The visual look of the Metro design style came from Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and is now used in other products, such as Windows 8. It consists of bright tiles, clean typography, white icons and and very little chrome. The visual elements draw from the flat design trend, which reduces objects to a simple look. There are no shadows, shiny gloss or 3D effects.
It looks like it would work well for eLearning design too. It’s easy to implement, kind of cheerful, and doesn’t have that typical eLearning look. If you’re looking for a fresh approach, consider incorporating the Metro look into your next eLearning or mLearning project. Below are some examples for inspiration and then an explanation of how to create an eLearning Metro design.
Three Steps for a Metro eLearning Design
I decided to try out this style with a course that teaches medical researchers how to bill for their studies. This dry but necessary content could use some brightening up. And creating squares and rectangles in a grid is one of the easiest designs to create and modify. Here’s how you can do it in three easy steps.
Step One: Create the Tiles.
Start with a set of colorful tiles in a grid arrangement you find pleasing. Use colors appropriate for the audience and content. Vary the size of the rectangles but use size, shape and color to create balance. I did this project in Photoshop, but it could be easily done in PowerPoint or other tools.
I noticed that in many of the Metro designs I saw, the saturation or vividness of the colors were consistent throughout the design, so that no one particular tile would stand out. I played around with various saturations to see how it would work if the saturation was not consistent. I started with this design below for a title screen. This design could also work for a menu screen, where a subtle animation would get triggered upon selecting an item.
Step Two: Add text and images.
When your tiles are arranged, add text, icons and photos. You could leave a few tiles empty, as in one of the website examples above. If you are creating a title graphic, you may want to place the title in the upper left because that’s where most people look first.
In my example below, I made the title box white and purposefully made the text colorful so it would be a focus of the graphic. Still, it’s hard to compete with the photo of the doctor on the right. That’s why in Step Three I flipped the doctor image so his eyes were pointing in toward the design. After adding the objects, I had to increase the saturation of some colors to provide greater contrast with the white text and white icons.
Step Three: Tweak until the design works.
Designs rarely work the first time. Play with ideas, move things around and try different photos and icons. Although I purposely placed my icons in a centered position, it could be more interesting to align them right or left.
In the draft below, the doctor photo on the right is flipped. It’s always best to have people looking in toward the design if you want to bring the focus back in. I also added text to show the three sections of the course for balance. And I exchanged the needle icon for a fatter pill bottle icon. I just thought it worked better in that space. If this were a menu design, I would follow the section menu color palette throughout the section, in some way.
What do you think of the Metro style? Are you going to try it?
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More and more learners are using mobile devices without Flash support. Flash has traditionally been the most widely used technology for creating interactive eLearning content. Flash files were relatively easy to administer and there were lots of eLearning authoring tools well integrated with publishing platforms. However, being Flash reliant today is no longer sustainable.
Many eLearning content providers and eLearning content designers are wondering how to get rid of the Flash content and how they can replace it with mobile friendly HTML5 content. In this transition, they are also facing other challenges, such as:
- They want content suppliers to be able to deliver rich content as files the same way they did with Flash, and they want to be able to publish it just as easily.
- They do not want to contact the content supplier just to add a comma or replace an image in the rich content they deliver; they want to be able to make those changes themselves, without any technical skills, external plugins or software installations.
- They need an effective way to manage all the rich content, and they want to be able to update all similar content types simultaneously, e.g. change a default instruction text on all drag and drop tasks.
- They want to be able to clone content created by content suppliers and adapt it to new topics using only a web-browser.
- If they upgrade or change their publishing platform, they want to move their authoring tool and content easily from one platform to another.
Companies, organizations and governments spend millions of dollars creating customized eLearning courses, eLearning games and applications within their enclosed sphere. Enormous amounts of time and resources can be saved if an open, common standard for eLearning content were adopted broadly and could be reused across institutions, departments and offices, as well as technical platforms.
Top 11 H5P BenefitsH5P solves all of the above issues. Here are some of the H5P benefits:
- Open source and free to use
- Create, edit and publish content in a standard browser
- No local software installations or end user plugins
- Content is HTML5 and mobile friendly
- Enables your existing LMS or CMS to create rich, interactive HTML5 content
- Content is packaged in a single file. Easy to administer and move across sites.
- Update one, update all functionality
- Streamlined for crediting licensed multimedia content
- Extend or build your own customized content types and applications.
- A user community where users can share knowledge, content types and code.
- Several available content types today. More are under development.
H5P has the potential of liberating rich content, making it a lot easier to reuse rich content between professional content creators, companies and countries with different languages.
Available Content TypesH5P is modular and several useful content types and applications are available for use without the need of any technical skills. The content types have been developed especially for use in eLearning. Below are some of them:
- Interactive video
Add interactions and quizzes to videos.
Create an interactive presentation of a topic with text, audio, video and more.
- Board game
A level based game where the user answers quiz questions to complete each level.
- Question set
A sequence of quiz tasks, including multiple choice, drag and drop and fill in the blanks
The learner inserts text corresponding to an image.
How to get started with H5PIf you are curious about how it works, you can try H5P on demo.h5p.org
You can also start using H5P on your own site. H5P does not require any local software installation, and no plugins are necessary for the learners. However, in order to author, publish and administer content on your own site, you need an H5P plugin for your CMS or LMS. You can view H5P as an extension that enables your existing publishing platform to create rich, interactive HTML5 content.
Currently there are plugins for the popular open source publishing platforms Drupal and Joomla. However, most of the H5P code is framework independent and it is easy to create plugins for additional platforms. A broader selection of plugins will become available as the community grows.
To get started with H5P on your own site you can download an H5P file by selecting a content type on the Content types overview on h5p.org
Once you have enabled the H5P plugin on e.g. your Joomla powered site, you upload the H5P file to your site. Once uploaded you get access to all the content types and applications that currently exists in the H5P ecosystem.
You can create, edit and publish the H5P content directly in your favorite browser and familiar authoring environment. It is also possible to download the content you have created as an H5P file (.h5p) and upload it to another site with the H5P plugin enabled.
For Organizations, eLearning Professionals and DevelopersEveryone can use H5P and it is free to use.
Organizations might choose to integrate H5P with their existing learning platform. Some organizations are also integrating H5P in their intranet.
eLearning professionals can use the already available content types out of the box. No technical skills are needed, just a browser.
eLearning developers can build upon existing content types or create new content types from scratch by using the open H5P API.
Organizations and eLearning developers may share their code on h5p.org so that others can reuse the content types and adapt the content itself to suit various needs directly in the browser.
CASE STUDYNDLA is Norway’s largest eLearning site for the secondary school level with 2.6 million unique visitors in 2013. The portal is publicly funded and has a large editorial staff for keeping the learning content up to date. NDLA requires most of its content to be openly licensed to encourage sharing and collaboration.
Since its startup in 2008, NDLA has used Flash to deliver rich and engaging interactive content to teachers and students. However, with the introduction of smartphones and tablets, the Flash content could not be universally viewed on all devices. In addition, Flash has always been a proprietary format, which did not suit the open source policy of the website.
With Flash fading away, NDLA had to choose between allowing their suppliers to deliver rich content as HTML5 websites, investing in a huge amount of custom authoring tools or cooperate with the H5P team in the development of H5P. NDLA chose the last option.
NDLA’s philosophy of liberating and sharing eLearning content and technology came to life with the new H5P technology. NDLA is already seeing their investments in the technology helping other organizations to create richer content. As more and more content types becomes available for H5P, the capabilities of NDLA’s authoring tool become increasingly powerful.
Every time a supplier creates a new type of rich content and uploads it to NDLA’s site, the H5P authoring tool learns to create yet another content type and NDLA’s editors are empowered to create yet another great type of content.
NDLA buys learning content, such as educational games, videos and animations, from suppliers in the market. Content suppliers can deliver any type of content to NDLA. If it is possible to create an experience with HTML5 it is possible to create it with H5P. H5P makes it easy to publish and manage the content both in a technological and editorial manner. The editors can easily correct e.g. typing errors or reuse content components for other purposes.
NDLA might choose to switch to a new platform sometime in the future. Independent of which platform they choose, both the rich content and the H5P technology for creating and maintaining the content, will be easy to plug in to any new type of publishing platform. This reduces the cost of training the editors in using the new platform and also dramatically reduces the cost of porting content and features to the new platform.
Feel free to join the community and learn more on h5p.org
Why should I adopt the Tin Can API?
Learning technology specifications have been around for a long time, and they serve a good purpose. They ensure that content creators and content consumers are able to work well together and with ease — but they’ve had their flaws. The Tin Can API builds on over a decade of industry-wide experience, relieving many of the biggest drawbacks of previous standards. It’s a simple but powerful specification that many companies and products have adopted already, and it will be the backbone of learning technology for a long time to come.
What’s in it for me?
As a specification, the Tin Can API opens up a world of data you can share with and receive from other tools. By sharing, everyone benefits. You can provide more relevant suggestions to learners because you know the activities they have completed. You can participate in a much larger learning economy than has been possible before. No matter where the experience happens, it can be recorded with Tin Can API.
So what are the differences between SCORM and the Tin Can API?
The chart below sums it up pretty well.
|Report a single score||Yes||Yes|
|Report multiple scores||—||Yes|
|Detailed test results||—||Yes|
|No LMS required||—||Yes|
|No internet browser required||—||Yes|
|Keep complete control over your content||—||Yes|
|No cross-domain limitation||—||Yes|
|Use mobile apps for learning||—||Yes|
|Platform transition (i.e. computer to mobile)||—||Yes|
|Track serious games||—||Yes|
|Track informal learning||—||Yes|
|Track real-world performance||—||Yes|
|Track offline learning||—||Yes|
|Track interactive learning||—||Yes|
|Track adaptive learning||—||Yes|
|Track blended learning||—||Yes|
|Track long-term learning||—||Yes|
|Track team-based learning||—||Yes|
There are many myths passed on from the greater culture that define how we think about Design. Some people think that to design, one must be an artist. Or that design comes as a flash of light into the minds of certain privileged people.
It makes sense that we wouldn’t know much about design. The design process is not part of a standard curriculum in school. Design thinking certainly isn’t taught in most instructional design programs, if any. And it’s the black box of the ADDIE model.
Here are ten things I’d like to share with you about design and design thinking.
1. Design is a process
Design is an approach to problem-solving that applies the cognitive activities of design thinking. These are the processes designers leverage to ideate and create solutions.
Paula Sirar, design thinking advocate defines it like this, “Design Thinking is a creative process of thinking backwards from people, that leads to design of a service, a product or [something] else, based on the conclusions of the knowledge gathered in the process.”
2. Design is messy
During the design process, there is no straight path from point A to point B. Instead, think of squiggly scribbles leading to a final destination after many detours.
Roger Martin, author and Dean of the Rotman School of Management, says that design thinking involves “integrative thinking: the ability to exploit opposing ideas or constraints to create entirely new solutions.” That process can be messy.
3. Design requires empathy
Design involves putting yourself in the shoes of the user, whether it is a customer or a learner. It means seeing the world through their eyes. Effective designs shift the thinking from technology or objects to people. It’s based on what humans need to improve their situation— to make things better and easier.
4. Design solutions are based on context
Effective designs involve thinking about the context in which they will be used. Good design observes people in context. It requires thinking, “How will people use this object?” or “In what environment will people use this course?”
5. Design requires prototypes
Good design practice moves quickly into prototyping in order to have peers and users test it out. In industrial design this might be a prototype of a device. In eLearning, it could be a portion of a game or several interactions.
Through observation and discussion, designers glean feedback to refine their ideas and iterate. Tim Brown, of IDEO, says that design goes from “thinking about what to build, to building in order to think.”
6. Design begs for collaboration
Great design can’t be done in a vacuum. Design thinking is enhanced through collaboration, particularly with teams from varied backgrounds and disciplines. It makes sense that working in diverse teams will produce a wider range of ideas, providing more innovative solutions to choose from or integrate.
7. Design starts with an open slate of possibilities
If we want to push innovation and fresh thinking, we must start with a “What if?” mindset. This approach allows us to imagine solutions in an unhindered way. Then we can deal with challenges, constraints and obstacles later.
8. Design takes time
It’s difficult to be creative on demand. Some solutions take time to simmer and brew. Considering that design involves iterative prototypes, you need to allow time for solutions to unfold.
9. Design impacts business
Design thinking impacts the bottom line. It transforms the approach to business and product or service development from one of calculating numbers to a human-centered approach. Which one do you think is more likely to meet the needs of customers, users and learners?
10. Design can change society (and the world of learning)
Design may be more powerful that you think. Consider that every object in your home and office has been designed. How many of them were powerful enough to change the way the world works? Think of every social program that changes lives and every business or service that delights its customers. These were designed through hard thinking, feedback and iteration.
In the world of learning, we can think about what we would like to change … about new approaches for helping people get the information and skills they want. Then we can use design thinking to make a difference.
When I discovered Articulate Studio ’13 was released, I immediately downloaded and installed the trial version. Although you may prefer the design freedom you’ve found in Storyline, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the new Studio ’13. It now borrows quite a few of the features we like in Storyline, giving it a truly fresh upgrade.
If you have legacy projects created with Articulate Studio ’09, you’ll feel compelled to enhance them with the improved functionality and look of the newer product. You’ll also like Studio ’13 if you are new to eLearning or are in need a rapid production tool—design and development are faster with this version.
Overall, Articulate Studio Pro ’13 has a light and modern feel that you can sense in how it looks and responds.
Don’t Know the Products?
If you’re not familiar with Articulate Studio, the Professional version is now a bundle of four products that convert PowerPoint slides to a running multimedia presentation or interactive eLearning course. Presenter is the foundation program that works as a plug-in with PowerPoint. Engage and Quizmaker can be embedded into Presenter to add interactivity, exercises and test questions. The new Replay product allows you to capture screencasts and webcam video separately or simultaneously. Replay is not reviewed here, but looks like a powerful addition to the suite. Now on with the features.
1. One integrated player for all products
The previous version of Articulate Studio used a different player for each product (Presenter, Quizmaker and Engage), creating a “Frankencourse” that had three different design styles within one course. In Studio ’13, the three products are well-integrated and seamless. You can’t tell where one product starts and ends, so that Engage interactions and Quizmaker exercises or test questions merge perfectly with the Presenter player. This is a huge change and should improve learner satisfaction.
2. Slide Properties support nonlinear navigation
Not only has the Slide Properties interface been redesigned, you’ll find improved functionality in the properties. Most important, you can now control the navigation on each slide without needing to make your own navigation system. You can choose whether a slide has a Previous or Next button, providing more sophisticated approaches to branching.
3. Greater control over the player
The player is now similar to the one used in Storyline. You can more easily control the features you want to display in the player, such as Title, Menu and Resources. And it’s easier to edit the menu items.
4. You’ve got characters
Studio ’13 comes with the same illustrated and photographed characters you find in Storyline. You will find a Character icon on the Presenter and Quizmaker toolbars and in the Engage Media box, making insertion quite easy. My only concern is that over time, learners around the world will end up seeing the same characters in all of their courses. Still, this is a great option for people with no funds to buy characters and it encourages storytelling and using scenarios.
5. You can display an Exit tab
It may seem simple to you, but many users are still unsure of how to close a course when it runs in an LMS. You now have the option of displaying an Exit tab next to the Resources tab in the upper right of the player. This makes quitting more graceful.
6. New publishing features
7. Engage is modernized and has more interactions
8. It’s much easier to edit the colors in an Engage theme
The user interface for editing Engage theme colors is straightforward. You’ll figure out how to use it quickly because the interface is better and Preview mode works nicely.
9. Quizmaker has free-form interactions like Storyline
I must admit this is another giant breakthrough. You can now design more complicated interactions in Quizmaker, which you can integrate into Presenter. You can create your own drag and drops, hotspot, text entry and pick one or pick many exercises and use them for discovery learning, to reinforce and practice or to assess skills and knowledge.
10. You can adjust where the feedback box displays
One problem with the old version of Quizmaker was that the feedback box often covered up answer choices, so learners couldn’t see both the answer choices and feedback at the same time. That is no longer true in Studio ’13. Similar to Storyline, Quizmaker now allows you to access the Feedback Master to adjust where the feedback box is displayed. You can create new Feedback Masters so you have many options, such as creating your own style of box. To access the master, select the View tab and then Feedback Master in the toolbar. See below.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the new Studio ’13. It seems to take care of most or all of the problems found in previous versions. Yes, it was long in coming but it was worth the wait.
Gauges are a great way to visually communicate a learner’s progress or scores in e-learning quizzes. While Storyline doesn’t include chart-building templates, you can easily design your own graphics using Storyline’s default shape tools.
Demo: View the gauge in action
Download Link: Gauge Demo
Learn more about using the gauge template
Type in the words suggested in the demo and search bar created in articulate storyline will show you a list of relevant topics available as a dropdown item, in similar way as we see in Google website.
To install the latest update for Articulate Storyline, use the download link in your product activation email, or download the latest installer here. Updates are free for existing Storyline licensees.
Update 5 (1401.2415) was released January 27, 2014:
- Improved how project files manage FLV resources
- Fixed issue where creating a question draw from a question bank could cause Storyline to crash
- Fixed issue where a numeric question with no feedback wouldn’t advance to the next slide when clicking the Submit button
- Fixed issue where answer choices wouldn’t appear when other objects animated into slides before the answer choices
- Fixed issue where responses to radio button questions wouldn’t show during quiz review
- Fixed issue where clicking the course title five times would enter fullscreen mode
- Fixed issue where two or more layers would be visible and overlapping when revisiting a slide
- Fixed issue where a web object on a layer wouldn’t load when revisiting the layer
- Fixed issue where the Resource Description wouldn’t display accented characters properly
- Fixed issue where “Close lightbox” trigger wouldn’t execute when preceded by “Jump to scene” trigger
- Fixed issue where LMS content would be marked Incomplete or Failed when resuming more than once
- Fixed issue where AICC content uploaded to SCORM Cloud wouldn’t play in Internet Explorer 11
- Fixed issue where AICC content wouldn’t track in an LMS when viewed in Google Chrome or Safari
- Fixed issue where AICC content wouldn’t track properly in an LMS when HTML5 output was viewed in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where HTML5 content would flicker in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where lower half of images wouldn’t always load in HTML5 content viewed in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where animations would be out of sync in HTML5 content when viewed in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where a custom button needed several taps to respond in HTML5 output in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where slides from a question bank would automatically jump to the next slide before learners could respond when the HTML5 output was viewed in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where the HTML5 content would sometimes lock up in the middle of a quiz in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where a video wouldn’t automatically play on the first slide in HTML5 output in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where a video wouldn’t automatically play after an audio clip in HTML5 output viewed in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where a video might not load in HTML5 output when viewed in mobile Safari
- Fixed issue where a video would pause when clicking its volume controller in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where the same video on more than one slide would only play on the first slide in HTML5
- Fixed issue where attempting to submit a question more than once without answering it would cause HTML5 output to lock up
- Fixed issue where submitting a question without answering would show the next slide overlapping it in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where HTML5 content with multiple quizzes would send results to an LMS after completing the first quiz rather than the quiz being tracked
- Fixed issue where HTML5 content wouldn’t show questions and answers in Articulate Online’s Attempt Detail report
- Fixed issue where a quiz score wouldn’t be calculated in HTML5 output when slides reset to initial state when revisiting
- Fixed issue where drag items would be missing when retrying drag-and-drop questions in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where drag items would duplicate when dropping them on a target in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where Matching Drag-and-Drop choices would overlap in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where question slides that appear after a result slide can’t be answered in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where question draw slides would be missing from the menu in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where menu and notes would show at the same time in the same player tab in HTML5
- Fixed issue where markers or their labels wouldn’t always display in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where web objects wouldn’t always load in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where web objects wouldn’t always close in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where web objects wouldn’t scroll in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where lightbox slides would be blank when revisiting them in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where a slide transition wouldn’t complete or would affect only part of a slide
- Fixed issue where slide background would be missing when resuming HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where blank text-entry variables wouldn’t be evaluated correctly in HTML5 output
- Fixed issue where you couldn’t type in a data-entry field on the base layer when other layers were open in HTML5 output
- Fixed various issues where audio wouldn’t play, resume, or scrub properly in HTML5 output
- Fixed various undo/redo issues
- Fixed miscellaneous exceptions
Here’s a set of simple tab interactions. Choose from a set of 3, 4, or 5 tabs, with the tabs on the left, right, top, or bottom. You can change the background by switching to a different color theme or apply your own background if you prefer. See a published example here.
Download Link: Simple Tabs