What to Know Before Building an E-Learning Course

Before committing resources to your course, it’s important to understand what type of e-learning course you need to build.

E-learning courses tend to be one of two types:

  • Information
  • Performance

Information-based courses are more like explainer courses where the main objective is to share information or offer a linear explanation of the content. This is common for new initiatives where awareness is a key objective to the course. It’s also typical of a lot of compliance training that are less focused on changing behavior and more on awareness of key policies.

I tend to think of these less as courses, and more like awareness marketing content.

Performance based courses focus on changing performance or some sort of behavior. They’re tied to performance metrics where you can measure before and after changes.

When I meet with clients, I always try to determine what type of “course” they want to build. Information-based courses don’t always need to be built because they usually just regurgitate already existing content. So it may be a better option to refer them to existing content than it is to build a course. Performance-based courses usually take longer to build and require more resources.

Types of E-learning Courses

types of e-learning courses

Within that context, there are generally three types of courses:

  • Information: these courses share information with no performance expectations or changes in behavior. They’re more about awareness such as a company’s policy around certain issues.

Performance-based courses tend to be of two types:

  • Procedural: these courses are performance-based as they have a required sequence of events or procedures that need to be followed. This is typical of a lot of machine or software training. There’s not a lot of nuance to the training. There’s ten steps and everyone follows them exactly the same.
  • Principle: these courses are built around decisions that are more soft-skilled in nature. A procedural course has a clear critical path of steps. However, principle-based training is focused on general guidance or principles that are not always black and white. They’re nuanced where the application to each situation may be a bit unique.

Once you understand what type of course you need to build, you’ll be able to commit the appropriate resources. Information/awareness courses require fewer resources. Often, you’re just re-purposing existing content. Which begs the question why you’re building a course (but that’s a different blog post). Performance courses require more focus on measurable objectives, metrics to determine success, and a nuanced understanding of the content and real-world decisions the learner needs to make.


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Free E-Learning Resources

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

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

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

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

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Nachhilfe als Geschäft. Privatunterricht boomt – auch im Netz

SWR2 Wissen, einer meiner Lieblings-Podcasts und ständiger Begleiter durch die Woche. In dieser Folge geht es also um das Geschäft mit der Nachhilfe, aber allein das wäre noch kein Grund, den Link an dieser Stelle zu kommentieren. Um Schule mache ich normalerweise gerne einen Bogen. Doch die Folge startet mit einem Auftritt der Gründer von Simple Club, und schon sind wir mitten drin in einer Erfolgsgeschichte des Online-Lernens. „Der Online-Markt an Nachhilfe wächst“, heißt es entsprechend. Aber es bestehen Zweifel, ob damit auch lernschwache Schüler erreicht werden. Ein Hörtipp.

„So gründeten zum Beispiel die Studenten Alex und Nico aus Mosbach im Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis vor 7 Jahren den Simple Club. Unter diesem Titel stellten sie selbstgedrehte Erklärvideos zum Fach Mathematik ins Netz. Mit Erfolg. Heute rufen pro Monat rund 600 000 Schüler und Studenten ihre Lernvideos ab.“
Manuel Waltz, SWR2 Wissen, 30. November 2018

E-learning Example & Tutorial: How to Fight a Bear and Live

e-learning example

During the recent Articulate User event at Devlearn, Sarah Hodge from SlideSugar shared a really cool example that she built in Storyline. She incorporated the 3D models from PowerPoint to create videos that she added to her e-learning course.

Click here to view the e-learning example.

It’s a great example with some really neat ideas. She also included a quick tutorial to show how she built it. There’s also a free download for practice.

Here are a few key things that stood out to me:

  • 3D models are easy to work with in PowerPoint and when output as video, can add some interesting elements to your e-learning courses. Learn to work with 3D models in PowerPoint and bring them into your e-learning courses.
  • Pay attention to some of the subtle audio and visual embellishments that she added to her demo such as the fog, background audio, and the water.
  • In her tutorial, you notice that she added a hover state for the bear signs and then grouped those with transparent shapes to activate the hover state over the entire bear image and not just on the sign. That’s a clever trick.
  • I talk a lot about “touching the screen” as a way to pull people into the course when building interactive e-learning. She has a lot of little things like that, such as getting the bear to roar at the beginning. Explore the ways she gets you to touch the screen.
  • The core quiz slide she built (that she covers in the tutorial) could be stripped of content and be saved as a template for re-use. That’s something to consider whenever building custom interactions: how can it be converted to a template for the next project?
  • The project is visually cohesive and consistent in it’s structure from section to section and in how animations and visual effects are used.
  • When saving 3D videos from PowerPoint to use in Storyline, save them as .WMV and let Storyline convert them to .MP4. Sometimes the last frame seems jagged when using an .MP4 from PowerPoint, but it isn’t the case with .WMV.
  • She didn’t use just the 3D bears. See if you can identify other places where she used 3D.

Check out the Grizzly bear demo. What are some things that stood out to you?


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • We're currently working on locations and dates for 2019.

 

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.

 

Weiterbildung für die digitale Arbeitswelt

Eine Studie des Digitalverbands Bitkom und des TÜV-Verbands. Die Botschaften sind kurz und eindeutig: Ja, Weiterbildung und lebenslanges Lernen sind wichtiger denn je (aber nur 43 Prozent der befragten Unternehmen besitzen eine Weiterbildungsstrategie). Ja, die Vermittlung digitaler Kompetenzen ist kritisch (aber wieder haben nur 43 Prozent der Unternehmen eine Strategie für die Vermittlung digitaler Kompetenzen). Und 79 Prozent der Unternehmen haben erkannt, dass digitale Kompetenzen und digitales Lernen irgendwie zusammengehören.

Es ist schon die zweite Studie des Bitkom in diesem Jahr, die sich mit der Bedeutung digitaler Kompetenzen beschäftigt. Da ist man geneigt, über Details schnell hinwegzublättern. Aber dann bleibt der Blick doch noch an einer Zahl hängen: „41 % der Unternehmen sind bereit, Zeit und Kosten für die Weiterbildung von digitalen Kompetenzen zu übernehmen.“ (S. 10, S. 30) 41 Prozent? Ich dachte, das Thema wäre so wichtig?
Bitkom Research, 19. November 2018 (pdf)

Bildquelle: Lindsay Henwood (Unsplash)

A word about the “learning” word

Jane Hart hat einige Kapitel ihres neuen Web Books „Modern Workplace Learning 2019“ zugänglich gemacht. Im hier verlinkten Abschnitt geht es ihr um Begriffliches, nämlich um die Unterscheidung zwischen „learning“ und „training“ bzw. zwischen „e-learning“ und „e-training“. Wenn man ihrem Gedankengang folgt, dann stehen auf der Agenda von „Learning & Development“ nicht die Entwicklung und Verteilung von Kursen, sondern: „A true L&D department is one that also enables, supports and encourages learning …“.
Jane Hart, Modern Workplace Learning 2019, 19. November 2018

Bildquelle: Element5 Digital (Unsplash)

Disrupt Education! (Wie) Können etablierte Bildungsanbieter radikale Innovationen gestalten – und wie kann mmb sie dabei unterstützen?

Wenn ich den Werbeblock einmal hinten anstelle: Ulrich Schmid (mmb Institut) spielt in diesem Beitrag durch, was Disruption für die Bildung hierzulande bedeutet oder bedeuten könnte. Konkret: Welche Folgen hat die Digitalisierung für die Bildung und etablierte Bildungsanbieter? Wo drohen disruptive Innovationen, bewährte Geschäftsmodelle zu hinterfragen? Und wie können Bildungsanbieter sich darauf einstellen und, gegebenenfalls, selbst neu erfinden?

Der Dreisatz des Beitrags:
a) Bildung ist ein komplexes Produkt (unsicher, ungeliebt, kontextabhängig, wenig wertgeschätzt);
b) Bildung bietet deshalb viele Einfallstore für Neueinsteiger, oder: „Bildung als Produkt oder Dienstleistung bietet also genügend Ansatzpunkte für Verbesserungen, und daher auch vielfältige Chancen für Disruption … „;
c) Doch: Etablierten Anbietern fehlen oft Wissen, Können, Ideen, Fantasie, Bereitschaft und Mut, auf diese Gefahren zu reagieren.

An dieser Stelle greift dann der mmb-Werbeblock. Interessant sind aber in jedem Fall die Beispiele für disruptive Bildungsprodukte, die Ulrich Schmid im Beitrag erwähnt. Ob sie in jedem Fall die Vorgaben des Disruption-Erfinders Clayton Christensen erfüllen, bin ich mir noch nicht sicher.
Ulrich Schmid, mmb Institut/ mmblog, November 2018

Top 8 eLearning Trends For 2019

Da geht und kommt sicher noch mehr (differenzierter, fantasievoller, fordernder …), aber für den Anfang hier eine sichere Wette:

1. Adaptive Learning Going To The Next Level
2. Microlearning
3. Artificial Intelligence And Learner Assistance
4. Gamification And Game-Based Learning
5. AR/VR/MR
6. Video-Based Learning
7. Social Learning
8. Content Curation
Suresh Kumar DN, LinkedIn/ Pulse, 9. November 2018

Bildquelle: Lin Jhih-Han (Unsplash)

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

branched scenario tips

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

Branched Scenarios: 3C Model

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

3C model branched scenario

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

Branched Scenarios: Visual Structure

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

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

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

Branched Scenario: Simplify with a Storyboard

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

branched scenario layouts

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

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

branched scenario layout ideas

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

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

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

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


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events


 

Free E-Learning Resources

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

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

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

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

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

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

 

YouTube Learning: Investing in educational creators, resources, and tools for EduTubers

YouTube gibt bekannt, dass es 20 Millionen Dollar in Bildung und Lernen investieren will, genauer, in YouTube Learning, „an initiative to support education focused creators and expert organizations that create and curate high quality learning content on YouTube“. Weitere Details finden sich in diesem Artikel. Dabei denke ich gerade daran, das YouTube & Lernen ja ein schönes Thema für einen Artikel wäre: über Lernvideo-Entwickler und Lernende, über Lernvideo-Formate, Lernvideos für Schüler, Studierende, Sportler usw., Edu-Channel, Bildungsanbieter auf YouTube, Geschäftsmodelle, usw. Es könnte natürlich immer nur eine Momentaufnahme sein …
Malik Ducard, YouTube Blog, 22. Oktober 2018

Bildquelle: Christian Wiediger (Unsplash)

Do You Need to be a Programmer to Build E-Learning Courses?

e-learning programmer

Do you need to be an e-learning programmer to build e-learning courses?

A lot has changed with e-learning over the past decade or so. As noted before, it used to require a team of people that usually included someone with some programming skills. However, as the rapid e-learning market emerged, the need for programming skills virtually disappeared. That’s great because it opened the industry to a lot of people and organizations.

The challenge though is that while you don’t need to be a programmer, it is still good to know a little about some basic programming. For example, one question we see quite a bit is how to use web objects in Storyline or embed content using the embed block in Rise. Often this involves using an iframe or some other simple web page. And sometimes it means tweaking the embed codes provided by some services like YouTube.

For example, here’s a tutorial I created to show someone in the community how to embed JotForm into Rise using the embed code JotForm generates. What is apparent is that I am like many of you and need to fumble around a bit to get things to work.

Because many people come to the industry without experience or a background programming, it’s a good idea to have access to some resources and tools. Today, we’ll look at a few places to go for quick help.

E-Learning Programmer: HTML Basics

W3 Schools: I recommend this site quite a bit. There’s a lot of good info, tutorials, and ways to test code on your own.

  • Learn to create a basic web page to use for local web objects in Storyline. Often, I create simple pages with resource links and then link to them locally. This allows the html page to become part of the published course.
  • Learn to work with iframes and embed codes in Rise. Embed codes can be tricky sometimes based on what the source site provides. Often there’s a lot of gibberish that needs to be removed. The more you know about the iframe basics, the better off you’ll be.

Like many of you, I’m no programmer, so I lean on this site to learn to do basic tweaks to some of the code I need to modify for my courses.

E-Learning Programmer: JavaScript Basics

Some of you may think that JavaScript is some sort of note you write to pass to your local barista. That’s OK. Because this post is for you.

Again, you don’t need to be a programmer to build great e-learning. The authoring software does all of the heavy lifting. However, using JavaScript does extend what you can do with the software and adds a lot more customization and functionality. Thus, knowing a little can go a long way. This is especially true with Storyline because on the Storyline side it’s just a matter of adding a trigger to execute some code pasted in the trigger. But it does mean, you have some code and you know at least what to do with it to get the results you want.

e-learning programmer JavaScript examples

Here are some examples from the community to get ideas on how to leverage JavaScript in your e-learning courses.

Here are some good resources to learn JavaScript for free:

You don’t need to be a programmer but having some basic understanding of the code that can extend what you do in your e-learning courses is a good idea. Are there other free resources for learning code that you’ve used? If you do use JavaScript in your Storyline course, what are ways you’ve used it?


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

Upcoming E-Learning Events


 

Free E-Learning Resources

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

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

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

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

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

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