10 Ways E-Learning Maximizes ROI

This is from LearnDash and I thought it was worth re-posting in case you haven’t seen it.

learning infograph


Every Picture Tells a Story….or not!

Here is a simple little e-learning module I created.  The original intent was to demonstrate how to use layers and states in Articulate Storyline.


I showed this during a recent ASTD monthly session to over 40 people.  One of the key takeaways, for me, was how engrossed and captivated the audience was in doing the exercise.

I purposely did not include any visuals or photos or images or anything other than text and basic buttons because I didn’t want to detract from the lesson of learning about layers and states.

These folks thought the content and approach was compelling, interesting, engaging, and they loved going through the exercise.  And, they said they actually learned something!

I asked them, “did the fact that there were no visuals bother you?”

Many folks said things like, “I didn’t even notice.”; “I created the visuals in my head.”; “I liked that there were no visuals, it allowed me to stay focused and create the scene myself.”; “It didn’t bother me.”

There is so much emphasis in our (e-learning) community about images (use visuals in place of text) and pictures (do we use real people, characters, or silhouettes?).  Yes, there is a lot of talk about scenarios and stories but what I witnessed, from my little non-scientific session, is just how powerful the story really is and all the other “stuff” can make a good story better but it won’t make bad story (or no story) good.

Feel free to download the exercise and tell me your thoughts.  (You should download all the files as listed to ensure it runs properly).

(note: the content for this exercise was found on the internet.  I don’t remember where and I didn’t record where because I didn’t think it would get this far.  I’m happy to give credit and/or take it down if whomever owns it wants me to.)

House Painting and E-Learning…Yeah, They’re Similar

What’s the similarity, you ask?


Painting your house is no fun.  Not for me, anyway.

It took me lots of trial and error to realize that if I would take the time up front to prepare for creating something new (like a freshly painted room), that I could avoid a lot of pain and anguish after the fact.

So, how do you prepare to paint?  You move furniture, put covering down on the floor, tape off baseboards and window sills, repair small holes in the wall, and sand down rough spots.  You make sure you have the right brushes, ladders, trays, solvents, paint, rags, masks, and clothing.

And what’s the pain and anguish I avoid?  Spilled paint on carpet or hardwood floors that may never come clean.  Uneven and splotchy paint on the walls and look unpleasant and unprofessional.  Walls that no one wants to look at.  A big mess that I don’t want to clean up.  Possibly a room that will need to be painted again.

I’m hoping that you are already seeing the similarity to e-learning.

If you prepare properly for the creation of your e-learning module then you greatly increase your chances of having a job that will not only look pleasing and professional, but one where learners will actually learn something.

Next time I will talk about the steps you can take to prepare for a successful e-learning “paint job”.  In the meantime, be thinking about it yourself and see if you agree with me or have some additional steps to add (I am sure some of you could add steps to my house painting preparedness list!).

Until next time…

Design Ideas

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are asked to submit a proposal and you need to take the thoughts and ideas of the design and turn them into a form that your potential client can see?

As an Instructional Designer, you are confident of the instruction piece of the design, but you don’t have access to a really good graphic designer that can create some really cool custom graphic design.  At least, not at the proposal stage.  What to do?

If you are a graphic designer, no problem.  But most graphic designers aren’t instructional designers, and vice versa.   Just like most carpenters aren’t electricians.   Now, most carpenters can probably run some wire and connect a simple switch and most electricians can pound a nail.  But I wouldn’t want an electrician to frame my house!  (No offense to those of you that can do it all – I know you’re out there – but that’s not most of us)

But, we are all creative.  We all have ideas and thoughts of what a scene could/should look like.  How do you turn that idea, that image that’s in your head, into something your client can see?

One of the first things I do is jot my idea down on paper.  I usually have a bunch of ideas so i try to jot them all down.  And I do it quickly.  Rough pencil sketches that capture enough of what I’m thinking so that when I look at it later I can jog my memory about the “big” or “complete” or “filled in” picture I was thinking at the time.

Here are some examples.

train integration page portal and interactivity ideas

Once I decide on a theme or idea to continue with, I will look for existing images that match , or closely resemble, my sketch.

This is where it can get challenging because I rarely find an image that exactly conveys my intentions.

What I will do is Google an image using keywords from my idea.  Below is an example of a search result for a recent proposal:

highway animation


I needed a background image and this had elements I was looking for (highway, bridge, concrete) but had an element I didn’t particularly want (picture-in-picture insert).

This is where I got “creative”.  To “hide” the insert, I duplicated the image and cropped it down to where it just showed the blue sky in the shape of a rectangle the size of the insert.

I moved it over the insert and blurred the edges.  There was still an “edge” that cut off the clouds so I duplicated the original image again and cropped it down to a section of the clouds that I then used as a “blend” element to lessen the “edge”.

I “Recolored” the image to “Color Mode” = Washout (I used Storyline but you could do the same in PowerPoint or an image editor).

I put in another modified picture I had Googled and added by text and the result was a decent looking Title Slide that I used for the proposal:

title slide

Could it be better?  Sure.  If you were seeing it for the first time and didn’t know what I had done and weren’t looking for the imperfections, would you notice?  Probably not.

I think this approach works when putting together a proposal that you don’t want to spend a ton of time on (because you’re not getting paid!) but you want something that is contextual and original.

Your comments are welcome!

Until next time…