E-Learning Podcast

In this week’s E-learning Heroes Challenge, David Anderson asked us to create a podcast answering the following questions about e-learning.

Image Credit: David Anderson

Image Credit: David Anderson

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and the types of e-learning projects you most enjoy.
  2. How did you become an e-learning or instructional designer?
  3. What are the essentials of good e-learning design?
  4. Tell me about your most successful e-learning project.
  5. What are the most important criteria in evaluating e-learning?
  6. What are some common mistakes new course designers make and how can they avoid them?
  7. How is designing mobile learning different than designing for the desktop?
  8. How do you evaluate whether your course was effective?
  9. How do you keep up your skills and stay current in the industry?
  10. What is the future of e-learning?

It was great to hear everyone’s contributions with their own unique insights and personalities shining through. Having communicated only through the forums and not in person, some of us were surprised by just the sound of each other’s voices. I had a few good laughs listening to some of the participants and appreciated the bits of humor.

I noticed a few similar ideas that seemed to resonate among the group:

  1. Keep it simple – don’t try to stuff everything you know into an e-learning course.
  2. There needs to be more evaluation of the effectiveness of the courses after the fact.
  3. Know your audience. Are you talking to potential customers, technicians, salespeople, etc.?
  4. Don’t make it too easy. It’s OK to let the learner fail once in a while. Truth reveals itself in error.
  5. Know what success looks like. Why are we creating an e-learning course? Is e-learning the best approach to teaching the subject matter? How do we know a course was successful? Are there certain changes in behavior, knowledge, or skills expected as a result and what are they exactly?

I must say I learned a lot and really appreciate everyone’s input on this and if you’re an e-learning designer yourself or involved in an e-learning project in any way, this podcast is a great, fun, and informative listen.

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E-Learning for Rock Stars

In this age of free downloads, diminishing royalties, and pirating, in the last decade the music business has taken a huge hit to their bottom line. Not that it was ever easy to “make it” in music in the first place.

So how does a band these days book a financially successful tour and boost record and CD sales along the way? Well, there are a few basic tips I thought I would share in this short sample of a game called “You’re an American Band.”

Click here to play game

Click here to play game

For this to actually be a useful and informative game to teach people how to break into the music business, you’d need to add a lot more steps and information. This game is really a prototype and now that it’s set up, it would be easy to add more points along the “tour route” with additional tips.

Click here to play German drinking game

Click here to play German drinking game

I built this game from a template created by Jackie Van Nice. And Jackie created her template based on a German drinking game she built a few months back. Thank you Jackie for sharing your awesome template with the e-learning community.

Renovations
Building a course or game from a template is kind of like renovating a house. You’re pulling out the carpet and putting in hard wood floors here, replacing wallpaper with paint there, and sometimes even tearing down a wall or two. The whole idea behind using an existing template is re-purposing.

Mapping it Out
I’ve always loved maps and when I saw that Jackie’s original game worked off of a map of Germany, I realized I could replace that with a tour map and that my game could be about a rock band booking an east coast tour. That was where the whole idea was born.

Tour map

Tour map

Each point on the map led to a challenge question, so all I had to do was come up with a list of questions about booking rock shows and then just tie them into each city along the tour route.

Challenge is presented

Challenge is presented

The Progress Meter
Jackie had a progress meter appear after each question was answered correctly. Hers actually showed a beer mug slowly getting filled. Since mine was about boosting CD sales, I had CDs slowly stacking up on a spool with a caption showing how many CD sales the band had racked up.

CD tower progress meter

CD tower progress meter

DIY
Being a musician myself, I took some previously recorded song and guitar bits I had and inserted them into the introduction and the map sections. I also used some standard sound effects such as tympani rolls on the CD sales progress meter, some crowd noises, and other sounds for the feedback layers as well.

Click here to play the game

Click here to play the game

This is the End
For the conclusion slide, I show our hero playing in front of a huge crowd with a Spinal Tap quote thrown in for a little comic relief. Overall, this was a very oversimplified lesson on how to make it in the music business, but really you could put in whatever content you want and it could easily be made into a very useful teaching tool for people in that industry.

This Spelling Bee is for the Birds

In this weeks e-learning challenge, we designers were asked to create a spelling bee interaction as the 2014 National Spelling Bee kicks off. I thought that was a great idea as it was something I’d never thought of doing before. I decided to create one based on physics terminology and have it presented by a parrot.

Physics Spelling Bee Intro

Click to play the Physics Spelling Bee

How the hxll did I come up with that?
Well, I had this beautiful image of a parrot flying over a rainforest I had used previously to create an interactive portfolio of my work. I called it “E-Learning that Soars” and I thought maybe I could do something with that. On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of this science program hosted by Morgan Freeman called “Through the Wormhole” where they talk about all sorts of fascinating topics like parallel universes, time travel, etc.

So to combine these two disparate elements of the parrot and physics, I created a story that goes like this: An up-and-coming physicist named Laurie Worthenhiemer has a pet parrot and because Laurie’s always talking about physics at home, Polly (the parrot) has picked up on a lot of the terminology. Polly has a lot of spare time on her hands, so she creates this spelling bee to challenge and entertain her house guests.

Build it and they will come…
Next, I picked four physics terms for players to spell. As is the case in most spelling bees, you’ll hear the term, then you can ask for a definition and hear it used in a sentence. I reached into my “inner-bird” and recorded all the voices using Cubase SX software and a nice Audio Technica microphone. I set up triggers in Articulate Storyline to play the different audio files when the user clicks for the definitions and the sentences.

Definitions and sentence options

Definitions and sentence options

This might sound obvious, but I also made sure that the notes button on Storyline’s player was not checked, as the transcript I was reading from would have revealed the words and thus given away their correct spelling.

The spelling part
I used Storyline’s built-in quiz question with a text entry field for players to type into. I took advantage of the correct and incorrect feedback layers to put in a few witty comments from Polly based on the words the players were attempting to define. I like to customize the colors and feedback on these to fit the situation rather then just going with the generic “correct, you chose the right answer” and “incorrect, you did not choose the right answer” phrases. I also put in a little picture of Polly speaking to the players to personalize it more.

Feedback layer for right answer

Feedback layer for right answer

Keeping score
I used Storyline’s built-in quiz results slide to keep score. Again, I customized it quite a bit eliminating the “you passed” and “you did not pass” layers. Being this was just a game and not really a quiz, I just wanted to give the players a score. I also removed the “percentage right” total and just showed the points.

The final tally

The final tally

If I wanted to, I could have used the built-in pass/fail layers of the quiz results slide to show Polly making a snide comment about a lower score, and another layer with a comment responding to a higher score. Although I didn’t do that here, it’s something you might consider in building your game. So, there you have it, a spelling bee game created in Storyline presented by a parrot all about physics. Enjoy!

72 Tips for E-Learning Designers and Developers

E-Learning Guild E-Book

E-Learning Guild E-Book

As e-learning designers and developers, we often find ourselves getting on the forums, checking the blogs and twitter feeds for little tricks, tips, and shortcuts on how to more effectively use the tools we have or find new tools that do different and exciting things. So, the E-Learning Guild just published this wonderful e-book with 72 tips to increase your knowledge and help you produce the best, most exciting e-learning pieces you can!

The book is organized into sections on recording, editing, and incorporating live audio and video, creating whiteboards and animated videos, making media accessible, podcasting tips, and tips for planning, processing, and using instructional design for media.

There are more theory-based tips in here and a lot of practical how-tos as well. One thing I noticed is you can actually learn a lot on how to maximize the tools most of us already have. For example: using PowerPoint to edit video.

One of the coolest things about this book is it’s haiku-like accessibility. You can pick it up at any time, anywhere (I won’t mention one obvious place a lot of people catch up on their reading here) and just take in a few tips at a time without having to pick up where you left off. In this age of quick, short Twitter feeds, 72 Tips is truly a great resource, and a regular gold mine of useful information. What more could you ask for? Pick up your own copy today.