This is a reflection on the third class in an Instructional Design graduate certificate course. This class focused on designing computer-based training. Overall, this was the class in the course that I was most excited to take because most of the Instructional Design jobs available are seeking this kind of experience. The weeks in this class flew by, so I’m going to do my best to capture some of my biggest takeaways from this class. Then, I’m going to discuss my experience building a SCORM compliant RLO using Articulate Storyline 360.
My biggest takeaways from this class came from filling out a course design document. This process helped me think through my goals for the course I was designing. I had to consider learning strategies that I could use in a computer-based setting and how to give the learner control to navigate through my course.
I read several different approaches to computer-based training, and I decided that my content would work best with a drill & practice delivery style. I decided this because my RLO focuses on helping the learner recognize facial expressions and understand the underlying emotion. Drill & practice seemed like the best way to help learners make the visual association between a recognizable facial expression and the emotional word attached to that facial expression.
Along with my assessment activity, I also had to consider the type of feedback the learner would receive. I decided that an answer-until-correct format would work best. I made this decision because my course will be voluntary for the learners. I thought that if they make a mistake matching emotions to facial expressions, the best way forward would be for them to try again until they’re able to correctly make the match.
Next, I read about how to make my course accessible to various types of learners. I learned about the importance of visual contrast to help focus the learners’ attention on the main content. With this in mind, I decided to use a semi-transparent background image and put the necessary text in clear text boxes. I used fonts & colors that had high contrast, so the text would be easy to read and distinguish. I tried to keep the text simple and in short blocks with between 40~60 characters to improve readability. With accessibility, as well as learning styles, in mind, I decided to include audio. I did this to help the learners use more than just visual input to learn the content.
By far, my most memorable takeaways from this class revolve around the awareness of “Shareable Content Object Reference Models,” more commonly referred to SCORM. This was a new concept & acronym for me, but it makes a lot of sense. I learned that SCORM is an eLearning standard that is compatible with learning management systems (LMSs). This is very important because it ensures your content will be compliant with a school or business’ mode of delivering your content.
Next to SCORM, I learned the importance of developing reusable learning objects, known as RLOs. The concept of RLOs is important because when developing a full course, it could be difficult to update information. However, if the content is broken into small component parts, those parts easier to manipulate if need be. Another benefit of small, chunked RLOs is that they can lead to greater learner engagement. If the learner is consistently interacting with the content, it can hold the learners’ attention for a longer period of time.
Finally, I learned the importance of storyboarding one’s content. When I began to think through the screen layout for my own RLO, it forced to me consider how I would present my information to the learner. As I began building my slides and visuals, I was constantly revising my ideas. As a visual learner, actually seeing my ideas take shape was exciting and exhilarating. Years ago I read a book by Cliff Atkinson called Beyond Bullet Points. In this book, he stresses the storyboard process as an important incubation period for ideas. The process of roughing out ideas visually often leads to discovery. This is exactly what happened to me.
Using Articulate Storyline 360
A large part of this class revolved around doing research on various eLearning-authoring tools. I chose Articulate Storyline 360 because it seemed to be the most robust tool, and it’s one of the most popular on the market. However, once I decided to use Storyline, I immediately ran into several roadblocks.
For a class activity, I had to develop an RLO using a free web-based eLearning-authoring tool called Udutu. This was my first time developing an RLO, so I was very anxious to get started. I quickly came to the conclusion that Udutu was too limited for my own RLO. The screen layouts were limited to a few templates, and web interface I found less than appealing.
So, I decided to check out Adobe Captivate. This eLearning-authoring tool has been around for several years, and many schools and companies seem to love it. For me, it appeared a little old-fashioned. Most of the examples I came across looked too similar to PowerPoint slides, which I did not think were appealing. I spoke to a local instructional designer who referred to Captivate as the instructional design dinosaur that will not die.
I began considering Articulate 360 because I saw several examples on the eLearning Heroes website that looked amazing. I saw examples of scrolling content that looked like it would work well on mobile devices and desktop computers. I started researching Articulate 360 suite, and I learned about the individual tools, like Rise 360 and Storyline 360. I began to understand that Articulate was a suite of apps that could work together to develop a robust, beautifully styled computer-based course. It came with access to stock images, loads of templates, and access to online tech support. I was sold!
As soon I went to install the free trial version, I realized Storyline 360 is not compatible with my iMac computer. This sent me into a tailspin. I still wanted to gain experience with this tool because it seemed to have everything I wanted.
I spent days trying to figure out how to run Storyline on my Mac. I looked into applications like Bootcamp and Parallels in an effort to run Windows as a virtual machine on my Mac, but these would be costly fixes to my problem.
Eventually, I was able to locate a Window laptop that I could download and install Articulate 360. This workaround was frustrating for me because I was giving myself a crash course in new software and trying to navigate a computer that I was not totally familiar with. Add a ticking clock to submit my work, and my stress level went through the roof.
Because of my technical setbacks, I was not able to spend as much time developing my RLO as I would’ve liked, but in the end, I think it came out okay. I had to lean heavily on Articulate’s discussion forum for help with the software, but I was able to get timely answers to all my questions.
In the end, I was able to create a short usability test and send my RLO to a classmate for feedback. I incorporated my classmate’s ideas into my final design and embed it into my portfolio.
Going forward, I still want to figure out how to get Storyline working with my Mac because I believe that I will be able to create a much better final product if I’m working on a machine that I’m familiar with.
In summary, I learned a lot about the creation of computer-based training from this class. I learned that it’s helpful to write one’s ideas in a course design document because it provides a bird’s eye view of where things are going. I learned that creating a flow chart and storyboard will help enact many design element ideas and how to make them accessible to more learners. This process is crucial for the incubation and continued evolution of ideas. I became familiar with several eLearning authoring tools, and I finally got to test drive Articulate Storyline 360. Overall, I’m very pleased with everything I’ve learned over the past couple months, and I’m excited to continue putting my new found knowledge to use as I continue forward with my instructional design career.