What does "advanced" techniques mean to you?

Feb 21, 2014

At a couple conferences in the past month I delivered a full 2-day cert workshop and a few sessions on "advanced" techniques using Storyline.

Reviewing session comments, there a few from "I thought this was for new users...too complicated..." to "I hoped it would be more advanced using Javascript..."

Yet, the workshop/session descriptions are clearly written that if you are new to Storyline, this session may not be for you. And the objectives of what was going to be covered was clearly outlined....that did not include Javascript.

I really want to provide the best experience and teach what I know, but I'm seeing a pattern that folks define the word "advanced" in so many different ways.

When you see/hear Storyline training and the word "advanced" is in the title, what are you expecting?

13 Replies
Kimberly Valliere

When I see advanced, I think of variables and like the activity you did for ASTDTK. I think of complicated branching and pushing Storyline to its limit. I do NOT think of Javascripting because that seems like a completely different type of class. I think of more complex designs and course functions.

When I see advanced, I also do not think "beginner." I've sat in on several beginner courses that go over the basics of setting up a course.

As mentioned at the conference, I'd love more truly advanced storyline courses. I'm an inspiration junkie and could never see enough cool and innovative ways to use Storyline.

Daniel Brigham

Good question, Kevin: When I think advanced I think...

  • Inserting javascript (but how far can you go without turning into a Code for Dummies section?)
  • Creating interactive video (and maybe some stuff on manipulating the behavior of website video)
  • Using variables in a moderately complex way
  • Workflow tips and tricks (e.g., using the timeline more efficiently, getting the most out of Story View and all the stuff you can do there, etc.)
  • Using layers and triggers on Master Slides/Feedback Masters (I've been meaning to explore that more, but haven't gotten to it yet)
  • Working with web objects (maybe how to work with Google docs or an evaluation form or something similar)

Hope that helps a bit, and thanks again for asking this question. By the way, could you let me know where I can see the outline for your course? --Daniel

Kevin Thorn

Thanks Kimberly! And thanks for attending one of those sessions.

I define it differently as others do, too. I'm a design junkie and I practice placing intentional restrictions on those designs.

Why? Because I lived in a cubicle farm for over a decade and remember the trenches well enough to know the average person using Storyline is: 1) under extreme timeline restrictions, 2) don't have a lot of prior design and/or development skills, 3) their corporate firewall prevents things like web objects and Google docs,  and 4) not interested in learning a new programming language or have access to someone who knows Javascript.

So when I put together a workshop or session, I try to stretch Storyline as far as it can go using the tools and features that come "out of the box" so to speak.


The interaction we built that Kimberly mentioned is an architecture that has nested conditions evaluating object states from the base slide to layers and changing them from choices made. Then evaluating those choices and changing object states on yet another layer as feedback. All without variables.

The "advanced" nature of that example is not only what you can do with Storyline, but solving a problem of building an interaction that's beyond the quiz type built-in interactions as well as what you can do with stretching your design thinking on how to solve a problem with restrictions. The restriction in this case is the use of no variables as many new users to Storyline do not have that underlying conditional programming experience to think through the logic to use variables at a deeper level. 

I use Master Slides quite extensively and I'm thinking on developing a session on just that - Advanced uses of Master Slides for Storyline. Maybe.

Daniel, if you check the ASTD TK14 website, the outline should be up there.

Steve Flowers

As we found with our book... everyone has a different threshold for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Even though our book was titled "For Starters" and was described as a beginner's tome, we got one bad review that indicated "too basic" and it tanked the sales of the book in one stroke. 

Different strokes for different folks 

Advanced and intermediate are both subjective and relative terms. I've seen your session descriptions and I think you're pretty explicit about what will be covered. Maybe setting another reference point would help:

  • This is what we'll DO in the session
  • This is what you SHOULD ALREADY be able to do to be successful

And maybe another reference point....

  • This is what you might want to explore after this session

I expect some folks don't read the descriptions... and just go by their own mental frame of what advanced is. Perhaps reaching out to folks that registered and striking up a conversation would help to reconcile expectations?

Kevin Thorn

Great points Steve, and sorry about your book sales tanking after one review. Truly is a subjective world!

I have and do offer those two points on the opening 10-15 minutes on the day/session agenda. "What we're gonna do." What we're not gonna do." I may take your lead and add your suggestions to website description next time.

For the two-day advanced I sent out informational emails the week before and a couple days before the class, and sent out a survey to gauge their current experience and skill. About half responded and it was a great which allowed me to adjust things before we got started.

Still, one lady arrived who had literally just downloaded the free trial that morning! I offered that we can find another workshop because we are going to cover a lot of material all of which will have nothing to do with the basics. She stayed and surprisingly held her own and kept pace!

And to your point about conference workshop/session descriptions, I'm finding it more of an art than a science - or a combination of the two. Some are motivated to attend by the speaker's name only, e.g., Tom Kuhlmann. While others choose based on titles alone, and yet others (which I suspect most) choose based on reading the description and objectives.

Jerson  Campos

Here is what I would consider at the different levels of learning:

Beginner - Foundation knowledge, basic building block stuff

Intermediate - Learning variables, layers, advanced interactions but still just staying within storyline

Advanced - Doing stuff outside the box, javascript + flash interactions, advanced interactions to the point of breaking storyline

Extreme - Steve Flowers level

Philip Varghese

JavaScript is a different animal and it too has it's beginner, intermediate, advanced and crazy level.   lol

Does advanced techniques mean employing, beginners JS in SL or advanced JS in SL?

On the other hand, it's possible a newbie to SL but an oldie to JS is running at beginner level SL employing advanced JS.

Somewhat like a mini with a Ferrari engine lol.

For clarity, I think it would be better to coin it as "JavaScript for SL".... B, I or A.

To conclude, whatever level we refer to has to remain within the context of the "base software".

Bruce Graham

Interesting topic...and so very dependant on one's position.

I have a prospect who has described themselves as an experienced user, yet they want me to run a training day that includes "...how to use variables...".

The majority of the other topics they want are based around ID techniques, (templates, processes, design tools etc.) Being a "user" means so much more than how many of the features you can use. It's like when I used to be a close-up magician, (yes...really...) - we used to explain to new keen teen (mainly boy) neophytes that learning the trick was 5%, the other 95% came from how it was performed. Exactly the same as Instructional Design really.

I find a lot of what Phil does is pure genius that I do not understand

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