What am I?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Articulate Storyline Conference, Leeds, 24.05.2012

Why am I reporting 'backwards' on my blog? This event in Leeds took place 2 weeks ago, why wait so long until writing about it? It wasn't only the usual time problem. This time, the main reason was a slower 'digestion' process of all I heard about Articulate Storyline (and other things) at the Conference. Was the journey worth it? I do think so! There's now an excellent conference resource available including recordings and presentations, and it's all done in Storyline, of course! What follows here on this page is just a short summary with a couple of things I picked out for myself ...

Storyline!  - but not for everything!
Most importantly, I was reminded of the fact that e-learning needs to be designed, and the design has to be intentional, or - as Tom Kuhlmann put it: 'Avoid the Frankencourse', comparing e-learning courses to Frankenstein, i.e. 'stitching stuff together from various sources at random'. Instead look for clear art direction and style, produce templates and slide masters, create a prototype (more persuasive than storyboard) - some slides to show look and feel to give your audience a sense of the final product. And don't forget consistency. So far so good, but more importantly, I liked the motto 'Tap into the Visual Voice': Start with design mapping:
  • Check out a set of areas: elements, typography, people, colours! 
  • Come up with some slides for look and feel: prototyping
  • Sense of "person" important to reinforce emotional connection
  • Starting with brainstorming - what's the topic?
Brainstorming can start with 'visualisation' - look at images related to your topic:
  • Visualise - images from different areas, representing a variety
  • Identify a set of image covering the topic in different ways
  • Establish the one that is spot on, yet provides a new and striking aspect "eye-catching"
Lots of little useful tips were interspersed in Tom Kuhlmann's presentation: There are always neat little free tools available to help you, for example Kuler for great colour schemes (add colour swatches to photoshop), or Pixie, a tiny programme which picks the information of any colour on your screen. Or screen capture tools like Jing, which I use almost every day ... Download free icon sets at Icons etc. or search for icons with Icon Finder. A very useful site for fonts is for example 'dafont', and there are lots more. I personally also like fontspace. During our little workshop exercise our chosen topic was 'weather', and in seconds I had a nice font for it (thanks to my ipad!), called DK Zonnig font.

A 'just for fun' tip on the side: Download RIBBON HERO 2, a plugin for MS Office 2010 which teaches some Office Skills in an entertaining way!

Dragos Ciobanu (the guy in the white shirt in the picture below) seems to have an amazingly positive energy for all things e-learning, including Articulate Studio and Storyline, and he told us that the University of Leeds has more than 200 licences for the software already, and he's hoping for lots more! He and his colleague Tamara Bloom did show some examples of what the licences have been used for:
Access Articulate resources at the University of Leeds at:

Alan Williams, Nottingham, reported about a BLS resource created with students, starting with story boarding. In his comparison of a student group and a tutor group he found that both groups had quite different approaches. As far as I understood he asked himself if students can develop resources. He found that this question can be answered with a 'yes' when their work starts with already established resources, and the students translate them into learning packages.

It seems important for me to note here that resources created with Articulate gained an overall  positive feedback from students. Some tips for creating resources, based on student feedback:
  • Not too much to read per slide
  • Good and imaginative use of images
  • Video/audio clips: no longer than 5 minutes
  • Internet links with guidance
  • Task pointers which allow working offline as well
Apart from the fact that it was very encouraging to spend a whole day in the company of people who are pretty enthusiastic about what they're doing - which is all related to e-learning - the impressions and information I gathered gave me a great start into my own storyline 'story'. Can't wait to get a licence soon, to   further explore the main Storyline features - working with triggers, layers, states and variables. Last but not least - one of the Storyline highlights is its HTML 5 output for iPads and other mobile devices!

Friday, 1 June 2012

HEA Health Sciences Conference Nottingham 2012 - some thoughts

The conference on 31 May 2012 had its focus on TEL, the Framework for Technology Enhanced Learning, published in November 2011 by the DH. It sets out the future directions of technology enhanced learning and emphasises potential benefits it has for patient safety and enhanced patient care.

Simulation, of course, has an important role to play in health care education, and ASPiH (Association for Simulated Practice in Healthcare) did attract a lot of interest and attention as the new communication network for everyone involved in simulated practice. It evolved from two other organisations, i.e. NAMS (Association of Medical Simulators) and CSN (Clinical Skills Network). (Note to myself: look into joining the SIG (Special Interest Group) for Technicians and Learning Technologists within ASPiH.)

One important topic that came up during Q and A sessions in the big auditorium was the availability (respectively un-availability, see below) of a great many e-learning resources. It seemed to be a commonly agreed request that people who invest time and skills in finding valuable resources and publish their findings should be in some way rewarded. Something like 'digital fellowship' was mentioned in this context. It was also requested that generally only projects with an 'open access' policy should receive funding in the future. The NHS has produced a great variety of relevant e-learning packages. A lot of them can only be accessed by owners of an NHS email address. It was good to hear that there seemed to be a consensus regarding the urgent request of creating resources as OER (Open Educational Resources).

The micro teaching sessions did reveal that here in Brookes we're already doing quite a few things considered as good practice elsewhere, for example using video with OSCEs (which were then called 'VOSCEs') and using web-based conferencing systems. For my own research the Sheffield experience of Serious Games in medical education was relevant, demonstrating an interactive resource involving decision making trees. The decision making was based on short video sequences. I can easily imagine that this resource manages to draw students into the learning process, and that it's very effective. So that's something to learn from. However, it's a bespoke solution which involved at least one year development time, which included a software developer ... hence it's not sustainable from my perspective. My quest 'how to create resources which 'draw students in' yet are affordable is therefore ongoing ...