Share Your E-Learning Hacks

It’s summertime and I think that means we all deserve a little vacation. But, sometimes it’s hard to feel like you have the time. When I’m feeling that way I try to find whatever stress reducing and time saving hacks I can find to make my course creation go just a little faster.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite timesavers to get you started:

But what I really want to do is learn from you! What are some of the ways you’ve found to shave minutes off your workflow and get more done? What are the tips and tricks that have made your creative light bulb light up?

Share them in the discussion below and/or on Twitter with #elearninghacks! We’ll be highlighting our faves in an upcoming article to help the whole community take a nice day off.

90 Replies
David Anderson

Use the Project Info window to customize the way your project thumbnail displays in the mobile player library.

By default, the project thumbnail is generated from the first slide of your project. In many cases, this will be your course cover screen. Depending on how your slide was designed, your thumbnail may not look like you expect.

Example: http://elearning-examples.s3.amazonaws.com/sl-DragDrop-FeedMan/index.html

This project ends with a fade-to-black effect using a black rectangle. By default, Storyline includes the shape even though it doesn't appear until the very end of the file.

Solution: Take a screenshot of the live project and use that image for your custom thumbnail.

kristen neill

Not sure it's a hack, but I know I've had a lot of aha moments with new people when you show them the master slide, as well as the ability to copy your triggers and such. A lot of people get scared of interactions and triggers because they can program, but exploring the built in options explains things in plain terms and allows you to customize.

Sylvia Wright

I'm still really new with SL2, but after taking a class at DevLearn on storyboarding that basically said storyboard in Powerpoint and the import to SL2 I thought it would be way faster and better to just storyboard in SL2.  I import any templates I think might be relevant to my course (will delete what is not used when done) and set up one scene for notes, outlines and ideas and start building from there.  I like it way better!

Veronica Budnikas

Great tips everyone!

I'm with Tim and Wendy. I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS create a PPT file to go along with my .story file (and give them the same name), and when I work, I always have my story file on one screen and my PPT on the other.

While it is probably best practice to save any graphics created in PPT as PNGs, and then insert them into the SL file, when you are really pushed for time, or if you are doing some rapid prototyping, I find it so quick and easy to just copy the graphic from PPT and paste it into SL.

Another tip is this: create your colour and font theme in PPT first, and then import the PPT file into SL (one slide will do). The colour and font themes you created in PPT will come across to SL, so all you have to do in SL is save the themes as custom themes in SL (if you create the colour theme in SL, then you have to create it again in PPT because you can't import SL into PPT)

Tony Chilvers

Not strictly a eLearning hack, but looking at some of the posts where people are finding it difficult to organise assets.

I use a programme from Stardock called Fences. This allows you to group(Fence) items on your Desktop as if they were folders. File types can be automatically saved into a "Fence" making it loads easier to locate a file that has been saved to Desktop. Folder portals are a way of having a folder anywhere on your PC or Network straight on your Desktop.

You can tile the Desktop into separate screens which are easy to tab between. One screen can contain project work making it easy to hide away when other tasks call.

Big advantage for me is that i often have to work on my laptop without a screen attached. The ability to keep all Desktop icons ordered how I wish when I switch resolution, is fantastic.

Sorry for coming over like a salesman, but I am not associated with Stardock in any way.

TC

Jack Quantrill

My favourite (teeny) tiny Storyline time saver:

If you have a few buttons (or other interactions) on a page doing the same or similar things, create the first trigger and select copy. Then, click on the next object on your page/slide and click paste in the trigger panel. The new trigger will be applied to that object.

Storyline is extra clever in that if the trigger self-references (for example, change state of 'button 1' to 'hidden' when user clicks 'button 1') it will adjust the trigger accordingly (for example, change state of 'button 2' to 'hidden' when user clicks 'button 2').

Jeff Kortenbosch

Wow, what a great topic. I think I've seen almost all of my 'hacks' in this list. Color schemes, powerpoint for image editing, slide masters (and feedback masters).

One tip might be to save your player settings (colors and features) and store that with your project source files. If your customer returns for another project you can immediately pick up their preferred (and long discussed) player setup.

Jeffrey Riley

Tim and Wendy I also do most of my image editing/manipulation in PowerPoint. It is a great tool with a lot less learning curve than other programs.

I also have a folder called Solutions where I store ideas, tips, links such as this page, webinars etc. I often ask, what about that idea and then I go to my Solutions folder to find it.

I often find something I think is a great idea, but I do not have a reason to use it when I see it. I just put it in my folder in some fashion and I can always find it when needed.

FSMTB Continuing Education

I have an "image sandbox" handy in powerpoint for when I need to manipulate the same image in different ways for a course. That way, I'm not constantly opening new files, and I can feel free to make as many mistakes as I want. I don't know if it's time saving, but it certainly helps to keep the clutter in one place!

Veronica Budnikas

Hey Holly, this is such a struggle, isn't it? 

I tried Bridge a long time ago, and it didn't really stick, but I started using it again maybe 6 or so months ago and I now find it really good. I did a short Lynda course on Bridge so I could really learn how to use and take full advantage of its features. 

The features I find the most useful, and use the most, are Batch Re-name (this is awesome!), Labels, Key Words and Metadata. The interface is fully customisable too.

What I do now (since I started using using it) is anything I download or buy goes into my DOWNLOADS folder and stays there until I can properly 'label' it. That usually includes applying a label (I use my labels to say what kind of licence the asset has--e.g. full licence, single-project licence, personal use only, from ELH, Made by me) and then applying key words and metadata where needed. It's pretty quick to do if you consistently do it when you get new assets. Once I do that, I love them to their corresponding folders. I used to have tons of folders and tons of sub-folders, but that just contributed to the mess, so I now try to use fewer folders and sub-folders because Bridge makes it pretty easy to look through, and has a good Preview function. Thumbnails load so much more quickly than in windows explorer too. 

Anyway, I find it really useful :) I still have tonnes of stuff from my pre-Bridge days, but I do manage to once in a while organise older assets with labels and key words. Searching in Bridge is pretty good.

Matthew Bibby

I use guides to make sure that objects are aligned properly to whatever design grid I'm using. Unfortunately, it is very easy to accidentally move these guide when developing, so I set up a slide with bright coloured blocks so that I can easily fix the guide placement when the inevitable happens. For example:

Linda Lorenzetti

Shortcut keys - if you do something over and over again (like adding audio) add it to your quick access toolbar.  To do so, right- click the button for any Storyline feature, and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar.Then, to launch any of the buttons on the Quick Access Toolbar via a keyboard shortcut, press and hold the ALT key on your keyboard and then press the number key that matches the button you want to launch. For example, the first button on the Quick Access Toolbar is "1", the second button is "2", etc.

That way instead of moving to the center of the slide to click on audio icon> audio from file> navigating to the correct file for each slide, you could just click Alt/4 and navigate to the audio file.