Quality Control Template for E-Learning Modules

QA

Testing and ensuring the quality of e-learning courses is an important step – especially when you are handing off the module to a client. The E-Learning Industry has a great in depth list of everything that you should look for. Effectively QA’ing courses is an entirely different matter, however. I created a spreadsheet that you can easily customize that will streamline your quality assurance process. Check it out here.

Instructions

1. Make a copy

Select File -> Make a Copy in order to have your own to customize.

2. Customize the First Page

I have worked at 2 different e-learning companies now. Both have two very different types of mistakes that they consistently make. Change up the first page according to what you need. The blue highlighted rows have recommendations on what you should add.

3. Use the Tabs at the Bottom

QA24. Round 1

QA3

On the Round 1 tab, you will see the Module Name, QA Name, and Developer Name. Add whatever other information you may think you need. The first three columns should be self explanatory. You may change them up based on what is available for your module (maybe you don’t have slide #’s for example).

Screenshot: I recommend using Jing (free) or Snagit ($). You can quickly capture screen sections and the image will automatically upload online. The link copies to your clipboard immediately and you can paste the screenshot. It doesn’t get any faster than that!

Status: This column has several options:

  • Needs fix
  • Fixed
  • Question
  • Can’t fix

I based these off of what was the most used. You can add more by highlighting the column, select Data -> Validation.

Whoever QA’s the form will put in “Needs fix” or “Question.” The developer (or who is applying the fix) will change it to “Fixed” or “Can’t Fix.”

Developer notes: The developer can also put in notes that may ask for clarification or explain why it isn’t fixed to the person who QA’s the e-learning course.

5. Round 2

Do the same as above! Is it important to have a round 2? I think so, because occasionally fixing something can break something else. We will often go back and forth on QA until there are no more mistakes.

What do you think?

Can you think of anything else that should be added in? What is your current QA process like? Let me know what you would like added or any functionality that you’re looking for and I’ll be happy to give it a whirl.

Click here to view the template.

Breakdown: 10 Ways to Engage Learners Using Articulate Storyline

A few weeks ago, Articulate had a challenge on “Top Ten Things Learners Need to Know about Storyline.” The challenge asked us to put together a top 10 list of “getting started” tutorials for any area of Storyline development. I chose “10 Ways to Engage Learners Using Articulate Storyline.” Check out the live course by clicking here, then read the breakdown below.

1

On the very first slide, I ask the learner why they’re using (or considering using) Articulate Storyline.

2

On the second slide, I offer customized feedback for every answer. Why did I ask this question at the beginning?

3I asked this question at the beginning because it is important to show that the course is relevant to you. If a course is not relevant to the learner, you have immediately lost them – the last thing you want to do at the beginning of a course. [How do I create a relevant course?]

4

My second tip was to make sure your course followed usability standards. A course should be challenging, but it should only be challenging due to the content and decision-making the learner will have to make throughout the course. If your learner is focusing on figuring out how to navigate your course, then that is all they will learn! [What are some tips for creating a user-friendly course?]

5

In my book of definitions, an active page refers to any page where a learner has to click. These include click and reveals (this slide is an example of a click and reveal), activities such as quizzes, and interactions. Click and reveals can come in many forms, but do not need any critical thinking on the learner’s part. Activities need some form of critical thinking, and include quizzes, drag and drops, and interactions. Interactions are where the meat of a course is. A type of activity, interactions are when learners must make a decision within the context of a scenario. Basically we’re putting them into the real world (as much as we can) and we’re getting them to make decisions that lead to consequences. I included a note that says it is important to be on the same page with your clients and colleagues when it comes to vocabulary. Many (probably most!) people use the term “interaction” to account for anytime the learner is interacting with the screen. [What is an example of an interaction?]

6

Extras are surprisingly helpful. Similar to scenarios and interactions, they are little snippets of information that help put the content into context or give memorable tips. They should never be a part of the required learning experience or tested upon, but they can definitely help the quality of your course.

7

Quizzes were one of the forms of activities in Storyline. They have fantastic built-in options and serve as a quick way to do knowledge checks. Tip: don’t use the standard feedback pages. Make sure that the learner can see what they answered along the feedback for optimal learning experience. [How do I create quizzes in Storyline?]

8Scenarios are incredibly important to e-learning. I dare to say that they are essential to an effective e-learning course. The formula to a scenario is a scene, a problem, and a consequence and/or a solution. Let’s circle back to the first point I made in the course: relevance. Ensure that you are making it relevant to the person’s job or what they are learning about in the course. Are you making a compliance course that is by both office workers and healthcare workers? Ask your learners at the beginning what their role is, assign a variable, and when they get to a scenario, make sure that they will be reading a scenario that relates to their role. [What are some tips for writing a scenario for e-learning?]

11Interactions need the learner to make a decision in the context of a scenario. In the interaction I provided, the learner is required to decide what to do with a shirt and then show why they made that decision. Interactions give Articulate Storyline its absolute best value. There aren’t many programs out there that do it as easily as Storyline does. [How do I create triggers in Storyline?]

12

Adding media is both easy and difficult. It is easy enough to include – but it is difficult to choose the right media. Be intentional and make sure you know your audience. If your audience can’t have headphones, then avoid audio and video that requires sound. At the same time, don’t include media that may serve more as a distraction than an aid. [What are some multimedia tips?]

13

Images in e-learning are a huge hang up for me. In fact, I have an entire blog post on using images in e-learning. Be intentional when using images!

14Finally – design. What does design have to do with engagement? Absolutely everything. Design is the foundation of a course and can lead your learner into a magical world of instructional design, or make them wonder if the content is as old as the course looks! [How do I create a well designed course?]

I didn’t include every slide, so make sure you check out the live course! Let me know what you think of the course. What are some ways that you engage learners with e-learning?

Moving on Up!

Hi friends, it’s been a little while since I posted. I’m (almost) settled into my new place in the beautiful Washington, DC. Now that we live in walking distance to the Nationals Stadium, it obviously had to be one of the first activities we did in DC:

Nationals Game Angels

I also made it to the Funk Parade and explored Eastern Market with @k_ndrakeith, relaxed at the waterfront, and I’ve been checking out the food scene. So far I have been loving DC!

But on to the fun stuff. I have a couple of posts planned for you guys, including a nice checklist on quality testing courses and an ADA/508 Compliance method for Storyline. If there is anything at all you would like to see, please let me know! I love solving problems in Articulate Storyline.

Here is what I have been up to in the e-learning world this past month:

You should:

A few weeks ago, I also participated in an Articulate Storyline Design Challenge basically about a list of 10 items about Articulate Storyline or E-Learning. I decided to do 10 Ways to Engage Learners Using Articulate Storyline. Check out my entry by clicking here and look out for a follow up post.

10 Ways to Engage Learners

P.S. My new boss commented on how she loved how “into” the e-learning community I was. While I’m not nearly as seasoned as many of you, I have to say it’s because you guys are a fantastic bunch of people.

What I Think I Do

Articulate’s weekly challenge is a wonderfully corny meme trend. You know those “What my friends think I do… What I actually do…” images? If you don’t, then you’ll see the first example of it here! I’m not generally one to do memes, but when it’s a challenge – who can resist?

What I Really Do - Educational Technologist

 

Having a Professional Mentor – and an Announcement

teacher

There is plenty of advice out there recommending for young professionals to get a mentor. But choosing and utilizing a mentor isn’t as easy as it sounds. And sometimes – you won’t even realize that someone is your mentor until partway through your relationship. That’s how my mentorship happened.

My professional mentor is an exceptionally sweet and enthusiastic professor from my University. One of my great friends recommended his course to me, raving about his love for students and the world in general. The course was on World Population and Food Prospects, but I learned more about local and international issues than I did in any other course – regardless if it was on topic. Although he was an adjunct professor in my humanities degree program, he was a distinguished professor of crop science.

Takeaway 1: Although it helps, your mentor doesn’t have to come from the same career background that you are going into. 

I started a conversation with him because I connected with his view of the world and wanted to gain his support for an animal conservation club I was helping start with a group of friends (including the aforementioned friend). He really went out of his way with support and provided us with a wonderful storage area, allowing me to use his network for speakers and members, and coming to our meetings when he could.

Our talks began to evolve into what I wanted to do with my life, and he became my most enthusiastic supporter and advice giver. He told me stories of his world travels when he would work with fantastic international development organizations, recommended graduate programs, and put me into contact with invaluable professionals and other professors.

That being said – he didn’t do what many articles say that a professional mentor should do such as helping me with my resume, assisting me with job prospects or even giving me general career advice. I had a wealth of other people I could go to for that kind of advice. Yet, I still consider him my professional mentor.

Takeaway 2: A professional mentor doesn’t have to do everything that a professional mentor is advertised to do.

He is someone who has recognized how valuable his skillset is and yet chose to use it to help others around him. He is enthusiastic about helping the global community and knows that he has the ability to do so. Although my specific passions and skillsets are different, those are values I admire him for and have chosen to take on myself. I consider him my professional mentor because I admire him and want to live up to him as not just a professional, but as a human being. He is inspirational, and that inspiration is more important to me than any career advice I may receive.

That leads me to my announcement: I’m moving to D.C. from Raleigh to work for an awesome e-learning company that creates technology training for social change.

I knew that living up to his legacy meant taking the leap. I knew that he would be incredibly excited and proud of my decision to move to D.C. to work for this great company.

Biggest Takeaway: My professional mentor is my professional mentor because my career decisions are influenced by what he would do.

You may argue that is limiting myself, but it guides me and ensures I hold onto the life path that I have set myself on (plus it’s important to remember that it is not my only decision making factor). Having someone to look up to when making a decision helps me tip the scale when I’m on the edge. Reminding myself of what my professional mentor would do helps me critically examine my career decisions from another standpoint – and from a standpoint I trust.

Who is your professional mentor and how do they help you in your career life?

Bob Patterson - NCSU

 

Thanks to Dr. Bob Patterson, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Crop Science at North Carolina State University. Thank you for all that you do and for the wonderful influence you are on the world.

Using Images in E-Learning

I have a mantra when it comes to using images in my E-Learning courses. It is a pretty simple mantra, and I have people who disagree with me on it, but it is my mantra nonetheless.

Be purposeful when using images in e-learning.

Tweet it!

Chapter four about media in e-Learning and the Science of Instruction really resonated with me and my mantra has stuck with me since. It discusses choosing images for your e-learning courses and how to present them (I highly recommend reading it).

What does it mean to be purposeful with images?

In the simplest terms, it means to not just be decorative with your images. Images should aid in learning somehow, whether it is by having a representational graphic or even having a narrative character. When you are picking out an image or graphic “just to fill the space,” that’s when you know you’re not doing it right.

The first thing I recommend is to constantly and actively ask yourself, “will this image help the learner?” If the answer is no, then don’t use it. Being purposeful with your images means that the image should always help the learning process.

A contractor built a course on developmental disabilities. The target audience for this course were front line staff. In the course there was a slide about fetal alcohol syndrome with both the causes and the symptoms. The contractor decided that an image of an expectant mother with the ground littered with beer bottles around her would be a good fit for the slide.

Was this the best decision to make? Probably not. It is easy to say that the image of the drunken mother connected with the content as that is what causes fetal alcohol syndrome. However, if the contractor would have asked himself “does this help the learner?” I bet he would have answered “no.” We replaced the image with a public domain graphic that pointed out the characteristics of a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. Does this one help the learner? Absolutely!

Tip: When asking yourself “how does this help the learner?” take it a step further and ask yourself “how?”

Types of Purposeful Images

Visual Diagrams

When to use: Use these when you’re attempting to label or “visualize” something.

Remember all the diagrams in your science books and how much they helped? This is the diagram we ended up using from the example above: 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Source

As you can see, diagrams are both simple and complex. Sometimes finding an image and simply adding some lines and text is all you need to do.

Tip: Don’t include the diagram text “under” the diagram. Instead, use it within the image like the example above. In many text books you will see a diagram with Fig.1. underneath of it and a description – take that description and stick it in the image itself.

Flowcharts

When to use: Use flow charts when explaining processes, especially nonlinear ones.

A flow chart is a type of diagram and are very simple to create. If the software you are using to create the course doesn’t have an easy way to create flowcharts already, you can use the SmartArt or even just the regular shapes in PowerPoint to create your flowchart.

Here’s an example of a block of text that could easily be made into a flowchart:

Does your lamp not work? Let’s troubleshoot it! First, check to see if the lamp is plugged in. If it isn’t plugged in, then go ahead and plug it into the wall. Once it is plugged in, check to see if the lamp works. If it either was plugged in, or you have plugged it in and it now works, then check to see if the bulb is burnt out. If the bulb is burnt out, then replace the bulb. If the bulb isn’t burnt out or if replacing the bulb still doesn’t fix the lamp, then send in the lamp for repair.

Now let’s take a look at the flowchart:

324px-LampFlowchart.svg

Which one would you say is more effective in getting the point across?

Tip: To save a flowchart from PowerPoint make sure you have selected the all of the shapes, then right-click and select “Save as Picture.” Example

Mnemonic Devices

When to use: lists, within flow charts, anywhere that an image can use as a visual memory “trigger”

When I was in high school, we memorized poetry and recited it to the teacher. To help me remember, I would write out the poem and draw representational symbols next to each line. If the line mentioned praying or religion, I would draw a small cross. If the line talked about a type of animal, then I would draw said animal. Sometimes they were easy, sometimes they were a little more abstract, but they helped me in memorizing poems.

If I couldn’t remember the line, then I’d search for the image in my head which generally came up much quicker. Sometimes I’d even draw the image from a difficult line on my hand before going to recite to the teacher! (Is that cheating?)

I like to apply the same principle to e-learning. If there is a list that the learner needs to digest and memorize (because sometimes, no matter what, there is one), then I like to add memorable images next to each line. This is where icon sets or stick people can really come in hand. This is a simple example:

graphics

Narrative People

Having an actual, live teacher is a very ingrained part of human culture. Therefore, having a narrative type of person who is consistent through the course is a great way of showing consistency and to highlight key points on slides when an image simply doesn’t fit there. You can buy a character pack for Articulate Storyline, or the E-Learning Brothers also has cut outs of people to use included in their template library. If these are too expensive of an option, then try finding a series of stock photos.

Similar in nature, when you use scenarios and stories, try to find representational characters so that the learner can connect. For example, don’t show a business person in a course for nurses.

Other Options

Charts, infographic-esque images, and anything that you can find that are instructional in nature are a great fit for e-learning courses. Avoid using images simply to “make it look better” or to fill up space – they end up distracting from the content itself. If you feel unhappy with a slide but can’t think of a good fit for an image, then think about restructuring the way you display the text over adding a filler image.

Trust me – I know it’s hard! However, thinking purposefully when choosing images will bring your courses to a whole new level. Any other recommendations for finding images?

Recommended book:

E-Learning and the Science of Instruction

Link to Purchase

How to structure an E-Learning Course

Today I received the Advanced E-Learning Instructional Design certificate taught by the very awesome Carla Torgerson. One of my biggest takeaways was a great thought process on structuring e-learning courses.

The overall message was to help learners learn “by doing.” We thought we were already applying this message by offering the content then letting the learner put the content into practice at the end of the course. Basically, our courses look like vignette -> content -> “put into practice.” Carla showed us a flowchart that asked how we would probably learn poker. Instead of starting with what each suite of cards were and the face values, or even with detailed rules, we’d likely start out by being given our hand and learning by playing. Translated into e-learning, this looked like “put into practice” -> content (with vignettes sprinkled in as needed).

So why don’t we tend to start e-learning courses this way? We give all the details, then ask them to put this into practice. Instead, by doing trial by fire, we can give them the details they need on the way, AND learners are much more likely to retain it.

Inspirational E-Learning Course: Operation Lifesaver’s Railroad Safety for Professional Drivers e-Learning Challenge

I was so inspired by this topic, I made a handy-dandy instructional graphic for you:

howtostructureanelearningcourse

 

Let me know what you think, and if you have any other inspiration e-learning courses that use this method!

-Rachel

Color Schemes in e-Learning: Infographic

If your client does not already have a color scheme in mind (such as company colors), then you want to make sure that the color scheme you choose enhances the learning experience rather than take away from it. Colors have long been associated with feelings and moods. The International Center for Leadership in Education has a great handout entitled Color in an Optimum Learning Environment that contains recommendations for color schemes in schools. These color schemes can easily be transferable to e-Learning subjects. View the infographic below for recommendations!

Best Colors for e-Learning Infographic