ELH Challenge #179: Learning a Language

When I was an English teacher (11-16 year olds!) my main “competitor” was definitely the Latin teacher who had the classroom above mine, who taught using Cambridge University Press’s famous Latin books. There was something about the continuing ongoing story of a Pompeiian family that really grabbed my students and led to all kinds of in-jokes. Apparently the books are something of an institution, having been used since the 70s. There’s even a Doctor Who episode which seeks to remedy the inevitable fates of the characters when it’s time for “volcano day”!

When I remembered that the books are available online in PDF form now (You can find the first one here!)  I knew that I had to use them in this week’s challenge.

The demo below uses hotspots and triggers to play audio when characters are dragged into a particular area of the screen.

There weren’t any suitable backgrounds in the book so I broke out my graphics tablet and tried to draw something in a similar style and add some watercolour paper overlays to match the tone of the original 70s illustrations.

The audio is just Google’s voice for Latin text-to-speech, and I really couldn’t comment on its accuracy (pretty sure it’s normally Kai-killy-us not Kai-chilly-us.)

Click the image below to play!


Five Tips for Choosing Fonts for Elearning

Explore behind the drop down menu on any of the big name content creation applications and you’ll find hundreds of fonts in all shapes and sizes. How do you find one that is perfect for your elearning project? Which one will deliver information clearly to your learners, while also contributing to an engaging design? Here are five tips for matchmaking fonts for your project.

Read more on my blog over at GLAD Solutions!

Creating Contents Menus in Storyline

Sometimes you want users to be able to jump to a particular section of your course, rather than complete the whole thing linearly in one sitting.  There are various ways of doing that. Here are a few suggestions.

Option 1 – Storyline Default

The easiest way is to use Storyline’s default player which allows you to click through to part of a course at any point from a menu on the left hand side. This doesn’t require any extra work – just create the course using scenes and slides. You can customise the colours in the player options.

If you’d rather have more control or you don’t want to take up valuable space with the sidebar menu, you might consider…

Option 2: Lightbox

You could create a visual menu which appears in a lightbox (so overlain over each slide). To do this, create a slide  with visually interesting buttons linking to each of the available sections. You can use images or icons which represent the different topics.

Here’s a quick and simple example of what I mean:

Then, create a MENU button which you can put on each slide. If you want to save time, you could put the menu button on the Slide Master which will put it onto all your slides for you.

Add a trigger to the menu button to lightbox your menu slide. Now your user can access the menu from any slide to jump around your course!

Note: You could also do this without a a lightbox, just use “jump to” instead in your trigger.

Option 3 – Sidebar menu

Option 2 is to create a bar menu, similar to the default storyline one, but which only appears when you click your menu button.

So, first step, create that menu button! Again, I suggest making it on the slide master. It will save you a lot of hassle later.

Create a layer on your slide master too with links to all of your sections, like this.

I like to use fly in animations to make this menu pop out from the side of the screen.

Then, add a trigger to your menu button to show your menu layer when it is clicked. Because you’ve created it on the slide master, the menu should be available on all your slides! Don’t forget a return button to hide the layer again.

Final tips- 

What if you want the user to choose the order they learn in, but you don’t want them to access an assessment or difficult topic unless they have completed other prerequisite sections? If you are comfortable using variables, you can disable certain parts of the course until the user is ready to visit them.

To do this, put a disabled  state on the buttons which link to your sections. Set them as disabled by default.

You can then use variables to make those sections become available later on in the course. For example at the end of Section 1, you can create a “Section1Complete” variable and set it to true. Then you can put a trigger on your menu that if Section1Complete = true, then make the state normal, not disabled. This helps you to make aspects of your course more linear if you need to.

You can use a similar tactic to mark sections as complete too, so the users knows where they have already been. Just create a completed state on your menu buttons and place “SectionComplete” triggers which track progress throughout your course.

Hope this is useful!


Images and Visual Storytelling

Once, there were three little pigs. They decided to develop some elearning to convince their neighbour, Mr Wolf, that there are many advantages to not eating pigs.


The first little pig built his elearning with lots words and bullet points. It was certainly very comprehensive.

The second little pig decided to put some images into the elearning, to make it more visually appealing. He put in lots of images everywhere he could. Photographs, icons, cartoons, anything he could find.

Confused Wolf

The message just wasn’t getting through. It looked like pork was definitely still on the menu. Fortunately, the last little pig was more clever than the other two. He knew that images and text should work together to provide information and to demonstrate how it works in a real world situation.

Using images - four tips

the wolf understands

Thanks to quality elearning, the pigs never had to worry about being wolf food ever again.

The original version of this piece appeared over at Glad Solutions

#ELH Challenge 177 + Tooltip Template

Another week, another excellent Elearning Challenge, this time on tooltips, hyperlinks and explorable explanations.

The term “tooltip” originally comes from the early days of applications like Microsoft Word and Paint, where users were greeted by toolbars full of unfamiliar icons. Although the FUN way to work out what everything did was to try every button out, the quickest way was to hover your cursor over the item. A small hover box would appear giving you information about that item without you having to try it out.

(I’m using past tense, but of course tooltips are still everwhere! )

Tooltips in Photoshop, 2017

Tooltips in Photoshop, 2017

For this week’s challenge I decided to take a passage from an encyclopedia and add in tooltips to provide nuggets of additional information.  With websites like Wikipedia I’ll often find myself getting lost as I branch down different pages. One moment I’m reading about the Royal Albert Hall, a few hyperlinks later and I’m reading about the island of Grenada (…it’s true!) With tooltips, it’s easy to get small nuggets of information which add to understanding without taking you too far away from the original topic.

Here’s my example which is all about the mysterious Mechanical Turk, a bizarre and fascinating episode in the history of computer programming:

mechanical turk.jpg

Get the Template

If you’re interested in taking a peek at the Storyline 2 file and adapting it for your own purposes, I’ve created a template which you can download here.

The future of tooltips?

The big problem with tooltips, of course, is that you classically need to be able to hover a cursor to use them – something you can’t really do if you are using a touch screen. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to tooltips and hovering interactions in general in the future. Are they on their way out?

If you’ve enjoyed this or found it useful, do let me know in the comments and find me on Twitter and LinkedIn! 


Cells – Now with More Words!

A couple of weeks ago I took part in ELH Challenge #176, creating a course about cells which only used the 100 most frequently used words in the English language.

I liked it so much that I thought I should probably create a version which uses actual terminology, so here it is!

I’ve tried at aim it at an early secondary school age group, since that was when I remember having to learn about cells at this kind of level.