DevLearn 2011 – Notes from One ID Challenge and HTML5 Authoring Tool Review

I was thrilled to be accepted to speak and asked to serve on a panel at my first DevLearn experience! Both sessions ended up with a packed house, and I was glad to receive lots of great questions and feedback. Since it was certainly a theme this year to share the learning beyond the conference itself, here are the things I’d like to share from each session for people who weren’t able to attend.

One Learning Challenge – Three Designers Put Their Skills to the Test

Tracy Bissette of WeeJeeLearning created and moderated this panel of three instructional designers. We all agreed to take on a design challenge about six weeks before the conference, and show up ready to talk through 1) a design concept that we could present to a client and 2) our process and tools behind the concept.

Since the proprietary nature of many of our projects make it so difficult for instructional designers to see each other’s work — and since when I was a beginning ID, I would have killed for the opportunity to see experienced IDs talk through where they got their awesomely creative ideas — I loved this idea and jumped at the chance to participate. Our challenge involved one of WeeJee’s actual clients, the Door Security and Safety Foundation, and an elearning course that they commissioned. The challenge was to increase proficiency of officials who inspect fire-safe doors.

Because of the dry material involved, the importance of attaining an extremely high level of skill, and the unfamiliarity with elearning on the part of the learners, I went gangbusters on addressing learner motivation. And some of the biggest motivation for me came from two pictures that were stuck in the back of the PPT that the client had previously used for webinars:

The "safe" side of a fire-safe door that is performing as designed...

...and the devastation wreaked by a fire on the other side of that same door.

The first thought that popped into my head when I saw those pictures is that I didn’t care what the person’s job title was; he or she was a hero. And that’s how I wanted my learners to feel: like they were becoming certified to be heroes.

To help learners see themselves in this role, I assembled a cast of characters to be the learner’s “classmates” in the course. This cast also starred in an advertisement that the client could use to market the course. (Since the course was essentially a retail effort, I felt it was important to address its marketing, and it was a natural fit to tie that in with the motivational aspects.)

Here’s the advertisement mock-up, as I would present it to a client:

Click to play in a separate window (1 min)

The actual advertisement wouldn’t have the same images repeating over and over and may have spoken words instead of text onscreen, but this mock-up would be, in most cases, enough to sell the idea of the advertisement and coordinating motivational elements that would be in the course.

The course design itself involved realistic scenarios in which the learner worked with a partner to complete inspection activities, like this (click to enlarge):

And finally, I thought it was imperative that as the learners were working through the scenarios, they were provided the actual resources that they would be using on the job. This completes the realism of the scenario and gets them familiar with their actual performance support.

For the full prompt and all three designers’ visuals, see the writeup on WeeJee’s website.

HTML5 Authoring Tool Review

I started writing and talking about HTML5 and its potential impact on elearning about a year and a half ago, and for the first year, one of the major obstacles was the lack of tools that output to HTML5. But no doubt helped along by the no-Flash limitation on iPhones and iPads, today’s software market looks quite different. I brought this session to DevLearn to highlight some of the tools that I think are most worth checking out.

While there is no one tool on the market yet that does even 90% of the most common things we need an authoring tool to do AND publishes to HTML5, major authoring tools that deserve your consideration include SumTotal ToolBook and Trivantis Lectora (in the super-powerful camp) and Rapid Intake’s mLearning Studio, dominKnow Claro, and Luminosity Studio (in the quick-and-templated camp). But wait for it… from the demos that Articulate has been showing lately, I’m betting that Storyline is extremely close to release and it is supposed to publish to HTML5, as well. I would put Storyline in the super-powerful camp and it definitely deserves your attention. Also on the horizon, Adobe Captivate is working on HTML5 output and appears to be on the verge of launching a non-beta converter. All of these tools have free trials, so give them a spin and be sure to test your output on your target browsers and devices.

But since there’s no tool that really does everything people seem to want to do in HTML5, I decided to shine some light on standalone multimedia utilities, as well. Tumult Hype and Sencha Animator are animation programs that publish HTML5-friendly output that can stand on its own or be incorporated into programs that allow web objects, such as Lectora and ToolBook. If you’re looking to serve up various formats of video for a variety of browsers, consider Miro, Easy HTML5 video, and, at the upper end, Telestream Episode, Zencoder and Brightcove. Elearning standby Audacity continues to be a good choice for exporting audio, while ImageOptim is the best tool I’ve found for optimizing images for web and mobile delivery. You can see the slides on Scribd, and there are several other HTML5 presentations from the past year in that channel.

This is a very exciting time for software that outputs to HTML5 as makers of long-standing software bring their products up to spec and makers of new software expand their tools’ feature sets. If you would like to read in more depth about a few of the programs listed here, feel free to check out my recent article in T&D. I’ll also be following up regularly here on the E-Learning Uncovered blog, on, and, in December 2011, on ASTD’s Learning Circuits blog.

All in all, I had an amazing time at DevLearn and the people who attended these sessions and shared their knowledge, questions, challenges, and feedback were a major part of that experience. Thanks to all, and feel free to continue the conversations here!

Judy Unrein

5 Responses to “DevLearn 2011 – Notes from One ID Challenge and HTML5 Authoring Tool Review

  • Came here looking for DevLearn stuff, and Wow, the images of the fire door are compelling. The best argument for a product is sometimes simple. Catchy music on the mock up, but really, the plain photos speak volumes.

    • My thoughts exactly! Thanks for stopping by. I would definitely include those pics early in the course, but now you have me thinking about how I would put them in the advertisement, as well! Too bad I’m not actually developing the course…

  • I like the very clean Apple-ish look of the graphics in the promo!

    • Thank you so much! Since it’s just a prototype, I wouldn’t do a whole lot of graphic design, so that’s partially why… but I’m a fan of “clean” anyway!

  • A proposal like this is ideal for a client to make a decision. I think the static photos are great to motivate the learner for this course. Thanks for sharing.

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