Show, Don’t Tell

In the e-learning world, we’re always talking about presenting subject matter to learners in a more exciting, engaging way rather than just telling them about it. But when it comes to explaining to potential clients what we do, we don’t always practice what we preach.

In this week’s e-learning challenge, David Anderson asked us to create an interactive portfolio or resume, so I got to work. I actually already had created a beautiful image of a parrot in flight over a rain forest, and I thought that would be a great image to illustrate creative impulses taking flight.

Click here to view portfolio

Click here to view portfolio

Choosing Colors
I’ve always found the whole business of choosing a palette of colors most challenging. To help with this, I used the eyedropper tool in Storyline, clicking on different parts of the bird and trees in the background picture to get my colors for the menu items and then added a 50% transparency for depth. For the Storyline Player, I used the light blue color of the bird’s feathers.

Ay Kalimba!
I’m a musician, and a couple years back I had recorded a CD of all original kalimba music. Since kalimbas are often made and played in tropical places, I knew a little sample from one of the songs would work just perfectly with the theme.

My Kalimba music CD

My Kalimba music CD

A lot of people are afraid to use more exotic images in their e-learning courses because they’re worried their corporate clients will want a more buttoned-down professional look. But I think those concerns are not only given too much weight, but also can lead to some pretty stuffy, uninspired e-learning modules.

The Lay of the Land
I broke up my work into two columns: one that focused on the type of subject matter (software, ethics, safety, regulatory) and the other on the type of interaction (games, humorous interactions, simulations, branching scenarios).

The Menu

The Menu

When they clicked on one, they could read a little explanation about why and how I did it or they could just skip right to playing the sample itself (the “show” part).

Description and link to view sample

Description and link to view sample

For anyone who wanted to see my resume, what software I used, or my blog, they could find those links on the upper right of the Player. And finally, on the bottom of the menu I had a link to a easy-to-complete contact form if they wanted to talk to me about working on a project.

I hope my experience in creating this different sort of portfolio inspires you to stretch out and get a little more imaginative. I know it’s work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be any fun.

E-Learning Feud

This week’s e-learning challenge from David Anderson was to present a top 10 list. I decided to present the top 10 things you can do in Articulate Storyline in the context of a Family Feud-type game setting. Besides creating the actual module in Storyline, I used a combination of Macromedia Fireworks and Microsoft PowerPoint to edit the graphics. And I recorded original music for the theme song and all the character voices in Cubase SX.

click here to play e-learning feud game

click here to play e-learning feud game

Graphic Editing in PowerPoint and Fireworks
The game show logo was created using PowerPoint’s Word Art for the chunky font. I actually copied the logo making one version with an orange fill and a second one in yellow, then imported them into Fireworks where all the other shapes and fills were created and layered. I used an existing Family Feud logo as inspiration to create the layered look.

e-learning feud logo

e-learning feud logo

One graphic editing tool I love in PowerPoint is the “remove background”. Oftentimes I need to crop an image, but don’t want to just crop it into a rectangular shape. I had this picture of an audience that I needed to crop around the heads instead of a straight line, and the “remove background” feature allows you to do this easily. Then you can just right click on your cropped version and save it as an image.

Audio Recording and Editing
With very affordable digital editing software, these days all you need is a simple interface to go from a ¼ inch cord into a USB you can plug into your computer, a couple good mics, and you can make professional recordings easily at home. I’d like to thank Jackie Van Nice, an excellent voiceover talent and e-learning designer, for doing all the female voices. I did all the male voices and played all the musical instruments.

Audio editing in Cubase

Audio editing in Cubase

Cubase is a great tool because you can do very precise edits, remove all the surrounding background noise, apply compression, do the most subtle of crossfades, and a add host of other effects to your recording.

Storyline Variables and Triggers
To switch from the slide with the Johnson family to the Smith family, I created True/False variables named after each character with an initial setting of False. Then I created a trigger on the last slide for each character, changing each variable to True once the timeline for the last slide started.

Johnson family slide

Johnson family slide

Basically, you’re telling Storyline when the last slide for a particular character has been visited. Then I created another trigger on the Johnson family slide that tells it to automatically go to the Smith family once all the Johnson family members have been visited.

Then, after all the Smith family members have been visited, I wanted Storyline to go to the final slide for the game. So I did the same thing I did on the Johnson family slide; except I told the Smith family slide to advance to the final slide once all the characters  (for both the Johnson and Smith families) have been visited.

Resources
If you want to get the most out of Storyline, I strongly suggest taking Daniel Brigham’s Advanced Storyline course at Lynda.com for step by step instructions on variables, triggers, and a host of other tools. Also, the forums at Articulate’s E-Learning Heroes site are very helpful.