Storyline vs. Rise: When To Use Which?

If you build online training, you’re likely familiar with the Articulate 360 suite of e-learning tools. Articulate 360 tends to be the go-to for most training developers as it’s a robust suite that offers everything needed to create e-learning; this includes multiple authoring tools, video recording software, an image library, and a Review tool. As part of the Articulate 360 suite you get access to two authoring tools: Storyline 360 and Rise 360. One of the most common questions people ask is “When do I use Storyline vs. Rise?”. Each tool serves a unique set of needs, but when you’re new to them, it can be hard to know which to use when. Here are some best practices for when to use Storyline vs. Rise. 

Use Rise 360 for…

Super-rapid development. There’s no doubt about it: Rise is the quicker tool for e-learning development. Popping in the different types of blocks is very quick and easy to do. From there, you simply add your text, insert a few images, and you’re done. I also find development is made easier by the fact that you can have a lesson that scrolls endlessly, instead of being confined to a slide’s dimensions.

Text-based content. Rise works especially well for text-heavy content, such as job-aids, policy documents, employee handbooks, and standard operating procedures. Pretty much any business document can be converted into a Rise course, so, if you’re thinking of putting it into a PDF document, consider a Rise course instead. 

Collaborative course development. Between Storyline and Rise, Rise is the more collaborative tool of the two. It allows you to have multiple people working in a course at the same time. So, if you need to involve multiple course creators, or if you want your Subject Matter Expert or reviewers to be able to make edits directly to the content, you’ll probably want to use Rise.

Seamless mobile experience. Rise offers a better experience across devices, hands down. The main reason is that Rise is responsive and automatically adapts to different screen sizes, whereas Storyline content is restricted to it’s slide dimensions. If your content will be heavily used on mobile devices, Rise is definitely your top choice.

Use Storyline 360 for…

Customization capabilities. If you’re looking to really control the look-and-feel of every screen, the fonts, the colours, and everything about your content, then you will want to use Storyline. With Rise, you’re limited to the block types, so if you want to go beyond that in terms of on-screen activities and the look-and-feel of your course, you need to use Storyline. 

Extensive interactivity. Storyline is an extremely powerful tool for building rich interactions; it even allows you to easily add logic and conditions to your interactivity so you can really control the experience and make all kinds of cool things happen on-screen. You can add animations and do things like build custom games and activities. If you want something really feature-rich, unique, or game-like, you’ll want to go with Storyline. 

Software simulations. Software sims are an excellent way to get learners using a new application without the risk of being in the real system. If you’re looking to create software sims, you’re going to want to use the screen recording capability in Storyline. This allows you to record your process once and easily break it down into step-by-step slides that automatically include captions, hot-spots, and more.

Keep the above-mentioned tips in mind next time you’re getting ready to develop a course, and use them to consider what is the best tool for the project at hand. Remember: you can have the best of both worlds and include Storyline content within a Rise course, using the Storyline block. I have used this feature a lot myself, especially when doing product training and wanting to bring in a few software sims. Personally, I find Rise to be my go-to because of its ease-of-use and mobile responsiveness; I fall-back to Storyline when I need to do something more custom or special. 

How do you decide whether to use Rise or Storyline for a project? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Let me know in the comments, and follow me on Twitter for more e-learning and training content

Tips for Successful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Training

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Imagine this scenario: a company decides they’ve had enough of using systems that are outdated, slow, and inefficient. They embark on a project to implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to replace their legacy tools. The company spends months, maybe even years, working with consultants and employees to define new processes and customize the systems. Come launch time, they don’t provide adequate training and the employees don’t know how to use the new systems effectively. This leads to costly mistakes, wasted time, lost revenue, and many stressed out employees.

ERP implementations are typically large-scale projects with many stakeholders and moving parts; creating training for these projects comes with their own set of unique challenges. Planning for these challenges up front can help ensure you have a successful training program that plays a crucial role in the smooth rollout of a new system. Here are some important things to consider before you embark on your next ERP implementation training project.

Plan and prioritize training

Implementing and customizing an ERP system tends to be a huge financial investment, and as such, detailed proposals and plans are created to cover all aspects of the project. However, training for the new system is often listed as a vague deliverable that provides no specifics about how training will be designed or delivered. Not planning for training from the get-go is a costly mistake because the investment in a new system is wasted if the employees can’t properly use it. Include the training team in the project planning phase and allocate the appropriate budget, resources, and timelines for end-user training.

Identify training methods

You’re going to want to think about training methods up-front, during the planning phase. One of the most effective way to give learners a real world experience without risking costly mistakes in a real ERP system is through software simulations. They give employees the power to explore and use all the features of the ERP software they’ll use in the workplace. You’re probably going to want to consider at least some software simulations for ERP systems training. You might mix this with some instructor led training and live Q&A sessions to create a blended learning program.

Create curriculum by role

You’re not going to dump all the lessons on every employee; the employees who work in Engineering don’t need to take Accounting lessons on how to process an invoice. Instead, you’re going to tailor the curriculum by user roles. While you may have some core basic lessons that apply to everyone (logging in and out of the system, setting up your user profile, etc.), there should also be user-specific lessons that are pertinent to each role.

Work with the business

Training teams working on ERP implementations often find they have to work alongside the implementation team. You might find it useful to work with the business process analysts, as they create and test the new system processes (these are often called Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs). Consider using test scripts as a starting point for training development.  

Designate power users

For each role you identify, consider having one or two power users. These are (hopefully) helpful, quality employees who can help with the training and answer employee questions on-the-job. If there are employees who are already involved in the implementation, for example working as subject matter experts, these are great candidates for power users.

Incorporate real-life scenarios

Integrating real world examples and stories into your processes will make the training more practical and relevant. Instead of jumping into a step-by-step process without providing any context, introduce the process with a scenario that has realistic background information and details. Training that incorporates realistic scenarios helps learners know when and how to apply the tasks covered in the training in the real world.

Use change management techniques

  • Incorporating some basic change management techniques will go a long way to getting your learners on board. Be clear in explaining the benefits of the training, why it’s happening, and the impact of not completing it. Don’t assume end users will move seamlessly from one system to another, without detailing the specific reasons and benefits. Learn more about specific change management techniques for instructional designers here.
  • Following these tips will help ensure you have a successful ERP training program in place. Do you have any tips of your own for designing or developing training for ERP implementations? Let me know in the comments, and follow me on Twitter for more training tips and tricks.

     

    How to Organize, Analyze, and Prioritize Tasks for E-Learning

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    The One Thing You Need To Do To Organize Training Content: Task Analysis

    Are you dealing with a huge pile of raw materials that need to be converted into an e-learning course or training programme? If so, you’re likely wondering how best to organize the content and filter out the need-to-know from the nice-to-know. If this sounds familiar to you, you need to acquaint yourself with the process of task analysis. Discover how a proper task analysis can organize your content so it focuses on what learners need to know on-the-job.

    Read full article.

    How to do a Task Analysis Like a Pro

    As I explain in this article, task analysis is one of the cornerstones of instructional design. Why is task analysis so important? The purpose of training is to teach learners how TO DO something; they should walk away from the training with new knowledge and skills they can apply on-the-job. When you focus on tasks, you’re more likely to accomplish this goal, as you’re focusing on the actual processes the learners will do on the job.  A task analysis is the process of systematically breaking down a task into a documented step-by-step process. This article explains how to first identify tasks, then break them down into sub-tasks, and finally, parse them into steps. It also contains some helpful task analysis dos and don’ts.

    Read full article.

    Instructional Designers: Remember These Factors When Prioritizing Tasks

    Once you’ve completed your task analysis, you’re going to need to organize and prioritize all the tasks you’ve analyzed. How should you order your tasks? This depends on a variety of factors: task importance, task frequency, task difficulty, and learner experience. Learn about these four factors and what you need to know to ensure your content focuses on the right tasks.

    Read full article.

    Have you ever done a task analysis before? If so, how did it go? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with others? If so, please leave me a comment below, I love to hear feedback.

     

    4 Reasons You Don’t Have an E-Learning Portfolio

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    I find it surprising when an e-learning developer tells me they don’t have a portfolio. In certain industries, such as web design and graphic design, you simply can’t be viewed as a legitimate business person without a portfolio; I believe e-learning is also one of those industries. When I get asked for advice on hiring a great e-learning developer, my top recommendation is always: Don’t hire someone without seeing their portfolio.

    If you don’t have an e-learning portfolio, you probably have a reason. But if your reason is listed below, you should reconsider and remember that you’re working in a competitive, global market, where anyone can create a free blog or portfolio website in a few minutes.

    You’re Too Busy

    The “I’m too busy” excuse is the most common and most overused. You’re too busy to put time into creating something that could well hold the key to your success and potential future earnings? Your call.

    Why this isn’t a good reason: Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. Bottom line is: if something is truly a priority, you will make time for it. If it’s not a priority, you won’t. Potential clients don’t care about how busy your life is; they care about hiring a candidate who can show work that is up to their standard and get the job done.

    You Don’t Have Any Experience

    Maybe you do have the time but you’re new to the e-learning industry and have zero real-world experience or projects.

    Why this isn’t a good reason: First of all, don’t advertise this fact to potential clients. For many people “zero experience” equates to “lacking skills and credibility.”. If you don’t have any real world projects to add to your portfolio, don’t despair: create your own samples. Choose a topic that you’re a passionate about and develop a mini e-learning module. Which leads me to my next point…

    You Don’t Own E-Learning Software

    I’ve heard many people say the following: “I can’t create samples for a portfolio because I don’t own any e-learning authoring tools.”

    Why this isn’t a good reason: Just about every authoring tool out there offers a free, fully-functional 30-day trial. Take advantage of that and use your 30-days wisely! Create a few mini 5-slide e-learning courses that showcase your skills. Another option: Powerpoint! So many people have access to this but don’t take advantage of it to create awesome e-learning; you can even hyperlink slides to create branched scenarios and create engaging samples.

    You Signed an NDA

    This is one I’ve heard quite a few times: “I’ve done a lot of awesome things, but I can’t share any of it because I signed a nondisclosure agreement.”

    Why this isn’t a good reason: Anyone can say they’ve created great e-learning, but at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. Of course you should never share confidential materials you’ve signed an NDA for, but there’s no harm in asking a client beforehand if you can use a sample of work, stripped of original content and identifying information, for your portfolio. This is a standard procedure in other industries, and often the request is included directly in the contract of work. If you can’t use any of the work you’ve signed an NDA for, don’t panic: you can still create your own samples!

    The e-learning industry is getting more competitive by the week and potential clients want a candidate who can demonstrate their skills and abilities, instead of taking a gamble on someone with nothing to show. Don’t give potential clients or employers a reason to pass you over: create that portfolio today!

    I’d love to hear your thoughts: are these legitimate reasons for not having a portfolio? Are there other reasons that I left out? Leave a comment below and let me know. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, as well in the E-Learning Heroes community, for all the latest.

    Post-Course Evaluations and E-Learning Analysis

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    Post-Course Evaluations: What E-Learning Designers Need to Know

    If you’ve been in the training industry for awhile you may have heard that post-course evaluations are sometimes referred to as “smile sheets”. This is because as long as the evaluations receive mostly positive ratings, or “smiley faces”, we tend to classify the training as a success. However, the post-course evaluations are almost never a true reflection of how successful the training/e-learning actually really was and what it’s impact is on the bottom line. This article looks at some of the difficult questions you need to ask to help truly measure the success of your e-learning with your post-course evaluations.

    Full article: Post-Course Evaluations: What E-Learning Designers Need to Know

    Post-Course Evaluations for E-Learning: 60+ Questions to Include

    If you have developed a post-course evaluation before you know that it can sometimes be a challenge to come up with meaningful questions for your learners. To help you out with that, I’ve put together this comprehensive list of over 60 questions that can be included in a post-course evaluation. Of course it’s important to refer to the previous article, and keep in mind that these evaluations don’t mean the training had a successful impact on the business. You can select the questions that apply to your specific project from this detailed list.

    Full article: Post-Course Evaluations for E-Learning: 60+ Questions to Include

    The Top 3 Types of E-Learning Analysis

    Here is a look at three of the most common types of analysis carried out by e-learning developers and instructional designers. These are the needs analysis, audience analysis, and task analysis. The needs analysis is done up-front to determine is the training is actually necessary or not. An audience analysis is then developed to identify the learners, their demographics and their specific needs.  Finally, a task analysis breaks down the specific tasks that the learners need to apply in order to improve their knowledge and skills on the job. Having a solid grasp on these three types of e-learning analysis will go a long way in ensuring your projects are successful!

    Full article: The Top 3 Types of E-Learning Analysis

    Needs Analysis – When Is E-Learning The Solution?

    Have you ever been asked to complete a training needs analysis to identify if an e-learning or training project is really necessary? If so, you’ll know that doing this can be a tricky endeavour, and it can be hard to differentiate between the training that is wanted and the training that is really needed. If this is a task that you’ve been faced with before, you might be interested in reading about a simple process you can follow to identify if training is really needed. It is a straightforward approach that involves comparing your employees current and expected performance, to identify if there is a performance gap that can be solved with a training solution.

    Full article: Needs Analysis – When Is E-Learning The Solution?

    Infographic: The Presentation, Application, Feedback (PAF) Model

    This colourful infographic illustrates the Presentation, Application, and Feedback (PAF) Model for training and instructional design. It’s important to keep the PAF Model in mind when developing training to ensure we’re not overloading our learners with too much presentation of content. It’s crucial to include lots of opportunities for application of knowledge and to then provide the appropriate feedback.

    Instructional Design Infographic

    The Ultimate E-Learning Design and Development Checklist

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    I have compiled several e-learning, instructional design, and web design checklists to create the ultimate e-learning design and development checklist. This list is thorough and covers a broad range of items. Keep in mind not every item will apply to every project.

    INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN

    • Training needs analysis is complete
    • Project constraints have been identified
    • Project plan is complete
    • Audience analysis is complete
    • Task analysis is complete
    • Various instructional methods are used
    • Objectives are clearly stated
    • Objectives include measurable criteria
    • Instructional content relates directly to learning objectives
    • Course objectives are met
    • Content is segmented in small chunks
    • Information is grouped logically
    • Major headings are clear and descriptive
    • One-third of the content is presentation
    • Two-thirds of the content is application and feedback
    • There is a summary for every piece of  content
    • Glossary is used to define key concepts  and terms

    ASSESSMENTS & TESTS

    • All assessments are relevant and complete
    • Assessments are challenging and realistic
    • Various quiz methods and types are used
    • Assessments are used throughout
    • Final assessment at the end
    • Pass and fail marks are appropriate
    • Feedback is provided for questions   answered
    • Feedback is adequate
    • Feedback presented within reasonable time
    • Post course assessment/evaluation is included
    • New content is not presented in assessments or in assessment feedback

    GENERAL DESIGN

    • Total design is uniform in appearance
    • Branding guidelines have been   followed
    • Use of logos is appropriate
    • Colors used are consistent and suitable
    • High visibility and contrast
    • Navigation is consistent throughout
    • There is a generous amount of white space
    • Graphics and icons are used to signify important concepts
    • Patterns and textured backgrounds do not interfere with legibility

    FONTS

    • Maximum of three fonts used throughout
    • Decorative fonts are only used for headings
    • Body text uses sans serif fonts
    • Appropriate line spacing is used
    • Paragraph length is appropriate
    • Font sizes are appropriate and easily readable
    • Font colors visible against background color
    • Styles and colors are consistent throughout
    • Emphasis (bold, italics) is used sparingly
    • Body text is left justified

    TESTING

    • E-learning has been tested in multiple browsers
    • E-learning has been tested on multiple devices
    • E-learning has been tested in the Learning Management System (LMS)
    • E-learning has been tested in various resolutions
    • All links and buttons have been tested
    • Accessibility features have been tested
    • Course has been tested with a screen reader
    • All audio has been tested
    • All videos have been tested
    TECHNICAL

    • Project load time is reasonable
    • Shortcut keys have been defined
    • FAQ document has been created
    • Hardware requirements have been   identified
    • Software requirements have been   identified
    • Dimensions are optimized for target audience
    • Pages can be printed
    • Total time to complete has been timed
    • Contact information available for   questions or problems

    ACCESSIBILITY

    • Course can be navigated with keyboard
    • All ALT tags are used
    • Text is provided for non-text   elements
    • Videos have script or dialogue
    • Captions provided for audio
    • No flashes faster than 3 times per second
    • No colors used to convey information
    • Use text with appropriate contrast ratio
    • No fine motor skills required
    • No timed activities
    • No use of hover states to display important information

    NAVIGATION

    • Main navigation is easily identifiable
    • All navigation is correct sequence
    • Hyperlinks are clearly identified
    • All hyperlinks work
    • Minimum use of external links
    • Backward links to navigate to previous   screens
    • Number of navigation icons is reasonable
    • Table of contents used to lay out the   content
    • E-learning has guided tour and/or map for   further explanations

    VIDEOS & ANIMATION

    • Use of animation and videos is appropriate
    • Files are compressed/optimized
    • Videos and animations are consistent in quality, size and type
    • Videos are legally   owned

    AUDIO & NARRATION

    • Narration is not exact text on the screen
    • Narration is clear and concise
    • Audio quality is high (not fuzzy or   scrambled)
    • Narrator sounds confident and knowledgeable
    • Audio synced to the content
    • Audio can be paused
    • Volume can be muted
    • Volume can be controlled by user

    TEXT CONTENT

    • Language is clear and concise
    • Spelling has been checked
    • Grammar has been checked
    • Language is culturally appropriate
    • Humor is used with care
    • Tone is consistent and appropriate
    • Text is gender neutral
    • Content is not plagiarized
    • Date formats, measurements, are consistent
    • SME has verified text content
    • Facts, statistics, data are accurate
    • Facts, statistics, data sources are   identified
    • Correct capitalization applies to units and acronyms
    • Correct capitalization is used
    • Punctuation is appropriate
    • Complex sentences are avoided
    • Content has been localized for all required languages

    GRAPHICS

    • Images are meaningful and have a purpose
    • Images use appropriate file type
    • Photos are consistent in quality and style
    • Images are legally owned
    • System screen captures are up-to-date
    • Screen captures do not contain personal information

    Since you’ve made it all the way to the end of the checklist, maybe you should subscribe to my blog!

    Best Practices for E-Learning Localization

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    Training localization is often an afterthought in training projects. “Oh, we can just translate the course in a few days, no problem.”  The reality is that localization can be a costly and lengthy undertaking if not properly approached. The amount of deliverables is increased for each language you translate the course into. If you have an e-learning course that will be presented in two languages, you need to have double the templates, tables of contents, sets of text content, certificates, etc. You also need to take the time to create the two courses, test each course individually, perhaps publish each one individually, and more.

    Here are 8 best practices that you should follow when localizing your next e-learning course.

    Consider localization during initial project planning

    The localization should be an integral part of your project planning; take it into consideration during every aspect of the design and development. One of the most common and costly mistakes is waiting until the e-learning course has been created and then deciding to translate all the content. This usually leads to headaches, problems and cost overruns. Decide ahead of time of whether or not your content will be presented in multiple languages. Certain components of the e-learning will need to be designed in such a way that it can be easily be translated into multiple languages.

    Create a localization-friendly design

    Design photos and text placeholders that are easily changed and edited. Ensure that the components that will be translated are easily manipulated without affecting the generic content that will remain the same throughout. Take this into consideration when designing headings and titles, text placement on a page, image placement, as well as symbols and icons.

    Be sensitive to cultural differences

    Be sensitive and aware of anything that might be offensive to another culture. Images that seem innocent or that represent something for one culture may have a completely different meaning to another culture. Colors also have various meanings for different cultures. For example, purple represents richness and royalty to Westerners; in Thailand it represents death and mourning. Of course certain things, such as the color of your corporate logo, can’t be changed. Nevertheless, it is still a good practice to take cultural differences into consideration when designing an e-learning course.

    Consider linguistic issues

    Certain symbols and icons represent different things across various cultures. For example, your “Help” section may be represented by a question mark. Certain languages do not use question marks. This means you will need to change it to a different symbol for another language. Certain countries use the metric vs. the imperial systems for measurement. If your e-learning course has measurements, this will also need to be taken into consideration. It is also best practice to avoid using slogans and culturally specific examples that are hard to explain o translate into other languages.

    Design for expanding text

    When designing for websites it is expected that the text will expand 20-30% when translated into another language; this can also be expected for e-learning designs. Some languages require more words to explain certain concepts or ideas. something that can be explained in one sentence in English might take two or three sentences to explain in French or Spanish. This is because the latter are “wordier” languages. If the text placeholder in your e-learning course only has room for one sentence, it will lead to design issues when content is being translated.

    Minimize use of embedded text in graphics and videos

    It is difficult to translate text within the spacial constraints of a graphic image such as a flow-chart or diagram. If it is necessary to use images with embedded text, try to use layers in your graphics. It’s a good idea to design the graphic in all the required languages at the same time, to avoid headaches down the line.

    Finalize in one language before localizing

    Have one version of your e-learning completely nailed down, edited, tested and completed before moving on to localization. There is nothing worse than having a SME tell you that you need to change two paragraphs, and then having to go into 6 different courses and change it for 6 different languages. To save time and money, it’s best to have a final, approved version which doesn’t require any further text edits before sending it off for translation.

    Hire professional translators

    It’s not enough to say “Lisa speaks Spanish, so she can translate the content.” Speaking a language does not equate to being a good writer. There is a lot involved including sentence structure, grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. It’s also definitely not enough to use Google translator to save costs. While the quality of the translations has greatly improved over the last few years, it is still often riddled with errors and sentences that really don’t make sense. DON’T use Google Translate or any online translation tools to localize your content. It will be obvious and distracting to your learners if the content isn’t properly translated, and your eLearning course will lose credibility.

    Key considerations for e-learning localization:

    • Icons, symbols
    • Photos, graphics
    • Text content
    • Fonts
    • Dates, times, measurements
    • Input and output
    • Color schemes
    • Terminology, acronyms, and abbreviations
    • Browser window titles
    • Software application screenshots
    • User interface
    • Table of contents

    Did I miss any practices that you think are important? If you have any tips or comments about localizing eLearning, please share. Also, please take a moment to subscribe!

    40+ Tips for Awesome PowerPoint Presentations

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    PowerPoint. Whether you love it or hate it, we’ve all had to use it before. Personally, I think it’s a great tool. It’s easy to use and I love starting with a blank slide and creating my own masterpiece. You can even link slides and shapes and make really cool branched scenarios. Creating visually appealing PowerPoint presentations is definitely possible.

    So, if you need to create a PowerPoint presentation and you’ve decided you want it to be great, check out the 40 tips below and you will be well on your way!

    Structure

    • Decide on your goal – what is it this presentation is going to achieve?
    • Select a structure for your presentation
    • Divide your content into small sections
    • Include an introduction, content and a summary/ending
    • Add an agenda or outline slide, to let everyone know what to expect
    • End your presentation with a question slide

    Design

    • Use a template or master slides
    • Design a presentation that is basic, simple, and clear
    • Choose a theme of 2-3 complimentary colors and stick to it
    • Select contrasting colors that go well together
    • Don’t overdo the corporate branding
    • Avoid excessive animations and slide transitions
    • Leave plenty of white space on your slides

    Text Content

    • Double-check your spelling and grammar
    • Organize your content sequentially
    • Use short sentences, not long paragraphs
    • Don’t use more than 3-4 bullets per slide
    • Incorporate key phrases and essential information
    • Bring in bullets or points one at a time
    • Don’t overload the screen with too much information
    • Align text either left or right (centered text is harder to read)

    Fonts

    • Use the same size font on every slide
    • Stick to a maximum of two font styles
    • Do not use more than one decorative font
    • Avoid fonts that are difficult to read
    • Use a sans-serif font for body text
    • Choose a font color that contrasts strongly against the background
    • Use a font size larger enough that everyone can read easily

    Visuals

    • Don’t overload slides with too many visuals
    • Use charts and graphics to convey important data
    • Use well-selected photos and graphics
    • Include various forms of multimedia (video, audio, etc.)
    • Use photos with high quality resolution
    • Choose graphics and photos that are consistent in style
    • Use animations sparingly

    8 Things To Consider Before You Design an E-Learning Course

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    If you’re an e-learning newbie and you’ve been tasked with developing an online course, you are probably asking yourself “Where do I begin?”. While it can be very tempting to some to jump right into the creative development aspect, there are some critical things you should get straightened out first. Here are 8 initial considerations you should contemplate before getting started.

    What Are The Timelines?

    Determining your timelines is an important first step. The software you use, the level of interactivity of the training and the overall quality of an e-learning project is directly impacted by the timelines involved. If you have 1 week to develop a 30 minute e-learning module for a soft skills training course, you might not have much time to get creative, and you almost certainly wouldn’t have time to do anything remotely fancy like audio narration. On the other hand, if you have 3 months to make a 30 minute e-learning module, you have more time to find great graphics, add realistic scenarios, and maybe even throw in some animations and narration.

    Which Authoring Tool Will You Use?

    This is an important up-front consideration. If you are using new software, there will be a learning curve. You can make life easier on yourself by downloading a free trial of most e-learning authoring tools. This provides you with an opportunity to try it out first and see how you feel about the functionality and interface.

    How Will Learners Access the Training?

    The answer to this question might rest on if you are using a Learning Management System (LMS) or not. An LMS is generally used when you want to track scores and quiz results. If you already have an LMS, then the training will most likely be accessed from inside the LMS. If you aren’t using an LMS at all, you’ll  need to decide from where your users will access your e-learning. From an intranet portal? The company website? A shared folder? It’s something to consider early on.

    What Resources Are Required ?

    Before you get started, identify all the resources that you will need for your e-learning project. Your subject matter experts (SMEs) are one of your most valuable resources. Identify who has the most knowledge on your subject, and who can provide you with explanations and clarifications. Other resources to consider: image or video editing software, visual assets, a microphone to record narration, and the list goes on. It’s a good idea to get a good handle on your required resources and have everything approved by management early on to avoid holdups. 

    Who Are The Learners?

    One key question to ask: Who is taking your e-learning course? It’s important to assess your audience. Are your learners factory workers who aren’t very computer savvy? Or are they software engineers who are highly technical and very computer literate? Will your e-learning course be taken by highly motivated interns or by people who hate their jobs and don’t want to take the course? Take your audience into consideration. Get an overall idea of their level of education, their work experience, knowledge of the subject at hand, average age, background, motivations, etc. This is a critical step which will really help you create a course that is more relevant and meaningful.

    What Are The Technical Requirements?

    Requirements can be many things ranging from simple web access to get to an online e-learning course. It’s a good idea to put together your hardware and software requirements, to ensure that the vast majority of your learners will be able to access and view your e-learning course without issue.

    What Are The Branding Guidelines?

    Some organizations have a thick style guide that dictates exactly which font, color schemes, logos, etc., can be used in e-learning. Find out ahead of time if there are style guidelines. If not, it’s still a good idea to stick to the general look and feel of the organization. There’s no need to overdo it and include a logo on every slide, but using the basic corporate fonts and colors is a simple way to make it consistent with the brand.

    Does Content Need To Be Localized?

    Localizing content can be time-consuming and costly. Even when using sophisticated software, it costs money to translate content and it takes time to duplicate a course in another language. Some design considerations also need to made when content will be translated. Certain languages, like Spanish and French, have more verbiage and longer words than English. This could lead to space constraints, if it’s not taken into consideration in advance.

    Are there any other important initial considerations that I’ve left out? Leave a comment!