Making the Case for E-Learning Posted Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 12:38 PM

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Although e-learning is not a new invention, we often still have to make a case for it in our organizations. And clearly there's reason to do so, as many successful companies worldwide have integrated e-learning solutions into their staff development programs.

Before jumping into some of the reasons why, let me first ask:

  • Is e-learning completely new to your company or department?
  • If you have used e-learning before, what were your experiences and why are you now re-evaluating whether e-learning is the right solution?

In a lot of cases, companies have had traditional training in place for a while, yet budget pressures are driving them to re-assess their options. The question, “What about e-learning?” is common at this juncture.

Let’s be realistic, though: the biggest things you’re going to save on are travel costs to bring everyone to a training location, the facility rental, and the trainer fees. Some people even calculate the cost of lost productivity during this time. That's not a 100% accurate as people will need time to absorb the material and shouldn't be expected to do an e-learning course in their free time.


Production cost of an e-learning course has changed dramatically over the years

Remember those days when you needed a big budget to hire programmers, designers, animators, and video editors to develop a course? Nowadays, there are great e-learning authoring tools that let you create compelling and engaging e-learning courses without the need for a large team of developers. Most of them offer a free trial version (like Articulate Storyline) so you can test which one offers the best features for your course and is the most intuitive for you to use. A lot of them even let you import your training materials from PowerPoint so you can convert them into interactive courses—a good one for starters is Articulate Studio ’13.

After cost, standardization, continuity, and scalability are other considerations. With e-learning you can reach a larger number of learners at once. They can decide for themselves when to take the course, which gives them a lot more flexibility. And they will all see the same course with the same quality of information, examples, exercises, and scenarios, so you don’t have to worry that the quality might vary depending on the trainer or group dynamics.


That brings up another interesting point: learning styles. As we all know, each of us has a preference for how we learn new things. And that can be very different from our co-workers. While some are very visually oriented, others might prefer to dive deeper into facts and figures. There are several theories on learning styles, which I don’t want to go into here, but with e-learning you can let your learners decide how to explore the information. They can learn at their own pace and digest the information the way that is best for them.


Explore previous e-learning experiences

If e-learning is completely new to your company or your department, you can go through all the above arguments with your peers to make your case for why e-learning is a very good solution for the company. However, if your organization has experience with e-learning, you’ll have to dive deeper into the history. Here are some questions that might be helpful to ask:


  • What was the topic and the learner's experience with the subject (e.g., beginner or advanced)?
    Sometimes there’s a need to re-evaluate whether the course was too easy or too difficult for the target group of learners or didn’t address their needs for training.
  • What was the length of the course?
    If the learners can see upfront that the course they’re about to take will require, say, four hours, they'll likely feel deflated from the start. You can let them know that they can take breaks or come back later, but it’ll certainly be a lot easier if you explain to learners that the course is divided into chapters, or build smaller and shorter courses right from the start.
  • How many people finished the course, and how many dropped out?
    That can have various reasons—in addition to the ones above, time management, distractions, technical issues, and job requirements can also be possible issues. It would be ideal to talk with some of the learners who dropped out to find out more about their reasons.
  • Was the management happy with it?
    Sometimes decisions for training are made without a precise idea of what the outcome should look like. Strategies can also change quickly. So, the reason e-learning is being re-evaluated might not be about the course itself.

One last note, this one on tracking: Tracking can be another advantage of e-learning since it allows you to monitor the attendance, scores, and outcomes of knowledge checks of your learners. If you’re developing for an international audience, please consider that in some countries there might be different regulations on privacy and data security. It can be a sensitive issue and needs to be handled very carefully.


Have you had experience making the case for e-learning in your company? What have been your most successful arguments for it? Please leave a comment below and share your experience!


You can always sign up for a fully functional, free 30-day trial of Articulate software. And don’t forget to post your questions and comments in the forums! We’re here to help. For more e-learning tips, examples, and downloads, follow us on Twitter.


Post written by Nicola Appel.



Here's an Easy Way to Create a Video Player Posted Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 11:26 PM

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In a previous blog post, I showed how to convert bullet point text to an interactive video. This is a nice way to show video and let the learner choose whether to watch the video and pause at key points or go through the video first and then revisit the key points. Lots of neat possibilities with this approach.


You can also do something similar in Articulate Quizmaker. The only difference is that you don’t get the interactive capability. But you do get to leverage the timeline in Quizmaker for easy authoring and you can stack content on top of the video to create pop ups or call outs.


Check out the example below.

Click here to view the elearning example.


Here’s a link to a quick tutorial that shows how I created the file in Quizmaker.

And you can download the source file here to check it out in your elearning lab.


The Basic Steps

  • Create a blank slide in Quizmaker.
  • Add the video and content to the slide.
  • Use the timeline to change the stacking order if overlaying on top of video and the entry/exit points of the various objects.

That’s about it. Pretty simple.

Post written by Tom Kuhlmann


How to Customize the Player Menu in Articulate Storyline Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 6:39 PM

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I had a question about how to create collapsible headings in the menu and how to change the colors to indicate the slide has been visited.


In this quick tutorial I show how to customize the menu to add some new headings and then place slides under the heading. I also show how to change the color on the visited slide to indicate that the slide has been seen. It's also a great way to indicate progress of the slides in the e-learning course.





How to trim a mid-section from your Articulate Replay recording Posted Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:58 AM

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Articulate Replay is a great tool to record screencasts such as how-to video’s, video lectures, and webinars.

In a recent forum thread, a user asked how to edit out a section from the middle of her recording. While Replay only allows trimming at the beginning and end of your recording, Jeff found a simple workflow to edit out the parts you don’t need.

For even more e-learning tips, follow Articulate Super Hero Jeff Kortenbosch on his personal site, Twitter, and YouTube channel.



Two Easy Ways to Create Drag & Drop Interactions in Articulate Storyline Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:34 PM

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Had a question about how to create drag & drop interactions in Articulate Storyline.


The obvious way to create a drag & drop interaction is using the triggers. Triggers require an action based on an event. For example, something should happen when you drag (or drop) and object over another object.


Another way to create a drag & drop interaction is to use the convert to freeform feature. By default this is designed as a quiz question, so you get all of the quizzing options. However I use this approach to create multiple drag & drop objects. I just disable to quiz properties and get rid of the submit button.


The video below show how to do both types of drag & drops.


How to Annotate Slide Content Using Markers in Articulate Storyline Posted Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 6:19 PM

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As Storyline designers, you already know markers are a great way to quickly annotate pictures, graphs, and even video.


Articulate Super Hero Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro shares a cool technique for using Storyline's built-in markers in non-standard ways. Check out Becky’s tutorial below and let us know what you think. Becky shares more tips on her Screenr page and her web site.


How to Create Custom Navigation Buttons in Articulate Storyline Posted Tuesday, September 03, 2013 at 9:00 PM

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Elearning community super hero, Nancy Woinoski, has a great tutorial that shows how to create a custom navigation button in Storyline when building your online training*.


The basics:


  • Use a marker as your button. 
  • Create a new state with the marker and a pulsing animation.
  • Create a trigger at the end of the slide that displays the pulsing state.

Pretty clever solution. Check out her tutorial below. And of course if you need custom Storyline development, be sure to check out her site.


*Original forum post.


Using a Simple Storyline Number Variable to Show Learners How Many Objects They've Found Posted Friday, January 04, 2013 at 8:32 AM

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I love Storyline variables. Which might come as a surprise if you know me, because I am SO not a programmer! But that's the cool thing about Storyline—variables and other concepts that used to feel way above my head are now actually really easy and <gasp> fun if you use Storyline. Even cooler is the fact that variables can be great tools for making a course more interactive and responsive to your learners.


Check out the example below. It's a simple demo that was shared in a forum conversation with fellow community member Anne England. Anne wanted to create a seek-and-find interaction in which a visible counter shows learners how many correct objects they've found so far. Storyline variables to the rescue! By using a number variable and just a few simple triggers, you can easily create a tally to keep track of how many items the learner has clicked.



Want to learn more? Take a five-minute tour of how to build the interaction:



And if you'd like to take a look at the source project, you can download the .story file here.


How are you using Storyline variables in your projects? Head over to the Storyline forum and share your tips, tricks, and samples with the rest of the community! Or, if you have a project where you think variables might be useful but you're not sure how to incorporate them, post your questions in the Storyline forum and let the community help you out!


Hiding a Base-Layer Object from Appearing on Other Slide Layers in Articulate Storyline Posted Tuesday, October 02, 2012 at 12:14 PM

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Articulate Storyline's triggers and slide layers make it crazy-simple to build explorable content—like tabs interactions—in just minutes. Often, as folks experiment with creating interactive slides, they ask: "My triggers and layers are working great... but what if I have a few things on my slide's base layer that I'd rather not show when learners view a different layer? Is there a way to hide those items?"


A common example is this: say you've added some introductory info, or a "click the tabs" callout, on a slide's base layer. While these objects can be really helpful when learners first arrive at the slide, you might not want the objects to stay visible once learners start clicking the slide to reveal different layers of your interaction.  


The solution: on any slide layer, just turn off the visibility of whichever base-layer objects you want to hide. Here's how:



A Color Diagram to Help You Customize Your Storyline Player Colors Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 10:38 AM

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It's amazing how much flexibility Storyline gives you when it comes to customizing your course's player! Not only can you choose exactly which player features you include, but you also have total control over every item's color.


We've got a handy tutorial that walks through the steps for changing the colors on your player, but since there are so many items you can customize, we thought it would also be helpful to give you a quick-reference diagram. That way, when you need to change the color of a certain player element, you can quickly find the parameter that controls it.


You can click the picture below to view or print the PDF, and you can also find it in the downloads area. Oh, and the colors in the diagram are purposely kind of loud and high-contrast, just to make it easier to see what's what. Happy customizing!



A Simple (and Free!) Set of Tabs Interactions for Your Articulate Storyline Projects Posted Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 8:36 AM

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Creating a tab-style interaction in Articulate Storyline is a quick and easy way to make your content more explorable. By combining the power of slide layers with simple triggers, you can transform static content into a click-and-reveal interaction in just a couple minutes! And the best part is, the entire interaction is contained on a single slide, which you can easily reuse and customize in other projects.


Click the demo below to see an example of what a simple tabs interaction could look like:


To make it super easy to build your own, here’s a free template that contains a whole collection of ready-made tab sets. You can use them for whatever you like. Just choose the tab set you want to use, then add your own content to each tab and layer. And if you want to customize the look of the interaction with your own background, that’s simple too. Here’s a quick look at how:



Want to learn how to build a tabs interaction of your own? Here’s an overview of how I built the one in the example above:



To dig deeper into some of the features mentioned in the screencasts above, you might also like to explore the tutorials on States, Triggers, Slide Layers, and Button Sets.


Have fun building your interactions, and feel free to share your work in the Storyline forum!


3 Paths in 1 Quiz: Possible? Yes! Posted Thursday, March 01, 2012 at 7:29 AM

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An Articulate user asked us a great question recently. She wanted to build an Articulate Quizmaker ‘09 quiz consisting of three paths, with each path containing a different group of scenario-related questions. Rather than make all of her learners complete all the questions, she wanted to let each learner choose just one of the paths at the beginning of the quiz.


Is it possible? Definitely! All it takes is some simple branching techniques in Quizmaker, and an unscored survey question at the beginning. Here’s how you can do it:


First: create your questions and organize them into groups

Although it’s not mandatory, separating your questions into groups makes it much easier to visually organize them when you're creating your content. By default, whenever you start a new quiz it contains a single question group, and all your questions end up there. But you can easily add more groups and reorganize your questions to be in whichever groups you want.


Start by clicking the Question Group button:

Quizmaker adds a new group header to your question list. Double-click the group name if you want to change it to something more intuitive. You’re the only one who will see the name—it won’t appear to learners—so you can call it anything you like. 

Now create your questions, and drag each one into the appropriate group. You can also rearrange the order of the question groups themselves if you want—just click and drag the group header to a different place in the question list, and any questions in that group will travel together.


In the example below, I’ve created three question groups and placed two questions in each group:

Second: insert an unscored question at the beginning so learners can choose their path

Once your questions are arranged into groups, you can create one more question group at the beginning to contain a single “gateway” question. This is just an unscored question that lets learners choose which question group they’ll complete. You can use a survey question in Quizmaker—since survey questions don't have a point value, the question won’t impact the learner’s score. Here’s what to do:



Third: apply branching

Finally, you’ll need to add some branching. There are a couple places you’ll want to do this:

  • On the survey question at the beginning, you’ll add branching on each of the three choices, so that learners jump to the right questions, based on their choice.
  • After the final question in both the 1st and 2nd question groups, you’ll add branching that takes the learner to the end of the quiz. (You don’t have to do this for the final question group, since that one’s already at the end of the quiz.)

Here’s a quick look at how to set up the branching:



That’s all there is to it! If you choose to include a result slide at the end, the score that appears there is based on only the questions the learner answered (not the entire lot of questions in the quiz). So in my example below, even though my quiz actually contains six graded questions worth 10 points apiece, the learner’s score is based on just the two questions (20 points) that comprise the question group they complete. And if you include a Review Quiz button on your result slide, during the quiz review your learners will only see the questions they answered (not the questions that were part of the other question groups).


Below is a sample of the published quiz, and you can also download the source file if you’d like to deconstruct.

View the published sample | Download the quiz




7 Easy Ways to Emphasize Important Text or Key Words in Articulate Presenter Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 8:22 AM

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Recently I saw an interesting question in the forums here at E-Learning Heroes. An Articulate user was looking for a way to emphasize key words, because her slides contained a lot of text to go with her narration.

Now, we all know what the right answer is here, right? Of course! Reduce the amount of text on each slide, so that learners don’t need so much help to focus on the main points or key words.

And that's totally valid advice! Unfortunately, though, there are times when course creators might not have the permission or flexibility to re-work slide content — especially if they’re updating an existing course, and stakeholders aren't willing to invest time and resources in new slide designs or the approval of re-worded text.

In those cases, simple techniques that call attention to crucial words or phrases can be an easy way to improve the learner’s experience without doing a total overhaul.


There are lots of interesting ways to emphasize text, but if you're looking for something super-quick and easy, below are seven techniques to try, with short tutorials that show how to create and apply each one. For the techniques that involve using PowerPoint animations, you can use Presenter’s Sync Animations tool to make the effects appear at just the right time with your audio narration. You can download a sample of these techniques right here.



Want to share your own ideas for text emphasis? Post a comment at the end of this article, or join the forum conversation here!


And if you'd like to explore some even snazzier ways to dress up key words and phrases in your course, here are some additional ideas from folks in the Articulate community:


Giving Learners a Way to Write & Print Their Key Takeaways from Your E-Learning Course Posted Friday, November 04, 2011 at 7:24 AM

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One of the things I love about the Articulate tools is that they’re flexible enough to do some out-of-the-box things. For example, most people think of Quizmaker '09 as just a quizzing & assessment tool. But in a recent forum discussion, Quizmaker popped up as a solution for giving learners a chance to reflect on & print their key takeaways from an e-learning course.


If you’re looking for a way to do this, check out the following quick example of an end-of-course reflection question:

View demo of an end-of course reflection question


Basically, the Quizmaker portion of the sample is just a simple one-slide “quiz” that contains an Essay question. The result slide at the end of the quiz is used as a thank-you message and as a place to provide a Print button, so learners can print out what they wrote.



How to build it

It’s pretty easy to build something like this. If you’d like to use the sample above as a starting point, you can download the Articulate package right here. Or, if you’d like to build something similar from scratch, here’s how you can do it:


  1. Launch Quizmaker, click Create a new quiz, and choose Survey. This creates a new file that contains just one result slide (rather than a separate result slide for passing and failing) and no scoring info on the result slide or the quiz player.
  2. Add a Survey Question and choose the Essay question type.
  3. For the Survey Result, make sure to mark Allow user to review quiz and Allow user to print results.
  4. Now customize the question and the result slide to look however you want. It’s a great idea to switch to Slide View for this step, because that gives you a lot of control over the visual design of your slide.
  5. You can also customize your quiz player to suit your fancy. In the published sample I posted above, I changed some of the text labels because I wanted the Submit button to say “Save my answer” instead. I also changed the text of the Review, Print, and Finish button, and I removed the question navigation panel because it really wasn’t necessary. As a final step, I made my quiz player transparent because I wanted my PowerPoint slide master to show through behind it when I added it to my course. 
  6. Now add your quiz to your course, and you’re all set!

When learners get to the quiz you designed, they'll be able to type their reflections in the Essay question. On the result slide, they can click the Print button to open an HTML page containing the text they wrote. From there, they can use their browser's Print option to print the output.


Modifying the look of the report

An optional step is to customize the way the printable report looks. By default, Quizmaker's Print Results feature (which relies on a file in your published output called report.html) includes a lot of details, some of them related to scoring and whether the learner's answers are “correct” or “incorrect.” In my demo above, though, I didn’t need or want all that — I really only wanted to show the text of the question and the answer that the learner entered. So, I followed Dave Moxon’s instructions for modifying the report.html file. I only made a few simple modifications, and you can download my customized report.html here if you'd like to use it. If you know some HTML, you could certainly customize the look of the file even further.


Note:  If you modify your report.html, keep in mind that you’ll need to copy it into your published output each time you publish, since previous files get overwritten whenever you republish your course. You’ll want to save a copy of your modified report.html somewhere along with your other source files, so that you can easily copy it over to your published output if you publish your course again.


Quizmaker '09 Tip: Adding Images to Your Matching Drag-and-Drop Questions Posted Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 8:24 AM

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Matching drag-and-drop questions in Quizmaker ‘09 are an easy way to make your content more interactive. With this question type, you present a fixed list of items on the left, and draggable choices on the right. Learners drag and drop the choices, to form what they think are the best matching pairs.


But what about if you want to incorporate images in the question instead of just text? You can do that by leveraging the Slide View of Quizmaker’s question editor. Here’s a walk-through of how to do it:



  1. In Quizmaker, click Graded Question and choose Matching Drag and Drop for the question type.
  2. When the Form View of the question editor appears, enter your question text, and then enter your choices and matches. The text you enter in the Choice column won’t be seen by your learners (they’ll see an image instead) — so whatever you put there is really just for your own reference.
  3. Click Slide View.
  4. Choose Insert>Picture and insert the pictures you want to use in place of the items listed in the left-hand column. In my example in the screencast above, I used images of three different musical instruments.
  5. If you like, resize the bounding box of the drag-and-drop items so that the draggable items on the right are a width that looks nice with your text.
  6. Now position each of your images on top of the appropriate items in the left-hand column, so that the images cover up the text.
  7. If there’s too much of the puzzle-piece-shapes showing behind the images, you can use the Insert>Shape tool to draw a shape that covers up the parts that you don’t want to be visible.