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Deconstructing My #DemoFest Course – Part 3 (Development) #DevLearn

Of the questions asked of me during DemoFest, I think most were regarding development tools. In regards to development tools used, the course is truly a Frankencourse, a term I believed coined by David Anderson (@eLearning).

So here are the development tools I used for this project.

Adobe Flash – The initial interface was built in Flash. This provided greater ease of animating the characters, creating the navigation, which is non-linear and not as simple as adding next and back buttons of which it has none. However, the Flash movie sits within Articulate Presenter and navigates to an assessment made in Articulate Quizmaker which also sits within the same Presenter project (more on this later).

Adobe Captivate – I used this for creating every simulation in the course. I find Captivate to be a great tool for software simulations, plus I could easily edit instructions in the sims, add graphics including the Captain and Ossie 7. It also afforded me the opportunity to have several sims be more exploration than just task driven. For example, the sim where Ossie 7 lets you explore each ribbon at your own pace and direction. Note: All the sims are “try me” sims in which the participant completes tasks and/or explores the application. They are not demonstrations were they simply watch the application being used.

Articulate Quizmaker – Very easy way to create the assessment at the conclusion of the course. Most of the questions in the quiz were scenario based and  involved clicking the correct button on a graphic representation of the Office application (e.g., an Outlook ribbon). Quizmaker easily accommodated this, plus worked well within Presenter – it should since it is also part of the Articulate suite.

Articulate Presenter – This is what I plopped the Flash and Quizmaker into. Essentially, the first page of the Presenter project is the Flash course, which has numerous pages and opens all the sims and links to its additional resources. It also has a button that takes you to the quiz. It actually takes you to the next presenter page introducing the quiz. The third page is the Quizmaker assessment. And because it is in Presenter, I could easily publish the presenter course as SCORM compliant that would work well on my learning management system (LMS).

Social Media – Ongoing support includes the use of social media, including TwitterScreenr videos, and Diigo social bookmarks.

That’s it. I know to some it may seem insane to use so many tools, but with so many different aspects of the course it did require these tools to get this project done. Don’t believe me? Take a look – Introduction to Office 2010.

Note: Microsoft Office 2010 was used to the extent that it was the subject of the sims, job aids, etc., but not actually a development tool itself.

View the course – Introduction to Office 2010

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My 2011 Predictions

Well it’s that time again. Here are my e-learning predictions for the coming year.

  • You know I have to include a Flash prediction. So, here you are…  I predict a Flash player will finally be included on the iPad and iPhone this year. This will be mostly due to the fact that so many more phones, and tablets, will be released with Flash, pressuring Apple to do the same.
  • Say goodbye to the “e-” and the “m-” and say hello to just “learning” in 2011. I think we will be less concerned about the medium and will call it “learning” regardless of whether it is in the classroom, computer, phone or wherever else you are finding it.
  • The coming flood of tablets in 2011 will move m-learning much further along. However, I think people will be distinguishing less and less between the terms e-learning, m-learning, and just learning. After all, where does m-learning stop and e-learning begin? See prior prediction.
  • With the economy improving, we will see reinvestment in classroom training and classroom trainers. I believe too many organizations have hastily delved into online training, resulting in developing courses that are better off in in the classroom than online. Plus with so many rushing into e-learning without investing the time in understanding the design end has resulted in ineffective “rapid e-learning.” I think we will see these people who had good intentions are going to move away from e-learning. For those that may be in that boat, don’t give up on e-learning, but please read “Hey You Rapid e-Learning Peeps, Slooow Down and Take a Little Drive on the ISD Side of Town.”
  • QR Codes will become more prevalent in the U.S. In fact, I just started using them myself by including them in a new e-learning course. I also plan to start adding them to job aids, manuals, presentations and anywhere else when appropriate.

qrcode

Want to see what I predicted last year?

Frankenstein Course Development

Frankenstein 1910

I am currently creating a course and as usual it involves numerous development tools. This course consists of using three main tools. Here they are and why I am using them.

Adobe Flash – My favorite tool of choice. I like its flexibility in making the interactive assets I need for the course and not being constrained by prepackaged interactives that come with many e-learning development tools. In this case I am making the course itself in Flash. This includes each page, characters, animation, and interactive elements with the exception of the software simulations (sims) and the final assessment/quiz.

Adobe Captivate – The course will contain many “try me” sims for a software upgrade in which we are implementing. I am developing these in Captivate, which in my opinion is the best out there for creating software sims. Each sim will launch in a new window from the Flash course. Keeping these in a separate folder and launched as individual SWFs will also help keep the file size and load time down.

ArticulatePresenter and Quizmaker are providing the assessment and an ease of packaging it as a SCORM compliant course. What I like is the ease of developing an assessment in Quizmaker. In this case I will take my Flash course and import the SWF to the first page of Articulate Presenter. A single button in my menu, called Knowledge Check, will move the user from the Presenter page containing the course SWF to the second page where the assessment begins. The ability to have a Flash button, or menu, work within Presenter was the kicker. This allowed me to get the best of both worlds; Flash and using Articulate to create the assessment and SCORM packaging. Here is a tutorial from Screenr that shows how you can make a Flash menu that will change slides in Presenter.

Adobe Museum of Digital Media (AMDM)

Adobe now has a preview of its Adobe Museum of Digital Media. This is a virtual museum dedicated to digital media. As Adobe describes it,

The Adobe Museum of Digital Media (AMDM) is a unique virtual space designed to showcase and preserve groundbreaking digital work and to present expert commentary on how digital media influences culture and society. (see full description)

It will be online and always open. I always enjoy seeing great examples of digital media, especially when it is very creative and pushes the envelope. I hope to see some very innovative exhibits and hopefully be inspired too.

The museum opens October 6th, but you can see a preview now at at www.adobemuseum.com.

adobe pin (AMDM)

Nevermind the iPad, Here Comes the Galaxy Tab… It has Flash

Even I will admit the iPad is an exciting device, but because it is  missing Adobe Flash it is not something in which I am willing to spend the money. As you can see in the video below, we will be able get a tablet with Flash, which is enticing to me. Who knows, maybe with enough tablets coming to market with Flash on them Apple will rethink adding Flash to the iPad.

http://images.tv.adobe.com/swf/player.swf

What I Would Like to Say About HTML5 and Flash

There has been plenty of buzz about HTML5 and it being a “Flash killer.” I think HTML5 has great potential and will be a welcomed improvement to the web, but it is still in its infancy and does not show any signs of being able to compete with Flash anytime time soon. I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that it currently has the ability of embedding video and audio, which makes it a viable alternative regarding those commonly used features. However, if you have looked at animation and interactivity in HTML5 it does not compete with Flash at all. Here are some examples and another, which support my argument. FYI: My intent is not to demean these examples. They are good considering what the creators had to work with, a working DRAFT of HTML5 and are a sign of better things in the years to come. So, will HTML5 compete with Flash in the future, maybe but keep in mind it has a very steep climb and Flash will not be standing still waiting. I do think HTML5’s edge will be that Flash is not on all mobile devices including the iPhone and its larger version, the iPad. I also think the appearance of the iPad has greatly increased the buzz on HTML5 and may boost its demand.

Something that has also been confusing is its availability. Yes, a working draft is available today and browsers are starting to support it. However, the W3C candidate recommendation stage is expected in 2012 and will reach W3C recommendation in 2022, possibly later. No, that is not a typo, it does say 2022. See more on the estimated timeline here and also here. We will see advances and improvements over the next few years, but they will still be working drafts.

It will be very interesting in how e-learning authoring tools adopt and adapt to HTML5. I am sure many are  exploring that now. As far as web development, Dreamweaver is already offering an extension so you can start exploring it now. The video below provides information on Dreamweaver and HTML5 along with an opinion on the “HTML5 and Flash” issue.

Bottom line, don’t put all your hopes in something that has yet delivered. Learn about it, keep an eye on it, even play around with the working drafts if you have the time and patience. Right now Flash is the best and most powerful tool in an e-learning developer’s toolbox and HTML5’s current draft can’t touch it. Will that change? Maybe, maybe not, but if it does it will be quite a while before HTML5 is a true competitor for Flash. Until HTML5 offers the same level of quality as Flash I will stick with Flash and still recommend it for any e-learning developer’s toolbox.

Again, here is the link to Dreamweaver’s HTML5 pack. And if you have any examples of HTML5 that prove me wrong or an opinion, please add it to the comments section.


Yours truly,


A Flash user open to using HTML5 when and if it becomes a viable alternative.

Development Tools I Would Learn If I Were You – June's Big Question

June’s Big Question over at the Learning Circuits blog is regarding tools one should “…learn today in order to be a valuable eLearning professional in 2015.”

So you know my perspective, since my start in e-learning I have always been both a designer and developer. Although my degree is in instructional design I have worked in corporate training departments where I am responsible for both. This is not unusual in corporate environments, especially among small to mid-size companies. In my instructional design graduate program, UMBC, I took several courses that focused on development, but they really only scratched the surface. They provided just enough to make us dangerous with HTML, Flash, Photoshop and Authorware. Most of which gave me a good baseline for further developing my e-learning development skills. No, I do not use Authorware now, but it is hard to predict what will be an essential tool 10 years down the road. Five years is tough to predict too, but I will attempt it anyway.

A pertinent point is that you can learn any number of development tools, but when you get to a new position your employer may have tools already available that they prefer you use or they may have you determine what tools to use. I have experienced both situations. One thing you can count on, if they already have an LMS you are stuck with it unless they already had plans to change the LMS and you are the sucker, I mean expert, who is to select and implement a new one.

So back to the big question, I would recommend the following types of tools, and examples where appropriate, that you  should “…learn today in order to be a valuable eLearning professional in 2015.”

Social/informal learning: Microblogging (e.g. Yammer or Twitter), blogs, social bookmarking (e.g. Delicious), virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life).

Games: We are already seeing more and more games in e-learning and I think that will increase even more in the next five years. For me, I use Flash to develop games, but whether it is Flash or other game development tools get to know how to use them.

Learning Management System (LMS): I would get familiar with the features of an LMS, how they function,  how companies’ use them and where they are going. I believe they will still be very present in corporate training in 2015, but will integrate more informal learning tools along with mobile learning, virtual worlds and alternative reality games (ARG).

SCORM: Learn at least the basics of SCORM including how to make basic edits to a SCORM manifest. Because the LMS will still be present in corporate training, like it or not, SCORM will still be very needed in 2015.

Graphics editing: There is a good chance you will need to create and/or edit graphics for your courses (e.g. Photoshop or Fireworks). If you are lucky enough to have a graphic artist on staff, it is still good to know the basics and be able to “speak their language.”

e-Learning web-based training (WBT) development tool: This will most likely be your “go to” tool for developing asynchronous online courses and/or assessments (OutStart Trainer, Articulate, ToolBook, etc., etc., etc.,). Keep in mind some may be DHTML output, others create Flash SWFs. By 2015, I am sure many will create HTML5 files too.

Flash: Yes, Flash is still very much alive and well in e-learning and because it is so embedded in our industry and there is nothing at this time that can provide the rich interactive elements that it provides, I do not see it being “dead” in our field anytime soon. The fact is HTML5 is not there yet and if it ever does get there it will probably be more than 5 years before it is at the level of quality and ease of development that Flash currently provides. However, see my comments under HTML/HTML5.

HTML/HTML5: Learning HTML will come in very handy, especially if your WBT tool creates DHTML files, which you may need to edit at times. As far as HTML5, it is not officially released yet nor is at a point where it can be used to create the level of interactive content you should expect in e-learning courses. However, years from now it may be much more practical and creating HTML5 content will probably be best done via Adobe Dreamweaver. So, learn Dreamweaver now and as HTML5 emerges keep up to date with how to use Dreamweaver to create HTML5 content.

Here are few resources for learning more about e-learning tools and how to developing your skills in using them:

  • eLearningLearning, which aggregates many useful e-learning blogs including many discussions on development tools.
  • Social bookmarks is always a great way to find useful resources. Here are some of my bookmarks  – development_toolscloud, gamesflash_tutorial, SCORM, HTMLHTML5.
  • Learning Tools Zone (C4LPT) has a very expansive list of learning tools.
  • Once you determine the tools you want to use, search out the application’s development center and blogs that focus on the tool. For example, the  Captivate blog or their development center, Articulate’s Rapid eLearning Blog and Word of Mouth Blog, etc.
  • Try the tools that interest you. Many tools have trial periods or are free. Give them a try along with any tutorials available.
  • The best resource is talk to people in the field who are developing e-learning. Ask them about the tools they use, how they use each, their recommendations on getting started with the tools and what they think with be valuable to you in 2015.