How can you use the Serious eLearning Manifesto?

Manifesto

Wouldn’t it be great to have a concise guide to share with your clients and stakeholders about what high quality elearning should be? Well major thought leaders – Michael Allen, Julie Dirkson, Clark Quinn and Will Thalheimer – have done just that! Together they have produced a Serious eLearning Manifesto intending to lift the quality of elearning (and learning) that is delivered in organisations. I wholeheartedly agree with characteristics and principles listed in their manifesto – http://elearningmanifesto.org/ and think it is wonderful for them to share with the learning community.

Here are three ways I can see the Serious eLearning Manifesto being used:

1.  As a quality assurance tool

You could use the manifesto as a quality assurance tool to make sure any elearning your organisation does hits the mark and is going to make a difference to performance.

2. As an influencer to raise quality

Why not use the voice of thought leaders to help influence what quality elearning should be like in your organisation (or alternatively when elearning shouldn’t be used). The elearning manifesto website is so easily sharable with stakeholders and clients. It’s great to have professional backing that is concise and without a lot of learning jargon. This way it’s not just your opinion – it’s the voice of experts in the field.

3. As a professional development tool

If you have been in the elearning game for a while most of the characteristics and supporting principles of the Serious eLearning Manifesto probably seem common sense. Why not pick a couple of points to improve on to raise the quality of your elearning design – I have! I’ve always said “the most dangerous thing for learning – is thinking you know it all already”. The eLearning Manifesto gives us the opportunity to critique our own work and find ways to improve.

How else can you see the Serious eLearning Manifesto being used? Please share your thoughts, follow me to hear more of mine.

2014 the year of the story

Top Story Concept.

In 2014 my focus was very much on creating interactive elearning and utilising the power of the story through interesting design and technologies. This showed under my five most highly viewed and popular posts for 2014. If you haven’t already, check these out:

  1. Using digital stories in elearning
  2. The awesome tool Videoscribe
  3. Rapid prototype vs storyboard
  4. Why storytelling should be part of your elearning kit
  5. 10 steps to create a digital story for elearning

These are also topics I’ve especially enjoyed blogging about. If you would like to hear more on any topic please comment to let me know. Have a wonderful 2015!

Sourcing stories fast for training

Find Story

Something I’ve learnt during my time teaching, training and undertaking instructional design is that people love to share their stories. It’s a natural drive. Why not then use stories to enhance learning and streamline your design at the same time?

As mentioned in previous posts, stories are an extremely powerful way to teach or train. But where can you source these? Do you need to come up with a story from scratch? Or do you need to spend hours working with a SME constructing stories? Surely there’s an easier way…

Well of course there is! Source your stories directly from those with the experience.

Sourcing stories directly mean they will be authentic, believable, targeted and related to your audience already.

Here’re couple of examples of when I’ve sourced stories directly and how I’ve used them.

Staff stories in speech bubbles

Within a Complaints online course, one of the learning outcomes was to identify how complaints could improve business processes and service.

For this outcome I sourced stories from different areas of the business by asking for examples of how complaints had led to business improvements in the past. I then presented these examples in speech bubbles pointing off the edge of the screen. This used minimal media due to time and budget constraints and considerations.

These stories had a powerful impact in supporting the learning outcome and they took very little effort to source and present. It also meant that I didn’t have to tell why complaints are important to a business – it was made obvious by the examples.

Staff audio stories

Stories are also great in system training to explain why things are done in a particular way and as a result how it impacts on the customer and the business.  In one situation I needed a way to explain why it was important to group related information together within the software system.

For this outcome I sourced stories from experienced staff on cases they had worked on. Explaining why information was grouped together in these cases and what the benefits of grouping the information was for both the customer and the business.

These stories were much more powerful than simply telling staff what to do. They gave context and real life examples. To present these stories I simply recorded staff telling their stories, then edited the audio and placed it directly onto the LMS (Learning Management System) course page.

Microphone with cable connected ready for an interview, singing

A fast and effective approach with minimal multimedia skills required.

What techniques do you use with integrating stories into your learning design? I’d love to hear from you…

Follow me to hear more about this and check out some of my other posts about using stories in e/learning.

Monthly inspiration – Powerful stories for change

Old Way, New Way

We all know the basics of structuring a story so it has a beginning, middle and end and some sort of plot, challenge or problem. But what is the difference between a story that misses it’s audience and a story that resoundingly connects with people enough for them to take on the story and even make changes because of it?

I’ve been inspired by Nancy Duarte’s Ted talk that simply explains common features of great communicators and how they connect and with their audience. In short Nancy explains how people are brought on a journey gradually. She idenifies a formula of flitting between the present truth and future possibility and how this toing and froing can move people towards accepting and adopting the ideas to work towards the future state of bliss.

This technique could work not only for training, it could also work for coaching conversations or even in personal situations helping someone to move forward to change.

I hope her Ted talk inspires you as much as it has me. I can think of multiple ways to use this model both for training and learning and for beyond.

View her Ted talk here:

http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_structure_of_great_talks

I’d love to hear your thoughts – follow me to hear more of mine.

Happy holidays – Lorraine

And the Duarte site for extra inspiration http://www.duarte.com/

Monthly inspiration – the awesome tool Videoscribe!

 

Have you heard of videoscribe? Do you use it?

Videoscribe is a seriously cool tool that allows you to create whiteboard animations in a fast and effective way.

I’ve used it to tell stories, for example a customer’s journey through an organisation. I’ve also used it to show pharmacy technicians how to solve complicated calculations (kind of like the Khan Academy). I have many plans to utilise this tool more in the future now that I know how to bend it to what I want it to do.

Don’t worry you don’t have to be a graphic artist to use this tool. Videoscribe comes with it’s own stock of images, you can also make your own images using a SVG drawing tool such as Inkscape for Windows or idraw for Mac

It publishes well into the big elearning tools like Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate. Or alternatively you can use it in it’s .mov or .flv published state to make it run seamlessly across multiple devices – just like the example given above.

Another benefit of Videoscibe is that it’s available on a subscription basis – so you can learn it and try it before you buy, without it burning a hole in your pocket – download it here

Can you see ways you could utilise this tool in your elearning? I’d love to hear your thoughts, or maybe you have a cool tool you’d like to share too?

 

Making your elearning theme come to life

Young man in suit looking astonished in laptop. Surfing the inte

To make your elearning theme come to life you need to build atmosphere and emotion into it. There are many ways in which you can do this to make a memorable elearning experience.

Consider all the elements of your course and make them fit your elearning theme e.g. learner goal/challenge, language style, type of interactions, graphics, fonts, animations, audio, and video. It’s like having a consistent overarching story running through the whole elearning experience, where everything looks like it belongs together.

I recently built a compliance course focused on on a futuristic theme. My clients wanted a positive focus in their compliance training by doing the right thing for the customer rather than focusing on avoiding breaching the legislation.

Having the right theme – futuristic – helped put the positive spin into this elearning course. Here’s how I built atmosphere and emotion into my theme.

Start with a learner challenge

It’s motivating to jump straight in and start with a learner challenge. This can be as simple as asking the learner a question. For my futuristic theme, I gave a couple of sentences describing the situation and then asked the question “what future will you create” with a two photos of the same customer, one with a happy expression and the other looking nervous.

Font to match the theme

Getting the right signature font to match your theme works well for creating atmosphere. For my theme I downloaded the “Back to the Future” font from dafont.com and used it to match my theme…

In to the Future - da font

Background graphics to match the theme

This is where I thought about what graphics in the background could add value to building the theme and experience. With the futuristic theme certain things popped to mind like space, time travel, motion, black hole, speed. With a couple of well placed searches in stock sites I was able to locate the perfect background graphic for my theme:

Abstract Motion Background

Sound for scene setting

Using sound to set the scene can be a very effective way to develop the right emotion. For my theme I downloaded a futuristic sound woosh to match the fly from left entrance of the ‘In to the Future’ title.

Animation and motion

Use motion and animation to match your theme and build interest. Choose a couple of styles of animation and keep it simple so it doesn’t overwhelm the learner. In my theme I used two types of animation: in the initial slide I animated the ‘In to the future’ title and the three following statements to fly in from the left. At the beginning of each branching scenario I also added a spin to the slide transition.

Matching language

It’s important the language style matches your theme no matter whether it’s spoken audio or whether it’s in writing. To match my futuristic theme I needed to make sure the language I used was in future tense. I also keep my language conversation as this tone fitted my theme, topic and audience.

 

There are lots of other ways to build atmosphere and emotion in your elearning theme, such as developing characters and the overacrching story. An important thing to keep in mind is that the visual, audio, and interactive elements, as mentioned above – add to your theme, rather than detract from it.

 

If you found this post useful, please click the follow button to receive updates of new blog posts.

Planning an elearning theme

rejected theme blur

Elearning design is more effective when it’s about creating an experience! Why not develop your interactive activities so they fit an overarching theme or learner challenge. Then use this theme to immerse your the audience in a believable environment, take them on a journey that keeps them engaged the whole way through….

Sounds great! Then take a look at some strategies I use to plan successful elearning experiences:

Present the overarching theme early on

No point spending lots of time designing, developing or even storyboarding only to find out the theme doesn’t suit the business direction or goals. I’ve recently presented a theme it didn’t suit the organisation that I was working with (though I’m keeping it in mind to use elsewhere in the future).

Thankfully, I had presented the theme early in the scoping stage before design and development had commenced. This allowed me to ditch it without too much loss of time and energy and I had plenty of time to go back to the drawing board.

Involve your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and stakeholders

Of course, it can be sad burying a theme that you’ve melded in your mind and brought to life…. but if your SMEs aren’t into it as much as you are – it’s not going to work! After all they’ll provide the content for your elearning interactions.

Having a theme rejected is not necessarily a bad thing though. In fact it can help you find an even better one! A rejected theme means you can ask specific questions about what was wrong with it and what they would prefer. This will help to clarify the business goals and direction.

And so a new theme was born …

….and this time it had everyone’s approval and excitement!!

I’d love to hear your thoughts around planning elearning themes? What challenges have you faced?

If this post was useful to you, you can follow my blog to receive updates of new posts.

10 steps to create a digital story for learning

bigstock-The--w-s-sales-qualification--16555277

A digital story for learning needs to be more than just entertainment. It needs to have a learning purpose and link to learning outcomes. Here are 10 steps to use when planning a digital story to ensure it keeps it’s learning purpose:

1. Decide why you’re using a digital story

Are you using a story to emphasise why this topic is relevant for your audience? Are you using the story as a motivator to pull them into the other activities in the course? Do you want your audience to learn from other people’s experience, through their mistakes or success stories?

2.  Match the story solution to learning objectives

Does your story cover some or all of your learning objectives? Choosing the learning objectives the story relate to will help keep the direction and purpose of your story.

3. Plan the key messages or themes

What are the one or two things you want your audience to remember from the story? Is there a moral in your story?

4. Decide how learners will interact with the content

Will they be able to influence the outcome and path of the story (branching scenarios)? Will they apply the key messages from the story to a practice activity or job task? Will they be asked questions to reflect on the content?

5. Make a template for gathering content from your Subject Matter Expert (SME)

What characters will your story have e.g. customer, staff members? What environments does the story take place in? Use the 5W and H questions (who, what, where, when, why, how) at the different points in time to construct a template to gather content.

5. Write the script

Consider the tone and type of language used.  If writing a script seems overwhelming, you can break the story into separate scenes and write a script for each scene.

6. Decide what graphic style you’ll use

Will you use photos or illustrations? Design a consistent theme for your story. Consider how much time you have available to develop graphics and then choose a style that’s achievable in the timeframe.

7. Prototype a scene of the animations and graphics that will be used

It is much easier to show your SMEs what the story will look like rather than explaining how it will look. Share a scene prototype with your SMEs to get agreement before developing the rest of the story.

8. Develop the story in the tools

Once you’ve got agreement from your SMEs on the script and graphic style continue and develop the rest of the story scene by scene.

9. Review the story

Check with your SMEs that the content is accurate and the intended key messages of the story come across.

10. Include what’s next…

Usually a digital story is just part of a learning solution. Tell your learners what’s coming next. Are they going to apply principles from the story to another practice activity or job task? What else will they do that’s relevant to the story?

Following these 10 steps will help keep your digital story focused and adding value to your topic. What else do you find useful for planning a digital story?

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy these related posts:

Using digital stories in elearning

Why storytelling should be part of your elearning toolkit

Using digital stories in elearning

bigstock-Open-book-with-hand-drawn-land-50965421

Digital stories are a quick meaningful way to get a message across. They are stories told using technology that include a combination of images and audio to tell a tale.

Digital stories have advantages in that you can get a consistent message across to many people, the story can be viewed at anytime and at any location. You can also get very creative with your story and key messages by using images and audio to engage your audience and draw them into your story.

Digital stories are a great way to get difficult concepts across, they are excellent for showing how different parts of an organisation or job task work together. They are also a great way to learn from other’s experiences without having to make the same mistakes.

So what does a good digital story look like?

Well first of all you can access the story on your computer but after that it can look like anything. Digital stories could have images and photos or they can contain movement, animations and videos or any combination of these. Good digital stories are focussed on a purpose and getting a message across.  They also use the same style through the whole story.

You can build a digital story on a variety of different platforms depending on how sophisticated you want to get. For example you could use Powerpoint, Slideshare, rapid elearning tools, or specialised animation tools such as FlipbooksVideoscribe and Goanimate.

Before writing a digital story I often search the web to find inspiring examples. When I view good digital stories I ask myself, ‘what they are doing that makes the story successful’ and then ‘how can I incorporate these elements into elearning that I’m developing?’.

Here are a few digital stories that I’ve found inspiring, you can click on the links to view them. Please feel free to share in the comments below any other digital stories you have found inspiring.

Where good ideas come from

good ideas

Credit crisis

credit crisis

Han Rosling’s 20o countries, 200 years 4 minutes – the Joy of Stats

stats story

Why storytelling should be part of your elearning toolkit

bigstock-The-Secret-Of-Success-7197337

Do you want to engage your audience and help them to emotionally connect with content? Do you want to find a way to get a difficult concept across? Here are some reasons why storytelling needs to be part of your elearning toolkit:

Research tells us storytelling is a powerful way to teach

As well as providing entertainment, stories are often used to teach deeper lessons. Parents have used stories for thousands of years to teach children life skills, beliefs and values. Stories have been used over history to teach religious belief. Advertisers use stories to sell their products. Storytelling as a technique for teaching is not new, it has been used throughout history to embed learning and change behaviour.

Research consistently tells us that stories are much more effective for learning and changing behaviour than giving facts or telling people what to do. This article from the Elearning Guild cites research evidence that found storytelling to be a more effective way of learning.

Stories are everywhere

We are used to stories – they surround us everyday. Whether they are stories from friends and colleagues, reading stories to children, watching a movie, TV (even some of the adverts), listening to songs, or reading a fictional novel. Our brains are conditioned to hear stories and they are an enjoyable way to digest information.

They work well as a motivator – grabbing attention!

A well designed story at the beginning of a training or elearning course can pull the learner in to complete the rest of the course. Stories as an attention grabber are motivating for the audience – they show why the topic is relevant to them.

They give context and meaning

By providing characters, settings and a flow of information or events stories give context and meaning to a lesson. Through a story we can learn from other people’s mistakes or challenges without having to go through the same experience ourselves. Stories can organise complicated seemly unrelated data into connected and meaningful patterns. They are excellent for conveying complicated concepts in a digestible meaningful way.

Connect with the audience at an emotional level

Well designed stories connect with the audience on an emotional level. They use characters that the audience can easily relate to, humour and have a tension point. Here is an example of an advert in New Zealand that had a well designed story to get the message across that it’s good to ‘stop your friends from drink driving’:

Legend

The “Ghost Chips” humour from this story became mainstream and gave youths a non-confrontational way to stop their mates from drink driving.

Want to read more, here are a few articles on storytelling that I’ve enjoyed:

Once upon a keyboard: Designing stories into E-learning

Why you need to use storytelling for elearning

Using stories for learning: Answers to 5 key questions