About Dan Sweigert

I am an independent e-learning and ILT developer.

Living with the Lightbox

Ah, my Disney obsession continues. This week’s e-learning challenge was to create an interaction using Storyline’s Lightbox feature. Designers like to use lightboxes when they want learners to be able to look at an outside reference without leaving the slide they’re on. The reference might be talking about how to use the navigation features on the course or perhaps to define key terms used throughout the course. Lightboxes are great because they can be accessed from anywhere in the course and don’t have to be included in the Menu.

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Living with the Land
Being a lover of exotic fruit trees and gardening, I have always enjoyed EPCOT’s Living with the Land ride at Disney Orlando. LWTL takes you on a boat ride starting you off in a life-size diorama (or what I’d call biorama) taking you through various climatic regions from rainforests to deserts to prairies.

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Geodesic Dome
After that short ecological history, the boat emerges from the dark diorama into the bright sunlight of its dome-enclosed orchard & garden area. Here you can see a multitude of exotic plantlife: vanilla, dragon fruit, Carolina reaper (one of the hottest peppers in the world), Buddha’s hand, jack fruit, and bananas growing all around you.

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You’ll also see experiments in hydroponic and self-sustaining ecosystems. After you exit the ride, you will find a little booth selling starter plants created in their labs. I bought a couple dragon fruit plants which are thriving to this day (although I have to keep them in pots so I can wheel them into our garage when temps get too low. You can also arrange a behind-the-scenes tour of the LWTL gardens and lab to learn more. It’s actually quite inexpensive and we learned a lot.

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The Build
I didn’t do anything fancy here, just concentrated on getting some beautiful images and embedded one video from YouTube. These were all put onto separate slides and then I added triggers to the oval-shaped navigation saying to open those slides as lightboxes when the user clicks on them. Finally, in case you were wondering, I used a piece of original music I wrote for the introduction slide that seemed to fit the mood. Check it out here and let me know what you think.

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Getting a Rise out of Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival

Do you love to graze on a variety of delectable foods from all over the globe? Are you a garden and topiary lover? Do you jump at the chance to play unusual and exotic musical instruments in outdoor environments? If any of these things get a rise out of you, you’re going to love this Articulate Rise course.

EpcotFlowerGardenFrontPageShot

Articulate 360 includes Storyline and Studio which I’ve already worked with for years, but I have never built a course in Rise. So after watching a few instructional videos presented by Tom Kuhlmann, I decided to just dive in and start creating my first Rise course.

Image Options
There are a LOT of ways you can present images in Rise, and being that this course is about one of the most visually-stunning topics, the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, I explored a couple of them –  the carousel and the flip card interaction.

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Carousel Interaction

One very nice time-saver I learned about from Tom Kuhlmann was how to use PowerPoint to set the aspect ratio / dimensions of the pictures and export them all as PNGs so you end up with nice, consistent images. For the carousel above, I used the standard 16×9 aspect ratio and for the flip card interaction, the 1×1 was a perfect fit.

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Flipcard Interaction with 3rd Image flipped to reveal Bread Pudding, mmmm!!!

Video Options
You can also both import and embed videos into Rise. So I grabbed a video shot by e-learning hero Jackie Van Nice of yours truly playing a marimba type instrument in one of the outdoor garden interactions at the festival. Man, was that a blast.

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Imported Video of me in my silly cowboy hat playing the ??? (open course to play video)

For the butterfly garden section, I found a wonderful YouTube video describing the exhibit and embedded it into the course.

So I have to admit, there are no new, earth-shattering, thinking-outside-of-the-box ideas here on how to present images and video in Rise, it’s my first course after all, but it really is a fun interactive course which I think you’ll enjoy. Maybe I’ll run into you at the next festival. Check the course out here.

 

The Revealing Science of E-learning

If you’ve ever witnessed a plague of lighthouse keepers or traversed the topographic oceans only to find yourself in the court of the crimson king, you may appreciate what I created for this week’s Articulate e-learning challenge.

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Our MC, David Anderson asked us to create an e-learning interaction that used awards and/or progress bars in a creative way to reward learners and show them how far they’ve gotten in a lesson. Well, I thought this challenge being about progress bars, I should create the ultimate PROGress bar (ie: progressive rock, get it?).

So many times when I’ve seen documentaries about popular music or the 1970s in particular, all they ever talk about is punk and disco and totally miss the fact that the major progressive rock bands were selling millions of records and packing the hugest stadiums in the world. It was what Bill Martin aptly labelled a “popular avant garde.”

The PROGress Bar
For my progress bar, I decided to have seven levels of achievement with an illustrious title for each; ranging from Prog Novice to Prog God. I used the sun from the cover of King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues in Aspic to denote where the learner was in the different levels. So the suns go along the bottom in a row with all of them grayed out except for the current level the learner is on.

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Hint, Hint
Knowing that a deep knowledge of progressive rock is generally not the forte’ of most people and that my audience was going to be mostly other e-learning designers, I didn’t want them to get discouraged and opt out of the lesson right away. To remedy this, I added obvious hints to the feedback layer of the questions and gave them two tries to get the right answer.

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Being the serious prog-nerd that I am, I had too many questions. Anyone who knows me personally knows I can go on and on about this topic. When I was done, I realized that I HAD to have at least one extra question. So it made sense that to get all the way to Prog God, that the learner should have to answer an additional question to get that ultimate title. To represent where they were at in the lesson, I highlighted one half of the final sun on the PROGress bar.

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Original Music
For anyone who’s interested, the music on the introductory slide is a piece I wrote and recorded called “Satisfaction.” It was supposed to be one of those epic 20 minute tunes, but is yet to be completed. At any rate, enjoy the lesson and definitely let me know what you think!

Lakes of Methane You Say?

As Sun Ra used to say, “Space is the place” and I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks to some adventurous souls who conceived of, built and operated the numerous successful spacecraft which have revealed to us Titan’s, Io’s and Europa’s secrets, we not only have some beautiful images of our celestial neighbors, but have added immensely to our knowledge and understanding of these remarkable and exotic worlds.

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Adaptive Learning Paths
When creating e-learning lessons, you always want to think about your audience and their needs. Often learners have different levels of knowledge and experience. How can you create a lesson that adapts to their different skill levels, so you don’t waste the more-experienced learners’ time going over a bunch of information they already know?

E-learning designers have created adaptive learning paths (or ALPs) to accommodate these different learners’ needs. In this week’s e-learning challenge, David Anderson from Articulate asked us to create an example of an ALP.

Asking Questions First
First you have to assess where the learner’s knowledge level is at. The most common approach is to simply ask them a series of questions, and then based on their answers, only direct them to the parts of the lesson where they need help. In my example, I asked them three questions.

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Confidence Levels
Sometimes learners will answer a question correctly by chance without really knowing the answer. I noticed one of my fellow designers, Jackie Van Nice had added confidence levels into her submission. So I added that feature, but to keep mine simpler, I only gave them two confidence-level options to choose from, either they’re certain they know the answer or they aren’t.

Under the Hood
So how did I make it work? I used a combination of states, variables and triggers.

Each question had three possible answers. Each answer had two states; Normal and Selected. The Selected state had an outline around it so learners would know they had it selected. Also, each of the two confidence levels had Normal and Selected states.

Secondly, I created three variables, each named after the moon being talked about in the questions; Europa, Titan and Io. All three variables were True/False variables with the initial state set to False.

Finally, I created simple check marks on the summary slide that would appear on top of each section of the lesson. All three check marks had two states: Hidden and Normal. If the learner needed to review the section, the check mark would appear (Normal), but if they already knew the material and did NOT need to review the section, the check mark would be Hidden.

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I then added triggers to each of the three check marks. So the Europa check mark for example, would have a trigger set to hide it if the correct answer on the Europa question was selected AND the “I got this” confidence-level was selected. Because in that instance, the learner both got the question right and was sure of their answer, and thus didn’t need to review the Europa section.

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After I set the triggers for the three check marks, I thought I better add a fourth trigger for those learners who didn’t need to review any of the lesson because they already had it all mastered. In that instance a box would appear telling them so. That box had two states; Normal and an initial Hidden state. I then set a trigger so that the box would only appear (change to Normal) if all three of the variables were set to True.

I’ve done enough talking, check out the lesson here and let me know what you think! I’d also like to thank Jackie Van Nice for sharing with me her transparent Storyline player to create this lesson, that was real time-saver!

Bert’s Sliders Returns

When David Anderson announced this week’s e-learning challenge would involve avatars, I thought this might be a good time for a sequel. We find ourselves back again at Bert’s Sliders. This time, instead of learning how to cook the perfect burger like we did in Part One, instead we’re going to concentrate on customer service issues.

3Avatars

In keeping with the challenge, the first thing the learner does is select their avatar, a character which will represent them throughout the interaction. Considering how I wanted the interaction to look, instead of using variables and triggers, I just used simple navigation triggers to move from one scene or slide to the next.

Some of you will know that the 3rd avatar is really Bert himself which I’m hoping does not cause confusion as Bert is supposed to be the proprietor of the restaurant and you are actually an employee working for him. But sometimes, I like to just run with the absurdity and let the cognitive dissonance remain. Maybe Bert has a split personality, or perhaps the learner is suffering from “delusions of grandeur”?

AvatarFeedback

So what we have hee-agh is your basic branching scenarios with three possible answers and feedback for each. Nutin’ fancy, but it’s fun. Let me know what you think. Click here to play.

Designing More Engaging Software Simulations

This week, David Anderson’s Articulate E-learning Challenge was to create an engaging software simulation. I used Storyline to create two software simulations, one which also gives the learners the opportunity to try it out themselves and a second one which merely demonstrates what to do, but also adds a closed captioning element for the hearing impaired.

Video Editing Software Simulation
Pinnacle Studio allows you to edit video professionally at a low cost. I created this demo to show users how to use their player and then gives them the opportunity to try it out themselves. Try it out here.

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Video Editing Software Simulation

For more information on how I created the simulation, visit my previous blog post.

Map Tools Demo with Closed Captioning
I designed this software demonstration/tutorial with closed captioning for Texas Parks and Wildlife. To make the course accessible to people with both hearing and visual limitations, I added closed captioning at the bottom of the screen and also used Storyline’s built in option to name all the graphics on the screen. You can view it here.

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Map Tools Demonstration with Closed Captioning

To read about how to add closed captioning to a Storyline e-learning course, visit my previous blog post about it.

Pantone’s Ultra Violet

Every year Pantone puts out a new color of the year and the Articulate challenge of the week is to create an e-learning piece based on that color. This year it was Ultra Violet. The folks at Pantone were kind enough to also provide a list of color swatches (groups of colors that look good together) and so I selected their Desert Sunset swatch.

Being that I’ve been creating a lot of e-learning modules for the aeronautics industry, I created a menu for an imaginary course on aircraft fueling and maintenance.

Shapes and Fills
I used one of Articulate Storyline’s built-in shapes filling each with one of the colors from the swatch and making them all semi-transparent. Then I copied each of the shapes and for the duplicates, replaced the color fill with a picture. Then I simply layered the semi-transparent shape over the picture for each. To see it in all its animated glory, click the picture below.

UltraViolet