Monday, August 24, 2009

Short Cuts for Converting Classroom Courses to Online Courses - Ask an Instructional Designer

I recently answered an email question from a reader named Barb that might interest other readers as well:

Question: Eric,

I ran into your site through the Internet and would like some advice on the following.

I am a trainer and am currently working with a couple of other trainers on converting our Instructor led courses into online self paced courses using Captivate.

We know there will be work to re-design some of the content etc. However, I am looking for shortcuts. the content has already been approved by SME's.

I wondered if we could "storyboard" the content out in Powerpoint and then bring it into Captivate. In other words I want to avoid extra steps. Instead of using Microsoft Word to storyboard content, we would just place the graphics and text within a Powerpoint world and then bring it in. Or do we even need to use Powerpoint?

Your suggestions would be appreciated.



Hi Barb,

You have a good question here. In my view it all comes down to how you envision the finished product meeting the needs of your target market. You mention that you are developing instructor-led training into an online self-paced course; however, you do not mention the topic of the course, the types of students that you are serving, or your proposed course delivery strategy.

So I will make a few of assumptions in answering your question.

Assumption 1: the topic of the course is some type of training on how to use a computer system or a piece of software.I make this assumption (or guess) because you are choosing an audiovisual-based authoring tool like Adobe Captivate to present your training.

Assumption 2: your students are established employees at a company that will be required to use this new software or computer system in their job.

Assumption 3: if you are looking for shortcuts on how to re-engineer existing classroom materials for use in a online self-paced course, then I assume your time is limited to complete this project. Perhaps your budget is limited as well.

Assumption 4: the SME-approved classroom materials that you have available to you are print-based materials. Perhaps in MS-Word format.

So if these above four assumptions (or predictions!) hold then this is my advice to you.

Use a print-based framework for your finished product; however, augment the print-based material with short audio-video tutorials (created with Adobe Captivate) that show students the piece of software in action. By choosing this route, you take a major short-cut of being able to re-use some of the existing course materials in MS-Word format. You only need to invest your energies in augmenting the paper-based course materials with appropriate audio-video tutorials. This solution also circumvents the need to use Powerpoint. Last I checked people still prefer reading material on paper vs. the computer screen.

In the end you can upload a series of Captivate Videos to YouTube and then mail-out a paper-based workbook to students. That way students can keep the workbook and consult it when they are back in the workplace for 'just in time training', and similarly, the YouTube videos are accessible 24/7 from work or at home. There is no need for you to have a specialized learning management system in place to deliver such a course either. That saves on budget as well.

I hope this answer helps. Take care.


Do you have other recommendations for Barb? If so, post a comment below.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Technology Training Videos for Teachers

Let’s face it, whether you are a teacher, instructional designer, teaching assistant or multimedia developer, the sheer amount of new tools being released on the Internet makes it difficult to stay up to date with what’s new and what can apply best to your specific discipline. So instead of wasting hours randomly searching for new things when you have a spare moment (or clipping Dell coupons), I would suggest you consult regularly with Russell Stannard. He runs a great site called Already he has a multitude of great videos that I have sampled, including videos on topics like:
  • JING-Fantastic Screencasting Tool
  • Easy podcasting
  • Introduction to Moodle
  • Make on-line surveys
  • Downloading from YouTube
  • How to use Blogger
  • All about Delicious
  • Photoshop basics
All free for you to use. Russell Stannard is a principal lecturer in Multimedia/ICT at the University of Westminster in London England and his academic focus is on English language teaching. He has taken the time to create several videos outlining tools and websites that are specifically useful to English language teaching, such as:
  • Amazing 3D dialogue builder
  • Best ELT sites 2008
  • Best pronunciation Sites
  • Great dictation site
  • Voicethread presentation tool
  • Review of the best ELT podcasts
So overall he provides a fantastic repository of short videos that can help you in your research for useful tools in your teaching related practice. You can keep up to date with Russell’s new material by either subscribing to his email newsletter on his website or following him on twitter.

If you find any of these resources especially useful, let us know by leaving a comment below.