What does an e-learning specialist really do?

“Have you ever tried explaining what you do to your friends or parents? Anyone? Chances are you were met with a blank or quizzical look. While most jobs can be tough to explain to people outside your industry, e-learning design has to be one of the most challenging jobs to explain. The industry is relatively new and requires designers to juggle a variety of skills from writing to design to project management to counselling.”.

In this week’s Articulate e-Learning challenge we’re asked to create an explanation of what we do using the “What people think I do/What I really do” concept.

What my friends think I do
Honestly, I don’t think they have the slightest idea… I guess they’re just a little less clueless then my mom. The first thing that came to mind was “computer nerd”. So I googled it and found this great picture that reminded me of the best Southpark episode ever, the World of Warcraft episode, which as a retired WoW junkie seemed scarily familiar.

What my mom thinks I do
My mother, pretty much like most mom’s I’m guessing, never got beyond the “My son does something with computers” explanation and always telling a neighbor I could help fix their computer… (sound familiar?), when in reality the times that I actually unscrewed the cover of my PC to add some additional memory or change the video card, 8 out of 10 times I broke it. So no, I cannot and will not fix your computer. 🙂

What my boss thinks I do
This depends on the boss of the moment really, our company is going through a lot of changes and since most people from the management and leadership teams I’ve worked with over the past years no longer work here, most understanding of my actual job role and contribution to the company seems to have disappeared with them. Since the term “e-learning” is in my job title and they know we’re using Articulate software it must mean I develop e-learning in PowerPoint all day long, right? 😉

What my colleagues think I do
With today’s e-learning authoring tools you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to develop meaningful and motivational e-learning. With the pressure no longer on development, coming up with an effective, beautifully designed learning solution has never been easier. The speed in which we can deliver these powerful solutions might seem like rocket science to many.

What I think I do
I actually played around with this one a bit. My first thought was of MacGuyver, the guy that could do (really) anything with just his Swiss army knife, a potato, some duct-tape and a paperclip. With the ongoing financial crisis and constant company restructuring, we more and more often have to make due with scarce resources under an enormous workload. Since I couldn’t find a decent McG picture I went for the second best thing… The hamster wheel. 🙂

What I actually do
I love my job, as it places me at the frontline of nearly every strategic corporate program the company is launching and tries to embed in the organization. Everything, from Health and Safety to Personal development and Compliance, from Management programs to Sustainability, Diversity and Employee Engagement, I’m there; designing, consulting, project managing, facilitating, implementing and measuring the effectiveness the online learning programs to move the company forward and making it a better place to work.

Web style tabbed interaction for Articulate Studio

View demoDownload PowerPoint file

A while ago Phil Mayor from eLearning Laboratory created a cool Storyline 1 web style tabbed interaction template and shared it with the Articulate community.

A lot of people liked it and since I’m a big fan of Articulate Studio as well I decided to recreate the interaction in PowerPoint so that it’s available whether you’re a Storyline or Studio user and shared it in the comments of Phil’s post.

This template features:

  1. Easy adaptable color scheme
  2. Several content pages with their own theme color
  3. Smooth animations for a professional organic experience

Again, many kudo’s for Phil’s interaction and I hope you enjoy the PowerPoint/Articulate Studio version.

Creating an interactive glossary

View demoDownload SL1 fileDownload SL2 fileHow it's done video

In the five years I’ve been working with Articulate  Studio and Storyline I’ve never implemented a glossary. Never. It’s not that the functionality isn’t good, it is, it’s simply a lot of work to fill a glossary and since none of my clients ever wanted to put time in writing down all the terms and definitions I’ve never used it.

Lately however, I’m getting a lot of questions when  I am training companies in Articulate Studio and Storyline about the glossary function. And although they love the default functionality and how easy it is to use, often, when they really want a glossary, they want more then just a term and definition. They want to add media to the definition but they also want jump into the glossary from the content when one of the glossary terms is on a page. Unfortunately this is just not possible with the default functionality.

Okay, you could add media to your glossary with Engage, but when using Studio13 and Storyline Upd4 you can no longer import Engage interactions. Also neither Studio nor Storyline allows you to jump to a specific step into an Engage interaction (and back).

Therefor, my answer to the glossary paradox has  always been:”Well, you can always build your own glossary in Storyline.”. Usually followed by disappointed looks, rolling eyes and big sighs. And I totally get that. When you’re just venturing into the world of Storyline building your own glossary might seem a daunting task.

In reality however, it’s really easy to do. Let’s take a look at the steps:

  1. Open a new project and go to your master slides
  2. Create a new slide (or use an existing) and start building your glossary content
  3. Add  an ‘A B C D E…’ object to navigate, add a ‘Terms’ content area and a ‘Definition’ content area. You might want to think ahead and add scroll boxes for both, you never know when you are doing a glossary with a gazillion items
  4. When you’re happy with what you’ve got exit the Slide Master and select your new layout for your content slide
  5. Add a slide layer you call DEFINITION. On this slide you add a Text box that serves as a title and will be used to add the glossary ‘term’ to. Also add a text box for the actual definition. Again, it would be smart to put it in a scroll box so your definition can be as extensive as it needs to be.
  6. Copy that slide 26 times, giving you 27 slides. Name them a-b-c to # for terms starting with numbers (e.g. 2Pac – an American rapper and actor)
  7. Now the boring part… On the first slide (A) add hotspots over the A-B-C etc and link them to their respective pages. Once you’ve done that you are going to copy all the hotspots (incl. the links) to all the other pages, linking them all together.

And that’s it. Now you can import your glossary into any Storyline project you’ve got, adjust the look and feel and voila! I like to call my glossary in a lightbox slide so I can jump straight into a specific letter page and if I want to go all out use a variable that tells me which layer to open on the glossary slide. That way the user doesn’t have to select the term again.

If you like it, please let me know in the comments!

Give your Articulate quiz result slides a make over

At the Articulate eLearning Heroes website David Anderson hosts a weekly elearning challenge. This weeks challenge was a quiz result slide make over. I got a lot of positive remarks on my entry so I decided to show you how I came up with the idea and how I put it together.

As you can see, there’s a lot of room for improvement and you really should spend some time tweaking your quiz result slide to match the look and feel of your course. Your learners will love you for it!


Creating animated title pages for Articulate Replay

A very cool and easy to use feature of PowerPoint 2010 is the ability to save your slides as a video file (.wmv). Creating your own animated videos has never been easier, especially since you can use all those cool PowerPoint features to create it.

In this post I’ll show you how you can use PowerPoint to create animated title screens for your Articulate Replay videos.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Create a new PowerPoint slide and set it to your required screen size (Regular=4:3 or wide-screen=16:9)
  2. Double the size of your PowerPoint slide e.g. a default 4:3 has a width of 25,4 cm and a height of 19,05 cm. Doubling the size will make my slide 50,8 cm x 39 cm. This will ensure your video resolution is large enough to match your Articulate Replay screen recording.
  3. Go to the Transitions tab and disable Advance Slide on mouse click. Now check the box Advance Slide After and set the amount of time you want this slide to be on screen
  4. Now create your slide with the animations you want using PowerPoint’s animation features
  5. When you are done check if all your slides have the Advance Slide on mouse click disabled and the proper time set for the Advance Slide after X seconds.
  6. Now save your file as Windows Media Video (.wmv) file and import it in your Replay project

TIP: You can also use slide transitions when using multiple slides.