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.

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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.

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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.

 

Hundreds of E-Learning & Instructional Design Articles… All In One Spot!

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My blog followers know that I love writing about my experiences and insights when it comes to instructional design and e-learning… but did you know that I also write blog articles for the Articulate E-Learning Heroes Community?

Every week I write about everything related to e-learning…. from software-specific Articulate tutorials and best practices, to general instructional and graphic design tips, my articles are all compiled here, in a handy series: Nicole’s Articles.

Bookmark the page now so it’s easy to access, and check back on a weekly basis to see my latest and greatest content. You can also check out the E-Learning Examples hub and the Downloads hub to see my contributions to the demos and freebies. Those can also be great places to get inspiration and ideas for your next projects.

I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback on my articles. Any topics you’d like to see me write about? Any past favourites in particular? I love getting your feedback, so please leave a comment below. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for daily updates!

E-Learning Examples: Branched Soft-Skills Scenarios

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I recently presented a session for the E-Learning Guild’s Annual Online Learning Forum 2015 about how to create engaging scenarios for e-learning. (The session was recorded and Guild members can view the recording here.).  In preparation for that session I built a branched e-learning scenario, using Articulate Storyline 2, called The Job Interview.

What do I mean by branched scenario? It means that the learner can follow different paths (or different “branches”) through the course, depending how interview questions are answered. For example: if you select the worst choice for the first question in the scenario and arrive to the interview 30 minutes late, that path, or branch, ends right there. Your interview is cancelled and they’ve moved on to the next candidate.

However, choose the option that has you arriving 5 minutes early and you score bonus points. The order and the amount of questions in the interview, as well as the amount of points scored (indicated through the progress meter), is totally dependent on the choices made by the learner. 

Try it out yourself and let me know in the comments, how many tries did it take you to land your dream gig?

The Job Interview | View Demo

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Want to build a scenario of your own? You may be interested in some of these articles I’ve written about creating scenarios for e-learning:

Want to see another example of a branched e-learning scenario? Tim Slade created a great example on his blog for Call Centre Training.  He’s also written a blog post about it and made the source file available for download. Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid E-Learning Blog also has a whole section on building scenario-based e-learning, chock-full of awesome tips and tricks, so check it out!

Got tips or tricks of your own about building scenarios? Have you seen other scenario based e-learning examples that you’d like to share? If so — leave a comment; I love to hear your feedback. And since you’ve made it to the end of this article, perhaps you should subscribe to my blog!

Get Inspired With These E-Learning Samples and Examples

As a lover and designer of e-learning, I’m always on the lookout for cool samples and demo courses that I can use as inspiration; when I’m browsing the web I keep my eyes peeled for fun and engaging ways of presenting content, great uses of imagery and cool examples of typography. If I find a great design that I love, I take a screenshot and save it to an “Inspiration” folder. I also have a collection of sites bookmarked that I’ll visit regularly when I have design block and need to get my creative juices flowing. To that end, I thought I’d share a couple of recent e-learning examples created by me that might help you kick-start the design for your own next project. Click on the title of the demo to view the published output.

Demo #1: Weekly Challenge Compilation Course

This is a course that I created for DemoFest at Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando in March 2014 that compiles some of the awesome submissions we’ve received for the Weekly E-Learning Challenge. What is the Weekly E-Learning Challenge, you ask? It’s a fun, informal e-learning challenge hosted by Articulate in the E-Learning Heroes Community. Every week a new topic is presented (for example: drag-and-drops, virtual tours, results slides) and participants create samples and demos related to that topic in whatever authoring tool they have access to (Storyline, Powerpoint, etc.) and share them with the community. It’s become really popular over the last year and the submissions are super creative and impressive.

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This sample course was developed in Articulate Storyline with the goal being to highlight some of the cool submissions that have been created by Articulate community members for the Weekly Challenge.  I “chunked” the submissions into two sections: by Weekly Challenge and by Community Member. For the Community Member section I was going for an effect that simulated a “network” of connected community members; I used a drag and drop interaction to make it more dynamic. After sharing this demo with the Articulate community several people mentioned that they loved the drag-and-drop interactivity in this demo. Since I aim to please, I went ahead and created a Storyline template that you can download here (you might also be interested in this video tutorial with instructions for using the template).

Demo #2: Herbs & Spices Course

One of the ways I know I’m passionate about my line of work is that I often enjoy creating sample e-learning courses just “for fun”, as was the case with this Herbs & Spices course. I have recently discovered a passion for cooking and as a result, I’ve started experimenting with different herbs and spices. I wanted to learn more about them, and thought to myself “What better way is there to learn something than by creating an e-learning course about it!?” That is how this sample course came to be; I did some online research and investigated the most common herbs and spices, tips on storing them effectively, and which dishes to pair them with. I compiled everything I learned into this mini e-learning course.

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I selected a soft green color scheme for this course because I felt green just worked with the subject matter (herbs!) and the wooden texture background represents a cutting board. I used a casual-looking character as my course guide;  he introduces the course and provides the navigation instructions. I like characters because I feel they give your course personality and a human touch. You’ll notice he’s standing in a kitchen: I also love using contextual background images! The image has been faded so it’s noticeable but not distracting.

The final quiz becomes unlocked once you’ve visited both sections of the course (herbs and spices) and all three question slides were custom-built using Freeform slides with Storyline. Don’t forget to check out the three links at the top of the player to see more content!

Demo #3: Payroll 101

Here’s a sample course I built as part of a New Employee Orientation series using Articulate Studio ’13. I’d like to think this goes to show you can build a great-looking course whether you’re using Storyline, or even if you’re building in a “basic” tool like Powerpoint (as is the case for several of the slides in this example.)  This course also features one of my go-to design methods: using lightly blurred background images to set the context. In this case I used the outside shot of a building and the interior shot of an office. This e-learning demo also uses a character to give a personal touch and pop of color.

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I hope you’ve had fun exploring these three e-learning sample courses; sometimes seeing an example is exactly what we need to kick-start our own creative engine. Keep in mind that building your own samples and examples is a great way to sharpen your skills and add content to your portfolio. And since you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, perhaps you should subscribe to my blog!

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!

[INFOGRAPHIC] How to Use the PAF Model to Improve Training and e-Learning

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

[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.