Further adventures in Rapid authoring….

It’s been a while since my last post, but this has been because I’ve been getting to grips with our new authoring tool Captivate.  We’re utilising some of the features that come with the software, and we are hoping to use the assessment tools with an update to our systems within the next month or two.

As with most new things, I find that you can take 3 steps forward, but then you can find yourself back where you started, pondering the problem all over again.  Don’t get me wrong – this is probably the best way that I learn, as mistakes will prompt more questions which, in the end, make the final product even better.

Does it have to be this awkward?

Over the last two weeks I’ve had to up my game in getting to grips with all of this technology – including an LMS (not the preferred LMS which will come into force at the end of July) but an interim one.  We were promised that they would be able to upload our Captivate assessments for us – as I had experienced quite a few IT issues with our servers.  Unfortunately, at the last minute, I was told that we didn’t have a contract for this – so it landed to me to sort out uploading these assessments myself.

The pressure was on, as I only had a day to work this out – training was going live on Monday and the delivery trainers needed them.  It took 2 uploads to make sure they were working properly, and as they were ‘live’ virtually straight away, feedback was coming in on a daily basis.

I found that putting content onto an LMS is far from straightforward, however I came away with lots of questions and things to think about before, during and after developing content .

I’ve compiled a list – if you have any other considerations that you think would be helpful – please let me know!

  • When vendors say ‘quite simply….’ it is rarely simple
  • Make sure that you have adequate support from your vendor – both of ours are in the US – so time delays are a consideration
  • Find out what the LMS can give you and is it relevant  – what do you want to do with the information?
  • Publishing from your development software – find out what everything does when you set up your preferences for publishing.  There are still things that I need to explore (information in the ‘manifest’ file that is published in SCORM (?)
  • Check, check and check your content.  As I was in a rush I would find typos once I’d uploaded this to the LMS.  Schoolboy error!
  • In Captivate – you need to always have the score page at the end of a quiz.  I tried to do the results with advanced actions – which screwed up the results in the LMS.
  • Quizzes in Captivate tend to ”do their own thing’ and sometimes doesn’t work as expected.

On the plus side – I did like the question pool facility in Captivate – which does seem to work quite well.  As for options for re-taking quizzes, reviewing quizzes etc – I still need to explore further.

As we have only had this software since the middle of April – I don’t think we’ve done to badly to get to this stage, but there’s a lot more to do!

Have you had these experiences with LMS?  Have you any more pointers to bear in mind when you are publishing?  Love to hear your thoughts….


A surfeit of lampreys

It may have been Henry I who died from a supposed ‘surfeit of lampreys’ but at the moment, I feel like we’re going to drown under the authoring tools we are currently using! We seem to have a surfeit of authoring tools.

After not having anything to develop self managed learning, except PowerPoint, I find myself trialling and developing on 3 different tools. It’s been a hectic couple of months trying to keep up, so as part of my ‘reflection’ process I thought I’d post a few thoughts on my progress so far.

First up….

Atlantic Link by Kaplan

The company I work for is currently in the process of de-coupling from a large banking group and this is the group preferred option. This was only available to us from September, and I and another colleague had training from Kaplan. From having nothing I was initially excited about the possibilities this presented to us. Proper branching, scenario building and assessments were some of the functionality that attracted us. Exploring screens and using the bank of ‘assets’ meant that we could make our modules as in depth as we wished. Maybe it was because I left it a couple of weeks before having a good look at it, but I began to find that it didn’t quite work in the way that I wanted it to. This is what I found-

Layout looks a little crowded but enables you to keep tabs on all your chapters/pages
Find assets from a side bar and drag and drop onto your page
Each asset has a properties window which means you can manipulate the assets
‘content point’ is where you assemble your courses, ‘capture point’ is the screen capture tool.
More assets can be imported from the Atlantic Link library (although I couldn’t get this to work, and had to e-mail the asset to myself and then add it to the library-probably owing to our browser)
It is necessary to use the correct asset to do the action you want. You can’t seem to mix the assets-use a button to prompt some roll over text etc.
Very simple to produce a ‘show me, try me, test me’ feature for software simulations.
Not WYSIWYG. One you have amended your assets (colour etc) you need to publish to view correctly. There are two ways to view, either the page or the complete course.

At the moment we are heavily involved in producing software simulations so the simulation functionality was a real winner. However, we were then presented with-

Lectora Online by Trivantis via Success Factors

We are also launching an LMS (better late than never, even though it seems some people are moving beyond the LMS) and we get this product bundled with it. At first, the software looked a little ‘bare’ and simple, but this belied the power that this product offers. I found that-

This is WYSIWYG. Designing the page is great as you can see it how the end user would see it.
You still use assets but tend to just be buttons, text boxes, pictures, movies, audio
This sounds quite limited, but every item on your page can be modified in lots of different ways.
Actions can be added to everything and multiple actions can be added. Group multiple actions together and run them simultaneously.
Variables can be added to assets ( just getting my head around these!) to improve their functionality further
Simple preview button that shows the page and functioning as the user would see it-and it will show the page you are on and will move forward if you want-no need to run the whole course from the beginning
Easy to add assessments and to manipulate them in anyway you want.

This seems to be quite straightforward to use and the possibilities seem endless as everything can be manipulated. We don’t have Camtasia, which is packaged with Lectora inspire, so there is no screen capture software. You can do simulations though using interactive static screens. If this wasn’t enough to be getting on with, we are now getting-

Adobe Captivate

I’ve only been looking at a demo copy of this, but my initial thoughts are that it seems to combine the other two applications. This is going to be mainly for screen capture, but you can assemble courses as well. As you are building the course you see the slides as the end user will see them. To manipulate the assets there is a properties box which is laid out like Atlantic Link. What makes me think that this will be good for us is that the screen capture can be exported as a .swf or .flv and can then be exported to Lectora. I’ve not really begun to explore everything in this software, but I’m looking forward to getting to grips with it,

My preference then is for Lectora combined with Captivate which I think will give us the best options when designing online learning. I don’t think that Atlantic Link will be flexible enough for us as we try and develop the best learning offering that we can create.

Has anyone used any of these before? Anything to add? Pease let me know your experiences with authoring tools-hints and tips would be very welcome!

Atlantic Link

Lectora Online

Adobe Captivate

The Global Village

Well – it’s been a long time coming – now the third post of this blog.  As we hurtle towards the end of the year, resolutions are being thought about, and keeping this blog updated is one of them.

Recently I went to stay with a friend of mine who lives in a very small seaside town in Northern Ireland and this visit got me thinking about how technology can be used in a really creative way.  A neighbour of hers has a teenage son, who is very interested in music, and is very taken with the iPad.  He visits my friend and assembles pieces on the garageband app on her iPad.  He is very interested in ‘multi tracking’ where people record themselves singing all the parts to a song – even including instruments and rhythm and creates his own versions of pop songs on his limited software on his PC.

When I met him the other weekend, he told me that he had been featured in a global collaboration for Sting’s 60th birthday.  Some fans had put together a version of ‘Fragile’  and posted it on YouTube.  This really struck a chord (!) with me – as this teenager from a small town in Northern Ireland was featured on this track with people from all over the world.  The video was put together by a girl in Israel!  How else could this happen but with the technology we have now – truly a global village!

I wrote the above paragraph and then found that Mark Berthelemy had already beaten me to it with his recent post.  This was the idea that Eric Whitacre had with his world choir.  Albeit on a smaller scale – check out George’s collaboration here (he’s the one that does the beat halfway through).

Let me know if you’ve come across any inspirational collaborations recently!


eFront Learning: How would you go about converting a face to face course to an eLearning format?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Just a quick test from Diigo!

TV and LMS – the way forward?

Ok I admit it – I love gadgets and the latest thing. This is why I’ve recently had TiVo from Virgin Media and am slowly getting used to the new way of organising my television viewing.

TiVo is not exactly ‘new’ – it has had a launch before, about 10 years ago and had a hard time of it no thanks to Sky I believe – who went into partnership with them and then promptly brought out Sky+. As people now are more used than they were several years ago to getting content when they like (through YouTube/internet/Sky+ etc.), Virgin are launching this again.

The model is quite clever. The system ‘learns’ your viewing habits, what you record etc. and you can ‘favourite’ programmes that you like or ‘dislike’ programmes you don’t. The system will then suggest other programmes you might be interested in, again that you can ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. From this information, the system will build up a whole evening’s viewing.

Like or Dislike

This is quite a powerful model and one that advertisers are now having to deal with. I don’t think I’ve watched an advert for weeks!

But is this the future of broadcasting? A conversation recently with some fellow twitterers had me thinking. we were having a conversation about trying to record the top 40 on a Sunday evening on our radio cassettes (yes readers.. THAT old!!). This seemed to be everyone’s experience and we could all relate and talk about it. If the model for TV is going to be similar to TiVo – content is watched as and when you want – then the shared experience is lost and the water cooler moment disappears.

If we were to translate this model over to an LMS system, where content is ‘pushed’ to the learning based on their job profile/competencies etc. then many of the courses or content will be tailored to them only. This would mean that when they attend any courses, they are unlikely to be attending with any of their team.. Would this then isolate them when they get back to the business? Is part of the learning experience discussing this with colleagues, learning together?

A recent article tweeted by @craigtaylor74 talks about LMS in these terms. This would mean then that the L&D department would be even more of a curator, managing the content, making sure that content is up to date and then flagged up to the relevant area.

So with the Google search model being applied to more software, could this benefit the L&D department and the business at the same time? Should we be wary of just letting the delegate ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ their content?

What do you think?

(picture courtesy of Salvatore Vuomo)

Hello?…Hello? Can anyone hear me?

‘Hello…hello..Is anyone there?  Can you hear me Craig?….

So started my first foray into podcasting.  Although the flesh was willing, the technology was definitely weak, and our conversation was carried out in fits and starts over the ether.  We, every situation is a learning and I’ve learned that Skype works much better on a wifi network than a 3G dongle! Very kindly Craig re scheduled the call which was recorded without a hitch and can be found on Craig Taylor’s blog http://tayloringit.com/

I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for a while now and with the inspiration of other newbie bloggers (Niall Gavin/Kate Graham and Lisa Johnson) I’ve decided to take the plunge and start. (I know Mike that this has had a longer gestation than an elephant’s pregnancy but here goes…)

So where do I start?  I think it was John Cage whose advise to young composers was ‘start anywhere’ ….

I’m currently a Learning Curriculum Design consultant within a large general insurer which is going through a lot of change at the moment.  Although I’ve been a trainer for about 10 years now, and worked in various areas of the team and business, I’ve only been in the design team for over a year.  Having attended the World of Learning conference last year, I had my ‘Damascus’ moment and saw the potential for different learning methods and how we as a team could improve.  Along with some supportive colleagues, we are striving to improve the learning offering to the business – and having some challenges and fun on the way.

So really this blog is my space to document our journey and somewhere I can jot my ideas and thoughts, and hopefully get feedback from the wider learning community, who I’ve found to be very helpful and ready to share ideas.

I suppose the main worry about starting a blog – especially about learning – is, will anyone be interested?  Many people better qualified and experienced in e-learning and technology than me have probably said it before – but everything is a learning experience, so I’ve decided to take the plunge.

So…Hello?….Is anybody there?…..

A blogging journey through learning…. (all the views here are my own etc..)

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