Archive for March, 2010

A storyboard review stage is crucial as it’s hard to be objective when you’re the one who’s written the content. Here are our top ten questions to ask yourself if you’re the one reviewing someone else’s storyboard.

1. Are the basics in place?

Before you even start reviewing the content of a course, check the obvious (but easy to miss) things like headers and footers, dates and page numbers. Are these clear and consistent throughout?

2. Does the format support the right focus?

Our instructional designers storyboard in Microsoft Word which places a valuable emphasis on the most important aspect of any e-learning course – the text content. This enables reviewers to focus on the words without distraction.

3. Is it reader-friendly?

The layout of a storyboard can either help or hinder a review. Notes should inform you of what to focus on along with clear instructions explaining each screen. Requests for further information should also be clear and prominent.

4. Does it answer the learner’s questions?

Review the storyboard as if you’re the learner – what do you already know about the subject and what are you hoping this training will enable you to do? During the review, check if your questions are being answered and if not, why not?

5. Are you convinced?

It’s often very obvious if the storyboard author hasn’t completely understood the business need and subject matter. Can you spot any gaps in information, or any sections that raise more questions than they answer?

6. Does it fit in with the company’s culture?

Many companies have a particular identity and tone of voice. The learner is much more likely to be engaged and alter their behaviour if the course reflects this, and if it’s written in plain English with a conversational tone.

7. Are you actively involved – in the right things?

All good training is interactive – most people will switch off if they’re just reading, or listening, not actually doing anything. Are you being actively included in the most valuable learning points and are these conveyed effectively?

8. Can you transfer the learning to real life?

The best way to change behaviour is to use scenarios that put the learner in a realistic situation. Are they being asked to make a decision, identify a problem or suggest a solution? If so, then they’ll be able to do the right thing in real life.

9. Do you always know where you are?

A logical and clear structure will help the content flow, which will naturally aid the learner’s understanding. As you review the training, bear this in mind and identify any areas where you think better signposting could be used.

10. Are you being made to think for yourself?

Telling someone something and testing them on it afterwards tests memory, not understanding. Does the training that you’re reviewing ask the learner to think for themselves and draw on their own experiences to reach the right answer?


Top ten tips for reviewing a storyboard

  • It’s personal
  • Friday, March 19th, 2010 at 6:51 pm
  • Written by Catherine Blanchard

The challenge facing instructional designers is always to think of new ways to make our learning courses interesting, engaging and effective. We look at how we can make the best course possible by focusing on the technologies, design, graphics, content and writing style, but what about thinking about a course’s personality?

Elsewhere we see exciting, coherent characters achieving great things – from the memorable classroom trainer who relates the content to their personal past experiences, to Lady Gaga, who has created an intriguing stage persona which she continues in interviews and when dining out.

The first way to give an e-learning course personality that springs to mind is the inclusion of a course guide. This course guide should be carefully selected – whether it is an employee or an actor, it should be pitched correctly. Your guide should be believable and representative of the client company, but should also have character; a suitable voiceover can help to enhance this. After all, what’s more engaging – a stony faced guide standing with their arms by their sides, or a smiling course character gesturing towards something on the screen?

However, a course guide is not essential! There are a number of other ways to give a course personality, such as including distinctive hand drawn illustrations and choosing an unusual font and writing style. In this way you can design a course which will establish a rapport with the learner, and has the potential to surprise them. Once you have constructed your course’s personality and established the bones of it, the same persona should be continued to each small part of the course, including how it is communicated and marketed to its end users.

To make sure that it works, all the components should be consistent, as any contradictions will detract from the personality you have created. By ensuring that each part of a course is both distinctive and coherent, you can establish an engaging and memorable personality for your course.

With their apparent ubiquity amongst office staff, their ease of use, and their mobile connectivity, BlackBerry phones make an attractive platform for e-learning. Here’s our list of things to consider when designing training for this new and different learning environment.

1. Choose the right development model

BlackBerry offers different ways of developing programs for use on its phones. You can use their Web Development approach to create light weight web based tools that users access via their mobile internet. Alternatively you can use BlackBerry’s Java Development environment for fully functional applications that can be installed on the user’s phone.

2. Keep things simple

Remember users will be viewing a small screen and will have to scroll to see more than a dozen lines of text. Reading through lengthy text can be dull and disorientating. Keep text short and pertinent. Equally, keep interactions effective, but fuss free. This doesn’t mean things have to be boring; in fact brevity can lead to more engaging content.

3. Use what BlackBerry gives you

There are many controls that are native to a BlackBerry that you can use for free. Things like drop down menus, buttons, gauges and sliders are part of the development toolkit and it makes sense to use these rather than reinventing the wheel. This will make your application intuitive to use and ensure much of your testing is already done for you.

4. Utilise images smartly

Size and space may be limited, but by using images smartly you can still produce good looking programs. Use slim headers and footers to frame the page and lift content. Produce images with gradients and transparency which can seamlessly merge into static background colours. Design images that can be reused by resizing gracefully.

5. Test it everywhere

Testing on BlackBerrys has its own challenges, but can be managed successfully using the tools that are available. Even within the BlackBerry product range there are big differences in the nature of the phones. Luckily BlackBerry provides emulators for all its phones, so you can test your application on any device just by using your PC.


Top ten tips for designing training for BlackBerrys

Back in February one of Saffron’s people, Stephanie Dedhar, was named Instructional Designer of the Year at the IT Training Awards 2010. Her submission centred on a major compliance training project and the judges were impressed with her focus on using innovative instructional design techniques to make the project a success, achieving both competence and compliance.

If you’d like to know more about how this was achieved, click here to download the submission.

Compliance training has a bad reputation for being little more than a box-ticking exercise. But here at Saffron we believe it’s absolutely possible to create effective, engaging training that achieves both competence and compliance. Read on for our top five tips for breaking the mould and delivering gold standard compliance training every time.

1. Keep it positive

Avoid the temptation to instruct your learners in what they must and must not do. Try to minimise the number of ‘horror stories’ about the dire consequences of breaking the law. Training that’s driven by fear, or by an organisation’s need to cover its back, is unlikely to really make a difference.

2. Make it relevant

When it comes to compliance, what you do is more important than what you know. So don’t focus on legislative detail; focus instead on what the law means in practice to each individual learner in their day to day work. This is a great step towards achieving enhanced awareness and competence as well as meeting regulatory requirements.

3. Keep it real

One way to achieve that relevance and engage your learners is to use scenarios: create recognisable, everyday situations and get learners to identify the issues and make recommendations. This clearly demonstrates to them what they need to know (and do) and why. It also means they’re more likely to apply this knowledge in the workplace.

4. Make it varied

If learners are engaged in and enjoy a course they’re more likely to learn from it. Use a variety of interactions and media to cater to different learning styles and keep them interested. For example, consider photo or video scenarios, handy downloadable tips, news reports or articles, real life case studies and easy to access dictionaries.

5. Keep it conversational

We’ve had user feedback confirming what we already believed: a plain English, conversational tone of voice contributes to keeping learners engaged and therefore to the effectiveness of the training. Something as simple as this is a change from the norm of compliance training and offers learners a breath of fresh air as well as delivering results.


Top ten tips for writing an effective, engaging compliance course

Click here or here to find out more about our approach to compliance training. We’ve also recently won an IT Training Award for a compliance training project!

Saffron Interactive is pleased to announce ongoing e-learning development collaboration with defence consultancy 3SDL.

3SDL’s existing training clients have become increasingly interested in online training solutions and in 2009 3SDL’s Training Services team engaged Saffron Interactive as an e-learning development partner. Saffron and 3SDL have since developed a number of modules together to teach technical military communications techniques.

Four modules were piloted at the annual International Data Links Symposium (IDLS), Vienna, Austria in December 2009. IDLS is attended by over 600 people from the tactical military communications community. They represent the interests of some 25 different countries including Australia, New Zealand, the USA, many European nations and South Africa. The pilot modules were very well received and several nations, including Sweden and the UK, are investigating a possible roll-out of Saffron/3SDL e-learning solutions

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