In Support of Excellence

It's all about the students

Interactive Learning Modules (ILMs)

Articulate Studio ’13 … Hello Boys I’m Back!


In 2005-6 I introduced Articulate Studio Pro software to the teaching staff at the University of Adelaide and for years it was used to develop what I call Interactive Learning Modules (ILMs). Then the iPad revolution happened with the need for HTML5 and not Flash to run on the tablets and Studio Pro became tired and in need of an upgrade. About a year ago Articulate released a superb new software product called Storyline. There has been a lot of buzz about it and it has become really more than software now and I wrote a blog entry in Mar 2013 called “Articulate Storyline: More Than Software It’s An Ecosystem” where I listed a great many websites and resources to support creative development using this tool.

A few months ago Articulate released a major upgrade to their Studio suite of software, Presenter ‘13, Quizmaker ‘13 and Engage ‘13. The most exciting feature being they publish HTML5 tablet friendly output. I have been tracking closely all the interest in Storyline over the last year and was wondering why Articulate worked so hard on a new version of Studio Pro.

So when I needed to develop a very important learning module, the first with my own content in 5 years, I took the opportunity to use the newly released Articulate Studio 13 Pro  suite of software. I decided to push the envelope with pedagogy and use as many of the features to enhance learning as I could. I am impressed with what is possible and this post is about what I discovered. During the development I couldn’t help but think using this significantly upgraded software was sending a message to the elearning community a little like the classic memorable line from the Blockbuster movie Independence Day … “Hello boys I’m Back”!

Please visit this Interactive Learning Module (ILM) “CALLED to Instruct Them in the Practice” and explore the pedagogy … I think it is impressive and I hope it inspires you to try out the new Articulate Studio 13 software and include some of these strategies. I am not saying you can’t do it all in Storyline … just that if you use Studio 13 Pro with your PowerPoint, you can now build pedagogically strong interactive learning modules which run nicely on iPads. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Learning Outcomes: I have to start with a clear definition of learning outcomes. This is not a special feature of the software but a must to get the best learning possible. Use Blooms Taxonomy, referring regularly to The Padagogy Wheel Learning Design Model and particularly the Grey Matter Grids mindsets.  This will be invaluable to you when thinking how to build excellent ILMs.
  2. Checkpoints: are the core architecture or backbone of an ILM. This module has four of them. When I develop an ILM I believe there should be no more than 10 minutes of audio delivered content (didactic one way lecture style) before a checkpoint. This is an interaction and most often is knowledge checking using formative assessment,  although it could be data mining with a survey or even an Engage style interaction.
  3. Teacher Bio and Email Link: Teaching using ILMs is always better in team and the teacher information can be changed by slide so learning can connect with the person actually doing the teaching. Email is a click away. Also you can build learning community by including a welcome video.
  4. How To Use The Module: I have used another Engage interaction to build a pop up interactive graphic. It is accessed from the tool bar top right hand corner. Its role is to give students an understanding of the Articulate interface environment and the learning benefits of using the features to the best advantage. Each new ILM will have a customized “How to” interface.
  5. Glossary: This has 430+ terms but more will be added later. It is accessible from the top right hand tool bar and is a global resource. I have also listed the Top 100 eLearning Tools for the current year as voted by eLearning professionals around the world. Each one with a link to an introductory webpage of its use in learning and teaching. Hopefully this will encourage people to explore the elearning landscape looking for better ways.
  6. Resources List: This feature is designed to upload documents that can be accessed by the learners. This is particularly useful for the text of scripts of the module voiceover and increases accessibility.
  7. Notes: I have also included the text of the voiceover in the notes area of each slide and included the text from each slide. Learners often find this helpful to read as the sound plays.
  8. Search Function: Having text notes enables the software to search not only all words on slides but the audio script as well. i.e. learners can search for a term the teacher actually said and it will pull up the slide with audio. This is a “biggie” as students/learners are not restricted to linear access and can find specific terms and concepts being taught – at least within a 2-3 minute slide audio. This benefit more than justifies scripting (committing to written text) what the teacher/facilitator says on the voice over.
  9. Resume Alert: This is a useful feature and you can use it to ask learners to take a break or carry out a task independent of the module and they can pick up the content where they left off.
  10. Embedded YouTube Videos: Video is playing an ever increasing role in Learning and Teaching and being able to embed directly into the module and use media streaming is so much more efficient. How to do this in Presenter’13 can be seen here
  11. Engage Interactions: Three different interactive models and diagrams from the Engage ’13 were used. The main clickable circle diagram to describe the Centre concept on frame/slide 23 and the Glossary and How to diagram from the top tool bar. Engage ’13 has 20 different interactions.
  12. Formative Smart Game: A good investment to add some creative resources to your module development is a subscription to the eLearning Brothers Library. They have hundreds of cut out figures and templates for Studio ’13 including Quizmaker ‘13 templates. The World Race metaphor lends itself well to increase learner engagement to a formative assessment.
  13. Formative Quiz: The quiz on slide 20 forward was made in Quizmaker ’13 without a template. It is a very powerful quiz engine with many ways to increase engagement. Using cutout figures in different poses really helps.
  14. Instant Feedback: These interactive quizzes can give instant feedback to the choices and teachers can really support the learning with quality feedback – even to the wrong choices.
  15. Required Completion: You can set the quiz so the learner has to complete it before moving on. It does help learners stay on task.
  16. Online Survey + Video: This was a first and quite an “ah ha”. I realized you could embed a web object (any thing you can access from a browser) in the middle of a Quizmaker quiz.  So the idea of putting an online survey mining data back to Survey Monkey is a great idea. Then I learnt you could embed YouTube Videos in Survey Monkey quizzes as well. Finally I discovered you could alter the embed code and clip a section out of a longer video. Important stuff because other methods use flash and won’t work on an iPad, The pedagogy I used works well on any device and now you can use video clips as discussion starters or part of assessment questions increasing engagement.
  17. Grading can be set: All the grading is adjustable within Quizmaker ‘13
  18. Built in Evaluation: Using an online survey as an evaluation to be completed at the time the learner is doing the module is an advantage.

There was a lot of work to develop this ILM using the features I have described above but I consider it worth it. I am extremely happy with V1 of this module. Yes I will change it further, I consider any ILM to be like software with versions – continually improving.

My Conclusions and Lessons Learnt: I believe if you use PowerPoint and are very comfortable with it and the majority of your teaching is linear i.e. not simulations or scenario based learning then Articulate Studio ’13 Pro is the better choice for you than Storyline. If you are planning a lot of simulations requiring the branching feature then Storyline may be a better choice. You can do a lot more customizing in Storyline providing there is a little bit of the nerd aka programmer in you. However if you are a time poor overworked academic wanting to create stronger pedagogy with the minimum of new stuff to learn, then Articulate Studio ’13 will be an easier take up.

I am planning to use multiple modules similar to the one described in this post as the backbone of a course embedded with other activities into learning sequences managed by LAMS.  This will create more engagement, a better student experience and improved learning outcomes for the courses.

I have a Dream: Because student feedback from assessments can be exported from Quizmaker quizzes in the TinCan API  (the latest SCORM standard) I want to build effective elearning course/s to run from a WordPress website using a new plugin called Learndash.  This is low cost, flexible and a LMS for the rest of us.

I hope this has been a help to you and I invite you to look at the Pedagogy in action in the module itself by visiting “CALLED to Instruct Them in the Practice”.  Contact me directly if you would like to know more of the “how to’s”.

In Support of Excellence
Allan Carrington

Comments (1)

Do it then teach it: learning from and building on experience

    Ken Spero and Allan in SkypeThe more I share with Ken Spero about immersive learning and building e-simulations, the more I am convinced that the creative hard work end of building these powerful learning objects happens before anyone starts using any sort of software. This is the second of three podcast episodes we are doing to lay the pedagogical foundations and practical guidelines to help learning designers and teachers build Immersive Learning Micro Simulations (ILMS).  Following on from the seven “Benefits of Scenario-Based Learning … the New Instructional Design” Ken highlighted in our first episode, I asked him about how we can identify the lessons from experience and build them into learning opportunities. We discussed how to capture experience and three components of experience design – consequences, narrative feedback and the scorecard.

    We explored where to start building a scenario and Ken unpacks the seven basic building blocks of good experience design

    1. Learning objectives: how objectives tie to the scorecard what we are trying to capture in the scenarios
    2. Settings: From the boundaries, we need to create the setting.  Ken visits the dynamics of reality TV and how people respond.
    3. Characters: we talk about stakeholders
    4. Plot: What is the story driven by the experience. Ken describes the plot as an apprenticeship in 30-45 minutes and interesting perspective.
    5. Scorecard: Ken explains this important part of experience design. He introduces the idea of learned helplessness and suggests we have forgotten how to win
    6. Decision Alternatives: We discuss the importance of building important decision alternatives and how they help the learner to critically think.
    7. Branching: This links the choices and propels the story.

    The next question exploded into a really important discussion which we realized was the making of it’s own episode. It was about how to build collaboration into the modules and then manage that process.

    The final subject for this episode was about moving beyond the decision tree. Ken surprised me by saying that when designing simulations, the decision tree becomes a key stumbling block and often leads to a poor result.  This was an important “ah aha” for me as I thought it was an integral step in planning the story.  Listen to how he explains it can be avoided and please ask any questions in the comment area below and Ken will answer them.

    In the next podcast episode with Ken we will talk about how you can get started developing a Simulation. We will give you a six step practical framework and provide a Job Aid for Scenario and Simulation Authoring, which will be very helpful in managing your experience design projects.  Please subscribe and check it out when published.

    Also you will learn much from the YouTube embedded webcast below. It is a recording of a webinar Ken gave recently called “Why Smart People Make Not Smart Decisions“. In it Ken speaks about critical thinking and two ends of a spectrum “mindfulness and mindlessness” and how scenarios encourage mindfulness.

    Podcast Episode:

    Online Resources

    • Scenario-Based E-Learning: Ken Spero, ASTD INFOline series Oct 2012
      Allan’s comment: This is a 16 pg. booklet published by ASTD targeted at and priced for the corporate marketplace. It sells for U$25.00. Ken mentioned a one off entry.  I was not able to check that for when I went to this search page, I visited a different one of the results and am now locked out.  Please take care on your first visit if you want to see the book
    • Learning’s Hierarchy of Tools: Addressing Transactional Need Through Experiential Simulation: In this article Ken talks about a model he calls “Learning’s Hierarchy of Tools  and models it on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs … well worth a read
    • Three Keys to Designing Good Scenarios: This is a short article but touches on three important tips for designing good scenarios
    • ASTD Philadelphia E-Learning SIG Presentation Capturing and Deploying Experience Through Simulations with Ken Spero:  This was a presentation Ken made at the ASTD in Philadelphia on Thu Sept 20th 2012. There are a good set of PowerPoint slides here for downloading.
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    Images are not Illustrations they are ILMs

    An explanation of the Cytoskeleton

    Learning is all about the students. Teachers need to move along a Continuum of Shift. They need to move from content-centred teaching to activity-centred and from teacher-centred to student-centred.  21st century teaching is about interactivity and student engagement.

    I have been working with two colleagues here at the University of Adelaide, Ms Sophie Karanicholas and Ms Cathy Snelling who are prize winning teachers in Oral Health. Sophie and Cathy do some creative and different pedagogy which usually takes place in an on-campus coffee shop …. my sort of classroom.  Students have to create posters or illustrations to interpret an aspect of biology or a concept of their discipline.  When they first started doing this a few  years ago, they put this student work up on the walls near their office and some other colleagues asked them to take them down as they were unprofessional….. they just didn’t get it!  These posters are all about engagement and the student experience, they are where the learning takes place.

    I have included above a photo of a recent poster and from the course blog a student says:

    “I am so proud of us girls!! From having a very basic understanding of what a cytoskelaton is to knowing it’s function, the elements involved and their structure and function! I think the posters were a great idea. We needed to research the topic ourselves and we had a chance to talk and discuss it over with each other which gave me a much better understanding of the cytoskelaton! It’s a good feeling not just text book learning but having a hands on way to learn and actually understand what you have learnt and therefore I am actually going to remember it!  I’m very proud of our teamwork in this poster and really happy with the way it turned out and our presentation :)”

    Thanks to some Apple Distinguished Educator colleagues, I have just discovered Thinglink a slick new way of turning images into Interactive Learning Modules (ILMs) or objects. ThingLink’s exclusive Rich Media Tags feature popular media players and apps from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, Google Maps, Spotify, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, iTunes, Etsy, Mailchimp and FanBridge.

    The possibilities for teachers wanting to use images as interactive content is exciting and I know Sophie and Cathy will dive on this to take the posters to new online heights of interactive student engagement .  If you are interested in using Thinglink for learning and teaching, then please contact me using the email link at the bottom of this blog page, as there is a significant educational discount available.

    Comments (1)

    ILM’s Interactive Learning Modules

    Universidad San Pablo Guatemala

    Dr Ricardo Antillon of Universidad San Pablo Guatemala continues in episode two of this three part series on how he lead a transformation of faculty from being traditional “television in front of the class dispensing information” lecturers into passionate guides and facilitators inspiring students to learn. They recognised that knowledge comes form everyone and not just the teacher.

    Dr Ricardo Antillon Rector (President) of USP GuatemalaI must confess I was astounded when Ricardo shares the principles and methodologies of Just in Time Teaching (JiTT) without ever hearing about the concept. We discuss the JiTT process and some of the journey I have used at the University of Adelaide. Ricardo describes the empowerment of the average student and the real messages behind grading.

    We discuss how tests should measure what a student knows not what he/she does not know then Ricardo shares one of those unforgettable quotes about education … “a student is not epxecting a grade from a test, but a confirmation of his/her knowledge and learning” Traditional testing does not do this.

    These principles and methodologies about the student experience are in fact mobilizing engaged learners with a passion for learning and the confidence to go on and become leaders in their world as nation builders, whether it be Australia, USA  or Guatemala.

    Please listen carefully to the principles Ricardo is describing.

    Helpful Online Resources

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