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Moving On

After 44 posts and more than 19,000 views, this will be the last post on the Learning Snippets blog. A little over 18 months ago, I took what was for me a brave step into a whole new world and wrote my first ever blog post. Since then, I’ve connected with (even met) many other tremendous people who have challenged my thinking and helped me to become better at what I do.

I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has followed along; read; liked; shared; or commented on any of my posts, I’m grateful and really appreciate it. While I’m still figuring this blogging thing out as I write, the act of writing itself helps me to reflect and clarify my thoughts (and I think my writing is getting better too).

So, while I’m moving on from this blog, I have started another called Learn. Show. Repeat.

The new site has come about as a result of the experiences and influences over the past year and a half and represents how I’ve changed along the way too. I still intend to document what I’m learning but as you’ll see on the new site, I’ll also be showing more of what I’m doing in the eLearning space and sharing some valued members of my PLN that might help you too.

I hope that you’ll join me there!

Cheers,
Matt

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Next OzLearn Tweet Chat is on 12/8/14

OzLearn

On Tuesday 12th August at 8:00pm AEST (UTC +10hrs), @OzLearn is having its next monthly twitter chat. The topic for the chat is based on the post You Can’t Predict the Value of Working Out Loud by @simongterry

To join the chat, go to Twitter at 8pm on 12/8, search for @OzLearn and join in the conversation (don’t forget to add #ozlearn to your tweets).

There is also an OzLearn LinkedIn group where you can view the Storify of the chat afterwards.

Hope you can join us for the chat!

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2014 in OzLearn

 

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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!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Show Your Work

 

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Showing My Work #4

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 a previous post, Practice and Sharing: The Keys to Success, I talked about the two key messages from the from the iDesignX Conference and the Tom Kuhlmann and David Anderson workshops I attended in March. With this in mind, I decided that I’d make more effort to participate in David’s weekly eLearning challenges to help build my skills through practice. This post is about a recent challenge I completed and I wanted to share how I came up with my entry and what I learned along the way.

The challenge for the week was Summary and Resource Slides in Online Courses and the idea was to give some love to the very end of the course. My initial reaction was that I didn’t think that there was much you could do at all with the last screen of the course! But I went back to the challenge a few days later and looked at the entries that community members had started to post and I thought about what the summary screen represents which is the end of the course. So I started to think about things that symbolise coming to the end of something. The ideas that came to mind were – getting to the finish line of a race or a sunset ending a day or a plane that is coming into land and you have to put your seat and tray table up and stow items in the overhead locker. In the back of my mind I was also thinking about how I could make these themes work on-screen and how the learner would interact with them.

I was looking around for some graphics and more inspiration, when I came across an image of some candles and I thought that could work – as the learner ‘blows out’ a candle, a resource, some takeaway info or job aid could be displayed. That was ok but it still wasn’t quite right, it wasn’t enough. Then I thought, while the summary screen is a way to finish the course it’s also an opportunity to give learners something to take away from the module, so what about a party theme?

If it was your birthday party, you’d probably receive some presents and in this case the presents become the takeaways – resources, contact details and some additional info.

Pic 1

As you click on each present a layer appears and as the layer is closed the present disappears as it’s been ‘opened’.

Pic 2

I ended up keeping the candle idea too. Once all the candle flames are clicked on or ‘blown out’ a final layer appears indicating that it’s the end of the module.

Pic 3

Pic 4

I built my demo in Articulate Storyline on one slide and used layers and changes of state to achieve the interactivity. The images were from clipart and I created a colourful background that ties in with the party idea.

Before I went to the workshops I had seen the weekly challenges and sometimes I thought that they’re not really that relevant because when am I going to do something like that in a project? The same could be said for the above example, would you really end a module with a cake and presents?

But it’s more than that. On reflection, there were a few things I took away from this challenge:

  • I was able to apply what Tom had shown us in the workshop by taking a clipart image (the cake), separating into pieces, removing the parts I didn’t need and saving the flames as individual images.
  • I worked out that I could show a layer in Storyline once other objects were hidden (in this case, when the flames were hidden the exit button layer would appear).
  • It helped me to think about the summary screen in a way that I ordinarily wouldn’t have.
  • I was able to participate in a challenge and learn from the ideas of others in the community.

While the challenges are a bit of fun, they do provide a mechanism for practicing and improving your technical skills and developing your creative skills which is just what I need. You can also see how others approached the same challenge and what they came up with, which can lead to building on ideas or finding new ways to solve problems or to designing a part of a course in a different way from what you’d normally default to.

Maybe you can have your eLearning cake and eat it too!

See also Tom’s blog post about building better courses.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Show Your Work

 

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Showing My Work #3

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

I believe that the visual design of an eLearning module is a really important part of the overall learning experience. After all, the look and feel of the course is the first thing that the learners see. It helps to catch their attention and draw them into the module. It can also add a great deal of interest to the module.

However, the visual design is an area that I really struggle with at times, trying to come up with ideas. I get there eventually but sometimes it takes a while and it doesn’t come easy to me. It’s also an area that I’m conscious that I need to work on and I want to.

Recently, I created a work health and safety (WHS) induction module for my organisation. When I started developing the look and feel, I defaulted to the yellow and black safety colours but I still found that it looked a bit PowerPointy as you can see by these mock-up designs that I came up with:

Safety

I didn’t really like any of them and I felt a bit stuck. Then one morning I went to our lunchroom to get a coffee and I saw this:

IMG_0240

I’d walked past it every day, knowing it was there but not really seeing it. There’s a lot of safety notices on there and the boards in all the lunch areas so I figured people would be familiar with them and it would tie in nicely with the topic of module. It led me to come up with a design based on this theme:

WHS3

WHS2

WHS

The board is a common element for every screen. Then I used different combinations of notes and photos depending on what was needed for the screen. It goes to show that an idea can come from anywhere! What’s your impression of the visual design for this course?

I’ve found that the Articulate Community Showcase is a great place for some visual design inspiration.

Where do you get your ideas from when it comes to the look and feel of your course?

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Show Your Work

 

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Showing My Work #2

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

I’ve been designing and developing some eLearning modules for the employees in my organisation. Prior to my arrival, eLearning wasn’t used very much and unfortunately what did exist was mostly eReading.

Looking at our existing courses, they appeared to be mostly a cut-and-paste from the policy or procedure document with a few questions at the end with not much interactivity at all. There also wasn’t a structure around creating and building the eLearning modules themselves. So, I introduced a process for eLearning module development (I also use a variation for classroom courses). This development process is based on how I was taught to develop modules by the company who gave me my first opportunity as an instructional designer.

Here’s what our design process now looks like:

Process2

In this process, each stage builds on the work done in the previous one. This is what happens at each stage:

1. Kick-off meeting:

This is the first meeting I have with the Subject Matter Expert (SME) and where:

  • I give an overview of the development process and what will happen at each stage
  • We discuss the requirements for learning and the module
  • I ask questions about the topic, the learners, what they doing now and what they need to do after the course
  • I gather the content for module
  • I take lots of notes.

2. Design Strategy (DS):

A DS is an overview of what the module is about, the learner characteristics and what will be included – the objectives, order of topics, sub-topics and a summary of content, scenarios and activities. At this stage:

  • I produce a DS document based on information gathered from the kick-off meeting
  • I work out a structure for the module
  • I consult further with the SME (if required)
  • Once completed, I send the DS to the SME for feedback (including any other stakeholders)
  • I collate the feedback provided by the SME and incorporate into the DS
  • Then I send a revised DS back to the SME for approval and sign-off.

3. Storyboard:

A storyboard is a screen-by-screen breakdown of the module – text, narration, graphics and descriptions of interactions. It also includes any resources that the learners can use. At this stage:

  • I produce a storyboard based on the information contained in the DS document
  • I also create a few screen mock-ups, to show the look and feel of the course
  • Once completed, I send the storyboard to the SME for feedback
  • I collate the feedback provided by the SME and incorporate into the storyboard
  • Then I send a revised storyboard back to the SME for approval and sign-off.

4. Module Creation:

  • I create the e-learning module in our authoring tool (Articulate Storyline) using the content, images and instructions from the storyboard
  • I conduct some Quality Assurance (QA) to check functionality, spelling etc.
  • I have at least one of my colleagues look it over
  • Fix anything identified in the QA
  • I send the module to the SME for feedback
  • I collate any feedback provided by the SME and incorporate into the module
  • Then I send a revised module back to the SME for approval and sign-off.

5. Deployment:

  • Ideally, I like to send a module to a pilot group for testing and feedback
  • I then incorporate their feedback into the module
  • The e-learning module is deployed to the relevant staff via our LMS.

I use word documents for my DS and storyboard and I’ve created templates that I can use for each new module. Here’s a sample from the storyboard of our safety module:

Storyboard

I have used PowerPoint in the past for the storyboard (at the request of a client) and while it does allow you to see what the finished product will look like, I find using word helps the SME’s to focus on the words being used.

Overall, what I like about this process is that the SME’s are involved at each stage and have input as the module is developed – it’s an iterative process. While the above stages look straightforward, in reality it doesn’t always work as smoothly as I describe. What you are reading is the ideal way the process should work. However, in the workplace, the SME’s sometimes make more changes when you send a ‘final’ version for review, they may take longer to get feedback to you than they originally said (which holds things up) and may need some guidance during development, especially if they are new to it. I’ve come to realise that you need to manage these things as best you can.

It’s also important to mention that I don’t always say ‘yes’ to my SME’s requests,. Sometimes you need to push-back, especially if what is being asked is going to negatively impact the learning. I make sure I explain my reasons for not doing something. I find that his can be one of the most challenging aspects of development and something that I’ve worked on. I’m finding this easier to do as my levels of experience and confidence have grown.

I’ve learned that it’s important for modules to be designed in a way that aims to change behaviour and improve performance and are not just a transfer of information via a content dump. When I’m designing I like to think from the learners perspective and ask myself – could I sit through this module and enjoy it and learn something at the same time?

How do develop your eLearning modules?

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Show Your Work

 

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Showing My Work #1

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

Recently at my workplace, I’ve been involved in a project to train a group of employees to become relief operators for some items of plant (which are machines like tractors, graders, excavators and trucks). I was working on this project with the HR Co-ordinator and the L&D Officer for the outdoor staff in our organisation. My role as the instructional designer was to develop some materials to help the new operators learn how to drive and use the various machines (there were 9 different types in all).

Armed with a Sony Handycam, we met with each operator who was also our subject matter expert (SME). The reason for filming was that we thought it would be easier to capture what the SME was saying and showing, rather than having to make lots of notes and take photos. The SME took us through the pre-start checks, what the cabin controls are used for and how to perform some of the operating tasks – things that a new person would need to know about. I filmed the SME as they talked about their machine and explained how it worked. After this, I went through the footage and took snapshots to create images (using VLC media player). I then annotated the images using the SME’s descriptions and explanations. It all came together in a ‘New Operator Guide’ for each piece of plant.

The footage turned out pretty well especially given it was unscripted (although, no Oscar this year!). As a result, we also decided to burn the footage to disc and give this to the new operator to go with the guide.

All of the guides followed a similar format – Entering and Exiting, Pre-start Checks, Cabin Controls and Operation. The aim was to keep it as simple as possible and easy to follow. Safety was also important, given that the items of plant can be quite dangerous if used incorrectly.

As always, the guides were given back to the SME’s for review and comment. This was then incorporated into the guide. The operators were very passionate about their item of plant, so it was great to talk to them and work with them. The materials will essentially be a support for the new operators to supplement the practice sessions they will receive until they are competent (which will take some time).

Here are a few samples taken from different guides:

In this example, we can see how to enter and exit the vehicle safely. The ‘Key Safety Tip’ boxes were a suggestion from the Safety Officer who I also sent the guides to for feedback from a safety perspective. Them tips are used throughout all of the guides and generally, the information came from the Work Method Statements (WMS) for the particular item of plant.

Entering and Exiting

The pre-start checks are completed each day before operating the piece of plant. I wanted to step the learners through the process. This example comes from the grader and shows how to check the engine area. Where possible, I’ve tried to orientate the learner to where a small part sits within a larger area. I’ve done this by magnifying the views of some parts. This was the learner can see where the item sits within the overall picture and then gets some enhanced detail of the part – in this case the isolation switch and a light switch.

Pic1

This example shows the cabin controls from one of the trucks. These varied in complexity from machine to machine. For ones that had many controls, I again used the method that showed the whole thing and then enlarged relevant sections which were labelled.

Cabin Controls

The final part was to show how to operate parts of the machine. This example shows some of the steps to fill a pothole.

Operation

The real test will be when the new operators receive the materials once the program starts. I intend to talk with them to gather feedback from their perspective as a learner that I can then incorporate into the materials for future groups.

So, what do you think?

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2013 in Show Your Work

 

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