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reflections of the team

How to save time on e-learning serials

Note: this blog is aimed at Storyline users. I will discuss specific Storyline functions. Some tips may provide inspiration for other authoring tools and even PowerPoint.

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When I started using Articulate Storyline, I was a typical "Let's Not Read The Manual" type of user. I clicked all the buttons and hoped for an effect.

As you can imagine, I learned a lot of new functions this way. I also learned a lot of ways to create similar effects. Each of these ways has its merit. It will allow you to find a solution when you've hit the curb of limitations in Storyline.

My onboarding process was quintessentially "social learning". I learned from my colleagues and they learned from me. Even in our office, "We've always done it this way" is right around the corner. Bringing in some new blood: the best way to have habits kick the bucket!

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Even across borders, I was able to learn from peers. Articulate Storyline has an active online community. Their E-learning Heroes community is a beautiful example of social learning.

After working with the software for two years, here's my list of tips to save time.

1. Set up a style guide.

a. Create a mood board. Clients can pick visuals, interactions en design elements they find pleasing. Pinterest is always a good tool for mood boards. If you want to co-create, try Padlet.

b. Set up a template with choice of fonts, colour schemes, and some master slides. Save as a Storyline Template and re-use across modules.

c. Ask clients about Tone of Voice. Where do the nuances lie? Which company jargon should be included? Which words are to be avoided? It's not a bad idea to set up a small dictionary for yourself. Especially when working on a series.

2. Choose your type of storytelling

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a. Will you use characters that return across modules? Start out with a set of emotions and gestures per character. Create a persona sheet and re-use across modules.

b. Decide on the ideal type of branching. Will your story be linear, modular, scenario-based, or something in between? Confirm your thinking with the client and the target population.

c. Decide on the type of questions. Usually, a mix of interactions works best. Specific learning objectives demand a certain type of interactions. It can be a fun thought experiment to choose an unusual interaction and find a way to make it work.

3. Validate after each step.

a. Sit next to your client when you show him something. Note down his experience. How did you make them feel? Which unusual behaviours did you notice? What are common suggestions for improvement? Validate your observations after each session.

b. Each time you send a draft version to the client, provide a guide on feedback. What's different this time? Do they need to start re-writing voice-overs on this stage or are you still in a graphic design mode? Point the attention of your client to what you need. This will save time both on your and their end.

What are your tips? Have you tried any of these? Which one is missing according to you?