Welcome to the first edition of the Extreme Course Makeover blog. (applause) Wait . . . did you just roll your eyes? Another blog? Really? After all, the latest blog roll on Articulate’s Word of Mouth blog listed 25 additional blogs you could be reading . . . so what is going to be different about this one?
First, let me introduce myself. If you do not already know, my name is Ron Price, with Yukon Learning. Here at Yukon, we build e-Learning courses. We do that a couple of different ways:
- We work with our customers and their content to develop and customize e-Learning modules to meet their training needs.
- We build Rapid Courses that customers can purchase off-the-shelf and then tailor to meet their specific needs.
We also teach. We are the training partner for Articulate, and offer training courses in Articulate Studio, Storyline, and Rapid e-Learning Development all over North America and Canada.
In these two roles – teaching and developing – we see hundreds of courses in need of a makeover. These makeovers can range from minor (re-adjusting the flow and visual voice of the course) to extreme (taking very word-laden screens of content and developing an engaging, interactive, instructionally-sound course).
Why do you want to read this blog?
If you are still reading, you may be curious about how this blog can benefit you. In each post, we will:
- Take a look at a sample project. These will be real projects from real customers here at Yukon Learning.
- Give a little bit of background information.
- Highlight one or two of the key process, techniques, or philosophies that we used in our "makeover."
- Show some before and after screenshots or Screenrs.
Today, we are going to look at the before and after views of a course on an interviewing process developed by one of our customers. The content was in great condition, so our job was to assist in taking the content and making an engaging, visually appealing e-Learning module.
The Power of Animation
We used several different development and design techniques in this module, but the one we will focus on in this issue is the use of ANIMATION.
"Here's what grabs attention the most: Anything that moves . . ."
Susan Weinschenk, 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
"Understand how to take advantage of relevant animation and transitions to clarify your information, not to confuse it"
Robin Williams, The Non-Designers Presentation Book
Let's take a look at the sample project . . .
Watch this brief Screenr highlighting the before and after views of this course.
For this project, we used Articulate Studio, which uses Microsoft PowerPoint as its authoring platform. With PowerPoint, you have access to four main categories of Animation:
Entrance, Exit, Emphasis, and Motion Paths
Within each of the four categories, there are more options as well, regarding style, direction, speed, etc. In our sample project, we used animations from all four categories.
Shake it, but don't break it
Even though animations can enhance your learning module, they can also add to your development time and make editing more complicated if you use several different animations on a slide.
So, before you go crazy with animation, here are nine simple tips to consider:
1. Don't do it unless it helps you make your point. Pointless animation is just pointless. So be sure to ask, "what's the point?" If you cannot come up with a good reason, don't animate.
2. Be consistent. You may need to create standards and use only a few animations that work for your content. Just because you have several options, do not feel you have to use them all. You can use all of the other animations on future modules (if you still have a job).
3. Animate objects instead of text. In Articulate Studio, we recommend animating an entire object (shape, picture, text box). If you want to animate two separate sentences at different times, put them in their own text box and animate those objects.
4. Name your objects. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, you can use the "Selection Pane" feature to rename objects. Clear and relevant names will greatly alleviate confusion when animating several objects on the same slide.
5. Don't re-animate the wheel. If you have previously created a slide with some cool animations that you would like to use again, you do not have to re-build it. Just add that slide to your new presentation. Then in PowerPoint, you can right-click any picture and select the "Change Picture" option. Select your new image, then the animations for the previous picture will stay for your new image. Also, for those of you who have convinced your company to buy Microsoft Office 10, (congratulations!) you can use the "Animation Painter" feature to copy animations from one object to another.
6. Take Control. You are not limited to the preset defaults when it comes to PowerPoint Animations. "With Previous", "After Previous", "On-Click", and "Speed" can all be adjusted to meet your needs. For example, the "Very Fast" speed in PowerPoint Animations is ".5" seconds. For something like a stop animation effect, we may adjust that to ".02".
7. Watch a movie. Next time you watch a movie, pay attention to the animations used at the beginning of the film (film? how old is this guy?). How do these animations draw or hold your attention? Maybe a similar technique could be used in your next course.
8. Pull the trigger. Try creating a hyperlink that "triggers" an animation. Example: Design two identical slides (hint - design one and then duplicate). On the first slide, just add a hyperlink to an object that will advance to the next slide. On the second slide, animate the object (be sure to set the animation to "Start With Previous").
9. Keep it smooth. Objects jumping on the screen when you change slides is a common mistake we see in animations, especially motion paths (Tip 7, for example). Using PowerPoint's Grid Settings (Drawing guide, Gridlines, and Snap to functions) can help you get items and paths beginning and ending at the right places. Also, duplicating slides as opposed to copying and pasting can help with this as well. Lastly, there are some great PPT add-ins available to assist with this.
Just do it!
If you are new to the world of animations, you might want to start experimenting with them to see if they can enhance how you design and develop your slides. To get you started, download these examples, take them apart, try re-building them, or just use them as is. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD EXAMPLES OF ANIMATIONS.
Want to know more? Have questions? Do you have a course you would like to have "made-over?"
We welcome your comments, or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.