Creating Learning Videos Using VideoScribe

May 24, 2017 10:00 by Dana Peters
We’ve all probably participated in a virtual instructor-led training (vILT) session where video clips were utilized. Either in a class-time activity, part of a pre-work assignment, or even embedded into marketing materials to promote the learning event. You might think those videos cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, to create and require a team of career videographers to produce. In some cases, you are right, but today, I’d like to share with you a unique and inexpensive tool we’ve used to create whiteboard-style animation videos on a few instructional design projects. The tool is called VideoScribe. VideoScribe provides anybody, from experienced videographers to complete novices, the ability to create high-quality, whiteboard-style animation videos. Our designers have used the product to create learning videos for vILT courses but, for us, this tool has turned into what I call a “two for one”. Not only are we using it on instructional design projects, but we are also using it for our own marketing purposes as a creative way to communicate who we are and what we do. You can learn more about VideoScribe and how it is being used to communicate concepts, share ideas, and create awareness on their website. The client work we have done with the tool is confidential, but you can check out one of the promotional videos we developed to support our own company marketing efforts: The creative possibilities seem endless. What ways do you think you could utilize VideoScribe in your learning programs?  

Three Questions to Size-Up Learning Objectives for the Virtual Classroom

May 10, 2017 10:00 by Dana Peters
There are so many options when it comes to training delivery methods for your employee learning programs. How do you know when virtual instructor-led training (vILT) is the right fit?To help decide, you need to determine if vILT will meet some of your learning objectives. Notice I said some, not all. This is because usually one delivery method will not get the entire job done. It makes sense that you want your chosen delivery method to meet a healthy portion of your learning objectives, but a blended learning approach is probably going to be the most effective. A strategy that combines a blend of learning opportunities that work together to comprehensively meet all the learning objectives is often the recipe for success.But let’s get back to the question…how do you know if virtual instructor-led training is the right fit for some of your learning objectives?When working on learning design solutions for clients, we ask ourselves the following three questions to confirm whether or not vILT will meet each of the learning objectives. Do the learners need each other for learning to happen? Do the learners need to be in the same place, at the same time, to learn from each other? Will learners be able to demonstrate achievement of the stated learning objective in the virtual classroom? Let’s look at an easy example of these questions in action.Goal StatementBicycles are a popular mode of transportation in our community. The purpose of this course is to reduce accidents involving bikes by promoting the practice of bicycle safety amongst our bike riders.Learning ObjectivesBy the end of this course, participants should be able to: Explain the rules of the road Identify common bicycling hazards Determine ways to reduce the risk of crash, injury, or death Recommend appropriate safety gear Ride a bike safely Now let’s evaluate each of these objectives against our three questions. As you can see by our example: We answered “yes” to 8 out of the 15 questions (more than 50%). Only one of the learning objectives would be completely addressed exclusively through vILT. (#3 - Determine ways to reduce risk of crash, injury, or death.) Considering the learning goal statement, it is an important one. The response to “Will learners be able to demonstrate achievement of the stated learning objective in the virtual classroom?” is a “yes” on four out of the five learning objectives. Two out of the five learning objectives require learners to be in the same place, at the same time. All and all, this is a prime example of the need for a blended learning approach. vILT would be a viable option in combination with other pre-session and post session exercises, readings, knowledge checks, assignments, and partner work on the road. Hopefully, these three questions serve as yet another tool to help you evaluate the role the vILT plays in meeting your organization’s learning needs.

Does Your Company Culture Support vILT?

February 7, 2017 10:00 by Dana Peters
Take our quiz and see! Continuing education and development of employees is important for the success of any organization. Throughout our work, we encounter many companies interested in transitioning to, or ramping up, a virtual instructor-led training program for their company. Aside from choosing the right platform, preparing your facilitators, and designing your learning materials, which we’ve already discussed in previous posts, it’s important to evaluate whether or not your company culture is ready to actually support vILT.  There is a lot to consider: Does your executive team value learning and development programs as critical to your organization's success? Is your senior management team in full support of adding vILT programs into the mix of your organization's learning program offerings? Do your employees currently expect continuing education and development opportunities? Are your learners and front-line managers asking for vILT offerings? Do your learners have private, quiet, environments to attend virtual classes individually? It’s important to assess these and other criteria when first launching or when planning to expand your vILT program. We’ve developed a short assessment you can take to help determine how ready your organization is, and what steps you need to take in order to develop a culture that fully supports vILT.

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Tools | Virtual Instructor-Led Training | Virtual Learning

Using Movie Trailers to Prepare Your Participants

November 3, 2016 10:00 by Dana Peters
Successful virtual learning programs engage learners before they even log in the virtual classroom. The purpose of bringing learners together live and online is to allow for the opportunity to collaborate, explore new ideas, and build on each other’s experiences. Time in class together is very precious. The work we ask our learners to invest independently, before class in prework, should set the knowledge base foundation they will need to be an active contributor in class and add value to their learning experience. As instructional designers, specifically for courses that take place in the virtual classroom, we have developed a variety of different types of prework. Recently, we created pre-work for a few clients that also doubled as promotional video clips for virtual training courses we were developing. We called them movie trailers. These short videos are easy to view and not only help inform potential participants about the session to create interest in registering, but quickly educates them on core concepts related to the topic in an entertaining way. I wanted to pass along the tool that we used to create these clips.  Filmora is a video editing software that provides frame-by-frame preview, basic editing capabilities, and simple and advanced effects in an easy-to-use, modern interface. In addition to on screen titles and text, split screen capabilities, and picture in picture, the screen-recording feature allows you to record video directly from your computer. So if you’re doing a promo video for a training session on internal process procedures or software, you can capture video that directly illustrates the process. The video stabilization feature can help steady even an amateur videographer’s shaky hand, or fast-moving images. Overall, we found Filmora to be extremely user friendly. You can utilize a lot of the program’s capabilities with the free version, but may need to upgrade (for a minimal cost) if your plan is to share or post your video on the web. What tools are you using to create video clips?

Eight Must-Have Resources for Every Virtual Learning Professional

July 27, 2016 10:00 by Dana Peters
I read, and I read a lot. The virtual training world is fast moving, and ever changing. For me, one way to ensure I’m staying current with virtual learning trends is to learn from the experiences of others. Each spring, I go through a pretty massive spring-cleaning regimen. Clothes that no longer fit, papers I no longer need, and books I’ve already read, but never seem to pick up again…gone. Books take up a lot of space, and even though I’ve read a lot of great books, I don’t keep the majority of them. The following eight books, however, always remain.  While I’m always on the lookout for more, the books below have served me well as my “go to” resources for tips, best practices, and inspiration for the work I do in the virtual learning space. I hope they will do the same for you. •        Visual Design Solutions by Connie Malamed In the virtual space, visual design is critical. If the design falls short, the quality of the learning experience and end results will too. The easy-to-read comprehensive format allows me to hone in on specific design solutions, concepts, and real life applications. I regularly reach for this book while I’m consulting on projects with clients or creating instructional materials for our own professional development workshops. •       The Book of Road-Tested Activities by Elaine Biech This book is an excellent resource for ideas and techniques associated with engaging training activities. As a virtual learning professional I’m always looking for great tried and tested group activities to implement in our virtual learning environments. While many of the activities in this particular book are created for the in-person ILT environment, they still often spark my creativity as I design for the virtual classroom. Not only does author, Elaine Biech, provide several well-tested games and activities, she also segments the activities by content areas such as communication, listening, sales, teamwork, and leadership skills. •        The Successful Virtual Classroom by Darlene Christopher This book is another good resource for effective engagement. As you can imagine, engagement is paramount for a virtual session to be successful, and author Darlene Christopher provides several proven techniques to engage the online audience. I find myself reaching for this book regularly for example case studies, stories of successes and failures, but also great tools, techniques and example checklists. I am also honored to be quoted in this book. (Thanks, Darlene!) •        Interact and Engage! by Kassy Laborie and Tom Stone Did I mention that engagement is paramount? This is another excellent resource for breaking the monotony of the virtual lecture.  The authors do an excellent job of remedying poor online training experiences and utilize several activities and training techniques to not only improve engagement, but also drive retention of information. The book provides numerous example activities and exercises for taking your virtual session to the next level. Plus it’s written in a light and humorous tone, making it an easy read. •        10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations by Wayne Turmel Author, Wayne Turmel, provides a quick, easy-to-read, resource for nearly every kind of virtual presentation in this book. The book coaches virtual presenters on how to appear calm under pressure, and engage as if they were conducting an in-person session, which is no easy feat for most people. He provides general rules, tools and lists to help guide his reader, and I find myself using this book regularly as a resource for my team, my clients and as a reminder for myself. •        Great Webinars: Create Interactive Learning That Is Captivating, Informative, and Fun by  Cynthia Clay Cynthia Clay is the chief executive officer of Net Speed Learning Solutions. She has worked in the online learning space for a number of years, and shares her wisdom and wealth of experience in this book. She too, put together an easy-to-read resource for creating and managing virtual sessions. I find myself regularly referring to her book when I’m working with clients to really zero in on their eLearning strategy. Her focus is on blended learning. The book outlines best practices, and the importance of meaningful content and an engaging delivery approach to maximize learning. •        Live and Online by Jennifer Hofmann This is another design and interaction resource for me. The book walks you through techniques and suggestions for participant involvement, outlines what works and what doesn’t work in the virtual classroom, and helps you to identify whether or not the tools you’re using are helping or hindering collaboration. Hofmann provides sample exercises using familiar tools.  I use this book regularly as I review instructional design plans for a new or repurposed course. •        The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook by Roger Courville Yet another “bible” for the virtual learning professional, with more tips on how to keep remote attendees engaged. This book provides me with guidance to help train all types of facilitators, and help prepare them for working in the virtual environment. As we all know, it’s different than presenting or facilitating in-person. This book includes several “mistakes” facilitators should avoid when transitioning from an in-person presentation to a virtual presentation. What are your “go to” resource books? Share with me in the comments, I’d love to hear.   

The Producer Checklist: Another Key to Success in the Virtual Classroom

July 13, 2016 10:00 by Dana Peters
Depending on your perspective, multi-tasking can be viewed as either a positive, productive activity or a negative, sometimes distracting one. For our Virtual Producers, their ability to keep their eyes on several things at one time is a necessity. Helping them be prepared to technically support that classroom of “spinning plates” is where a solid Producer Checklist comes into play. We never run a session without one. The checklist is a critical tool for Virtual Producers to remain focused on what needs to be accomplished, create more accurate and predictable results, and meet every little detail of each unique session for our clients. We’d like to share with you an example of a Producer Checklist, which you may find useful for your virtual learning session. As you can see, our Producer Checklist includes the basic session information at the top, which eliminates any confusion on delivery. We’ve also broken the checklist into sections: Pre-Session, During Session, and Post-Session to make it as easy as possible to follow. In addition to including the pre-session, during session and post-session duties for your Producer, it’s a good idea to also include emergency contact information for session instructors and key contacts like content organizers, platform technical support, and session administrators. It’s impossible to predict, but mistakes happen; technology happens, or rather sometimes doesn’t. Having the necessary contact information easily available for your Producer is helpful in case pre-work documents are missing, the wrong link was sent to participants or the technology simply isn’t working. It’s also a good idea to include any reminders or session notes for your Producer. These may include unique post-session communication requirements, timing information, or something similar. Our hope is that this checklist will provide you a starting point for your virtual sessions. Our continued work with clients has garnered several general components for each section that we regularly adapt and change as it suits our clients; you should feel free to customize these components as well. For more information on the role of a Virtual Producer, check out our post: The Role of the Virtual Learning Session Producer. How have you’ve used this Producer Checklist, or something similar, in your work?  

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Practice | Producer | Tools

"Doh! How Did I Miss That?" Leveraging Technology to Review Your Work.

June 21, 2016 10:00 by Dana Peters
We’ve all done it...spent hours on a presentation, project or paper, and then spent several more hours checking and double checking it for mistakes and errors. Whether it be simple spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or a sentence that just doesn’t “sound right”, chances are we will all overlook something as we proof our own work. We’re human, and after spending so much time with a document, our human brains will read something based on what we want it to say, instead of what it actually says. This is where having the ability to have an outside individual review your content comes in handy. In my world, there isn’t always someone on hand to review my projects. We are a small team and sometimes availability or deadlines don’t allow for the luxury of passing something back and forth for proof.  If the same is true for you, I have a cool tip to pass along! As creative instructional designer, John Bellotti III points out in this post, everyone has an automatic copy editor right at the tip of his or her fingers...literally. Microsoft Word has a built in “text-to-speech” feature that allows the computer to read your documents and projects back to you, and I will tell you, it’s a game changer. Using text to speech will allow you to hear your copy read out loud which could catch mistakes you didn’t realize were there. It provides a whole new perspective to a familiar project. According to Bellotti, “It’s especially helpful in uncovering words that won’t be caught by spell check because they’re technically spelled right, like form and from. And just because the computer doesn’t alert you to a grammar mistake, doesn’t mean it’s going to roll off the tongue or sound right to your reader.” The feature is called “speak” in Microsoft Word. While it’s a hidden feature, Bellotti easily outlines the steps to find it in his post. To use the feature, make sure the volume is up on your computer and then simply highlight the text you want read to you. "While the computer generated voice is not perfect, and may incorrectly pronounce a few words, it is a great tool for reviewing," says Bellotti. I agree, and have used it frequently for varying projects, proposals, and even important emails. For longer, more extensive projects, I still tend to use a copy editor, but this tool is a great way to improve accuracy in the content I create.Were you aware of the Microsoft Word “speak” feature? Have you used it in your business? Let me know your thoughts, I’d love to hear your feedback.  

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Business Issues | Presentation | Process Improvement | Tools