Using Artificial Intelligence in a Captivate Project

On a recent project, we needed to develop a customer service eLearning course that could act as a live customer, i.e. accept natural language statements, process them, and respond accordingly. If you’ve ever developed a conversation-based eLearning course in the past, you probably created a limited set of questions and corresponding responses, each one branching out to a different slide based on the selected option. While this approach works in many situations, it significantly limits what the learner can “say” to a customer in the training. Here, because the learner should be allowed to freely structure her statements, the branching approach cannot be used. The approach we took was to create the core module in Adobe Captivate 2017 and link it to the AI engine.

Slide 1 of Customer Service Training Powered by AI

You can click on the screenshot above to see the live module.

In addition to being able to “score” unstructured statements, AI provided more benefits, including:

  • Tracking whether the learner sticks to the script required by the company policy
  • Determining whether a particular step of the conversation was executed on time, early or late
  • Identifying irrelevant and duplicate questions/responses
  • Customizing feedback for each step of the conversation
  • Recording all conversations for management to review and utilize for further coaching
  • Using data collected by AI to predict the outcomes of the training
  • Training the AI algorithm to improve understanding based on the collected data

While there are many AI options currently available to developers, we used ClueLabs eLearning engine to process the statements and provide responses to the learner. To enable the module to communicate with the AI, we used JavaScript advanced actions in Captivate.

As a company specializing in advanced eLearning technology, we are very excited about the availability of great tools that are currently available on the market. We will continue sharing interesting examples of our work, and also hope to see what innovations the rest of the eLearning community brings to their customers. We would love to connect with anyone interested in exploring innovative approaches in eLearning, and welcome everyone to get in touch with us to learn more about what we do.


Save Time By Pre-Building Parts of Your E-Learning Courses

At a bookstore, you’ll see all sorts of books covering all sorts of content. But one thing you’ll notice is that while they may have different content and even look different they mostly share a similar structure.

What’s in a Book?

What do books have in common?

  • Cover images
  • Title Page
  • Author Information
  • Table Contents
  • Version
  • Chapters
  • Index
  • Appendix

Despite the topic, at some point, the publisher assembles the book and puts it into a structure similar to what’s listed above.

What’s in an E-Learning Course?

E-learning courses are very similar to books. While they cover a range of topics, there are elements that are common to most courses. What are they?

e-learning templates common structure

  • Course Title Screen
  • Table of Contents (as a menu)
  • Instructions Screen
  • Course Objectives Screen
  • Section Title Screen
  • Gate Screens
  • Resource Screen
  • Summary Screens
  • Quiz Instructions Screen
  • Exit Instruction Screens

Since you know those screens are in most courses, why not pre-build them and make them part of your starter template? It’s also a great way to work in the company brand without messing with the content screens.

e-learning templates teams in Articulate 360

Also, if you’re using Articulate 360, you already have a bunch of templates that have a lot of that structure. So it’s a great starting point and big time-saver. And as an added bonus, if you’re using Articulate 360 Teams you can add those slides to your Teams account and everyone on your organization’s team can access those slides. This is a big time saver and lets you maintain the quality and consistency many organizations require.

What pre-built screens would you add to the list?

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Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.

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.

Digital Learning, Brand and Communications: The Holy Trinity

If you’re a Digital Learning professional at a reasonably sized organisation or larger, you’ll most likely be liaising with both an Internal Brand and Internal Communications team. The three teams can support one another in a number of ways and form an effective partnership.


Let’s start with how a Digital Learning Team can work with the Brand team.

Brand guidelines are an enabler for a Digital Learning team, despite the outdated notion of the ‘Brand Police’, critiquing work with an unforgiving eye. Speak with your Brand team and immerse yourself in the brand and values of your organisation. Design work is so much easier when there is mutual trust between the two teams.

A bit of work up front will reap rewards. As a minimum: be familiar with the company logo and its use; check that the correct fonts are installed; prepare swatches of brand colours; build a library of approved assets. In short, think like a Designer.

Will the end result be a catalogue of eLearning modules, each a carbon-copy of the last? Absolutely not, unless that’s what you happen to be going for. The aim is good design that bears a brand’s hallmarks, and this will become familiar and engaging for colleagues. Simply build templates as a basis for all modules and then get creative.

Additionally, applying your organisation’s Tone of Voice will improve Instructional Design. Refine your content with Tone of Voice guidelines so that it “speaks to” end users and delights stakeholders. Further, the importance of user “buy-in” should never be overlooked, particularly where learner fatigue may have set in due to a large volume of content.

All things sparkling copy provides a seamless link to Communications…


The crossover here is very clear. Instructional Designers and Digital Learning Developers are responsible for conveying information efficiently. Thought is given to look and feel, impactful imagery and engaging words. All of which are second nature to Communications professionals.

A strong bond between Digital Learning and Comms is a powerful thing. Comms can proof-read content, get messages out for Online Learning content and even produce full campaigns with a range of media. In turn, Digital Learning can ensure that standard approaches, content and themes are joined-up with those of the Comms team.

In summary

If you are fortunate enough to be able to call on the support of dedicated professionals in their fields, why try and do everything as a Digital Learning Designer, almost certainly to a lesser standard? Think and act like one big team for the best possible results for all concerned.

3 E-learning Tips Before You Start Your E-Learning Project?

e-learning tips

One of the e-learning tips I give at workshops is to be intentional about your e-learning course design and production. Many course developers start with the default settings and then make changes later. However, that could impact the course and cost time and money.

So today, I’m sharing three things you should do before you start working on your e-learning course.

E-Learning Tip: Determine Your Course Size

It’s important to determine your course size before you start working on the slide. If you do some work and then change it later, you may skew things on the slides and have to do a lot of adjustments. Also, popular screen sizes today aren’t what they were a few years ago. Computer screens are wider, more pixel dense, and a lot of course developers like to step away from the default player.

e-learning course size settings e-learning tips

Here are a few considerations:

  • By default the course size is a 4:3 aspect ratio set at 720×540 pixels. This is a good aspect ratio and the course can be set to scale with the browser, so pixel width isn’t as big of an issue.  The image below shows the 4:3 aspect ratio with a sidebar menu.

e-learning tips 4x3 aspect ratio

  • You may want to go with 16×9 since most screens are widescreen. And that looks nice on mobile devices in landscape mode. Although newer phones are going to 18:9. The image below shows the 16:9 aspect ratio with a sidebar menu.

e-learning tips 16x9 aspect ration

  • Are you using a sidebar menu? If yes, I like the 4:3 aspect ratio. The more squared slide fits nicely with the sidebar. However, if you go with a 16×9 aspect ratio, having the sidebar makes the course look wide. In that case, get rid of the menu, or set it as a drop down from the top. And that’s what I show in the image below. You can see the menu drop down on the player. It’s there, but doesn’t consume screen space.

e-learning tips drop down menu

E-Learning Tip: Determine the Color Scheme & Create Theme Colors

Before you start working on your course make sure to determine the colors you are going to use. There are a few ways to get the right colors for the course:

  • Company brand: many companies have branded colors. Even if you don’t have the official colors, you can go to the website and do a color pick of the main colors used.
  • Single color: find one color and use a color schemer to create other colors.
  • Color picker: I like to pick colors from images inserted on the screen. Or I’ll use the main company color from a logo or official image and then build out my color scheme from there. Here’s a link the color picker I like to use.

Once you have determined the colors, build a color theme and only use the theme colors in your course. Generally, you have black and white and the six accent colors. There’s no pre-defined use for the accent colors. Basically you get six options. I’d use them consistently, though. For example, accent 1 is the main color. Accent 2 may be the secondary or complimentary color. And you don’t need to have six colors. Some people just use two.

theme colors e-learning tips

If you stick with theme colors you can always change themes and all of the theme colors will change with it. If you don’t, then you have to go through the course slide-by-slide to make color corrections.

E-Learning Tip: Determine the Font Pairs & Create Theme Fonts

Same as the theme colors, determine your font pair prior to building your course. And then create theme fonts. You’ll have a title font and body font.

When you insert text on the screen, stick with the theme fonts only. Don’t go digging through the font list to find that one cool font. I’ll state it again, when you insert text on the screen, stick with the theme fonts only.

theme fonts e-learning tips

If you need to make changes to your fonts, all you need to do is apply a new theme and the text that uses theme fonts changes in the entire course and on the master slides. However, if you insert text from the font dropdown list, you’ll need to change those fonts individually. That’s why you want to stick with theme fonts.

theme font selection e-learning tips

So there you go, three e-learning tips before you start building your e-learning courses:

  • determine the size of the course
  • create theme colors
  • create theme fonts

Doing those three things up front will save you lots of production time while building your e-learning course.

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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.

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.

A Simple Way to Get the Most Out of Your E-Learning Tools

e-learning tools

Over the weekend, I was supposed to paint the house but was watching TV instead. My wife asked why I wasn’t painting and I told her I couldn’t because I lost the paint lid opener and couldn’t open the paint can. She handed me a screwdriver.

“No dice,” I said. “That’s for screws. I can only use a paint lid opener.”

Ridiculous, right?

E-Learning Tools from a Different Perspective

Here’s the deal, e-learning vendors make products and those products have a purpose. However, the products often do more than they’re designed to do. It’s just a matter of looking at the tools from a different perspective. I always tell people to look at the e-learning applications as a means to create multimedia content and not just to create e-learning courses.

For example, Articulate’s Quizmaker obviously is great for building quizzes. That’s why it’s called Quizmaker. However, if you step away from its title, the features allow it to create simple decision-making scenarios or pop-up videos. All of these are more than the quizzes promised by the software’s title.

The same with PowerPoint. It’s a great tool for presentations…and illustrations…and video production…and much more. In fact, years ago, I used to use PowerPoint to create posters that I’d print on large format printers. You just have to step away from PowerPoint as a presentation tool and see it as a means to create multimedia. And once you do that, you’ll get more out of the investment you’ve made in the software.

Here are few tips to help you get there:

  • Learn to use the tools. The more fluent you are, the more you’ll be able to leverage the features. We always promote the weekly e-learning challenges so that you can learn to see and use the tools in different ways. They’re also intended to push you a bit out of what you may do at work, especially since most work projects are the same ones over and over and over.
  • Understand the features and then think outside the box on how to use them. For example, years ago I came up with a simple formula for building interactive scenarios: the 3Cs…challenge, choice, and consequences. If there’s a place in the software where I can interact and expose content, there’s a place to create an interactive scenario. Common click and reveal interactions like tabs, accordions, markers, etc. become simple interactive scenarios. Are they labeled as interactive scenario features? No. But that’s what you can create with them.
  • Look at what other people build with the same tools. There are all sorts of great examples in the community, in the weekly round-ups, and in the challenge activities. Review what they did, deconstruct them, and try to build the same.
  • Find ideas outside of e-learning. Looks for any type of interactive content and ask if you can do the same with your software. You may not always be able to replicate what you find, but often you can and worst case, you still build something neat and learn a few new production tips that will help on your next e-learning project.

What do you do with your software that it wasn’t designed to do?

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

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.

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.

Tips and Strategies to Engage Your Millennial Workforce

Globally, there is an increase in the percentage of Millennial workforce, and by 2025, it is estimated that three out of four employees would be a Millennial. This generation has grown up differently, features very distinct traits and learning styles. It comes as no surprise that they need a different learning strategy too.

In this blog, I outline who Millennials are and what are their characteristics (traits and learning styles) that would have a bearing on the required learning strategy. Then I share several tips and strategies that you can use to engage your Millennial workforce.

Who are Millennials?

Also referred as Gen Y, Millennials are people born between late 1980s and early 2000s. This is a generation of Digital natives who have grown in the world of Internet, Smartphones and Social Media.

As a result, they expect the training delivery to factor for all these and more.

What kind of learning strategy would engage your Millennial workforce?

Even in the past, L&D teams have handled generational changes leading to a need to relook or overhaul the existing training strategies. (Many of you would recall the transition from Traditional learners to Baby Boomers and then to Gen X and the corresponding impact on the training delivery).

What makes this transition more challenging is the stark difference in Gen X and Gen Y in the way they work, collaborate, interact and hence the way they want to learn.

Micro Blog - Millennials report


The table here captures the generational change very succinctly. As I move on to share some tips and best practices you can use to engage your Millennial workforce, you will see how I have used cues from Assets, Motivations and Preferred modes of communication.

What are the key behavioural traits of Millennials that should be factored for as you identify the right learning strategy?

Following are the key behavioural traits in Millennial learners that should be considered as you arrive at the learning strategy:

  1. First generation ‘Digital Natives’
  2. Tech savvy
  3. Possess strong multi-tasking capability
  4. Short attention spans
  5. Easily distracted
  6. Ambitious
  7. Need a clear and definitive goal and outcome
  8. Need recognition
  9. Need constant feedback
  10. Need flexibility

How different are  the learning styles of Millennials from those of older generations?

Here are some noteworthy considerations on the Millennial learning styles:

  1. They are keen to invest on learning as this would help them grow at work.
  2. They like to explore things by themselves rather than being told to follow a rigid learning path.
  3. They don’t like taking orders and stay away from prescriptive or preachy style of teaching.
  4. They want to be in a work environment that encourages them to voice their opinions.
  5. They don’t like to be pressured, want flexibility and seek channels to express their creativity.
  6. They seek attention and focus more on personal care.
  7. They tend to seek out only concise, relevant information and usually omit detailed supporting information.
  8. They enjoy being part of group-based activities.
  9. They enjoy active participation and experiential learning.
  10. They want rich media to visually aid their learning.
  11. They prefer to learn from real-life scenarios and experiences, as they find them easy to relate to and apply.
  12. They are very comfortable with technology and relate to interactive learning formats that involve the use of multimedia.

What are the tips that can be used to design Millennial-centric training programs?

I’ve handpicked the 10 most Millennial-centric designing tips, which are as follows:

  1. Courses must be mobile-ready (must be accessible on Tablets and Smartphones).
  2. Deliver the learning in short, bite-sized nuggets that are fun to go through.
  3. Learners must be able to access the training material within their workflow (rather than having to sign up on the LMS).
  4. Information presented in the course must be easy to go through, review, relate to, and apply.
  5. Learning outcomes should be precise and defined clearly.
  6. Deliver the learning in high-impact formats that would keep them hooked.
  7. Integrate Gamification elements to engage and motivate as well as impart ‘a sense of reward and recognition’ in learners.
  8. Leverage on Social or Collaborative Learning to foster a learning environment beyond the formal training.
  9. Offer Personalised Learning Paths so learners can have the flexibility to ‘pull’ what they want rather than be ‘pushed’ towards what you think they are supposed to learn.
  10. Give the learners opportunity to contribute by leveraging on content curation.

What are some strategies you can use to engage Millennials at your workplace?

Here is my list of 8 Millennial-centric strategies you can use to engage them at your workplace?

  1. Leverage on mLearning or Mobile Learning.
  2. Break down huge chunks of information and deliver them as Microlearning nuggets.
  3. Allow room for Personalised Learning Paths in both, Formal training as well as for Performance Support.
  4. Use Gamification elements to boost learner engagement.
  5. Use Videos and other rich media formats to deliver the learning in bite-sized nuggets.
  6. Use Social Learning with curation (as an extension to primary learning).
  7. Personalise the learning.
  8. Leverage on Wearable Tech to supplement the learning.

I hope this blog provides insights on your Millennial workforce (who they are, what makes them different, what are their characteristics and so on. I recommend you use these pointers to create an effective learning strategy that would engage them.



#eLearning #LIVESTREAM 2017-11-27 16:00 EST/21:00 UTC

In this Adobe Captivate eLearning live stream, I will be answering your questions live on YouTube. You can send me your questions ahead of time, or use the chat function during the live stream. I will welcome questions about Adobe Captivate, eLearning in general, My office assistants Molly and Lucy, pretty much anything you want to ask.

Follow the link below at any time to set up a reminder to be notified when this event becomes live on November 27th at 4 PM Eastern Time.

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 I will show you how you can get my Adobe Captivate 2017 Premium course at no additional cost to you.

Mein Wochenausklang: Ungleichzeitigkeiten beim Online-Lernen

Online-Lernen, das wurde mir diese Woche wieder an verschiedenen Stellen bewusst, bedeutet nicht für alle dasselbe. Das fängt schon beim Begriff an. Ich versuche ja inzwischen gerne, den Begriff E-Learning zu vermeiden und spreche lieber von der Digitalisierung in der Bildung oder der digitalen Bildung. Nicht unbedingt schönere Begriffe, aber sie deuten an, dass es nicht nur um einen bestimmten Ausschnitt eines umfassenden Prozesses, nämlich die Lehre oder die Schulung, geht. Andererseits ist für viele E-Learning noch eine neue Erfahrung, und sie stehen vielleicht gerade vor der Herausforderung, eine Lernplattform einzuführen oder für regelmäßige Unterweisungen eine effizientere Lösung zu finden. Das sind dann so alltägliche Ungleichzeitigkeiten, auf die man trifft.

Hinzu kommen die vielen englischen Begriffe. Ich werde ja häufig gebeten, etwas über Trends und neuere Entwicklungen zu erzählen und lande dann ganz selbstverständlich bei Microlearning, Badges und Open Educational Resources. Gibt es für Blended Learning eigentlich keinen deutschen Begriff, bin ich kürzlich gefragt worden? Doch, habe ich vorsichtig geantwortet, man könnte auch von integriertem Lernen sprechen. Wenn es sein muss. Weil der größere Teil der Anwesenden schon mal etwas von Blended Learning gehört hat. Und immer zweisprachig arbeiten, um niemanden zu verlieren?

Vor einigen Tagen gab es einen kleinen Rundbrief mit der Bitte um Beispiele neuer „Digital Learning“-Praktiken für Mitarbeitende in der Fertigung bzw. Produktion. Eine gute Frage, denn diese Zielgruppe besitzt in der Regel ja noch nicht einmal einen Arbeitsplatzrechner. Natürlich gibt es auch in diesem Bereich eine Reihe von Projekten, in denen mit Tablets gearbeitet wird, mit QR Codes, es gibt Social Augmented Learning und Virtual Reality (alles englisch, sorry …). Es bewegt sich also etwas, aber weniger im klassischen E-Learning. Andererseits sind auch diese Beispiele für die meisten Industrieunternehmen und Betriebe noch Zukunftsmusik. Wieder Ungleichzeitigkeiten.

Ich muss in diesem Zusammenhang auch an Messen wie die Online Educa (im Dezember) oder die LEARNTEC (im Januar/ Februar) denken, die ja jedes Jahr diesen Spagat leben: im Vorfeld die Einführungs-Workshops für Einsteiger und dann die Keynotes mit Visionen und Ausblicken für die, die neue Trends und Impulse suchen. Ich bin wahrscheinlich eher bei den Letzteren anzutreffen, was es aber an anderen Stellen nicht einfacher macht.