Quick Tip For Organizing Your E-Learning Samples

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Every week I create new e-learning demos in my role as Community Manager for the software company Articulate. When I help out community members in the E-Learning Heroes forums I often like to share some of these demos to help illustrate a point or demonstrate a type of interaction. Some of these demos were created over a year ago, and I noticed I had a problem: I didn’t have an easy place to quickly access all of my published samples.

I do have an online portfolio, but it desperately needs updating, and typically a portfolio only contains the crème de la crème of e-learning work, not all of the short little samples and demos.  Much of the e-learning content I create isn’t exactly “portfolio-worthy”, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable example that can’t be helpful for others.

I do also have a “Projects” folder where I keep all the project and published output files for my demos. But what I didn’t have is what I would a “visual repertoire” of my courses where I could easily see them all and access one by clicking on a quick link.

I recently solved this problem quite easily using a simple table in a Google Docs file. Here’s a sample of what it looks like:

Demos

Now my e-learning demos are all organized in one neat table with titles, thumbnail image, description, and link to published output. This has saved me a lot of time of searching through folders looking for the right link. The fact that it’s a Google Doc means it’s always available to me wherever I am, as long as I have internet access. Just wanted to share this quick tip with you! Now if I could just get around to updating my portfolio…

Do you have tips of your own for keeping all of your demo files and e-learning samples organized and easily accessible? If you do, leave a comment below — I’d love to hear your tips or tricks. And since you got all the way to the end of this article, you might want to subscribe to my blog!

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Good Reads: Post-Course Evaluations and E-Learning Analysis

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One of the great things about being a Community Manager is that I get to write new content related to e-learning, instructional design, and training on almost on a daily basis. Some of the articles that I’ve written for my Articulate blog have been quite popular, so I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my most well-received articles here as well. 

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?

I’m hoping that you can glean some meaningful insights from these articles that I’ve written. If there’s something else you’d like me to share or write about, please leave me a comment and let me know. And since you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, perhaps you should subscribe to my blog!

Recording a Screencast: Do’s and Don’ts

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I’m always interested in learning more about new tools that are available for e-learning developers, so last weekend I decided to try my hand using the free screencasting tool Screenr!

Before I made my first recording, I did a bit of homework into what goes into a great screen recording and I’ve compiled some of the top tips and techniques. Follow these Do’s and Don’ts of screen recording to help you create your own screencast!

Select a topic

  • Do have a clear purpose for the screencast
  • Do keep it short and simple

If the process is too long, chunk it down and make several short videos. This is something I learned myself as I was trying to cram a somewhat complicated 10 step process into a 5 minute video. I realized I was trying to show too much at once, and broke it down into two five-step processes instead.

Write a script or storyboard

  • Do script out your process step-by-step. (This is a critical step. Without the script you might forget a step, ramble about useless information, do something backwards, etc.).
  • Do create a storyboard of the different shots, or screens, you need to capture and in which order.
  • Do include any “set-up” instructions that are required to do your screencast in your storyboard. For example, you might need the application to be logged in and displaying a specific window, or you might need certain data or information to already be input in the system. Think along the lines of cooking shows – some things take too long to demonstrate in the time available, so different versions of the dish are made ahead of time and are ready in varying degrees, so they can just pull it out of the oven and Voila!

Select your recording software

If you’re unsure about which software you’d like to purchase, you can download a free trial of any of the paid software options to get a feel for the features and interface

Set up your screen/applications

  • Do close all other applications and windows.
  • Do hide your start menu and any visible taskbars, menus.
  • Do turn off all pop-ups, alerts, and notifications.
  • Do have all the data you need in front of you (if you need to input data as part of your process).
  • Do hide your favorites, quick links, and any other personal information that might show up on the screen if using an Internet browser (no one wants to see your personal links).
  • Do use an “administrator” or “general user” account (if possible) so your recording doesn’t reveal any names or personal information.
  • Do ensure applications are open, running, and ready to go before you start recording. Set it up to the exact screen you’d like to start from – don’t waste time navigating to a screen unless it’s an important part of the process that learners need to see.

Select an appropriate screen size/resolution

  • Do take screen size into consideration. The recording size will depend on things like: your audiences’ monitor display resolution, the size of the slides in your e-learning course, etc. At this point in time, it’s probably still safe to optimize for 1024 x 768.
  • Do keep the recording area as small as possible – without making it so small that you can’t see features or easily navigate in the application (this will help minimize file size).

Practice, practice, practice.

  • I don’t think I need to elaborate!

Use the right equipment

  • Do have a good microphone.

This is another thing I learned myself when I did my first few recordings using my laptop’s mouse trackpad and the built-in microphone. Result: really crappy audio quality. Since then I went to Best Buy and bought microphone for under 30$ and the audio quality is now far superior. Apparently learners will tolerate bad visuals over bad audio, so this is key!

Control your voice

  • Do speak clearly and enunciate words.
  • Do stick to the script.
  • Do add some personality.
  • Do use emphasis at key moments.
  • Don’t use jargon or overcomplicated words.
  • Don’t breathe too loudly, smack your lips, etc.
  • Don’t talk too close to the microphone.
  • Don’t say “so, like, eh, um,”. Personally – I am really bad at this, but working on it. Very helpful to have a clear script to follow.
  • Don’t be monotone and boring.

Control ambient sounds

  • Do choose a nice, quiet location to do your recording.
  • Do make sure your heater or air conditioner won’t come on.
  • Do put your cell phone on silent and unplug the landline (or turn off the ringer).
  • Do put your cat or dog outside.

This is yet one more thing I discovered firsthand (experience is the best teacher, they say!) as I was recording last weekend. I had the PERFECT screencast going — everything was going exactly according to script, I wasn’t saying “so” too much… so of course, my dog chose that moment to break out into a horrible, hacking cough in the background. Thanks, Charlie. Now I go into another room when I need to record.

Edit your recording

Share your recording

  • Do share it on video sharing sites (YouTube, Screenr, Vimeo, etc.)
  • Do share it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

So far following these tips have really helped me improve my recordings – however, it’s like everything else in life, practice makes perfect! The more screencasts you record, the more comfortable you will be with it, and your recordings will improve over time. If you have any other tips or best practices that I did not include, please leave a comment…. and since you made it all the way to the end of this post, perhaps you should subscribe to my blog!

How to Use the PAF Model to Improve Training and e-Learning (Infographic)

Last weekend I posted a new infographic (Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction) and I got some really good feedback about it.  One piece of feedback that I received from several people was to incorporate more graphics/icons into my infographic designs. Of course I think we can all agree that using visuals is only a good thing if it adds value by providing an instructional purpose. This weekend when I decided to make another graphic, I was careful to choose a few icons that I thought were really representative of the elements of PAF. I  created this infographic in Adobe Photoshop.

I’d also like to add a disclaimer that the PAF Methods listed in the infographic for presentation and application are only three examples, but there are a lot more methods available to you. Those are just a few examples!

Instructional Design Infographic