Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Slow Down You Move Too Fast

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Help, eLearning is changing again.  It used to be that it was enough to truly understand the definition of an LMS, , to realize that SCORM output gives you an elegant way to share content and data between systems, and that making an eLearning course is a lot more work than just throwing up some old PowerPoints and popping in a few quizzes.

But now, there is the social media revolution.  Everybody is talking about the “new web”.  If you don’t know how to tweet, blog,  Facebook, and integrate social learning,   you are again going to be left behind.  And worst of all, if you are not maniacally following the thousands of articles on current social learning theory,  your courses will stop working, your students will not learn what you have set out to teach them, and you will have to start looking for a new career.

I realize I am oversimplifying, but when you distill everything that is going on, it comes  down to one basic issue: we need to get classroom chatter or shall I say, classroom interaction into the eLearning course.  Students need to talk to other students, students need to talk to teachers, and teachers need to talk to their classroom chatter needs to be easy and intuitive.  In looking at some of the social interaction eLearning solutions, I have found that the solutions are too difficult. Not only is social eLearning course construction complex, but these solutions are also hard for the students to navigate.  Most users are happy when they learn how to post pictures on Facebook, and that is the technical level our social eLearning courses need to be geared toward.

It is safe to assume that users can do the following:

  1. Register into the LMS
  2. Enroll in and load a specific course
  3. Click the next and back buttons
  4. Click submit when they answer quiz questions
  5. Navigate through well designed interactions such as Articulate Engage

And….. this is the big one

  1. Post to a forum/blog.

And, here is where you can add the social interaction that we have all learned to know and love.  Put the forum/blog right within the course.  At strategic points within the course, make the forum/blog available to address specific course content vs. having a general forum/blog that addresses the whole course.  This is what happens in a real course, topics are discussed as they come up, not all held in abeyance until you go to a general room afterwards to voice your thoughts and questions.

So give it a try. Write some posts to generate discussion around a very specific topic in one of your courses, and then put links to those posts right into your course.

10 Must-Have eLearning Tools

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

These tools are listed in order of importance.  Most of my choices are commercial products that help me get my courses up as rapidly as possible while maintaining a high degree of professionalism.  These benefits are already worth the extra money. But maybe more importantly, by using common commercial products, my eLearning courses are portable. That’s because they are 1) SCORM-compliant and can work in any SCORM-compliant LMS and 2) can be changed by anybody who owns a license to the same software.

top ten

In this list, I also place emphasis on those tools that reduce my dependence on outside resources.

1. PowerPoint  2010 – This is a great tool for keeping your content organized and sending developing courseware back and forth to your clients. It is the accepted standard, and accepted standards make life easier, even if they are less fun and have fewer bells and whistles.

2.  Articulate 09 – (Can’t wait for ’10!)  This is the best thing ever to happen to rapid eLearning.  Once you get rolling with these tools, you can make just about anything happen.  Who needs custom flash?  You can make just about anything happen with the custom mapping tools in Quizmaker and Engage.  The compatibility with PowerPoint 2010 is almost flawless, and it was compatible the day PowerPoint 2010 came out of the box!  Somebody is paying attention to Microsoft.

3. PowerPoint 2010 –  Did I put this twice?  That’s because PowerPoint is now two products in one:  the traditional slideshow presentation tool and now a super glammed-up image-editing tool as well.   The photo-editing function in PowerPoint 2010 has changed my course-creating life.  No longer do I have to send my image ideas with descriptions to a graphic artist.  I can now do what I want right at idea inception with intuitive ease.  Layers, who needs layers?  And who needs a big monster image-editing program?  I can do all kind of image tricks such as setting transparencies, cropping to a selected shape, recoloring objects, and making really cool thought bubbles.

4.  Snag-it – Don’t leave home without it.  I take images of everything.  Can’t even start to extol the usefulness of high-quality screen capture that is ready whenever you are. It would be a whole blog entry.

5. Camtasia – My first eLearning love.  I bought my first copy about 5 years ago and used it to screen-capture software application videos.  It was heads and shoulders above everything else.  Then I moved to the Picture in Picture (PIP) function and did several talking-head videos.  Now, I use Camtasia for all kinds of miscellaneous tasks. It’s not my major hammer, but it still is extremely useful for aggregating all kinds of media into one single timeline and outputting to a standard format.  One trick I use is to record the screen while slowly typing with a script font: it looks like someone writing out letters by hand on the screen.

6.Thinkstock photo subscription – It’s expensive, but I bit the bullet and bought a year’s subscription.  I now have the potential to own 25 luscious images a day.  Having them available forces me to use them.  The gamble has paid off: I don’t think twice about creating a visual demo, and I freely use graphics throughout my work product to great effect.

7. Your own SCORM-compliant LMS system – This may cause some disagreement.  But having access to your own system both for testing and for revenue-generating purposes is imperative.  I can offer the full package and guarantee reliability.

8. SWF-converter – It always seems like you have to translate a swf file from somewhere.  Usually from a customer using Captivate for screen captures.  This tool is easy and the output is high-quality.

9. Serious Magic Ultra (to Adobe Ultra, to no Ultra) – Sadly, this super-easy-to-use chroma-keying (green screen) product is no longer available.  Adobe bought Serious Magic and made the product available for two years, then shelved it.  You can see an example of what I made many moons ago here at www.videoinstruction.net.

10. DVD extraction tool – Turning a DVD into a usable video file or ripping a DVD comes in very handy.  I recently purchased Pavtube Video Converter, and it works fine.  It is just a utility, though, so no great love affair.

Amy Heber with WebOffices wins first place at Elearning Guild Summit

Monday, April 12th, 2010
Winner Elearning Guild/Lingos Global Giveback

Winner Elearning Guild/Lingos Global Giveback

WebOffices wins First Place in global eLearning competition!  ELearning Guild, in cooperation with LINGOs, sponsored the Global Giveback Competition at their annual 2010 Learning Solutions Conference.  LINGOs member organizations identified courses they needed, but  which they lacked the resources to develop. A wide array of eLearning companies volunteered to create these courses for the LINGOs members as a way of giving back. Over 40 companies competed, and WebOffices won the top prize with their Preventing HIV course,  created on behalf of Christian Aid.

How to Quickly Convert PowerPoint based Content into a Quality eLearning course.

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

elearningblackboardIf you have a PowerPoint to source your content, use software to convert it to web viewable content.  It looks much better than anything that comes native to PowerPoint.

 Tools like Adobe Presenter, Articulate, Presenter and Camtasia can translate these PowerPoint animations to web friendly flash web content.  My next post will give an analysis of these 3 tools.

 

 

 

  1. Make sure you have professional audio narration.
  2. Use a picture on every page, sometimes use 2.
  3. Sprinkle in some animation, it is easy to do in PowerPoint, (no flash know-how needed at all), and the tools listed above can do the flash translation for you when they process the entire PowerPoint.
  4. Use SmartArt in PowerPoint.  This is a very effective way to make well balanced diagrams without having graphic design skills
  5. If you are stuck with lots of bullet points, split them up into multiple screens, and don’t forget the picture on each screen when you split them up.
  6. Photo sources include dreamstime.com and istockphoto.com.  The dreamstime.com subscription is the best deal, but sourcing photos seems to be quicker with istockphoto.com.  I have used both of these sites, and a comparison seems like a great topic for another blog entry
  7. When using photo sites, buy the smallest size possible.  These work fine, 72 pixels per inch is what is displayed on a computer monitor, and looks fine.  Bigger files also weigh down your presentations, and slow down load time.
  8. Sprinkle in some quizzes to reinforce learning content.  You will need to make these quizzes in a PowerPoint flash conversion tool.  You cannot do this native to PowerPoint
  9. Don’t be afraid. Download a free trial of flash based PowerPoint software and give it a whirl.  Please let me know if you want to see some simple demos of how to use some of this software.

10 Questions to Test an eLearning Professional

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

questionseLearning is a brand new field and there is no formal accreditation process.  How can you tell if someone who calls themselves an eLearning professional is truly what he says he is?  Ask him some of these questions.  If he crosses his eyes with Question #1, go find another professional.  Maybe you don’t know the answers to these questions, but if he doesn’t either, you are not seeking help in the right places.

  1. Is the output Scorm-Compatible (without going into too much detail, this affects the portability of your ultimate courseware, and is key).  Yes is the right answer, No is the wrong answer.
  2. What is the recommendation for setting up a user registration system?
  3. How much is it going to cost to have a single user sign up for your course?
  4. What course authoring system will be used?  Heavy hitters that produce SCORM content and have a large user based include Articulate, Camtasia, Lectora, and Captivate.
  5. Where will your course content be hosted?
  6. If you want to make changes to the course later, how difficult will that be?
  7. Is it possible to have a test out/ adaptive learning scenario?  (e.g. if a student know some or all of the course content, can they take a quiz and move to more meaningful content?)
  8. Is it possible to add interactive content to the course?
  9. Do they have instructional design skills, or do they expect to have the course basically created?
  10. Is there a creative team in place?