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

img4

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.

 

Advertisements

Quick Tip for Creating Call Center Characters in Storyline

Have you ever used Storyline and thought “I’d love to use those photographic characters, but I really need someone with a headset…” I recently came across this dilemma myself.

I considered buying a character pack from a stock photo site, but it’s pretty expensive — especially if you only need a few poses. I wanted to work with the resources I had available. So the solution I came up with?

char1

How did I find this solution? I found this headset graphic, inserted it into my Storyline file, placed it over top of the character image, resized it,  rotated it slightly… and voila! Atsumi, the Storyline character, now has a headset! It should be noted that this trick doesn’t work with every pose; the side and angled shots are not ideal for this; but there are a good amount of poses it does work with.

char2

So there you have it: a quick and easy way to transform your existing Storyline character into a telephone sales associate or call centre representative. Hope this trick can come in handy for someone else!

Got any questions or feedback? Please leave a comment below, or shout-out to me on Twitter. And one more thing — since you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, perhaps you should subscribe to my blog!

How To Create Custom Shapes/Graphics in Articulate Storyline

Last week I shared custom shapes I created using Articulate Storyline in the e-Learning Heroes Forum. Community members seem to like the shapes (yay!), and I’ve since developed an obsession with creating custom shapes. In case you’re wondering what I mean by “custom shapes” I mean that using shapes that are available within Storyline I created the items you see below:

Free Office Themed Articulate Storyline Custom Shapes

Everything in the images was created by me (except the wood texture background) by using Storyline shapes. The fun part is because these graphics are just groups of shapes, you can de-construct them, change the colors, etc.

You can also do a right-click on the group, Save as Picture, and then save the shape as a .PNG file that can be used in other applications. It’s a fun way to extend the functionality of Storyline from an e-learning development tool to a graphic design tool.

All you need to do to create your own custom shapes is insert your individual shapes, line them up, and group them.  The image below breaks down how I created the pencil.

pencil

Like I mentioned earlier in this post, I’ve now developed a bit of an obsession with creating fun new shapes. It’s given me all these ideas for fun projects and themes I can create using the shapes I’ve made. For example, I created a really cool looking desk phone (which I will share in a future post) and now I’m working on adding some functionality wherein you press numbers on the keypad, and it links to various slides. I also find that now I’m often challenging myself to see how far I can go “re-creating” simple items right in Storyline. My latest challenge was creating the Microsoft system calculator using shapes in Storyline. You almost can’t tell the difference between the two!

slide3

I made a few more shapes this weekend; I created a few folders, a notepad, and a clipboard. I’ve posted these files in the e-Learning Heroes forum as well, so feel free to download them and use them in your own projects. Here’s a photo of the new shapes:

shapes3

I hope this has inspired some of you guys to create your own custom graphics in Storyline. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas for future shapes or challenges for me — bring it on! Please feel free to leave me a comment or question and follow me on Twitter!

[INFOGRAPHIC] Instructional Design Model: Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction

This weekend I decided it was about time I created a new instructional design themed infographic. I’ve created a few in the past, which I’ve shared on my blog (here, here and here), and they’ve proven to be some of my most popular postings.

How did I go about creating this infographic? For starters, I browsed online through some instructional design sites to get ideas for what I wanted my subject to be. In the past I’ve designed an infographic illustrating the ADDIE model and Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Evaluations so when I stumbled across an article mentioning Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction I was intrigued. Of course I had heard about Gagne and his nine events, but I wasn’t too familiar with them. In fact, I couldn’t even name one event! Since I like to use my infographic development process to learn something new about instructional design, I thought this would be a good topic. The next step in my process was to do a Google Images search for some infographic design ideas, to help me get inspired. Then I created the infographic in Adobe Photoshop, starting with the design of the heading/title of the infographic. Once I had the title narrowed down, I used those same fonts and colours throughout the rest of the graphic. I’d say it took about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, to complete. I got to be creative and learn something new about instructional design, so I think it’s a success!

Gagne Nine Events of Instruction

Got any suggestions for an e-learning, instructional design or training themed infographic you’d like to see? If you have any ideas for me please leave  a comment.

Audio and Narration in e-Learning: Pros and Cons

mic

First things first, I’m glad to be writing a new post because it’s been over a month! October was pretty hectic for me because I attended DevLearn 2012 in Las Vegas. It was my first time attending a conference and my first time public speaking/presenting; it was a great experience and a lot of new lessons learned for me.

That being said, I was recently inspired to write this latest blog post from something that occurred at work! I’m working on an e-learning project now and I was recently looking into the pros and cons of adding audio to the e-learning course I’ve developed. I decided to compile a bit of my research and write about it!

I’ve come to find out that adding audio to an e-learning project is not a decision that should be taken lightly. There is a lot involved in the process, there is lot to know before you get started and finally there is a lot of room for error! So how do you decide if you need narration/audio in your project? As with all media in your e-learning projects, you should only use narration IF there is a clear instructional purpose behind it (and not “just because”). From what I can gather, there are three types of audio used in e-learning:

  • Narration (which has four “subtypes”)
    • Elaborative  (on-screen text summarizes the audio)
    • Paraphrasing (audio summarizes the on-screen text)
    • Verbatim (reading exact words on-screen)
    • Descriptive (audio describes image on-screen)
  • Music
  • Sound effects

After doing a bit of research on the topic I’ve discovered that there is much debate surrounding which “type” of narration is best for learning. The kind of narration you should use in your projects seems to depend greatly on the specifics of the project (time, talent, budget) as well as what the subject matter is. So which content should you narrate? There are a couple of scenarios where it might be more worthwhile to use narration. For example, when you need to explain a complex definition or process, or when demonstrating situations such as interview skills or emotional interactions between individuals.

The pros and cons of using audio:

PROS CONS
  • Good quality audio might appeal to auditory learners (although there is much debate as to whether learning styles even exist…)
  • Audio might help reinforce certain points and may help some learners retain more information
  • Audio can add some personality and a more personal touch to the e-learning
  • Reduces the reading load, less on screen text when there is audio/narration
  • Might add “authenticity” to on-screen characters
  • Adding audio files (which even when compressed can be quite large) will add to the bandwidth, loading time, etc.
  • Bad quality audio will be more distracting and detrimental than useful
  • Writing and practicing a script and recording the audio are time intensive tasks
  • Synching audio with on-screen text and images can also be labor intensive – and if the audio/on-screen are not harmonious it will be distracting to learners
  • If your course needs to be updated often (once a year, maybe more) then it can be difficult and time-consuming to record and add updated audio.
  • If your course will be localized (translated) it can be challenging to write scripts and narrate your course in multiple languages
  • If your course is available in different countries, unfamiliar accents and cultural references can lead to confusion
  • Having exact same audio and text on-screen can be redundant and boring
  • Some research suggests that learners dislike word-for-word narration, because quick readers can often read the whole text before the narrator is done talking

Let’s say you have decided there is indeed an instructional purpose for audio or narration, and you’ve narrowed down which type of narration you will use. The next question you might ask yourself is, who will narrate this course? Three ways to narrate your course include:

  • A professional narrator
  • An employee narrator
  • Text-to-voice software

In addition to “the voice” you will likely need a couple of additional people to be involved in the audio recording process, likely:

  • A scriptwriter
  • A producer (this depends on the technical skill your narrator possesses, and if he/she can do the actual sound recording themselves)

Of course there are both pros and cons to using any type of narration in your project.

PROS CONS
Professional Narration
  • High quality sound recordings done in a professional, sound proof studio
  • Has knowledge about compression rates, “clean audio”
  • Has a variety of consistent voicing styles, pitch, intonation
  • More expensive (they typically use a pay-per-minute model)
Amateur Narration
  • Less expensive than going to a professional
  • Adds realism and a personal-touch (especially if the narrator is an employee the learners know)
  • Lower quality (there may be breathing, lip smacking, background noises, etc.)
  • Inconsistent voice styles
  • Can be very difficult to match audio quality and have the same voice talent if updates are required in the future
Text-to-voice
  • Likely the least expensive route
  • Consistent quality
  • Consistent voicing style/intonation
  • Over the last few years quality has improved and it is now more common alternative
  • May sound robotic, unemotional and fake
  • Less personal
Here are some additional general audio and narration tips and best practices:
  • Narration rule of thumb: 1 minute of talk time = 100 words
  • Try to keep audio clips to 20-30 seconds (to retain learner attention)
  • Find a balance between what learners should read vs. what they should listen to
  • Allow users to have control over volume settings
  • Have an instructional reason for using the narration or audio (not just because)
  • Include a list of hardware and software requirements for learners to know ahead of time if they need speakers or a headset for audio
  • Keep in mind that if your e-learning course requires audio, people who do not have audio capabilities will not be able to take the course
  • Audio might slow down some learners since they have to go at the pace of narration
  • Adding narration will impact on the amount of time it takes to complete your e-learning course

Finally, here are a few links to good articles about narration in e-learning that helped me write this post:

Articulate Storyline: Sample eLearning Slides

Here are some e-learning slides from a project I created for my portfolio. This is how much of a nerd I am–when I am home on weekends, and in my spare time, I create “demo” e-learning courses to add to my portfolio. I created these slides in Articulate Storyline. Enjoy!

12+ Modern e-Learning Designs For Your Inspiration

I’m always perusing the web looking for e-learning, web, and graphic designs that catch my eye. When I find something that I like, I do a quick Snippit and save the images to an “e-Learning Inspiration” folder that I keep.  When I start a new project I can open up this folder and get tons of ideas. I thought I’d share some of what I consider to be the most eye-catching and fun designs from my “Inspiration” folder.  I’m hoping these samples will provide you with ideas for layout,  use of imagery and icons, colours, navigation, typography, etc. Below each image is a link to the original site. Hope you’re inspired!

http://hasanshaheed.com/folio/zometa-image1.jpg

http://www.learningcreator.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/compass-design-final-h.jpg

http://dokeos.com/images/general_practitioner.png

http://www.skills2learn.com/images/e-learning-instructional-design-LG.jpg

http://sportdrawn.com/portfolio/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/accountability_0.1.jpg

http://www.milza.org/portfolio/gui.php

http://www.milza.org/images/COU/presentation-volumeRO.jpg

http://panxplanet.blogspot.ca/


http://panxplanet.blogspot.ca/

http://blog.thewritersgateway.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/new_app_training.gif

http://jasonrenshaw.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83452d45869e20176169e9bae970c-800wi

http://kdw.digitecinteractive.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/NACUFS_custom_e-learning_course_production_sample_new.png


http://blogs.adobe.com/captivate/files/2011/11/processMod.jpg

http://behance.vo.llnwd.net/profiles/90854/projects/171217/908541232322551.jpg