PowerPoint for Courseware Development

Despite the many naysayers, PowerPoint is a fine place to start with eLearning development – whether the ultimate goal is to just convert those presentations to actual courseware or to use the deck as an initial storyboard for further development with more substantial tools like Storyline or Captivate (or any of the other plethora of eLearning tools).

PowerPoint has a place in eLearning development. I’ve worked with hundreds of PPT files over the years, from standard presentations to pre-production storyboards to ILT conversion. Here are some ideas how to fit PowerPoint in to your eLearning production process.

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Techsmith Repository

Techsmith provides several excellent tools useful in eLearning courseware development. Someday I hope to provide a post with an actual bit of depth regarding my favorite Techsmith tool, Camtasia.

This quickie post, however, could be just be considered more a prominent bookmark.

While I have the latest version (as of this posting) of Captivate 8 on my primary machine, I recently needed to install version 6 to work with a colleague’s file. How to do that isn’t readily apparent on Techsmith’s site and it took a little searching to find Techsmith’s Previous Release Download Center.

Got the old 6.0.3 installer, dug up my old key, made the needed project edits, and sent the updated source back to my colleague.

Easy-peasy :)

 

Adobe’s Edge-y HTML5 Development Tools

With Flash being increasingly dismissed for many web projects, Adobe needed an answer to replace at least some of that functionality with a tool that used HTML/JS…resulting in the Edge suite of tools.

Here’s Wikipedia’s entry on the Edge tools. I’m not sure the overview paragraph is terribly accurate, but it’s a good reference page overall, outside Adobe’s site.

That said, Flash isn’t entirely out of the game. With CreateJS integrated, Flash can output to HTML5 Canvas, creating solid images, charts, and animations. I consider this the beginning of the Flash IDE transformation. Until it moves further, however, the Edge tools provide a lot of the otherwise missing HTML functionality.

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ADA/508/504 and Video Accessibility

A little old, but still highly relevant, from the November 2013 Streaming Media West conference came a session titled “Best Practices for Implementing Accessible Video Captioning” . Representatives from Dell, T-Mobile, and Google/YouTube discussed video captioning, mobile video, and video translation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) covers federal, state, and local jurisdictions, and applies to a wide range of domains, including employment, public entities, telecommunications, and places of public accommodation.

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Project Narration Guidelines (for eLearning, or most anything)

If your eLearning project calls for narration – whether to enhance the on-screen content, provide navigation instruction, to address 508/Accessibility requirements, or just to have an extra bit of media within your piece (the suitability of all to be ideally determined in your instructional design phase) – there are essentially two approaches: Record it yourself (or ‘in-house’) or Hire a professional.

In-house narration can be worthwhile for a variety of reasons. For example, if a faculty member or subject-matter expert is well-known, having that SME record the narration can lend some weight to the overall engagement and perceived validity of the course; or if you need to work out the timing of various media elements, recording a temporary ‘scratch’ track can certainly help with production and beta reviews of the product before expenses are incurred using professional talent.

Professional narration does usually add a cost to the projects, of course, but with proper management of the script and resources, it doesn’t have to be expensive. The advantages of clean, clear, and properly-enunciated narration can only help improve the overall quality of the project.

If you work with outside, professional narrators – or even experienced narrators in-house – Rebecca Haugh (a narrator we’ve used often) has published a solid set of 5 Tips for eLearning Voice Recording. And of course, those are solid considerations to keep in mind when you are recording narration internally with less-experienced folks.

Having developed, managed, and even recorded untold numbers of narratives for eLearning projects, here are a few additional guidelines (some of which Rebecca touches on as well):

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Creative Cloud 2014 Release

A new release of Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a mere few hours away! We look forward to this significant release and expect solid innovation (i.e. 3D printing support added to Photoshop!). Whether because they want to or really have little choice, professionals are continuing to take up Creative Cloud subscriptions; there are currently more than 1.3 million CC subscribers!

The 2014 release of Creative Cloud is coming: Watch the keynote live online.

On June 18th at 1pm ET see the next evolution of Creative Cloud. All-new desktop and mobile apps, new creative hardware, hundreds of new features and other surprises – all designed to accelerate your creativity and make everything you do every day easier and faster.

Watch the free keynote live on June 18th.

The CC 2014 release (note the addition of a  year to ‘CC’, so there IS some versioning in place, thanksfully) will not replace or overwrite any previous versions you may have installed on your computer and should run side-by-side with earlier software. You can decide when to upgrade and/or uninstall prior versions.

After the CC 2014 launch event, Adobe will commence the Create Now 2014 World Tour – a free live seminar in various citites where you can learn the latest about Creative Cloud, try new products, sharpen design skills, and get inspired!

Check out the Creative Cloud Mosaic fun…

New Recipe (CP7 and Video)

In case you missed it, we’ve got a new (and the first) sample piece up on the Recipes page.  this example was created in Captivate 7 to demonstrate two concepts:

  1. How to do a simple ‘clickspot’ (or ‘hotspot’) overlay on video; using a ‘slide video’ on the timeline with clickspots placed at various points, pausing the video, to allow users to interact with the piece.
  2. Showing how an MP4 placed as an ‘Event video’ allows video-specific controls which will work on both desktop (SWF) and mobile (HTML5) output. Event videos in CP are the only way to show video-specific controls, but you cannot then accurately time other timeline events with those videos as they have their own controls.

Head over to the Recipes section to check it out!

AICC, SCORM , xAPI, CC/LTI, CMI-5…What Does It All Mean?

If nothing else, the growth of eLearning seems to correlate directly to the growth of bizarre acronyms.

Currently, there are three primary methods of tracking lesson data back to a centralized storage site and database. There are ultimately more than that, which I’ll mention at the end, but first is an overview of the top three methods for tracking eLearning progress and interaction.

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Captivate: How to view the HTML5 version anywhere

When you publish an Adobe Captivate project to both SWF and HTML5, three HTML pages are written to the output folder.

Captivate uses the project title as the filenames for the SWF-version of the published files. Say your project name is “MyProject”… In this case:

  • The SWF output will be titled ‘MyProject.swf’ and its parent HTML file will be titled ‘MyProject.htm”
  • The HTML output is called from the ‘index.html’ or ‘index_SCORM.html’ file (depending on whether or not SCORM is enabled for the project).
  • The third HTML file will be called ‘multiscreen.html’.

The multiscreen.html file involves some trickery which evaluates the browser and/or system that is accessing the project, then displays what it believes to be the appropriate version (SWF or HTML5) for the device. If you publish boimsmanifest-multiscreenth versions to a SCORM .zip package, the ‘imsmanifest.xml’ file within that package specifies the ‘multisceeen.html’ as the primary launch file; so when the user launches the lesson from the LMS, the ‘multiscreen’ file launches first, the trickery is invoked, and the proper version is presented.

If you always want the HTML5 version to  appear, you can edit that manifest file and change this line:

<resource identifier=”SCO_ID1_RES” type=”webcontent” href=”multiscreen.html” adlcp:scormtype=”sco”>

to be:

<resource identifier=”SCO_ID1_RES” type=”webcontent” href=”index_SCORM.html” adlcp:scormtype=”sco”>

However (!), be aware that not all desktop browsers work well with Captivate’s HTML5 output, so be warned this may cause issues for non-mobile users.

When I’m developing Captivate content to be delivered to both desktop and mobile devices, I rely on the manifest and multiscreen files to do their job. When testing published output, I upload the unzipped files to my staging server…and when doing quick tests, I directly load the index_SCORM.html (or just index.html) file using Chrome to do a quick evaluation of how well the mobile output will perform.

Of course, once further along, testing is done on a variety of devices for true evaluation…

So in sum, to quickly check Captivate’s HTML output on your desktop, call the ‘index’ files directly.

Another addition to the eLearning niche

As pretty much the only writer at my previous employer, their company blog was one of my many responsibilities. Once I left, not only has their blog stagnated but I lost my primary platform for spewing whatever hopefully-useful drivel struck my fancy.

So time to setup something new. I’ve had ‘eLearning Chef’ registered for years now and let it languish, unloved, in the virtual ‘To Do eList’…and I’ve got server space, and always wanted to play with different blogging platforms (the former-company’s blog being hosted on Blogger), and wanted something a bit more personal than another Facebook account…

Anyway, not too much to write (or spew) at this point; moreso just to get a post up and settle on the overall ‘look-n-feel’ of the site. I do hope to keep this blog fairly fresh and current with at least somewhat regular news and thoughts on the whole eLearning scene.

Oh, and you probably didn’t ask but I’ll tell anyway – eLearning Chef arose simply from my initial LinkedIn profile. When I first signed up for that site, many years ago (way pre-IPO), everyone’s self-descriptions were so…formal. I wanted to do something fun, and eventually epiphanized (?) while making the family dinner that the process of deciding what to eat, preparing the various tools and process, and putting it all together…was very similar (generally) to what I do for a living.

Or at least, that was what my mind spewed at the time… So be ready for more of that!