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Showing My Work #5

The Showing My Work series of posts are what I’m using to ‘narrate’ the projects that I’m working on or have developed.

In the spirit of Work Out Loud Week #WOLweek and because it’s been a while since I’ve written a Showing My Work post, I thought it was time to jump in and share some stuff that I’ve done over the past few weeks.

I’ve participated in a few of David Anderson’s eLearning challenges now and I’m enjoying connecting with other terrific designers, being inspired by what they create and share as well as developing my own skills. In this post, I wanted to share how I created three recent challenge activities using Articulate Storyline.

Tabs Interaction

This challenge was about creating an interaction using tabs (like the tabs in a folder or book). The beauty of tab interactions in eLearning is that they allow learners to choose which parts of the course they want to complete.

While I did create a very basic tab interaction at the end, I took this challenge on a bit of a tangent to begin with by playing on the word ‘Tab’. Firstly, I took an image of the Tab key from a keyboard and using layers, the image would move or tab across the screen each time it was clicked.

Tab Interaction1

Secondly, I created a screen with a fridge and cans of Tab Cola in them. Each time you take a can from the fridge (by clicking on it), a fact about Tab cola appears in the fridge door. I created the fridge using standard shapes found in Storyline and used a picture of a fridge as a guide.

Tab Interaction2

You can view my Tabs Interaction by clicking here.

Meet the Theorists

This challenge was about creating an interaction that introduces an instructional design principle that could be used by someone new to the field.

Typically, what you’d see is the image of the theorist along with information about them and their research or discovery. This type of content can be a bit dry so I wanted to make it more interactive. I started with three theorists and found an image of each. Then I added picture frames that have a question inside them and the learner drags the image of the theorist and places it in the frame to reveal some information about them. Again I used a layer, one for each response (nine layers in total) along with the drag and drop interactivity.

Meet the Theorist

You can view my Meet the Theorist submission by clicking here.

Interactive Step Graphics

The objective of this challenge was to bring a sequence of steps in a process to life. I wasn’t sure about this one and almost didn’t participate but I saw a fridge magnet that had the steps to DRABCD, which is an emergency response acronym. When I read the steps, I was thinking about imagery and I wanted to do something different so I decided to take my own photos. Instead of using real people, I borrowed some Lego from my nieces and then using my iPhone I took the images myself. The photos were taken on our kitchen bench. I positioned the characters into positions to represent each step.

Interactive Steps

You can view my Interactive Step Graphic by clicking here.

Reflections

All three challenges are different and I did some things I hadn’t done before – using the play on words in a fun way, involving the learner with some dry content and taking my own images for use in a module. I’ve said in other Showing My Work posts that I do struggle at times with look and feel as well as being creative but by making time to participate in the challenges, I’m learning to think differently in my approach to creating eLearning. It needs to be more than just presenting content to learners, there needs to be interactivity. What they also show is that you don’t always need big budgets to create an interactive piece of eLearning.

You can see more eLearning challenges and other community members showing their work by clicking here and some have written blogs too!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Show Your Work

 

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eLearning Blunders

Blunder: a stupid or careless mistake.

Alternative words: mistake, error, gaffe, fault, slip, oversight, inaccuracy, botch.

Bad eLearning

This post was inspired by David Anderson’s eLearning challenge: Death, Taxes and E-Learning Mistakes. The purpose of the challenge was to highlight blunders found in eLearning courses and Articulate Community members provided many great examples of what not to do.

I wanted to bring these examples together and share them here (just in case you haven’t seen the challenge). I’ve taken the blunders identified and grouped them into categories.

Layout:

Double branding of screens.

Split attention (having to combine information together to make sense of it).

‘Previous’ button on the first slide and ‘Next’ button on the last slide.

Many different backgrounds.

All slide space filled.

No contrast.

No reuse of design elements (e.g. titles are all different).

Poor positioning of screen elements.

Menu items in the wrong order.

Terrible, eye-searing colour scheme.

Timing issues e.g. characters/photos appearing on-screen at the same time, when that wasn’t the intention.

No way to exit a layer.

Being able to click on buttons on the base layer while viewing a layer.

Branding the course with company logo on every slide.

Redundant/confusing navigation.

Poor alignment of screen content.

Inconsistent use of colours.

Text:

Poor grammatical construction.

Long lines of text.

Bloated wording.

Inconsistent font types.

Spelling mistakes.

Using words that don’t actually exist.

Incorrect punctuation.

Tacky font choices (e.g. Chiller and Curlz MT).

Colour choices that make some of the text almost impossible to read.

Font choices/sizes that are difficult to read.

Too many exclamation points and ellipses.

Sizing on the bullets for bulleted lists.

Small text that is all jammed together making it hard to read.

Images:

Using decorative graphics.

Images copied from iStock and have the watermark on them.

Random, dated clip art.

Cropped characters that appear to float.

Meaningless pictures.

Images that are various styles.

Overlapping images.

Stretched images.

Audio:

Bad voiceover that fades in and out with background noise.

Monotonous tone of voice.

Poor soundtrack.

Text-to-speech narration giving the course a robotic feel.

Animation of text and objects are poorly synchronized to the audio.

Video:

Media/content that makes no sense.

General:

Repeating the same information via different modes.

URL’s that don’t work.

Closed caption that lags behind the spoken word.

Link / 404 errors.

Resources button that does not work.

No attention to detail.

Overuse of animation.

Boring content dump followed by a quiz.

Way to much instruction for how to use the course.

Default quiz and feedback slides.

Courses that are excessively long.

Elements like the Resources tab turned on even thought there are not resources.

 

Some of the Community members (including myself) put together or shared some samples that show the types of errors listed above. Click here to view them.

In a recent blog post, Jonathan Kettleborough talked about some eLearning errors that really give this form of learning a bad name. He referred to the mediocrity of some courses that he has completed because they contain errors that should have been picked up before the course was released. The post is definitely worth reading.

Many of these blunders can be overcome by a thorough quality assurance process and piloting of the course before release – maybe a checklist of items to look for would help? The others require eLearning professionals to develop their skills and knowledge into how people process information and also how to design for the online environment.

I hope that by bringing these types of blunders out into the open, we can make a conscious effort not to keep making mistakes that result in a poor user experience and generally give eLearning a bad name.

As people involved in creating eLearning, let’s eliminate blunders in our courses!

What are some eLearning blunders that you’ve come across?

 

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Practice and Sharing: The Keys to Success

These were the two messages that stood out over three days in Sydney at the iDesignX Australian Instructional Design Conference (21st March) sponsored by B Online Learning & Articulate the eLearning Design Workshops with Tom Kuhlmann and David Anderson (22nd and 23rd March). I was fortunate to attend the sessions in Sydney last week and for me it was a dream come true to not only be in the same room as Tom and David but to hear and learn directly from them (I also got to meet them which was an incredible experience and a real highlight too).

Practice

As someone with a keen interest in learning generally, but eLearning in particular, I’m always looking to other experienced people in the learning field to find out how I can improve my own skills and knowledge. While it would be great if there was a magic pill you could swallow and voila! you’d be transformed into an eLearning whizz, the reality is that when you look at anyone who is successful in their field, the one thing they have in common is a commitment to developing their skills over a period of time. Tom and David are no exception to this. Over the years they have worked on many projects but they also make time to experiment and try new things. The speakers at iDesignX also showed that they have put in a lot of effort over the years to get to where they are today.

Tip: a good place to start practicing your eLearning skills is in David’s Weekly Challenge. You can also learn more about building great eLearning courses at Tom’s Rapid eLearning blog.

Sharing

Tom and David are role models when it comes to sharing. Their jobs at Articulate along with their travel schedule must keep them extremely busy. However, they are extremely generous with their time and have a great willingness share what they know, provide advice and help anyone who needs it. It’s something all learning professionals can learn from and do more of.

So, in the interests of sharing, here’s firstly what I took away from iDesignX (you can also check out all the tweets at #iDesignX):

“Instructional design is about crafting the appropriate learning experience. We need to reframe content so that it’s meaningful and relevant. Then we need to give learners something to think about and have them make decisions.” Tom Kuhlmann – VP Community at Articulate

“Tips when using virtual training: prepare and support participants, consider cognitive load, design for different levels of engagement, have learners interact often, support facilitators, pilot the training and test, test, test, test.” Brenda Smith – Medibank Health

“When using video in learning experiences, authenticity is very important.” Mark Parry – Parryville Media

“Clean and balance (in graphic design) creates stability and can direct learner focus.” Minh Nguyen – DEEWR “Using curation for learning design > collect, filter, evaluate, arrange, present, distribute.” Anne Bartlett-Bragg – Ripple Effect Group

“Before you gamify your eLearning course, make sure it meets the learning objectives.” Ruth McElhone – B Online Learning

“Learning experiences should be meaningful, memorable and motivating.” Ruth McElhone – B Online Learning

“Using video for manual or process tasks shows the correct way to do something.” Tony Nye – Australian Red Cross Blood Service

“Pictures clarify words and stories add context to content.” Blair Rorani – Ever Learning

BTW this is the ninja I drew during Blair’s session:

Ninja

“What makes an industry pro? Experience; Skills (practice your craft); Authority and Luck.” Tom Kuhlmann – VP Community at Articulate

“Luck is where opportunity and preparation meet.” Tom Kuhlmann – VP Community at Articulate

“You need to be proactive and look for opportunities. Sharing expertise creates opportunities.” Tom Kuhlmann – VP Community at Articulate

And from the workshops with Tom and David:

On using PowerPoint for eLearning:

PowerPoint is a really good tool to create an interactive eLearning course. While you can’t do everything that an authoring tool does, hyperlinking from one slide to another can create the feel of an eLearning course. PowerPoint is also handy for creating and editing graphics, just look at this photo frame I created using edit points and soft edges:

Photo frame

Also, what I was able to do by modifying clipart images (before on left, after on right):

Clip art 1

Clip art 2

On designing an eLearning course:

Ask yourself:

  1. What content needs to be in the course?
  2. What is the right look and feel?
  3. What is the learner supposed to do?

Be intentional, stick with a consistent design and don’t settle for defaults (colours, fonts etc.) On eLearning makeovers: Review the five common components of eLearning courses:

  1. Text – should be from the same font family
  2. Elements – the goal is unity not uniformity
  3. Colours – use colour for contrast and emphasis
  4. Background – it should contribute to the visual and not dominate
  5. People – if you use characters maintain unity

On interactivity:

Interactivity connects the user to content. There are two types of interactivity:

  • Touch – the learner interacts with the screen (by clicking, dragging or hovering)
  • Decision – the learner interacts with the content.

On Learning Objectives:

When thinking about learning objectives, ask yourself:

  • Who is the learner?
  • What is the situation?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • How can they prove it?

On building interactive eLearning:

  • Know your tools – don’t build clunky courses
  • Create relevant content
  • Use stories for learning especially if there’s a lot of content
  • Remember the 3 C’s:
    • Challenge the learner
    • Give them choices
    • Have consequences for decisions

There were at least a couple of hundred people at the conference and about 80 people each day at the workshops. If everyone incorporates just one or two of the things they learned into their eLearning courses the quality would certainly improve. But if everyone also shared what they’ve learned with others in the field, it would help to improve even more courses and contribute to building a strong community of learning professionals!

All in all it was a great three days of learning from the best in the field and also chance to meet lots of people that I’d only known via Twitter and make the physical connection. Let’s follow Tom and David’s example by practicing our skills and sharing what we know so that we can develop ourselves as well as others.

If you went to the conference and/or the workshops what did you learn and have you shared it yet?

Footnote: This post originally appeared on the B Online Learning website.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Instructional Design

 

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