4 Ways to Build Your E-learning Skills This Summer

build e-learning skills

Summer’s approaching*. Many of you are taking days off and, generally, the workload eases up a bit. This is a good time to catch up on things or put together a short-term plan to build your skills.

I’m asked almost daily how to learn more and get better at building courses. Today, we’ll review a few ways you can implement some skill-building activities to make for a great summer time.

Attend an Articulate Roadshow to Build E-Learning Skills

We put together 2-day events where we cover all sorts of e-learning topics. We make them practical and have lots of hands-on activities. Attend one day or both. The roadshows are also a great way to connect with other e-learning developers in your area. Some of them turn into user groups and we’ve even had recruiters show up and share current e-learning job openings.

e-learning workshop

Here’s what we have coming up:

  • Boston: July 18 & 19. Early bird rate expires July 7. Register here.
  • Toronto: August 9 & 10. Early bird rate expires July 21. Register here.
  • Seattle: August 21 & 22. Early bird rate expires August 7. Register here.
  • Austin: September 12 & 13. Early bird rate expires August 28. Register here.

Create a Demo Interaction to Build E-Learning Skills

The best way to learn is to do. The challenge at work is that sometimes you have to do the same things over and over. So you don’t get to play around with ideas or practice building something new.

free e-learning activities

We present the weekly challenges as a way to do new things in small doses. Some people build polished demos and some build simple ones where they just show prototype idea. It doesn’t really matter how much time or effort you want to put into it. The main thing is that you have a sandbox in which to play around.

I recommend reviewing each week’s recap to see what people have done. There are some really neat ideas in many of them. And try to commit to one a month. For the summer, make a plan to create at least one.

Here’s a list of past challenges. There are some good examples that may give you ideas for your own projects.

Read a Book or Blog to Build E-Learning Skills

Read an old book. Read a new book. Whenever I travel, I grab an older e-learning book and go through it with fresh eyes. I’m always reminded of something I already know but haven’t thought much about recently. This helps be think about new ways to apply what I already know.

e-learning books

Here is a previous post with good book recommendations that cover everything from instructional and visual design to gamification.

Read a blog post. I’ve been going through some of my older posts to see where I need to update or add new links and I’m reminded of some practical tips that I forgot I shared. If you’re interested, check out the e-learning blog archives and look at some of the posts you may have missed ten years ago.

If you don’t want to your friends to thin you’re nerdy, take the cover off of one of the popular books and wrap it around your less trendy e-learning book.

Do Nothing Related to E-Learning Skills & Just Relax

Don’t do anything. Enjoy the summer. Take a break.

Between LinkedIn, Twitter, and your emails, it may be time to just take a break from the unending stream of content. Spend time with friends and family. Stepping away is a great way to step back into things. Maybe all you need this summer is a summer break.

What are you doing this summer (if anything) to build your skills?

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Essentials of Interactive E-Learning

 

essentials of interactive e-learning

At a recent workshop, we reviewed some of the essentials of interactive e-learning. Here are some of the highlights from the presentation. They focus on what the course participant should DO and not what information they need to SEE.

Basic Course Design

essentials of interactive e-learning 3 considerations

 

We discussed this in the post on what every new instructional designer should know. When building courses there are three main considerations:

  • What content needs to be in the course?
  • What’s the right look and feel for the course?
  • What will the users do in the course?

This last point is where we consider how the user interacts in the course. One of the challenges many e-learning developers have is that they don’t properly identify the performance objectives for the course and without that, they can’t build meaningful interactions.

The first thing is to understand the performance expectations and then from there build the interactions and activities that teach how to meet those expectations.

Objectives for Interactive E-Learning

essentials of interactive e-learning how to

It’s important to step away from info-centric design and step towards learner-centric design. A course focused on the learner frames the content so that it’s relevant to the learner’s needs and meaningful to the types of decisions they need to make in the real world.

  • Identify who’s taking the course.
  • In what situations would they need the course content?
  • After the course, what should they be able to do?
  • How do they prove they can do it during the course?

Use a Backward Design Strategy to Focus On Meaningful Interactions

essentials of interactive e-learning backward bull's eye design

Training specialists always fret over the return-on-investment (ROI) for e-learning. That’s usually the case when they’re not properly aligned to the organization’s goals and end up building a lot of information-based e-learning with very little focus on real performance improvement. It’s like they shoot a bunch of arrows during the year; then at the end of the year draw bull’s eyes around them to show the organization how well they’ve done.

  • The real bull’s eye is identifying what the learner needs to do.
  • Then determine how they can prove that they can do it.
  • Training is built around how to prove their understanding.
  • Focus on the activities. What do they need to do and what do they need to know to do it.

If you focus on the activities and not the information, you’ll most likely built more effective, engaging, and interactive e-learning.

Good books to learn more:

When it all comes down to it, effective interactive e-learning is built around meaningful activities that are relevant to the learner and aligned with the organization’s goals. The mistake a lot of course designers make is to not properly define the performance objectives and from there build meaningless or no interactivity.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • June 20-21 (San Diego). FocusOn Learning conference.
  • Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general type e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. Learn more and sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
  • There are a couple of other events planned. Once we get all of the bookings confirmed, we'll add the registration page and info.

 

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.

Let Amazon S3 Do Your Text-to-Speech for Free

free text-to-speech narration

Previously we looked at how to create free text-to-speech narration using a free application. The audio quality is decent enough for those who need the text-to-speech audio. Today we’ll look at a free (or inexpensive) way to create your text-to-speech narration that’s just as easy and hardly costs anything, if at all.

Earlier I showed how to create an Amazon S3 account as a way to share your courses. The first 5 GB is free and after that, it’s very inexpensive. If you use a site like Wix for your e-learning portfolio, Amazon S3 is an easy way to add URL links to your courses since those sites don’t allow uploading course content.

Once you have an Amazon S3 account, you have access to Polly, a service where you can create free text-to-speech narration. And the voice quality is very good, much better than the default SAPI voices you get with your computer.

Here’s an example of a few narration files I downloaded from Polly.

text-to-speech Amazon S3 Polly demo

Click here to view the text-to-speech examples.

As you can hear, the audio quality is decent and makes the robot voices tolerable. And odds are you won’t go past the initial free allocation.

How to Create Free Text-to-Speech Narration in Amazon S3 Polly

Creating the narration is really simple. First, you’ll need an Amazon S3 account. Here’s a link that shows how to get one.

Don’t worry about the prices, they’re nominal. You get a cushion of free space and after that, you pay $4.00 per million characters. That’s about 23 hours of audio. To put it in perspective, if you narrated “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, it would cost about 66 cents.

demo os Amazon S3 Polly text-to-speech

Basic Steps

  • From the Amazon S3 console, select Polly.
  • Insert your narration script.
  • Select a language.
  • Select a voice.
  • Preview and download the audio file.

It’s all pretty simple. Once you have the audio file, you can do some post-production editing (if necessary) and then insert into your course. Easy as that.

So there you have it, one free application where you can create text-to-speech narration and this inexpensive (or free) solution via Amazon that should meet most of your free text-to-speech needs.

If you use Polly, feel free to share your feedback.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • June 20-21 (San Diego). FocusOn Learning conference.
  • Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general type e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. Learn more and sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
  • There are a couple of other events planned. Once we get all of the bookings confirmed, we'll add the registration page and info.

 

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.

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.

How to Create an E-Learning Portfolio

e-learning portfolio tips

In recent posts, we discussed why you need a portfolio for personal development and to manage your professional career. The obvious next question is what tools and resources should I use to build a portfolio?

What Goes in the Portfolio?

The portfolio represents your skills and expertise. You need to decide if you want the portfolio to be static where you only do occasional maintenance and updates. Or do you want a site that’s more dynamic and continually updating?

e-learning portfolio

For a static portfolio, the main goal is to show off the best of what you can do.

  • Identify a few common course types such as interactive scenarios, compliance training, software simulations, etc.
  • Have a consistent way to present the projects: what was the goal, what did you do, what was the outcome?
  • Keep is simple. No need to show the whole module. Either show screenshots or small chunks of the module (like the interactive parts). You could do a quick 30-second video trailer of the module. That’s one way to get around uploading a real course (which we’ll discuss below).

For a dynamic portfolio, the main goal is to show what you can do as an ongoing pursuit.

  • Determine a manageable schedule. Most people start aggressively and then peter out. You’re not a news site where you need to post every day so start slow and be consistent.
  • Commit to a production process. I like the weekly challenges as a way to manage the portfolio. Commit to one per month. This gives you something to build and show. And then do a write-up and discuss what you did and why.
  • Blogging? Do you need a blog on your site? Are you going to write a blog post? What are you going to write about? A few ideas: how-to tutorials are popular, thoughts on what others have written, or summaries of industry books, articles, and news.

Where is the Portfolio Hosted?

This sort of depends on your technical skills and how much time you have. There are a lot of easy-to-use sites like Wix or Squarespace. Or you can build and manage your own site. There are also some portfolio sites designed to showcase projects.

Easy to Use & Professional Portfolio Sites

You can find dozens of portfolio sites on the Internet. Most of them are designed for people who have images or videos. They don’t seem to have any that cater to interactive content, especially e-learning courses. These sites are good for static portfolios that aren’t updated a lot. You’ll need images, screenshots, and maybe videos of your project.

Free Accounts

Popular Paid Accounts

Whether you use one of the portfolio sites or a no-programming site like Wix, you need to recognize that there are some limitations and you can’t host your courses on those sites. You’ll need something like Articulate Review (part of your subscription) or Amazon S3 to host the course and provide a URL link you can insert in the portfolio. Here’s a post on how to host a course on Amazon S3.

Custom Portfolio Sites

The other option is to create a site that you manage and update. Some people go with a traditional website. This gives you the most freedom, but also requires a bit more work. Some people go with a WordPress blog (not the free one).

The cost for these sites is nominal. Personally, I think considering the freedom and custom options, it’s a better choice to own your site and control how to add media and content.

Purchase Your Own Domain

If you want to maintain your personal brand, it’s a good idea to purchase your own domain. It looks more professional and you get an email account to go with it. Having a custom email always looks better than using one of those ones from a public email service.

e-learning portfolio domain

Here are a few portfolios to review and see how they approached the custom domain. You’ll notice that some went with their names and some created a business name. Either way works, it just depends on your needs.

So those are your main considerations:

  • Content
  • Update frequency
  • Hosting
  • Domain name

Do you have a work portfolio you’d like to share? If so, put a link in the comments section. Let us know what you do to show off your skills.


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • June 20-21 (San Diego). FocusOn Learning conference.
  • Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general type e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. Learn more and sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
  • There are a couple of other events planned. Once we get all of the bookings confirmed, we'll add the registration page and info.

 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

Create Web Pages for Free and Save Them as PDF

free web page creator and print web page as PDF

Here are two really cool applications. The first is an easy way to create quick, disposable web pages using your email. And the other is a way to save web pages as PDF for later reference.

Create Free Web Pages

Publishthis.email lets you create quick and simple web pages. Basically, you put the content into an email, send it to a specified email address (which you can find on their site), and they send you a link back with a web page.

The animation below shows how simple it is, and here’s a link to a webpage I created.

free web page creator

This a neat solution that comes in handy for a few things. I use it for workshops if I have a list of links and resources and want to quickly pull together a shareable link. It’s also a great way to put together a quick shareable portfolio. Add a few images and links and you’re all set.

Save Web Pages as PDF

Often people ask me how they can print off blog posts. Well here’s an easy way. Add the Print Friendly & PDF extension to your browser.

When you find a page you want to save, click on the extension and the page is loaded. You do have the option to clean out some of the content you don’t need or want to see.

For example, in the image below, I removed the header and gratuitous images to clean it all up for the PDF. And here’s the PDF version of the page I saved.

free print web page as PDF

This is an easy way to save content for later access. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind, though:

  • honor the copyright of the author
  • don’t violate the spirit in which the content is available to you

Can you think of any use cases for a simple web page creation?


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • May 22-24 (Atlanta). ATD International Conference & Expo. We'll be in booth 738.
  • June 20-21 (San Diego). FocusOn Learning conference.
  • Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general type e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. Learn more and sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
  • There are a couple of other events planned. Once we get all of the bookings confirmed, we'll add the registration page and info.

 

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.

Criando campo de texto com validação e atribuindo variável – Parte 2

Nesta segunda parte de como criar um campo de texto, vou ensinar a bloquear o campo para que as pessoas não passem para o proximo slide com um nome vazio.

Iremos bloquear utilizando Ações Avançadas e Variaveis é bem interessante quando começamos a travar ou criar uma maior interatividade em nossos projetos educacionais, fazendo com que as pessoas se engajem, participem mais e não ficar apenas pulando slide por slide.

Abraços.

Fabio Oliveira

Here’s a Free Text-to-Speech Application for E-Learning

free text to speech narration

Occasionally, I get questions on free text-to-speech applications. While there are a number of free text-to-speech applications out there, many have character limits or don’t allow for commercial use. I’m not sure how many people have personal use cases for text-to-speech, but if you do, there are plenty of options. Another challenge is that many blogs in our industry create linkbait lists of text-to-speech applications, but for the most part, those lists are worthless.

Today we’ll look at a really good solution if you need a free text-to-speech application.

Why Use Text-to-Speech?

Despite the mechanical voice quality, there are some viable use cases for text-to-speech in e-learning (outside of accessibility issues):

  • For example, text-to-speech makes sense if you send a script out for professional narration. Use text-to-speech to create placeholder content for your reviewers so that you can get the voiceover script approved before sending it out for professional recording. This will save on the cost of do-overs.
  • Another good use case is the training content changes often. It is time-consuming to continually update and record narration. Text-to-speech applications make that easy. And because the content is somewhat disposable, people will most likely tolerate the mechanical voice.
  • Often we have international developers where English (or other languages) isn’t the first language. They can produce the courses and insert audio narration generated by text-to-speech applications.

A word of caution, though: most text-to-speech doesn’t sound that great. It’s been getting better over the years, but the mechanical voices can be grating and hard to sit through for long form content. That’s something to keep in mind. It’s bad enough to sit through most of the e-learning people experience today, let alone having it narrated by a robot.

With all that said, here’s how to use this text-to-speech application that is free and available for commercial use.

Balabolka: Free Text-to-Speech Application

I’ve reviewed most of the free applications and find that Balabolka offers the best benefit for text-to-speech narration. Here are some of the benefits and things you can do with it:

  • It’s free. Although, I do recommend that if you get value out of the free software it is a nice gesture to support the developer with a donation.
  • Run it via USB. No need to install it. You can run the software from a  USB drive.
  • It uses the SAPI voices that are already installed on your computer. In most cases the sound fine. You can also add additional voices. I added the new mobile voices from Microsoft and they work for my needs. There are other services where you can buy more natural sounding voices. But you’ll have to do your own research on how to set those up.
  • Insert your entire narration script and output either a single audio file or split the narration into multiple audio files.
  • Leverage the Google text-to-speech service for an additional voice. Output as an audio file.

Balabolka Text-to-Speech Examples

Below is a link to an example module where I converted some text from a blog post into text-to-speech audio. I created a few different examples so you can hear the quality of the voices and how they sound in the context of an e-learning demo.

text to speech narration

Click here to view the text-to-speech demo.

Balabolka Text-to-Speech Tutorials

Here’s a quick video tutorial where I walk through the basics of text-to-speech conversion:

  • Insert text and output audio
  • Create multiple audio files from one script
  • Batch convert audio from a script

Click here to view YouTube video.

If you’re looking for a free alternative for text-to-speech narration, then this solution should work for your courses.


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

Vote for Articulate 360

  • Articulate 360 is a 2017 People’s Choice Stevie Award nominee for Best New Product in the “Software – Learning/Workforce Dev” category. We’d really appreciate your vote. Click here to cast your vote. It’s as simple as that! Thanks.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • May 22-24 (Atlanta). ATD International Conference & Expo. We'll be in booth 738.
  • June 20-21 (San Diego). FocusOn Learning conference.
  • Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general type e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. Learn more and sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
  • There are a couple of other events planned. Once we get all of the bookings confirmed, we'll add the registration page and info.

 

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.

Criando campo de texto com validação e atribuindo variável. Parte 1

Olá,

Neste tutorial mostro como construir um campo com entrada de texto e validação ou seja, usuário não poderá prosseguir se não digitar um nome correto no campode texto e tabém como passar o nome digita a um campo de texto utilizando uma variável. Em um próximo tutorial, irei mostrar como atribuir Ações Avançadas com Variável.

Abraços

Fabio Olvieira

Adobe Captivate 2017, Projeto responsivo, tamanho personalizado.

Neste vídeo mostro como criar um projeto responsivo com a criação de tamanho personalizado de tela e também a criação de Fluid Box e ajustes de objstos. Fluid Box em projetos responsivos com Captivate 2017 é uma pratica de melhoria nos tamanhos personalizados em tela, podendo fazer diversos ajustes em objetos dentro da Fluid Box.

Abraços,
Fabio Oliveira