Posts Tagged ‘Storyline’

Using Articulate Storyline branching to break down corporate silos.

September 4, 2014 Leave a comment

I have a 17-year old teenage daughter. She is currently making sure that our family is aware of her new found sense of “independence” 🙂

In fact, as we get older, in some ways we become independent, but more so we need to become INTER-DEPENDANT. As adults, we need to fit into more and more social groups. We have to work within those groups, and only then will the group give us respect and a real sense of “belonging”. Just at the time we think we are breaking the bonds, in fact we need to make some of those bonds stronger.

It’s very similar to corporate life. So many departments get entrenched in silos, and forget how they affect other groups, and how other groups rely on them.

Articulate Storyline makes branching easy, so how about this…

If you are creating a process course, or even compliance, create buttons that trigger loops/breakout sections where you explain how changes and requirements affect, or are linked to the OTHER departments in a company. Thee might be departments that the learner seldom, if EVER comes into contact with, but it can place their life in a bigger framework.

Branching image

Try and get the content from the perspective of the SMEs in the other departments.

As Instructional Designers, we are always “make content real”, and “make it matter” to the learner, and this can help bring the smaller tactical picture into the larger strategic one.

Why not suggest it to your clients?

You might just find that it benefits them too, and they see your added strategic value – always a good way to get repeat business.


Learning Technique – from the window of a high street butcher, (warning, contains pork).

August 1, 2014 Leave a comment

I was walking to a client earlier this week, and I passed an old-fashioned high street butchers shop. On the window was an advert which read “Pork…it’s tasty…try some now!

I laughed to myself, thinking about the simplicity and almost child-like communication. How “quaint”. 7 hours later, after a heavy day of Articulate Storyline examples and semantic juggling, I walked back to the station, once again passing the same advert.

It was a GREAT example of learning technique

  • State the case for something to your learners – “Pork…
  • Explain the potential benefits to the user – “…it’s tasty
  • State the solution to an assumed problem (lack of pork), with a specific behavioural action – “…try some now

I had just spent a day largely doing just this – taking words and messages, and simplifying them with/for a client into learner actions. Perhaps we should all, occasionally, look back to the past to see where we are going.

In the interests of keeping the “pork” theme going – I remembered a simple flowchart I once produced using Articulate Storyline – so I’ll leave you with the “Should I Eat Bacon” flowchart“.Portrait of a pig

It does not have to be deadly dull…

June 16, 2014 2 comments

I am having a lot of fun creating eLearning at the moment…yes…fun.

Just because eLearning is deadly serious that does not mean that it has to be deadly dull.

I’m developing a course on corporate Fraud – it has loads of little animations built to represent cheating partners and annoyed stationery-stealing staff, built using PowToon and Sparkol Videoscribe.


You see – “animation” does not necessarily mean “funny”, or “disrespectful”.

All it means is that – animated.

Google “define animated” and the first entry is:

full of life or excitement; lively

Isn’t that what we are all trying to do in (most) eLearning? 

I am developing one course on the Hospitality Industry. I just use PowToon to bring in 3 images of what different grades of hotel look like, but because they come in with a “Pop” effect, (like a PowerPoint “Grow” but with a pronounced bounce), on a brightly coloured template, they do not LOOK like PowerPoint.


They just provide a breather, a change of tempo for a few seconds, and the visuals (instead of text), provide an increased change of learning. It’s like a change of tempo in a musical piece, or the “middle 8” of some jazz – the same, but different. I’m still using the Corporate Articulate Storyline template, so it’s all OK from a brand perspective, but having a consistent brand/style does NOT mean everything has to ALWAYS look the same.


Humour is all around us. I have just seen a Driving School car labelled with their logo and brand “AcciDON’T”. I think that’s funny!


Sainsburys supermarket in the UK are selling a “Basics” version of their twin garlic baguettes – on the pack it says “Made with margarine not butter – but it still takes your breath away”. I think that’s brilliant!


So be brave, suggest humour, or even better, just create some, and place it into your courses. Certainly my clients seem to LOVE it, and I suspect, (when used appropriately), yours will too.


Have a fun time!

Great when you find that “right” solution

June 2, 2014 Leave a comment

The good people at Sparkol made a great blog post about me today (woohoo!).

Whilst it’s always nice to see your name, and what you do in print, the really great part is knowing that the client loved what I did, right from the start.

The concept was proposed, (using Videoscribe scribes in almost every slide within an Articulate Storyline framework), and then the more we did, the more it “worked”.

Sometimes you just need to trust your instinct, however, your instinct has to be based on some reasonable thought processes. In this instance, the subject – creativity – was clearly a “visual” subject, so it made sense to suggest using a highly visual medium.

Building short modules, and then also offering them as a consolidated module allowed my client the maximum options for selling the final product, and they all share the same visual style.

“Animation” and “cartoons” are not dirty words in corporate eLearning, they do not have to be funny, and used well you can make it a hugely effective addition to your eLearning arsenal.

An additional service for (online) Instructional Designers

April 25, 2013 Leave a comment

In the online/eLearning community we often talk about “blended learning”, (more so in my experience than our classroom colleagues). When we talk about blended we talk about a mix of “PC-based” and “non-PC-based” – but how often do we ever seriously meld the two together?

I’m currently working on a first for me – my Articulate Storyline courses will form the basis of the activities that take place when the students on a classroom course “break out” into their groups.

eLearning becomes a talking, interactive, electronic workbook if you like.

There’s nothing “new” here – I’m still using the same Instructional Design principles, I just need to interface them with the classroom activities, each one linking to the other – a dialogue back and forth.

It’s still the same activities from the perspective of the classroom trainers/facilitators, just that at certain points, the teams being trained can flex their kinaesthetic muscles, make some scenario-based choices, and have group discussions based on the output from their choices.

Videos are presented in several formats; for example “video of a meeting”, and “video just showing speech bubbles from the various scenario players – and the people round the table have to act out the parts“. Branched scenarios which play out various endings depending on choices made by the group. All these help to bring the course alive in a way that static workbooks might not do.

Even the old “…please do not use this time for doing emails or texting, there is time set aside for that later” becomes more potent (IMHO) when delivered by a voice you are working “with” rather than a course Facilitator that is just wandering around.

All that really needs to change is my voiceover – because suddenly, I can talk TO them rather than AT them. I can feedback for incorrect choices based on “…less than 10 minutes ago in the workshop you saw that…” and so on.

I think there may be a real opportunity for online learning designers and classroom course builders to work together for mutual benefit, one that has not been truly examined and mined yet. Certainly not by me until now.
How many of us, both online and classroom-based could extend our business circle and business by selling this concept?

Storyboarding like an Olympian

January 25, 2013 1 comment

Storyboarding (eLearning) courses always generates a number of opinions!

Yesterday, I listened to an interview with Frank Cottrell Boyce, the writer who worked on the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

What was their solution? Simple – a clothes line across a room, lots of pegs, and lots of paper. This formed a brilliantly simple yet effective visual reminder of the “story”. They looked for where the ideas or gaps were missing, then clipped answers or suggestions onto the appropriate part of the line.

If you are looking for a way to make this process more visual with your client, and certainly more interactive/theatrical – perhaps this could be a great way to perform this important part of your Articulate Storyline, (or other authoring tool) projects.

Thanks for reading.


Getting people to like their vegetables – eLearning style

January 2, 2013 3 comments

I just read a blog written by Mike Taylor on behalf of

He makes the following observation:

“…For example, as parents, we have found that instead of punishing our son for not eating his broccoli, he reacts much better when we tell him that want  him to learn how to be healthy.  Although he’s not likely to be begging for them anytime soon, he is starting to get it and we’ve made a lot of progress in the vegetable department.  Maybe it is the optimist in me, and seeking these “learning moments” is my way of looking for the silver lining…”

With my daughter, we just found that the way to get her to like vegetables, (and she adores most of them…), was just to get her used to them from the word-go. She’s never questioned that they should not be liked.

It’s a bit like that when working with a new client, whether you build using Articulate Storyline (as I do), or any other eLearning content-building tool.

It seems that many people, especially in the freelance Instructional Design world try and placate initial requests on the basis of winning a contract, even if they contain unrealistic demands or beliefs from the client. Even if you cannot get a client to face upto the realities of online learning, you should as an ID explain how it should be built. It makes acceptance of GREAT learning techniques easier in the long run. Also, if you create a wonderful product that works for the business, it increases the chance that others in the organisation will be on the phone to you to request THEIR own 15-minutes of fame from association with one of your courses.

When I am starting work with a new client, I always try and be completely up-front and blunt with them. If I feel they are trying to “do” eLearning to cut costs, or “…because everyone is using iPads nowadays…” etc. I will tell them the realities of cost movement rather then (necessarily) cost-reduction, and explain some of the myths and practicalities of mobile learning etc. I feel that it’s easier to get a great relationship with your client based on honesty and professional respect from the start. They may be the expert on their subject in their industry, but you are a cross-functional expert – in learning techniques.

Start using that knowledge from the get-go. Now – who’s for broccoli?



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