Monday, August 31, 2009

Powerpoint image crops fail with Adobe Presenter

Just ran into this issue today, basically any image crop you do in powerpoint will have a different look when published through presenter.

It's a shame, the option for image cropping is good for rapid development, but to ensure that your screenshots look the way you want them you should do all cropping in another program (photoshop, paint etc..) before bringing them into your ppt file.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Understanding the material is the key to developing quality eLearning

All my favorite teachers were those who were passionate about what they were teaching.

When a teacher in a traditional class room setting is passionate about the material they are teaching, there is no obstacle between them and the student.

When a Subject Matter Expert for an eLearning course is passionate about the material being taught, they often have 3, 4 or more individuals/obstacles to go through before that material reaches a student.

For the material to maintain the passion/comprehension and vision of the SME by the time it becomes a fully formed course, it is essential for the Designers and Developers to actually learn the material before creating material to teach it.

Obviously given the deadlines of course development schedules, and also the complexity of many courses, this can not always be achieved, but the idea here is not to always make experts out of the development team, but to get them submerged in the material to help transfer the SME's passion for the material onto the student.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Online Learning vs Classroom

Thought I'd share this awesome article:

Study Finds That Online Education Beats the Classroom

Surprisingly, not mentioned in the article is what Students lose when their education is online. The amount of 'life' education that students learn from each other through interaction in and around the classroom is so important, and the question to us in this field is:

Will technology allow for online social networking to equal or surpass in person communication, or do we as a society even want to travel down this road?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to import flash object with multiple swf's into Adobe Presenter

I ran into this little problem when I noticed importing a flash file into presenter only takes the root swf, and does not handle any external resources that swf may need.

For instance if you have a captivate demo, some of those full motion recordings may not show when you import that demo into presenter!

Not very helpful is it!

Worry not, this is a simple copy and paste solution. First do your import into Adobe Presenter and publish. Then copy any other swf file that the imported flash object is going to need and paste it into the /data/resources folder found from your published presentation file.

If you want something done right, sometimes you gotta do it yourself I guess!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Adobe Presenter Won't Import Flash or Video


Adobe Presenter does nothing when you try and import a swf.


Make sure you are editing the file from your local drive. Opening and editing the file from a network path will cause this bug/error.

Hope this helps someone out there avoid the same frustration I went through!

Keep on Truckin Neternauts.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Apple Tackle Education

A very short article posted at gizmodo about a possible holiday release of a brand new Apple product:

Obviously the key quote here:

But it will come in two editions, one with a webcam and one for educational use

Unfortunately, it looks like that's as far as that information goes, although a little trip down the rabbit hole of comments and we get this totally unreliable addition:

The educational version checks out. I got some insider info that said Apple recently started an Education division (without anyone really noticing) and poached a former honcho from Microsoft education to head it up.

My source also said that Apple employees have been told to be excited for something in September...

They're seriously looking into educational uses for their iPhone OS so it looks like the tablet is a-go.

Assuming that the actual product itself is real, I can completely see students roaming campuses with these tablets. The immediate use that comes to mind is to completely blow Kindle out of the water, but I'm sure Apple has something much more inventive in mind as always....

A fun little rumor, but don't be surprised if there's going to be a new demand in elearning for iTablet App Developers.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Layer a Capticate recording on top of a Recorded Captivate Slide

Not to go all Fellini on you, but I've recently ran into a situation where I am creating a software demo, and on one of the slides recorded I want to have another recorded animation show during that slide. You follow?

For example, let's say we are demonstrating how to save a file in Word, now instead of a standard recording of the mouse clicking file -> save, we want the actual animation of that activity to occur in the center of the screen.

1. Record you slides, in this case, one snapshot of Word would do.

2. Open another instance of Captivate

3. Choose blank recording, custom size, and full motion.

4. Make that magical red captivate box just big enough to record the file menu drop down. And focus it on that area.

5. Record your action.

6. Last step, in the Slide editor click the animation you just recorded and Copy it, now in your main recording choose Paste.

Bingo Bango, a recording on top of a recording!

Note: I've seen some weird transparency issues so you may want to put a white highlight box behind your animation....

Advanced Note: You can even export your recording to flash to make advanced edits on it for some really funky stuff before reinserting it to your main recording as a swf...that's probably a story for another day though.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Staying Motivated

How do you stay motivated as someone involved with eLearning?

Educators in a traditional setting get to face their students every day. It may be difficult to be teacher of the year all the time, but it must help to be able to see the direct and immediate impact of your job on the faces of your learners.

So how do we in the eLearning field get that kind of reward?

How about using Course forums, allow your students to have conversations by posing an interesting question. Watching your students interact should provide you with a positive view into how your work is impacting these learners.

If and when able, communicate to your students, be proactive and don't always wait for an email. Remember students can be shy on the Internet as well, reach out and get feedback from them through direct communication.

Integrate excellent student work back into the course. If your course has assignments, and a student has provided a terrific submission, with their permission you could post this for future students to see. Soon your course might even have it's own 'hall of fame' that students should strive for!

What methods do you use to stay interested and engaged with your users?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Use flash to develop an Avatar for Captivate

Have been spending sometime looking into a good way to build an Avatar, or "Talking Head" for Captivate Simulations.

I came across a really good tutorial for building a talking head in flash and syncing it with Audio:

But how do we apply this to a Captivate Simulation?

Here is the strategy:

1. Build your Captivate Simulation

2. Using advanced audio, export the audio to mp3(s)

3. Using flash, import those mp3's to use as the sound, follow the above tutorial to build your talking head, synced with the audio.

4. Remove the audio from your Flash project and publish, now it should just be your talking head animation.

5. Return to captivate, on the first slide choose to import an Animation, select your talking head swf.

6. In the options panel for the swf select Show for rest of project, and select Synchronize with project.

This is just a basic strategy feel free to adjust it for your own project (maybe you just need a talking head for slide 2 and so on)...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Using Multiple Style Sheets to control the look and feel of your SCORM content without sacrificing Portability

The problem i've been looking to solve is how can I develop course content that makes use of CSS so that I can maintain the look and feel of an institutions content, but also develop portable SCORM packages.

To start off with, let's assume that you have already figured a way to hack around with your LMS and the way it stores content so that you can implement a site wide style sheet. (This is easier if you have direct access to the server)

Now anytime you're creating a new course you just make sure your html pages are linked to that stylesheet so that you can have some long term control over the look and feel of those pages, however:

What happens if you want to share or move this content? Sure you may be developing nice little SCORM packages that upload into your system just fine, and link to that CSS file you've plopped on your server, but that's not going to work for another system is it!

So you now have 2 options, A) Find away to get your stylesheet onto this new LMS in a way that the initial path from the SCORM html content doesn't break, or B) Develop your SCORM packages with two CSS links. One for the CSS file on your server, and a duplicate that will be packaged with the SCORM object:

<link type="text/css" rel="alternate" href="portable_style.css"/>
<link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" href="../../whateverpath/default_style.css"/>

The duplicate should only be used if the browser fails to find the default. What's great about this, is it also doubles as having a 'safety' stylesheet in case your default ever gets moved/deleted from the server by accident.