This guest blog post is by Articulate Community Manager Jeanette Brooks.
Dave Richards and the folks at e-Mersion know a thing or two about building award-winning e-learning. Last week, they took home the Gold Award in the Articulate Guru competition for the second time in a row! Their 2010 entry, Diabesity, is every bit as compelling as the CPR course which earned them a Gold Award in 2009.
e-Mersion built the Diabesity course as a proof-of-concept for HealthStartIQ, an organization that provides health and wellness research, awareness, education, and enablement programs. They target at-risk youth, employee populations, and people who are socially or economically disadvantaged.
e-Mersion’s goal was to create a powerful, memorable pilot course in just a few weeks, with a limited budget. Take a look at what they delivered:
Can You Tell What’s Custom Flash and What Isn’t?
e-Mersion is well known for artfully blending rapid e-learning with custom-developed Flash. And though the Diabesity course certainly has a polished feel, custom Flash appears only twice in this course: in the video intro, and in the rollover accents on the menu slide. Everything else was done in PowerPoint and Articulate Studio ’09.
Even the cool sliding-picture effect on slide 14 was created with just simple PowerPoint animations — and it all converts nicely to Flash when published from Articulate Presenter.
The course is a great demonstration of how powerful rapid e-learning can be!
You probably noticed that e-Mersion also used the Articulate Presenter SDK (available free to Articulate customers who have joined the Platinum Membership Plan) to develop their own unique and handsome player, branded with the HealthStartIQ logo. It’s not surprising that they did a fantastic job, since e-Mersion specializes in building not only great-looking Articulate-based courses, but also custom Articulate players.
For folks who prefer not to go the custom player route, you’ll note that the course also works great with the standard Articulate Presenter player. Here’s a look:
Cool Features of the Diabesity Course
Here are a few of the many things that impressed the judges:
Intuitive Navigation and Branching
A clean, simple design makes it really easy to navigate the course. A menu slide lets you jump to any of the three sections. And at the end of each section, e-Mersion used Articulate Presenter’s branching feature in the Slide Properties manager to take learners back to the menu. When learners are finished, they can click forward from the menu to go right to the course wrap-up.
You’ll quickly notice how the compelling animations in the course are precision-synched to support the well-paced narration. Judges loved the fact that even though there’s a lot of animation in this course, it never feels distracting or overwhelming. The animations really help express and support the content, because each animation has purpose and meaning.
Annotations Create Emphasis and Focus
The course also makes great use of Presenter’s spotlight annotation to draw your attention to key facts and statements. Though annotations are easy effects to apply, this course shows how powerfully they create focus at just the right moments during the narration. When you view the course, watch how e-Mersion skillfully used spotlight annotations on slides like these:
Seamless Integration of Engage Interactions
e-Mersion used an Articulate Engage Labeled Graphic to show diabetes’ impact on the body. Their approach is a great example of how to visually integrate an Engage interaction with the rest of a course. The interaction’s transparent background allows the subtly stylized PowerPoint slide master to show through, creating a nice, consistent look. And for the image featured in the interaction, e-Mersion used a matching background with a slight gradient for contrast. They also tailored the Engage interaction’s color scheme for a super-seamless effect:
Tailored Quiz Slides
Another standout in this course is the Diabetes Self Assessment, built in Articulate Quizmaker. e-Mersion made great use of Quizmaker’s Slide View to tailor the look and content of each slide, including informative custom feedback and robust results slides.
Interview with Dave Richards of e-Mersion
We talked to Dave Richards to find out a little more about the project:
Dave, what inspired you to enter the Guru Awards?
“We really value the Articulate community, and the Guru awards are a great way to participate in the sharing that goes on here. We hope our course will give people some great ideas, because we’ve certainly benefited from many ideas that others in the community have shared. In a lot of cases, input from the Articulate community has helped us to solve e-learning challenges and ultimately keep our clients happy.”
What are some of your favorite Articulate Studio ’09 features?
“We’re impressed with how rapidly and easily we can create interactive courses and assessments with the Articulate tools. This frees us up to leverage our Flash programming resources in more targeted ways, like we did on the menu slide and the opening video in the Diabesity course. The other sections of this course might look high-end, but they were relatively quick and easy to build with Articulate Studio.”
Tell us a little about how you designed the Diabesity course.
“The Diabesity project shows our style for course design and development. Our approach is probably a bit different from a traditional instructional designer. In fact, some designers might even feel we’ve broken rules related to cognitive load. But we don’t confine ourselves to traditional design philosophies. Our approach is to combine principles of impact marketing with instructional design. The result is content that’s memorable, provides impact, and engages our audience.
“We used all of Articulate’s product suite to make this happen: Presenter, Engage and Quizmaker.”
Any course-building tips to share with the rest of the Articulate community?
“The course we built actually isn’t very technically complicated. We gave ourselves a short timeframe to build it, and for the most part we relied on pretty straightforward features, like PowerPoint animations, hyperlinks, branching, and the Labeled Graphic interaction in Articulate Engage. We also leveraged Quizmaker’s Slide View to very easily bring a customized look to the self-assessment.
“Based on the many other projects we’ve done, though, our best tip for other e-learning designers would be to really dig into Quizmaker as a tool for interactive scenarios. It’s got so much more than just standard quizzing functionality. The tools in Slide View are really worth experimenting with.”
Any other thoughts to share with the Articulate community?
“We want to thank the Articulate Community, HealthStartIQ, and the many other people and organizations that have inspired us to build great e-learning. We plan to continue sharing free assets as well as delivering for-fee custom design work and custom players that add value for Articulate users.”
If you’re attending DevLearn 2010 in November, you can connect with Dave there. He’ll be joining the Articulate Breakfast Bytes session on the morning of November 3, and he’s also planning to show off the Diabesity course at DemoFest on November 4.
Again, big congrats to e-Mersion for their award-winning course!