Tag: elearning graphics

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The Year in Review – eLearning and Instructional Design for Business Training

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I have spent two and a half decades designing and delivering training in a corporate environment.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best in the field.  (Thanks to all of you, wherever life has taken you). The following posts from 2010 are my thoughts on how a small business can accomplish big business training goals, without a big business staff or budget. 

My favorite blog on eLearning and Instructional Design:

Here’s hoping for a safe and happy 2011. Happy New Year!


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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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Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Graphics for e-Learning: What Tool Do You Need?

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I’m sure my friend and colleague, Elizabeth the Bibliophile, would tell me that graphics can’t be authored; author is a verb that applies to words only. So, I won’t let her read this before I post it. I hope you understand that I am using the term “authoring” to mean “a method to create, edit, or otherwise do something with”. 

Even if you don’t share my belief that eLearning is far more than flash animations and videos, you probably still agree that graphics are necessary. But how many? What type and quality? Who is going to create them, edit them, and how will they be viewed? Last time, I listed my Five Basic Things to consider about authoring tools, so let’s start with those: 

Sketch created in PowerPoint


Will graphics add value to my training design? Yes. Every eLearning course needs graphics. Nothing could be duller than page after page of words (sorry, Elizabeth!). In my courses, I use images not just for my HTML pages but also for the flash animations I produce (we’ll get to that feature in another post). If you teach event planning or catering, photos of food tables might suffice. Or, maybe simple sketches will do.  If your eLearning course is How to Use Photoshop, you might need screen shots. Business courses might use a lot of charts and graphs. I can’t think of any content where a picture isn’t worth 1000 words. 

Do I have the skill? OK, I’m going to be honest. I have used PowerPoint since 1991. Before that, I was pretty good at Freelance. When I started building eLearning courses in 2005, I needed something to resize graphics so I bought Photoshop. I don’t know a masking layer from a vector. It was three years before I figured out how to do anything other than crop and resize. I could have done that with PowerPoint or even Picasa. I would argue that “professional” graphics can get in the way of learning. Most of us are used to seeing more “homey” graphics in training, so maybe that’s the best way to present the material. I don’t know of any hard evidence either way; you decide what your students will respond to most effectively.  

Image created by a designer

By a Graphic Artist

What are the options?  The options are seemingly endless, from free to big bucks. Many will bathe your dog for you. Picasa is free and does most of what you’ll need to do. Easy Thumbnails is another option. Photoshop costs about $700, but its “little brother”, Photoshop Elements is about one tenth that price. Paint comes on every PC and Paintbrush seems to be a good option for Macs; also free. Many of us have PowerPoint and some even know how to use it for something other than bulleted lists J. If you need high-end graphics and can’t create them yourself, go to iStockPhoto, Veer, or Dreamstime, and purchase individual images for just a few dollars each. Hire a professional graphics designer for the really special images. 

PowerPoint Clip Art

Clip Art

How much functionality do you need from this tool? You’ll need the right format (jpeg, gif, png, etc.) and the right size for your eLearning pages, which you can probably do with any of the free applications. PowerPoint will not only allow you to create simple images with shapes and “clip art”, but it will also save your files, slides, and individual images in a variety of formats.  The example at the right is one I used in a client’s course with his voice telling the story about “Being Burned”.  If you create graphics for your eLearning courses the same way you would if they were for face-to-face instruction, you probably don’t need Photoshop functionality. Remember, design the output to add value and suit your audience. The graphic is way to deliver the message, not the message itself. 

Will this tool work within my LMS? For graphics, it’s probably “yes, easily”. Just make sure you size them appropriately and use the right file format. 

Next time, we’ll talk about creating and editing audio, video, and flash for eLearning courses.  Penny


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