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).
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
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.
Articulate – Presenter 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.
Currently, I am involved in creating simulations for a new system application. This is something I have done a lot of over the years. And I have learned quite a bit, but the hard way. To avoid the problems I encountered in the past, I strongly suggest making the following considerations prior to developing software or system application simulations.
- Have access to a “test” system to capture the sim’s screens. If there is not a test system and you must capture screens in a live system, identify all the tasks you can or cannot do without adverse effects on the system or its data.
- Is there sensitive data or information on the system (test or live) that should not be displayed on the simulation? Can dummy data be added for the sake of the simulation? If not, you may need to alter the captured screens with a graphics editor to eliminate and replace sensitive data.
- Is the system you are using when capturing the screens exactly as it will appear when it is “live?” The graphic user interface (GUI) and functions should replicate what the user will actually experience when they start using the actual system.
- Determine the end users’ computer specifications. What is their bandwidth, browser type, Flash player version, etc.? These will all determine how you develop the sims and what software(s) you choose for sim development. For example, some development software may require certain players or plug-ins your users do not currently have or they may have low bandwidth causing the very slow download of the Captivate sim you built, etc.
- Timing of the course launch. Obviously training should occur prior to when people are expected to use the system, but retention can be an issue and I like people to be use the system soon after training
- Keep the course accessible. Users will probably find the sims to be great refreshers at a later time, so make sure it stays online and is easy to navigate. They should be able to launch the course on the fly and go directly to the sim they need. Make sure the course’s menu and navigation are very user-friendly.
- Provide job aids. If the system is not intuitive or the tasks taught are very complicated, the job aid can be a big help to the users after training.
- Coaching labs. If geography and resources allow, I like to also offer “training labs.” After attending the online training, system users can come into a computer lab and receive coaching on whatever issues they are having or still confused about.