Tag: elearning features

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

More Ways to Make Your eLearning GREAT

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A little creativity goes a long way.

Last month, at the Midwest Moodle Moot, I attended a workshop by Melinda Kraft of Albion College.  “The Moodle Mash – It’s a Web 2.0 Splash” covered many free (or inexpensive) and easy-to-use online applications that you can use to add more connectivity, interaction, and interest to your Moodle courses.  I’m splitting this into two posts:  this one on multi-media and a second one on collaboration and interaction.  Both build on previous posts…if you have time, read them all!

Create your own multi-media for your content. These will make your eLearning GREAT without breaking the budget on production costs.  You don’t have to be an artist, but a  little creativity helps…Here are some of the applications Melinda demonstrated, with my business content take on them.  Warning: some of these examples are, uh, rough around the edges.  I would recommend more polished versions for real courses.

  • GoAnimate.com Create cartoons for memorable lessons.  So much business training is so dry, so boring.  Lighten it up with a cartoon here and there (don’t overdo it) to highlight really critical messages you want students to remember.  Or, use them to offer a mental break after a particularly intense topic. Watch Zeb help Gerry remember the things to look for in a 10 Second Inspection in the Fort Swampy course at BeeLearn.com.
  • Xtranormal is another site that allows you to create animated movies online.  There is also a desktop version.  There is more functionality here than with GoAnimate.com, but you’ll have to pay for everything after the initial test.  Here is my first creation; crude, but not so bad for ten minutes worth of my time.
  • Aviary.com Super easy online image editing.  A picture is worth 1000 words and every eLearning course should contain some!  I have spent hours searching for just the right stock image or trying to adjust an existing image with Photoshop.

    Buzzy Made-over at Aviary.com

    I don’t recommend dressing your logo up like he’s been out on an all-night bender, but you can do it in a few minutes if you choose. You can get a free screen capture/editor as a browser extension, too.  A great time saver when you are building content.

  • Create and edit more than images with AviaryTools. Obtaining a license to use copyrighted material in a commercial project (which applies to eLearning courses used by all business, for profit or not), can be expensive or forbidden.  These online tools are affordable and useful when you want to:
    • Include music in your content.  Create your own score!
    • Add sound effects (including your own voice) to your Engage animations, GoAnimate or Xtranormal videos, or as stand-alone content in your courses.
    • Add comments or otherwise mark-up screen captures and images.
  • Snagit and Jing by TechSmith – Easily create “how-to” videos, narrated slideshows, and other objects to show your students, comment on what they’ve done, and help them collaborate with each other.
  • WidgetBox.com Mix up the way your content is presented by displaying it in a widget (copy the code into any HTML area in your course). Some ideas for displaying content in a widget:
  • BrainPOP was not covered at the Moot; Brent Schlenker tweeted this one about Hurricanes (given the current event of Hurricane Irene threatening the east coast of the US and Canada).  Very, very nice…

Most of these come with widgets and buttons that you can place in your content to direct students to create their own as part of assignments.

Mobile Widgets at WidgetBox.com. This is a fee-based service, but you can try it out for 30 days.  Offer your clients a free app that supports your training content. Even if one already exists, customize your own with your logo and contact information, specific to your training content and expertise:

  • A mobile version of a quick reference like the Pill Identifier or Seafood Watch (above).
  • Things to look for in a 10 Second Inspection; any checklist or guide that would be helpful to people when the job takes them away from their computers.
  • Calendar with important events.  Include your “office hours”, required web meetings, chats, and even assignment due dates.
  • Assignments.  This app could provide details on the assignment, links to resources, quick tip guides.  This is especially helpful if your course requires field work, whether it be in a hospital, a mall, the manufacturing floor, or literally a field.

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Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

More ways to Jazz up Your Moodle Courses with Collaboration and Interaction

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Jazz up your Moodle coursesBuilding on an earlier post and a Moot workshop presentation by Melinda Kraft of Albion College, here are some ideas for using online applications to stay connected with your students and to encourage them to interact with each other. Make sure you check out the companion post to this one, More Ways to Make Your eLearning GREAT.

WidgetBox.com Add unlimited features to any Moodle course or Front Page– for learning, communicating, or just plain fun. Create an account, design your widget, using one of their many templates or your own, and copy the code into an HTML block in your Moodle course (or front page). Some ideas for using their templates to make your courses more engaging:

  • An RSS feed from your blog (much nicer formatting than the standard Moodle RSS block), a YouTube widget, Twitter updates; you can see examples in the Pluto course at BeeLearn.com.
  • Poll widget – use on the home page to gather demographics about your site visitors; within courses you can use this much like the Moodle Choice activity to gather instant feedback such as “Would you like to see more examples like this one?” or “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”
  • Form – use as a sign up form for an event, a newsletter, a free information product, a follow-up call for a quote, a free consultation…View an example in the Fort Swampy course at BeeLearn.com where the form is used to sign up for peer study groups.
  • Countdown – are you holding a webinar or speaking at a conference?  The Countdown widget lets you customize the event name, the countdown display, and a custom message once the event is over.  You can put “Sorry, you missed it, but you can download the presentation here” and put a link. See an example in the Pluto course at BeeLearn.com.

Note that the WidgetBox.com Basic account is free, but has fewer design options than the fee-based Pro account.

Chat, VOIP, and Web meeting clients that add interactivity to any eLearning course:

  • Meebo Put the Meebo Bar on your site to make it easy for both visitors and participants to share with others, connect with you, and even allow affiliate advertisements without negatively affecting the aesthetics or distracting learners.
  • Trillian I am not an online chatter anymore.  Twenty-five years ago I was enthralled with, so I avoid the temptation now.  But if you are, Trillian is the IM client for you, aggregating all of your screen names in one place so you can keep up.
  • For VOIP calls and web meetings, Skype remains a favorite.  There was a Skype activity module (plugin) for Moodle; I’m not sure if it’s working for 2.x or not.  Regardless of that, you can create a customized Skype button and place it in any HTML content area in Moodle.

Use these scheduling applications to connect with your students/clients for coaching sessions, consulting, speaking engagements.  You’re not bogged down by multiple “are you available” emails; you don’t need a personal assistant to schedule for you.  These can be linked or embedded in your Moodle course content and can sync with your Moodle calendar.

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Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Sustainable eLearning is Great eLearning

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Ideas for Sustainable PracticesLast month I was amused as I read online instructions for participants in a webinar on Sustainability (of all things). It said “download the presentation file and print three slides per page to save trees”.  Wow! Why print it at all?

I would like to propose that your online training – whether it’s a Moodle course, an eLearning course in another LMS, or a webinar – can be both GREAT and environmentally responsible.  Here are some ideas to enrich your training while doing better by the environment, your students, and your wallet:

1. Take full advantage of online technology.  If you design an eLearning course, making it all that it can be, printing won’t make any sense.

  • Interactive features from games to online chats are meaningless in paper form.
  • Linked text loses its value when printed. Colors disappear.
  • Animations – even simple ones in PowerPoint – are ineffective when printed.
  • Start thinking of training in terms of screens instead of slides.   PowerPoint really isn’t the right tool to present content online.

2. Provide printable material that reinforces your message; not the entire presentation itself.

  • Create full color and illustrated, 10 Tips to Save More Than Paper that serve as references and reminders for the most important messages of your course content.
  • Offer these tip sheets as “rewards” for attending your webinar, taking the course, posting to forums, submitting a great assignment, or getting a high score on a quiz.
  • Use your imagination and make them great.  The best part:  they don’t have to be printed to be useful.  Let your students decide!

3. Build an app that does something your course teaches.  Perhaps it can determine the lumber needed for a tool shed with input on dimensions, calculate the calories burned during a Downward Dog, or plot a graph of this month’s daily revenues.

4. Commission a wheel or slide chart.  Flexigroup offers both print and electronic versions, such as the one I created to compare footprints for eLearning vs. face to face training

  • The electronic version comes with an optional PDF that can be downloaded and put together by the user.
  • My “put it together yourself version” was a huge hit at a trade show.  I ran out the first morning!

Make sure your contact information, logo, and tagline are on every piece.

Additional Reading (and lots more links!) on Sustainability

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Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Five Things to Consider for Web Accessible eLearning

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In my post, Looking Ahead at Web Accessibility, I touched on the reasons why eLearning should be designed with accessibility in mind.  I’m not going to preach why we should do it.  I’m going to assume we’re all going to do it and get right to the how to go about it stuff.  (If you’re still not convinced, check out this blog by CourseAvenue.)

I’m also going to assume that everyone, regardless of disability, deserves and expects the experience of GREAT eLearning.  So, let’s start* with the Five Basic Things to consider when designing for web accessibility:

Will this add value to the students’ learning experience? Without it, many students will receive no value, so yes; web accessibility adds value for those who would otherwise not be able to take the eLearning course.  But the best part is the serendipitous nature of building for accessibility: it will likely add value for everyone.

The thought process of how each word, image, or feature you create will be taken in by this broader audience will enhance your understanding and connection with all of your students.  Many of the practices — such as careful outlining and more descriptive alternate text — will add to the experiences of all.

Do I have the skill? I think skill is less important than awareness and consideration.  Educate yourself on the issues.  Review examples of how a simple change can make a huge difference to someone with a disability.  The most comprehensive site on the subject that I have found is WebAim.org. If you feel that you still need to understand it better, they offer training in accessibility for both designers and administrators.

What are the options? The options range from free to costly, from software to hardware, and from designed-in to user-controlled.  For instance, ReadSpeaker is a plug-in for applications such as WordPress; the user has only to click “listen” to launch it.  JAWS is user-installed software that enables key stroke commands and Braille outputs. Other applications, such as captioning, require the designer to add that feature at the creation stage. 

I will be reviewing these options — and many more — in upcoming posts on specific features.  The first will be on web accessibility as it applies to text and images. 

How much functionality do you need from this tool? If this were a game show and you were asked to name the disabilities that could restrict access to web content, you’d probably shout out “visual impairment” without any thought.  But did you realize that color blindness is also a visual impairment?  What would your second answer be?  Many people think that because the web is written, deafness isn’t a problem.  In my previous post, I mentioned that many people are including voice that explains their content; without it, the content is meaningless.  WebAim.org gathers data on how many informational sites bury their content in videos.  Don’t make the same mistake with your eLearning. 

The answer to how much functionality is needed:  You should consider whether your eLearning audience will include those who have any form of vision impairment, have difficulty hearing, have limited motor skills, as well as the possibility of cognitive disabilities or the chance of seizures triggered by your cool fireworks flash.  Designing with these disabilities in mind will improve the quality of your content for everyone; even those of us without clinically diagnosed memory disorders appreciate intuitive content and navigation.

Will this tool work within my LMS?  Your LMS itself should be web accessible, so your concern is with making your content web accessible. An organized, well-designed layout will work anywhere.  Plugins, such as ReadSpeaker, will work in specified applications only.  Still others will have nothing to do with your LMS because the applications will be on the user-end (you’ll still have to design your content so it works with those applications.)

*Stay tuned for the next posts in this series on how web accessibility applies to the Features of GREAT eLearning:

  1. Web Accessibility Issues and Options: Text and Images
  2. Web Accessibility Issues and Options: Forms and Navigation
  3. Web Accessibility Issues and Options: Links and Documents
  4. Web Accessibility Issues and Options: Audio, Video, Flash, and Games
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Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

In the News: Moodle 2.0

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From the June 2010 issue of Penny For Your Thoughts newsletter…

in the news

Moodle 2.0 (scheduled for release next month) is a big change from version 1.9x. I’ve had a chance to play around with it for a couple of weeks now, and the one thing that strikes me hardest is this: a lot of what I thought would be easier, isn’t. I thought it would be more “intuitive” or easier for a novice to create content. It isn’t. I think this is a good thing. Over the past 30 years I’ve seen some really great software applications die because some easier (albeit mediocre) version came out. Easy is usually at odds with powerful; it might be easier to create charts in that oh-so-popular spreadsheet program, but most of what comes out is junk. What we want is an LMS application that is powerful in its ability to produce high quality output, yet easy for the student to use. So far it seems that Moodle is more powerful… on the creation side and easier on the student side.

One of the best new features of 2.0 is the ability to create conditions for every page or activity created. It is possible to build a complex relationship amongst pages and activities within a course, such that each appears only when other conditions (grades) have been achieved. While this is a very cool thing to do, and truly an enhancement to the instructional design capabilities of Moodle, it is certainly not easier. To use this feature effectively will require even more planning and an even deeper understanding of how people learn.

A new block, Private Files, promises to make the students’ lives a lot easier. It provides a place for storage and retrieval of one’s own personal files within any Moodle course (or site). I can see this as being huge for on-the-go learning, especially for mobile devices without the storage capacity of laptops and desktops. The students will be able to access their work from anywhere and have a super reliable storage medium.

I am continuing to work through the “new Moodle” with a fine tooth comb and will be regularly posting reviews of each feature (new and lost) over the next few weeks. I had been waiting for the new release to do some long-overdue upgrading of my existing courses (first written in 1.6). That was really just an excuse to procrastinate because I never upgrade to anything new when it first comes out! It will be awhile before we know which modules and plug-ins will work with 2.0, what new ones will be released, and just how to use them all to our advantage. Keep up to date on my Moodle 2.0 reviews by following me.

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Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

My Moodle site is up and running. Now What?

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OK, so let’s say you have followed all of my advice:

  1. Registered a domain name exclusively for your Moodle installation
  2. Hosted it with a certified Moodle Partner
  3. Hired a course designer to build it
  4. Launched a GREAT Moodle eLearning site

Now, it’s six months later (or next week or next year) and you want to make some minor changes.  Perhaps you want to update a quiz or edit some text.  Maybe you want to embed a really cool video you just found on YouTube.  You might even find that some of your external links and RSS feeds are broken.  (This will happen eventually, as the owners of those sites move things around). 

Who is going to do this?

If you’re anything like me, your first thought is to contact your course designer.  And, if your experience is anything like mine (with other such professionals, not course designers specifically), you’ll find that because she is in the middle of another large project, your request seems like a buzzing fly in her ear.  Not only does she find you annoying, but you feel like you’ve been swatted away.

So (again, if you’re anything like me), you decide to try it yourself.  Of course, if you knew how to do these things, you probably would’ve done them yourself in the first place!  But you try.  Maybe it takes you less than a day to do a 10-minute task and if you’re lucky, you didn’t break anything.  Maybe you took all day and maybe you broke a lot.  Now maybe someone will think your job is big enough to care about…

How can you avoid being a pest, wasting a lot of your time, and/or damaging your content? Some choices:

  • When you are choosing a course designer, make sure you ask about “going forward”.  Will she help you with that?  If so, what are the terms?  Get a Service Level Agreement (SLA) as part of your initial contract.  This document should define what it will cost you and what you will get in return.  One option  might be a flat monthly rate to check your entire Moodle site for broken links and incoming RSS feeds, as well as applications that are no longer optimal or viewable (because of upgrades to flash, Adobe Reader, etc.), and a stated amount of time making changes to your content.  (Remember, your Moodle host will do the back-ups and upgrades to Moodle so this should not be included in this SLA).  Another option would be an hourly rate, with a fast turnaround time, for changes to your content.  You would then be responsible for periodic checking of links and applications.

Or…

  • Find someone else whose business it is to do just these things.  Maybe your course designer can recommend someone.  There are many online “classifieds” where just such people post their skills and rates.  Search “Moodle”.  You can hire this person by the hour or on retainer.  If your business grows enough, you can hire a full time person to do this!

Or…

  • Take a course or two from a Moodle Partner.  Learn the basics.  Now that you have a working, revenue-generating site, you should have time to do this.  I’m not saying you will ever be a great Moodler, or that you even want to be, but you’ll be able to fix yourself a sandwich or heat up a can of soup (metaphorically speaking).

It’s easy to forget the need for ongoing maintenance of content when you’re all caught up in the initial phases of the project.  You don’t have to have all the details ironed out before you launch, but you should be thinking about it right from the start.  Good luck!

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Monday, June 7th, 2010

As it turns out, you can have too many tarps.

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Last month, my husband and I took our two (very large) dogs camping.  Not just camping, but tent camping on the beach in the Florida Keys.  I had no idea what to expect (other than the obvious mosquitoes, no-see-ums, sand, intense humidity, and blistering heat).  I carefully planned for months what to take.  Living in a hurricane zone, we have plenty of emergency supplies that would be good for camping – such as tarps.  At the last minute, I tossed a pile of tarps in the car, saying “you can’t have too many tarps”.

When we broke camp, it was pouring rain.  It was one of those Florida spring rains that are accompanied by gusting wind and lightning.  Needless to say, we didn’t pack the car as tightly as we did at the beginning of our journey, so things weren’t fitting as nicely as they had.  Plus, they were wet and covered with sand.  As it turns out, a pile of tarps takes up a lot of space!

Even though one tarp is highly valuable if you need emergency shelter from rain, several tarps have diminishing returns.  At some point, they become a liability rather than an asset.

As always, I see analogies between life and learning and on the long (rainy) ride home, I got to thinking about how information is like a tarp.  And how too much stuff – in training – can become a liability, just like too many tarps.  Just like with camping, too much stuff can detract from the experience.  So this brings us full circle (at least the way my mind works) to earlier posts:

  • Who is our audience and what do they want out of this experience?  The camping audience was two people and two dogs.  What we wanted was to relax and spend time together.  We did get plenty of the latter… In an eLearning course, the audience most likely wants to learn something.  They don’t want to be subjected to overload.  One tarp is good; five is too many.
  • Why are we doing this?  What do we want to get out of it?  If we’re planning a camping trip or an eLearning curriculum, our goals are similar:  we want the campers – or the students – to have a positive experience worth remembering.
  • What can we reasonably accomplish without undo risk or hardship?  What are our constraints?  Is it possible to have a really fun camping trip with just one tarp as a back-up?  Yes.  Is it possible to deliver a really great eLearning course without including every imaginable detail, idea, point of view, or feature?  Yes.

If you need help in deciding how many tarps to bring or how to design your eLearning so that it is a good balance of features and content for your situation, hire a course designer.  It will be worth it when you’re standing in the rain, wondering how you’re going to fit it all in.

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Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Choosing a Course Designer

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I was recently asked how I chose which Moodle Partner to use.  I had to think about that for a minute…presumably, they’re all competent.  They all have state of the art server farms and they all know Moodle inside and out.  The real reason that I chose “my guys” is that I like them.  I can work with them.  They have the same perspective that I have, at least when it comes to what e-Learning should be.  It’s the same reason I chose Moodle.  It suits me.  

Just like when you choose a doctor, an architect, or even a roommate, you want someone who shares your vision and who complements your style.  You want someone who makes you feel at ease.  This is also how you should choose an eLearning course designer.  You want someone who, together with you, will have the full range of skills needed to build great eLearning. The skills and expertise needed to pull together GREAT eLearning include: 

  • Instructional design knowledge and experience
  • Performance measurement creation and analysis
  • Graphic arts and graphic design applications
  • Audio and video use and production
  • Familiarity with web technology (things like FTP, cPanel, PHP, HTML, CSS, database) and hosting
  • Familiarity (deep) with the LMS you’ve chosen (Moodle or another)
  • Familiarity with file types, when they should be used, and how
  • Writing and editing skill
  • Ability to target a message to a particular audience
  • Ability to translate content to another language

I don’t know a single soul who possesses expertise in all of these areas.  Most of us are really good at some things and well, not so good at others. To find someone who can do what you can’t – or don’t want to – do, make a simple list [like this one]:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What would I like to learn to do or be involved in?
  3. What do I not want to do at all?

Find someone who can take complete control of everything you put in #3, is skilled at all the #2 items but will allow you to meddle with them, and will leave you alone with your items in #1.  Once you find someone whose skills complement your own, make sure that you and that person “click”.  I might even go so far as to say that you should click first, match skills second.  If you can communicate well, you can work through who is going to do what and how much it’s going to cost.  If you don’t click, you’re setting yourself up for tense decisions and uncertainty.  You have to feel like you’re partnered with your course designer, not at odds with her. 

I hope this helps you make this very important decision.  Converting your content to eLearning should be fun and exciting.  Good luck!

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Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Web Considerations for Small Businesses Marketing and Selling eLearning Content

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Is it the packaging or the suds inside? This was a question raised in one of my marketing classes last century. I assume that it is still a topic of discussion today. My experience tells me that packaging sells a product for awhile, but if the soap doesn’t clean the laundry, it won’t be on the market for long.

So, what’s more important to you as you launch your eLearning site? Is it the website look? Is it the functionality (how many bells and whistles it has)? Or, is it your content, which is the product you’re really selling?

The answer to this dilemma is no different than any other consumer product or service: focus on what your customer wants and you’ll be fine. Generically, customers of eLearning want, in no particular order:

  • Easy access to the content
  • A reliable platform that won’t crash or eat work
  • Engaging content
  • Useful content
  • Validation of knowledge in the form of feedback (grades) and proof for others (a certificate for instance)
  • Interaction with others

Of all of the inquiries I receive from small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to put their content online, 9 out of 10 confuse the marketing of the product (eLearning) with the product itself. The best web solution for delivering an eLearning product is probably not the same as the best web solution for marketing that product. It is simply coincidence that they are both -along with selling of the product – hugely dependent on Internet applications. The distinction was more obvious 30 years ago when laundry soap was in a box, marketed on TV, and sold in a store.

I have two Moodle sites, one WordPress blog, and one Drupal site with 14 sub-domains (powered by WordPress). To set up all 18 URLs cost a fraction of what custom PHP coding to make Moodle work “seamlessly” with WordPress would’ve cost. My annual costs are minimal and each site can be upgraded without breaking any interfaces. I have the extra flexibility of having vastly different themes and copy on each one, different plug-ins installed, and targeting each one specifically to a market segment rather than having everyone search for what she needs on one “integrated” site. I don’t sell “products”, so I don’t need a shopping cart, but if I did, I would have a separate site with a shopping cart plug-in, or I’d have a sub-domain with something like Zen Cart installed. For the few products I have sold, I have used Amazon.com and eBay.

In future posts, I’ll discuss in more detail…

  • Platforms
  • Functionality
  • Content

…as they apply to teaching (eLearning), selling (shopping carts), and marketing.

My advice to all of you trying to “design” your eLearning and marketing sites:

Go the easiest route to please your customers. Avoid custom coding for anything except your theme (as long as it is upgradeable). Make the best “laundry soap” you can and package it in a convenient, pleasant, “paper box”. Concentrate on what you do best and you’ll do well!

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Thursday, March 25th, 2010

eLearning Tests and Surveys – What Tools Do You Need?

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Sometimes, you just get lucky.  I could not figure out how to write this post in fewer than 5000 words, many of which would be red, bold, and in uppercase letters.  Then I came across this post by Connie Malamed at  The eLearning Coach.  So, now I don’t have to write about how to write a good question!  Everyone should heed her advice before even considering what tool to build the questions in.  All the beautiful technology in the world won’t matter if the questions suck.  And, unlike an ugly graphic or a boring video, a bad test question can harm the learner.  A poor test that is used to judge an employee’s job-worthiness is never going to be a good thing.

So, I’ll assume you have some great assessment questions – for quizzes, tests, and surveys – that are reliable and valid and that you want to use them in your elearning courses.  Let’s look at them in terms of the Five Basic Things to consider about authoring tools:

Will assessments add value to my training design? Yes. Every eLearning course needs some assessment method.  At a minimum, you’ll want to know if your students perceived that they got something out of it.  That’s a feedback survey, not a test, but the question development and delivery are the same.  You’ll also probably want to know if the students learned anything and/or demonstrate some level of competency.  This tells you not only just that – what they learned – but also how good your course was at teaching them. 

Do I have the skill? This is a two-parter.  The skill to write questions is one thing.  It’s the main thing. The skill to build questions in an online application is another.  Luckily, the latter is remarkably simple because of some of the fantastic options available. 

 What are the options?  I build all of my tests in Moodle so I don’t use many of the available tools.  But, I also use Engage as a “pop-quiz” maker. If I don’t care what the answers are and I just want to reinforce a concept, I think this is a better option than a “flat test”.  Moodle has a Choice activity that captures the data but doesn’t look as snazzy.  Articulate also offers QuizMaker, which is about twice the price of Engage and does quite a bit more.  Joomla QuizForce is similar to QuizMaker and comes with the LMS.  At a hefty $800, Adobe Captivate does many things, including flash-based quizzes. If you don’t have a good assessment feature in your LMS or you want something customized that is in HTML and not flash, try Drupal Webform.  I have an example here.  Or, you can code one from scratch! (Yeah, right). Be creative.  You can use a quiz as a survey and vice versa. 

How much functionality do you need from this tool? The answer to this depends on what your objective is.  If you want to wake up your students with a flash presentation in full color and sound, you’ll want to opt for one of the flash applications.  If you want some serious data collection that dumps to a file that you can do statistical analysis on, pay more attention to the results than the delivery methods.  That usually means not using flash.  If you need to prove competency or that the student took the test herself, you’ll need to make sure that you can verify log in and track time spent, as well as grades.

Will this tool work within my LMS? To be assured that it will work, use the one that is built into your LMS (Moodle, Joomla, Blackboard, etc.)  That will ensure that you can track all the vital student statistics.  Check to make sure that your LMS will accept flash applications and/or allow you to open external websites before using those tools.

I believe that all instructors should want feedback on their courses and use tests to judge themselves as well as students in a constant effort to improve.  But, it if you own a business that offers eLearning to clients or employees, there is a financial reason to have good test and survey questions.  Knowing what level of competency your employees have, which training works and which doesn’t, and having the ability to get feedback on the experience is critical to long term success.  Remember, what matters most is that you start with good questions.  Good information, good questions, lots of variety…GREAT eLearning.

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