Best Practices?

Hey everybody!

Wondering if any of the experts can help me out

I am looking at making a very long "course" in Storyline.  What are the best practices for doing this?  

Would it be better to break it up into multiple projects, or publish as one large project???

What are the max number of scenes/slides that should be used in a single published course?

Will a large published output decrease the user experience because of slow load times?

Thanks for any info that anybody can provide!  It is greatly appreciated!

Thanks again,

Don

25 Replies
Justin Grenier

Hi, Don.

I'm seeing some nice conversations here and here regarding course length.  To summarize, it looks like Gerry and Gabe are making the following specific recommendations:


  • There is no hard limit on the number of slides, but for usability, it is recommended that you stick with something more manageable (somewhere around 30 slides), even breaking it up into multiple presentations.  The length of your presentation has a causal relationship with the endurance of the learner.  

  • Flash has a maximum number of frames of 16,000.  At 30 fps, that translates to 8:53, at 20 fps, that translates to 13:20, and at 15 fps, that translates to 17:00.  These slide lengths are far higher than recommended best practices of 30-60 seconds per slide (for reasons of both usability and network load).

  • There have been reports of folks who've experienced slow expanding menus when using levels in long presentations.  This is likely content-specific.

  • You'll find a helpful article here from eLearn Magazine on how long an e-learning course should be.

I personally have no experience with extremely lengthy courses, so I'm hoping some of the other experts will weigh in on this topic.

Good Luck!

Justin Wilcox

Hi Don.

There aren't any steadfast rules around course length and some industries have strict requirements regarding the length of the course. That being said, think about your own personal experiences sitting in front of a computer. When you are in a classroom for a couple of hours it is relatively easy to be engaged as you are experiencing a real environment that potentially stimulates all five of your senses. Now a human being sitting in front of a computer has very little stimulation. They have audio and visual stimulation coming from a relatively tiny screen sitting right in front of their face. How long do you think you could sit in front of a computer taking the course you are working on in one sitting before your ability to absorb the material decreased?

I have always thought that the threshold is somewhere around 30 minutes. If you are planning on doing something longer, if it makes sense, break it up into smaller segments.

There is no hard rule as to the number of scenes or slides really since a slide can vary greatly in length so I wouldn't even worry about that. I think the right number of slides is however many you need to effectively communicate the information to the end-user.

A large Storyline course is built out of many pieces and is designed to be played back in low to high bandwidth environments so I wouldn't be too concerned about that either.

Phil Mayor

There shouldnt be a problem with load times, storyline only loads three slide at a time,

I would try an split it because

If you are running through an LMS you may hit the limit for the amount of data being stored if you use resume

You may have to spend a lot of time on navigation to ensure the user does not get lost

Do you expect the user to complete it in one sitting, as Justin says this is really about 8 mins before the user gets itchy feet.

If you dont expect them to complete it in one setting why does it need to be one course.

That said Storyline should function well with large courses, and if you need to build it you can

Phil

Don Needs

Thanks for the AWESOME feedback guys!  I am looking at creating something different than a traditional course.  I am looking to create more of an "app like" structure that will allow the user to navigate to different areas; therefore users will not complete the whole "course" in one setting.  I am thinking it will be better to split the project into multiple courses as suggested earlier, mainly for easier navigation.

Here is a link to what I have begun to build to help clarify what I am trying to do

http://www.fitsolutionllc.com/exercise/story.html

(Only the "Monday" button is available to advance slide until I complete my overall design)

Thanks again for all the help guys!

Gerry Wasiluk

Phil Mayor said:

There shouldnt be a problem with load times, storyline only loads three slide at a time,

Hey, Bud!   If this KB article is correct, it does more than that:  http://www.articulate.com/support/kb_article.php?product=st1&id=1ah88m0ttqbd

Of course the last time I cited a Storyline KB article to you, it was proven to be in error and you were correct, so I'm a bit gun shy even proffering this . . 

Gerry Wasiluk

Phil Mayor said:

Think you are right on that one, I think, could be wrong () the spinning disk initiates the project and loads three slides ahead, then once started it does the rest.  I also understand that Storyline also preloads any branched slides as well as the next two slides

This is interesting, Phil.   I just did a test of a simple linear course online and used HTTP Watch to see everything download to my browser.

And, yes, most, but not all of the course did preload after launch--when Storyline got to where the assets were needed, they got drawn from cache.  However, a few things did not preload, especially MP3 files (the narration).  One JPG also did not preload.  Curious . . .

Wonder why not everything preloads?

Don Needs

That is interesting....So if a storyline slide is central and branches off in 4 different directions, how does storyline decide which direction to load?

Also, if storyline loads the first 3 slides first, would it be smart to make these slides last a little longer to enable storyline to load the rest of the course while the user interacts with the first few slides???

Gerry, did you happen to have any videos in your test???

Thanks for all the info Phil and Gerry!  You guys rock!

Gerry Wasiluk

Don Needs said:

That is interesting....So if a storyline slide is central and branches off in 4 different directions, how does storyline decide which direction to load?

Also, if storyline loads the first 3 slides first, would it be smart to make these slides last a little longer to enable storyline to load the rest of the course while the user interacts with the first few slides???


Not sure how Storyline decides how to load things.  The way Storyline names assets (no more slide1.swf like in Presenter), it makes it a bit more tedious to track.  If I get bored I may do some more tests later . .  .  Be good to also know if in a linear course that things get loaded linearly.

Making the first three slides a little longer is often a good idea, especially for courses being delivered worldwide to locations with slow network connections.

Besides branching, if you have a long course with free navigation and are showing the learners the course menu, it might also be good to do.

Dorothy Stark

I'm also starting work on a non-linear Storyline project that I'm afraid might get unwieldy.

If I decided to break up the project into smaller modules for the sake of loading speed, can I connect one module to another in Storyline (maybe by using hyperlink to the story.html file of another module)?

Is there any way to pass information about the value of variables from one module to another?

Thanks!

Dorothy

Steve Flowers

You can hyperlink from one file to another pretty easily. Passing variables is a little more challenging as you'll need to customize your pages to either pickup from a URI querystring or utilize custom frames to hold variables for exchange between the story files. It's possible, just requires some HTML / Javascript know-how after publish.

James Picton

G'day guys

The last Storyline that I built was composed of ten individual scenes and around 270 slides. Many of the slides held with custom built Flash .swf animations, audio and compressed video. The project size (unpublished) was 400Mb: once published, Storyline crunched it down to 182Mb (SCORM 1.2 course) and 139Mb for a standalone version (.exe).

Having developed a number of eLearning products over the years, I'd consider this course to be 'very large' with respect to it's structure and sheer number of individual screens.

A second project, although structurally smaller (19 screens) held 18 individual screens with 5 min full-screen video files on each.


Storyline coped with both projects easily.

I would suggest that you need to put adequate thought into your compression settings for the various media types BEFORE embedding them into a Storyline file. Storyline will re-compress, but as with any multimedia product, you need to work as economically as possible at all stages of development.

Some users mention Storyline cracking under the pressure of loading 1Gb files....I'd suggest that most software would buckle, or at least degrade, working with files of this size.

A user mentioned the experience of operating in 'Story View' and seeing al lof the little screen icons flickering/flashin constantly - I have experienced this on a large course when I used my mouse scroll wheel to zoom out to quite a high level on a  large course. Net result was that I couldn't operate Storyline and had to force close it. Needless to say, I don't do this anymore  

Cheers,

Jim

www.artofjimbo.com

Susan Lord

We have a course that is 14 hours.  Currently I use a multisco approach, but the problem with that is everytime the user clicks on a lesson, it inadvertently resets the lesson status, hindering completion (resetting the lesson to incomplete in the LMS). This not an issue if the user goes straight through, but if they are popping around, it does.

The course is too large to put into one file.  I would love to make a feature request for a solution to this dilema. It looks like I am not the only one who creates large courses. 

Aaron Leary

Hi all,

I'm not sure if there are any activate eyes in this thread but I'll go for it anyway. I have been developing my lessons for some months now and it is time to build the course structure using my LMS (LearnDash). Once the course structure is built, I will upload the published AS lesson to the appropriate lesson in the LMS course structure. 

Here's the thing. I have hundreds of lessons, each about 10-15 MB when published. I have already increased my user base by a magnitude of thousands and next year, it will be thousands more.

I need suggestions from people who know of a first rate server solution to hosting a large amount of AS lessons for a large amount of simultaneous users. If people want to suggest the best LMS I will also be very grateful. LearnDash is good but I'm not sure how ready it is for my future plans.

Many thanks!

Aaron

Parashuram Vhaval
Don Needs

Thanks for the AWESOME feedback guys!  I am looking at creating something different than a traditional course.  I am looking to create more of an "app like" structure that will allow the user to navigate to different areas; therefore users will not complete the whole "course" in one setting.  I am thinking it will be better to split the project into multiple courses as suggested earlier, mainly for easier navigation.

Here is a link to what I have begun to build to help clarify what I am trying to do

http://www.fitsolutionllc.com/exercise/story.html

(Only the "Monday" button is available to advance slide until I complete my overall design)

Thanks again for all the help guys!

Don I am not able to view this link. It says webpage not available.