Thursday, January 24, 2013

Using iPads to Support Training Delivery

By Dean Hawkinson

Recently, I had the opportunity to design my first paperless classroom course, which used iPads to support its delivery. The purpose of using the iPads was to replace paper-based workbooks and job aids, and provide learners with easy access to training resources. As a designer, it stretched me into areas of project management that I had never experienced before. In addition, some of the feedback that we received from instructors was that it stretched the instructor in many new directions as well.

In this post, I will make some suggestions based on the successes and challenges that go along with this method of delivering classroom-based training. Let’s start with what I have experienced as important requirements.

Important Requirements

From the experience that I had, there are several things we needed to include when developing instructor-led training for iPad delivery.

  • An interactive workbook for taking notes – We wrote a storyboard for what should be in the participant workbook, including places for participant note-taking. You can use tools such as Adobe InDesign and Adobe Acrobat to create direct links to online sites and places to take notes. Participants can then use Adobe Reader on the iPad to view the workbook which provides several options for viewing and sharing the document.
  • Create a way to save the document with notes – Adobe Acrobat allowed participants to save their document with the notes they entered. They either e-mailed it to their own e-mail addresses or moved it over to an app such as Evernote to e-mail, if their own e-mail is not available on the iPad.
  • Use new technologies to obtain documents – We placed documents such as the workbook and other job aids on an online server and used a free QR code generator to create a QR code. Placing the QR code on the PowerPoint in the classroom allows participants to use the iPad camera and code scanner app to scan the QR code and obtain the documents.


Below are some of the successes we observed that can go along with using iPads for training delivery.

  • Saving on printing costs and logistics – Using the iPads for delivery cut printing costs and the logistics of printing.
  • Taking advantage of linking directly to the internet for research – Using the iPads for delivery allowed us to write some great activities that involved researching on the internet and directly linking to websites right from the iPad workbook.
  • Using the technology for hands on activities – If you are training job-related skills that use the iPad, you can take advantage of some great hands-on activities to learn these skills. Instructors can even invest around $25 in a VGA cable to project the iPad in front of the class to demonstrate these skills.
  • Reducing the need to have PCs in the classrooms – Since trainers can travel with iPads, you can purchase a set of iPads for each instructor for which they will be responsible. There is therefore no need for PCs in the classroom.


Here are some of the challenges you may run into with using iPads for training.

  • Cost – A budget needs to be allocated to purchase the iPads for the classroom. Of course, if you are doing a lot of training, this cost will be offset by the savings in print material costs.
  • Logistics of ordering, provisioning and preparing iPads for class – Depending on what you are teaching, there is a lot of preparation that goes along with iPad delivery. The instructors need to take care of loading required apps and setting them up for use in the classroom. If the iPads are Wi-Fi only, they need to ensure that their classroom has Wi-Fi available and that there are no issues. If they are 3G or 4G, ensuring that the sim cards work can get a signal is important. Most of this functionality only has to be done once, however, in preparation for using them.
  • Traveling with the iPads – Traveling with the iPads can be a challenge, presenting issues with airport security and taking responsibility for them during travel. There are special cases available for purchase to travel with the iPads, which can help with this.

Feedback from Participants in Pilot Courses

Feedback from participants and instructors on this delivery approach, from my experience with a pilot course , was postive. Participants like being able to use Adobe Reader to take notes directly in an electronic workbook and e-mail it to their personal e-mail accounts. Instructors like not having to deal with paper workbooks. In both cases, the apps allow note-taking and highlighting just as they do in a paper workbook.

For instructors, they have to really pay attention to where the participants are in their workbook as they facilitate, even more than in a normal paper-based class. Designers can help with this by ensuring workbook page numbers are in the instructor guide and also on the PowerPoint slides.

Have you had experience with using iPads in instructor-led training? Feel free to share your experiences.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lectora Resource Roundup

By Joseph Suarez

We use Lectora a good bit for eLearning development. As with any tool, it’s always helpful to see tips and tricks from others that you can add to your own projects. If you're working with Lectora and need some assistance, here’s a list of helpful resources available online.

Official Resources from Trivantis
  • Lectora University: Trivantis’s own collection of helpful resources including recordings of all past “Inspiration Wednesdays” webinars and downloadable course examples.
  • Lectora Community Forum: A great place to ask questions and find answers to Lectora related questions.
  • Official Lectora LinkedIn User Group: Another good place for Lectora questions and also networking with other Lectora users.
Resources from E-Learning Uncovered
Integrated Learning Services Blog Posts - Our own collection of Lectora related blog posts
Have you found other Lectora how-to sites that were useful?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Conquer These Evil E-Learning Temptations

by Jonathan Shoaf

There are common temptations that instructional designers and e-learning developers succumb to. Resist these and your learners will thank you. Let's look at a few of the more common temptations lurking out there to torment those who partake in e-learning courses.

Temptation #1: Using a PowerPoint Mindset

The first temptation that leads to bad e-learning is using a PowerPoint presentation mindset and applying it to the e-learning world. Its tempting because the mindset is familiar, requires little thought, and takes less time. And unfortunately all those reasons are things that your manager may support. However, it stinks for your learners and results in less knowledge transfer when all is said and done.

Which do you enjoy more in a face-to-face classroom setting?

Watching a lecture with cute PowerPoint
slides while sitting in your seat.
Performing activities that lead to discovery
of knowledge through practice.

Consider that e-learning is usually taken by the same people that would be in a face-to-face classroom. Take a moment to empathize with these folks by asking the same question for an e-learning course.

When you convert PowerPoint slides directly into e-learning slides, you are simply keeping your learners bored and disengaged.

Temptation #2: Ignoring the Visuals

This temptation is difficult because words are easy but multimedia is hard. After all, we have keyboards for words. All the letters are nicely laid out and we know how to find them. Graphics, on the other hand, are hard. Many require hours of hard work or require being on site with a camera. But resist the temptation to avoid them. Remember the old adage "a picture speaks a thousand words."

Photos and graphics are very important to learners. They can set the mood for the course. They can create memories and associations for learners. Besides, learners get barraged with enough words already through corporate email, HR and IT notices, job aids, and memos.

Find and use multimedia. Here are a few things you can do to get in the habit of using more graphics:
  • Buy graphics! Stop being cheap and subscribe to a multimedia library like You learners will thank you!
  • Use PowerPoint or other simple tools to create simple graphics and visuals.
  • Don't be afraid of the camera. Start snapping. Make a library of photos you can use in all projects. Make a special trip to take photos for individual projects.

Temptation #3: Getting Approval from the Wrong "Right" Person

You are dependent on the subject matter expert.  But the SME you are assigned to work with may not understand how learning works, the importance of the project, or the fact that you know nothing about their area of expertise. Frankly, the person may not even care about the final outcome of the project. The temptation may be to get approval from this person because they are assigned to your project. However, your learners will thank you if you find someone who really has their best interest in mind.

Trust your intuition and experience to tell you whether or not you are getting the feedback you need. Try the following techniques to make sure you get the appropriate person to look at your project:
  • The SME tends to agree with everything - then engage them further to see if they really have looked at it. Trust but verify that they are doing their part. You don't want any surprises at the end of the project.
  • The SME seems disinterested - you will have to be extra persistent. If they simply aren't giving you the time you need ask them who would be good to delegate the task to.
  • Talk to some of the managers of your target learners - What do they think is important to cover? Do they agree with the SME? If not, arrange a quick group meeting to get everyone on the same page.

Temptation #4: Assuming the e-Learning will work Perfectly

Most e-learning development tools you'll use will have several ways to "play" the content.  Let's take Adobe Captivate as an example. You can play a page right in the editing tool, you can test several pages at a time, or you can test the whole project. Plus, you can publish the project to test. Over time you'll find that the project may not work the same in all of those scenarios. Ultimately, you want to test a fully published project independent of the development tool.  Even better, test the project directly in the LMS to verify the scoring, completion, and any advanced tinkering you've done works.

Resist the temptation to assume if it works for you, it works for everyone else. Here are some things in particular you should test for each project:
  • The Learner's Navigation - If the learner takes a course but can't complete it, you've got a major problem. Test the navigation to make sure the learner can get to where they need to go. This includes any next and previous buttons, home buttons, and access to the quiz or survey.
  • Quizzing - The learner needs to get the score they earn and it needs to be reported correctly to the LMS. In particular, test to make sure the course completion is set correctly depending on the quiz results.
  • Animations and Audio Syncing - The animations should match the audio. Avoid the temptation to skip through the audio. Listen to it and verify the animations take place. Make sure animations are not inadvertently paused by other elements on the page like buttons waiting for a click event (Captivate users know what I'm talking about).
  • Links and Attached Files - Don't disappoint the learner with a broken link. Links may not work like you expect them once a project is published or put on the LMS. Who among us hasn't accidentally linked to a file on your computer? Make sure the URLs are accurate and open up in a NEW window if required. Make sure attached files are included in the imsmanifest and SCORM package being uploaded to the LMS.
What bad habits tempt you?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolve to Try Something New in eLearning in 2013

By Shelley A. Gable

In perusing the blogosphere, Twitter, and Facebook at the turn of the new year, I noticed several expressions of relief that the world has not ended and resolutions to make 2013 the best year yet. For many, this includes trying new things.

The posts from this blog in 2012 offered advice for trying out new eLearning authoring tools and other technologies as well as advice for trying out various instructional approaches. If you're interested in trying something new with your eLearning projects this year, take a look at how the past year of posts from this blog might help...

Want to explore Tin Can API?

Training practitioners have been abuzz about the possibilities Tin Can API might hold. Check out Building the Next Generation of SCORM for an introduction to Tin Can, or review Realizing the Potential of the Tin Can API to participate in a discussion about its potential pros and cons.

Want to develop your technical skills?

Lectora has been one of the most frequently recurring topics on the blog this year. To sharpen your Lectora skills, take a peek at the posts linked below.

Of course, Lectora isn’t the only tool out there. Those looking to further their Captivate skills can benefit from these posts:

Or maybe you’d like to acquaint yourself with some different tools...

Anticipate dabbling in audio and video? Perhaps the posts below can help you get started.

Want to take steps to make eLearning easier to use?

While a fluency in authoring tools can go a long way, making eLearning user-friendly is just as important. Help ensure that your eLearning doesn’t distract from learning with the help of the posts below.

Want to renew your focus on instructional design?

Instructional design is at the heart of learning. While an attractive visual design and eye-catching interactions can help create a positive first impression of a lesson, its ability to teach learners to perform is what matters most.

The following posts can help you brush up on principles of learning psychology:

If you’re thinking about tinkering in a gaming approach to instruction, the posts below might help.

To help you assess learning through eLearning interactivity and/or knowledge assessments, take a peek at these posts:

What are your professional development goals for 2013?

If there’s something you intend to focus on that isn’t mentioned here, please tell us about it! (If you do, we just might write about it.) For more resources, you could also take a peek at the year in review posts for 2011 and 2010.

Happy new year!