’s no excuse for not using some Creative Commons or licensed images, a YouTube video also explaining the subject, concept, interview with an expert, educator, practitioner, etc. While we try and accommodate as many styles of presenting learning materials, and those materials often reach us from the educator in text form, we would not be doing our job if we didn’t try and find a visual solution to break the text blocks up, even if it’s only a different way of presenting the text.
  • For the learner: if the learner wanted to read a textbook to gain the knowledge and qualification from the course, they’d that. Often what one learner likes is not what another likes. While one person can read book after book and retain the knowledge easily many cant, me being one of them. The inclusion of different sorts of activities helps, but so do different approaches to presenting the learning materials: image, charts, photos, infographics, video interviews, to-camera teaching presentations, video case studies, high-profile documentaries (check the ownership and originality if you’re using these from YouTube), etc. There’s always a way to bring something visual to the course.

Example: Documentary – DHL International Supply Chain, loaded to YouTube by DHL.

… now make an activity out of it, introduce some questions that the video can help with but requires the learner to go further afield to find answers and more resources for. Make the image or video part of the learning, not the learning itself.

Langauge

  • For me: If the whole team uses the term ‘page’ or ‘step’ to indicate a different element of a learning package, then be sure you all use that term. By using a variety of different terms to mean the same thing you will forever be translating instructions from one source to another for different things. Something will always get lost in the translation, mistakes will be made no matter how hard you try, and there will be more work down the line when you have to unravel the mess. Be sure the terms you use within the team are consistent (that word again) and appropriate. If you work with a new educator who’s used to different terms and ways of working then open the dialogue and work out what’s best – do they change to accommodate you and your team, or do you change your processes to accommodate them? Decide early on and stick to it! 
  • For the learner: No one wants to read a course that is heavy in jargon, acronyms, complicated academic terminology or badly presented materials. No one. Even if you’re writing for advanced Masters level students you should still use appropriate language, explain an acronym, and avoid jargon. You obviously don’t want to dumb the language down so it sounds like you’re being condescending to them, but there is a level that is acceptable. Find it, stick to it, and test it!

Familiarity in learning has always been about consistency – consistency in the approach to design and present the materials, consistency in language appropriate to the level of the course and the intended audience, consistency in quality of photos or images or videos, consistency in length of pages or steps. By being consistent in what you do and how you do it your course will also offer a consistency the learner will become accustomed to, which will bread familiarity and comfort with. From here it will be easier to follow the learning and complete the course.

Image source: Pete Birkinshaw (CC BY 2.0)

Adicionando video do Youtube ao projeto, Captivate 2017

Olá Como está?

Neste tutorial, demonstro em como adicionar um vídeo do youtube em seu projeto Adobe Captivate 2017, sem a utilização de um Widget, player para carregar vídeo do youtube.

Lembrando que, para que o aluno possa visualizar o vídeo, o mesmo deverá estar online conectado uma rede de internet, este processo não levará o vídeo junto com compilação.

 

#eLearning #LIVESTREAM – Captivate AMA 08/07/2017, 16:00 EDT

In this LIVE STREAM, I will be taking your questions about Adobe Captivate 2017, as well as version 9, 8, I probably won’t remember anything from 7 but you can ask anyway.

Follow the link right now to set up a reminder for yourself so you get notified when this LIVE STREAM goes live.

https://youtu.be/M-whnEUGGkM

Use the same link to join the LIVE STREAM while it’s in progress.

If you enjoy my LIVE STREAMS, please share them with your colleagues and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to make sure you’re notified of all my upcoming events. If you subscribe to my YouTube channel you will receive my Adobe Captivate 2017 – Responsive Custom Quiz Questions online course from Udemy for only $10 ($50 value).

#eLearning #LIVESTREAM – AMA July 10, 2017, 14:00 EDT

In this week’s eLearning LIVE STREAM, I will be taking questions from you on any topic related to eLearning, Adobe Captivate, Adobe Presenter Video Express, Adobe eLearning…whatever, ask me anything. I want everyone to participate in this discussion. I really want to hear from you.

Follow the link right now to set up a reminder for yourself so you get notified when this LIVE STREAM goes live.
Use the same link to join the LIVE STREAM while it’s in progress.
If you enjoy my LIVE STREAMS, please share them with your colleagues and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to make sure you’re notified of all my upcoming events.

Thank You to the Adobe eLearning Community

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I reached a milestone today and I wanted to give thanks and credit where it was due. Today my YouTube channel, which is dedicated to Adobe eLearning products and services, surpassed 5,000 subscribers. I’d like to take the time to thank not only the Adobe eLearning team members but to all my subscribers. I know full well that most of them have probably come from the eLearning Community at one point or another. Thank you all.

I’d like to make a special mention to Shambu Nashi ,  Allen Partridge, and of course Pooja Jaisingh  for all their support as well. Thanks!

Now I just have 95,000 more subscribers to go to get my silver play button from YouTube. If I ever do achieve that goal, I will proudly display it so that it can be seen in all my future Adobe Captivate tutorials, for all 100,000 subscribers to see.

yt-creators-rewards-silver-mobile-2x-2

Prevent Responsive Text Pop-Outs from Appearing

Some Adobe Captivate 2017 users are reporting seeing the following icon/button on their published responsive design eLearning projects.

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The button you are seeing at the bottom of your text container (smart shape or text caption) is actually by design in Adobe Captivate (2017 Release). It appears when a text container has more text than can be accommodated by your minimum font size and the size of the text container. For example, when displaying large paragraphs of text on a smaller display. Tapping the button will display a dark overlay with all the text in white, and if necessary, with a scrollbar when the amount of text is too much for the screen.  Once your learner finishes reading all the text, tapping the screen will return them to the full slide. Sometimes it seems as if the button is appearing for no reason. There are a few possibilities as to why this happens.

  1. Your text container is right on the threshold of when the button will be determined to be necessary. In these cases, slightly increasing the size of the text container may solve your problem. Alternatively, you could also select a smaller minimum font size on your fluid box properties.
  2. Another item to consider is the margins set for your text container. Decreasing the margins will allow more space for your text and perhaps just enough to accommodate the text on smaller device screens.
  3. Lastly, consider where the text has been. If you copied and pasted this text from a word processor, it may contain unnecessary formatting codes, invisible characters, or extra line breaks that could be causing the pop out text button to appear.

Here is a video from my YouTube channel that shows you how you can get rid of the extra hidden characters that might be forcing your project to show these buttons when they are not actually needed.

If you found this article and video useful please share it with your eLearning colleagues. If you would like to see other tutorials like this one, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

When PowerPoint goes bad

What are your pet peeves about using PowerPoint? Is it the tool itself or how people use it?

I use PowerPoint, and think it is a good way to engage students and staff, and can be used as a way to spur enjoyment, engagement and interest in your subject. But that’s more about how the tool is used rather than the tool itself. So, here are some observations I’ve made over the years about PowerPoint, and how people use it ‘badly’:

  • Font – Inconsistent use of fonts across the slide deck, or even on the same slide. Using fonts that really don’t work on screen (like Times New Roman), or using Comic Sans. Please. Don’t.
  • Images – So you found Google images or another such image search. You’ve copied the image to your slide and it looks good. It doesn’t. That small image might look OK on your screen, but test it in a classroom or lecture theatre, you’ve stretched it so much it’s pixelated so much it’s almost unrecognisable.
  • Words – Writing your whole lesson in PowerPoint and spending half the lesson with your back to the class so you can read from the projector screen. Same goes if you stand behind the lectern PC and read of that screen instead.
  • Bullet points – PowerPoint makes it too easy to use them, but that doesn’t mean you should (yes, I can see the irony as I’m using them here too).
  • Colour / Templates – Just because you can lots of colour or standard PowerPoint templates doesn’t mean you should. Keep it simple so your key message shines through – the more colour / mess on the slide will only detract or hide your content.
  • Charts / Tables – Do you really need that chart or table that shows 50 different points of information.
  • Animation – I’ve never found animated stars or arrows to help the presentation. If the slide is structured properly you shouldn’t need them.
  • Clipart – Please. Don’t.
  • Volume – You may feel that your one hour presentation needs 100 slides. I’m pretty sure your audience/class doesn’t. 

If in doubt about any aspect of your use of PowerPoint, the best time to find out how you’re doing is now, while you’ve time to go and check it all out and not half way through the most important presentation of your career. Would you rather a slightly awkward conversation in private now or suddenly realise the conference venue has emptied for lunch 45 minutes early, just after you start your 16th of 135 slides?

Go find your friendly learning technologist (yes, we are friendly!), ask us to look over it and tell you what we think. We will be honest but we’ll be critical and, most importantly, constructive. We will offer support and suggestions, we will give your pointers on how to cut the information on the slides (and how to deliver it too, if you want) and we will be there to help you feel comfortable creating slide decks in future and deliver them. Every learning technologist I’ve ever met will do this, without question and without judgement; we’re just happy we can offer our expertise and make your job easier (and more successful).

There are plenty of online tutorials and help websites if you want to find out yourself about using PowerPoint ‘well’. Try sites like this and this and this.

If in doubt this video – Life after death by PowerPoint – will help you see the error of your ways.

Image source: EU PVSEC (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Share Your Captivate Tutorial with the eLearning Community

Not a Captivate tutorial, but instead a tutorial on how to create a LIVESTREAM to share your Adobe Captivate tutorial with the rest of the Adobe eLearning Community. If you find this video useful, please share it with your colleagues, and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel when you get a chance.

Creating learning content on your phone: Videos

Creating resources on my phone is not something I usually do, unless it’s a tweet, photo for Instagram, document for my book projects, or videos for family and friend events. I general consume on my phone, and I wish I created more. Which is why I was interested to get my hands on this little bit of kit once it arrived in the office. The DJI Osmo Mobile.

“Osmo Mobile turns your smartphone into a smart motion camera, making every moment you shoot look smooth, professional and ready to share. Shoot cinematic videos anytime, or use its intelligent functions to track your subject, capture stunning motion timelapses or even stream a moment live around the globe.”

The process to start using it is easy (you’ll need the DJI app – iOS and Android available) and a fully charged phone and Osmo Mobile. The instruction book is quite thin on the ground about ‘how’ to use it but the process of learning the process of creating good quality video is relatively easy. It’s not quite as easy as point-and-click, but it is fairly close. With most phones up to about 3 years old the ability to record high-definition video is standard, the only downside I’ve ever come across has been the user, the person holding the phone, the one swaying or jittering the footage. This gets rid of all that. The battery in the Osmo Mobile is good for a reported 4.5 hours and will probably outlast your phones if you do a lot of filming. As with all video apps the biggest issue and problem I faced when trying it out was lack of storage on my phone – I had to delete numerous apps to free up enough space, and even then I had to stop filming to view the footage and delete what I didn’t want to keep before I could continue.

CNET DJI Osmo Mobile

CNET DJI Osmo Mobile

Image source: CNET DJI Osmo Mobile review

Three features I love about the Osmo Mobile is the ability (not tested yet) to use the front-facing camera for selfie-style recordings (stationary or on the move) and tracking (highlight a face or object and move around it, the camera will do it’s best to focus on it and keep it in the centre of the frame). The third is the timelapse feature, the ability to create stunning (and stable) timelapse videos. Whilst these are more interesting from a personal point of view, being able to create holiday or family videos, there will no doubt be students who are clever enough to add their own take on this as part of their project files. If you’ve an example please share it with me?

What would I use this for? While the full range of features may not be applicable for creating learning resources I can easily see how it could be used by students in the kinds of videos they are being increasingly asked to they create for projects. Using the gimbal for or by staff to record guest interviews, podcasts or ‘vlogs’ could be a great use; ensuring a stable and focused film that a handheld device doesn’t usually offer (even keeping a GorillaPod handy isn’t enough when you don’t have anything the right height to fix it to) to location-based filming for case studies (office, street, warehouse, etc.). Anywhere you think you’d ever want to record something, then this can help provide stabilisation and fluidity that is often lacking from self-recorded materials.

Next would be, as I’m sure you can hear in the second video below when I’m outside, to try the RØDE VideoMic Pro. It looks like it should work, but it could prove to be difficult if it prevents the movement of the three-axis gimbal. At least DJI and RØDE look like they’re already on the case and have produced a version, it’s just not clear if it works with the OSM Mobile.

Attempt one: Internal walking

Attempt two: outside walk-and-pan

UPDATE: I took the DJI OSMO Mobile with me on a recent family outing, here’s the results. I am especially please with the phone camera itself, the clarity and colours are so rich, which only goes to highlight the movement (or lack of it) and stability the OSMO Mobile gives these home videos. My only concern, and the one downside, is the feeling of vulnerability on carrying my expensive phone like this, that the OSMO Mobile is cumbersome to carry when not being used and that it requires a bit of juggling to set up (especially if you’re out and about and don’t want to leave your phone in the cradle). Enjoy!