Anyone who has been involved in instructional design for any length of time will very quickly run into that workplace reality called Rapid Development tools. Often, the most common complaint from the tools team is that the instructional design team wants the tools team to develop the eLearning equivalent of rocket science. While the designers complain that the tools team is forever forcing them to put a lid on creativity and making them think of limitations before they even begin to design anything innovative. And so the tug of war continues, and the course gets pulled in various directions.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to avoid falling into the ‘tools trap’.
What is the starting point of the discussion – the development tool or the design of the learning?
I’m convinced that even the most creative course designer can develop tunnel vision if the starting point for the discussion is the tool rather than the design of the learning experience. Sure your customer might have a strong preference for a given tool. But in their best interests, you need to drill down to identify what they really want (they actually don’t care which tool you use, as long as it gives them the desired interactivity/functionality) and then recommend which tool best serves the purpose.
Does your developed course give away the tool used?
That’s pretty much the acid test. Can other instructional designers or courseware developers predict the tool used for development just by looking at the finished output or course? If the answer to that is yes, I’m guessing it’s time to get out of the tools framework and get the design element back into your eLearning course.
Are you letting the choice of a storyboarding tool drive the selection of the development tool?
Here’s a not-so-surprising fact – if your source content is in PowerPoint format and if you are not on your guard, you will most likely end up thinking of PowerPoint conversions – and settle for tools that allow you to do just that. And then before you know it, you end up doing what you swore you’d never do- create page turners. If the only difference between your PowerPoint file and your course is the navigation buttons, you clearly haven’t looked much beyond the storyboarding tool.
Are there possibilities for mix and match?
One way of getting around the limitations of a certain tool is to mix and match various outputs from a selection of tools. We’ve often enhanced our courses by creating custom pieces in Flash and using them in courses developed with regular rapid authoring tools such as Lectora, Articulate, and Captivate.
Are you thinking of modifying templates and tweaking styles?
Templates may be a good starting point for most tools. But what next? Customers may be quite happy if you go with existing pre-built pages and styles. But if your aim is customer delight and not just meeting the customer’s expectations, you might want to go an extra mile or two to give them a couple of customized options for styles and templates. The results will be worth it.
Is a little tool-sensitivity in order?
While we as instructional designers cannot allow ourselves to be boxed in by the limitations of a tool, I think a healthy appreciation of a tool’s limitations and the time that goes into creating workarounds can help us crystallize our own design ideas better. When we are hard pressed for time, we will sometimes have to go with the best that any tool can offer out-of-the-box.
To conclude, though tools do play a critical role in course development, eLearning is more about design and less about tools. What do you think?
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In my last post, I explained how to calculate the monthly savings of an employee using Articulate Storyline. In this blog, we will see how to calculate simple interest (SI) using the rapid authoring tool.
Earlier, we created a course for a financial organization to train its new employees on the process of calculating the monthly savings of an employee. The course was a major success, and so, we were asked to develop a course on the calculation of SI.
Final quiz is the last part for an e-learning course and a good learning strategy. Learners should attempt the quiz in order to complete the training program successfully. And, feedback should be given for individual questions in the quiz to reinforce learning.
Consider a scenario in which the options for the question and feedback for the options have heavy content and learner cannot see the question and selected choices while viewing the feedback. As we cannot chunk the content of the options and feedback, we should make the pop-up ‘dragable’ so that learners can drag it aside and read it.
Articulate Storyline comes with a rich media player which can be used to run audio and videos, very effectively. However, player controls such as audio volume, play/pause, progress bar and replay ‘pertain’ to the entire slide. For instance, when you click replay, the whole slide will be played again.
Articulate Storyline can be used to perform a wide variety of calculations. In this blog, I will explain how to compute cumulative average (a weighted average based on the points obtained in all the units in a course) using this rapid authoring tool.
Adding videos to e-learning courses helps learners retain information better. Articulate Storyline provides 3 options to insert videos into e-learning courses, by default. In this post, I will explain how we met a client requirement pertaining to insertion of videos.
A client asked us for a requirement that their courses should have only online videos and the entire course should be developed using Articulate Storyline. We can meet this requirement using the Video from Website option of Storyline.
Articulate Storyline is a wonderful authoring tool to develop interactive and engaging e-learning courses. According to a survey conducted by the E-learning Guild in 2013, Storyline is the preferred choice of most e-learning developers. However, this powerful tool has some limitations.
Recently, we met an interesting requirement from one of our clients. The client wanted to develop a course having 3 modules. The learner needed to answer a quiz at the end of each module. The client wanted to display the score for each of the modules as well as the average of the 3 scores. We can meet this requirement easily using variables and triggers. But, the client wanted to display them in a separate window, ‘outside’ the Articulate Storyline environment (without the tool’s GUI) and print them.
Articulate Storyline is a rapid authoring tool which can be used to create courses on variety of topics – from food safety to financial accounting. Storyline is simple to use, and it easy to perform complex calculations using triggers.
Recently, we were asked to create a course on accounting which explained how to calculate the monthly savings of an employee. Let us see how we used Storyline to compute the savings.
Progress bars in e-learning courses are used to show the learner how much of the course he has completed.. Articulate Storyline, by default, doesn’t have an option to add progress bars. However, we have progress bars for individual slides. We can add a progress bar for an entire course in Articulate Storyline either by placing objects within the GUI (which consumes more time) or developing a HTML progress bar and inserting it as a Web Object into the course.
Given below are the steps to add a customized progress bar in quick time to your online courses.
Last evening, I had to cook dinner for my guests. I had some of the ingredients in the fridge, some in the shelf, some were in the bag that I just bought from the market, and the vessels were in different sections of the vessel rack. While cooking the first dish, I started running around for ingredients every time I needed one. I thought I will not be able to complete cooking before my guests arrived. Before cooking the second dish, I gathered all the necessary ingredients at one place. After completing, I noticed that the process for cooking the second dish went quite smooth and took less time than the first.