Many of us are working with shoestring budgets while creating eLearning. This means we are often relegated to the world of free clip art for our eLearning images. Here are a few examples of how clip art images can be reimagined into flat design. For these examples I just used shapes without lines, gradients, or shadows to create new, flat images resembling the original clip art images.
The great thing about flat design is that with careful attention to detail, most anyone can produce their own form of attractive flat design. All of the redesigned clip art images above took very little time, effort, and PowerPoint technical expertise. But, want to know a secret? You could even take an existing clip art image and bend it into your own flat design creation without building anything from scratch. Let's look at an example.
Need some more flat design inspiration? Check out the Flat UI Design site.
Note that the representation of the long dash--the em dash--as two hyphens or as "space hyphen space" are only acceptable when the software you are using does not support the standard long dash character.
Other respondents had varying opinions on whether the interruptions should be marked with parentheses rather than commas. Here are some additional thoughts on that:
On number 3, the words "according to the magazine" are an independent comment on the entire sentence, and they indicate that the magazine is the source of the entire statement. You are not necessarily saying that you agree with the magazine's opinion. If you put those words inside parentheses, then you are making the assertion yourself, and merely citing the magazine as a supporting source.
On number 2, it is difficult for me to see how the information about an upgrade could be seen as totally parenthetical and placed in parentheses. It is not merely reference or support material. I think the person who wrote the sentence is expressing outrage, or at least disappointment, that the blog is still slow. The interruption carries a good bit of the point of the sentences, and thus needs emphasis, rather than de-emphasis.
To those readers still waiting for more on the who/whom issue, here is an update. Many respondents treated the exercise as a standard challenge rather than giving an opinion. Some said it is not an opinion, but a matter of following a well-established grammar rule. Others agree with me, that this rule is so often broken in spoken English, that following it in written English can result in awkward constructions. Once I untangle all the opinions and calibrate the right/wrong answers, I'll give a full report. In the mean time, more data is needed.
Here is the who/whom challenge again. Please answer each one, this time, by indicating the way you most often say it or hear it said, rather than the way you calculate is the right answer by analyzing whether the usage is nominative or objective (subject or verb). What I am trying to get at is whether actual everyday usage follows any logic. Give a try to punctuating the interruptions in the sentences below. Feel free to post your answers as comments below.
Who are you giving the scholarship to, after all?
What is more effective, a print document or an online document? It wasn't all that long ago that print documents would definitely have been voted more effective, especially considering the poor quality of computer monitors and slow internet speeds. (Remember trying to pull up a document on a modem?)
Given the speed of today's internet and mobile device support, print documents are likely going the way of the dinosaur. Online documents have several advantages to their print counterparts. For instance, eBooks reflow to fit the user's device (think about how popular eBook readers such as the Amazon Kindle have become in just the past few years). Online documents are searchable, typically contain hyperlinks for easy navigation, often include videos and/or animations, and some even contain interactivity in the form of eLearning simulations created in Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline.
There are millions upon millions of print documents around the business world that would gain new life if they were online. The major challenge in moving from unstructured to structured documentation, or page layout to reflowing text, or paper to online, is the shift in mindset required. Simply put, many old design paradigms used for print documents don't fit in new media design.
There are many reasons for converting paper documents to online documents such as cost, efficiency of updating, document control, accessibility, and discoverability. Surprisingly, for the custodians of paper documents charged with managing the conversion, there is often a reluctance to embrace the migration from print to online. For those custodians, the paper version remains the primary document, and the online version is secondary.
Even if the paper custodians agree to take the paper documents online, much time and effort is spent trying to imitate the paper design in the online design. For example, the paper documents are scanned and converted to PDF. While aPDF will work in an online world, a PDF is really just a digital replica of the paper document. While a PDF may open on a tablet or smartphone, it won't re-flow to fit the user's screen like an eBook.
If you're trying to convince the "powers that be" to make the move from print documentation to an online document, consider the following:
The text used in the print document may require a specific font and font size. When online content is displayed for the user, the user's device may have limited font capabilities. Even if the device is capable of displaying the font, if the user doesn't have that specific font installed on the device, the font displayed will be the browser's default. For instance, you have used Futura as the font for your content. If the user accesses your content via a web browser and does not have the Futura font on their computer, the browser will likely display Times New Roman instead.
Paragraphs may need to be indented by a specific amount. While setting up a specific indentation is easy in a print layout tool such as Adobe InDesign, the user's device may have limits to how indentations are displayed.
Headings may have to be sequentially numbered. While many print layout tools allow you to easily number paragraphs, those automatic numbers may not display properly online.
You may be required to include footnotes. While footnotes are easy to add to print documents, they're a problem online. Since there really isn't an end to a page online, where would the footnotes go?
Page numbers may no longer be valid. If your print document includes cross references (such as, "For more information, see page 11"), you could end up with a mess. If your print content is displayed as an eBook, the content that was on page 11 could now be located on page 22. If the text on the page tells the user to reference page 11, but the text is actually on page 22, you can imagine the trouble you'll have.
The graphics could be huge. In the print document, high resolution photos were used. They look great on paper. However, they're so big (in megabytes, not width or height), they'll take forever to download over the Internet if you leave them as-is. To use the images, you'll need to allow time to save the images as online versions (in jpeg or png format). When you do, the images will likely lose quality. Will they still look good?
If you do decide to migrate your print documents to the online world, off-the-shelf authoring tools such as Adobe RoboHelp and MadCap Flare will help make the process easy. Both tools allow you to quickly convert printed documentation (especially Word documents) into online documents. Both tools support cascading style sheets that handle fonts, colors, paragraph numbering, and indentation. And both tools allow you to create master pages complete with headers and footers. Nevertheless, there are limits to what any authoring tool can do when it comes to recreating the look and feel of a print document, so look into the limitations of each tool prior to moving forward.
What's your take on print documents as compared to online documents? Is print doomed? Which medium do you think is more effective, print or online? What tool do you use to convert from print to online? Can you share instances/examples where you think print documents are more effective than online documents? Feel free to post your opinion as comments below.
You can create an eLearning lesson that changes dependent upon where your learners are physically located. For instance, you can create a Captivate project for learners who live in the United States or Australia. While much of the course content is relevant to both Americans and Australians, thanks to Captivate's geolocation feature, learners in both countries will see unique, location-specific, information while taking the same course.
As far as I'm concerned, the hottest new feature you'll find in Adobe Captivate 8 is the ability to create responsive eLearning. As I taught you a few weeks ago, by choosing File > New > Responsive Project, you can basically create and work on multiple screen sizes (called break points) in one project. When you publish the responsive project, the learner will automatically be served the break point appropriate for the device they're using.
Dashes actually emphasize the interruption, like this:
One of the best things about the previous two versions--the versions before the company was taken over by XYX, Inc.--was the user interface.
Parentheses de-emphasize the interruption:
The correspondence between the codes (see Table 2) is nearly one-to-one.
Commas indicate an interruption that is not essential to the meaning of the sentence:
The new interface, we all agree, is much easier to use.
Interruptions with no punctuation are essential to the meaning of the sentence:
The function that has been changed the most is the video editor.
Give a try to punctuating the interruptions in the sentences below. When ready, post your answers as comments.
I'm continuing to enjoy developing eLearning using the new Adobe Captivate 8. And the more I use this updated version, the more I find subtle improvements and new features. Take video demos for instance. I use the video demo recording mode frequently (it's the mode I use for the videos I upload to YouTube).
While recording a recent video, I noticed a new tab on the Video Effects Inspector: Popup.
It just so happened that I had recorded a video and had inadvertently captured a yellow tooltip (shown in the image below). I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to test the Cleanup button on the Popup tab.
On the Timeline, I positioned the playhead at the part of the video where the popup first appeared.
How can you use your voiceover script to keep the learner's attention within an eLearning lesson? Here are the two most important factors: Make it proportional and make it conversational.
Make the Voiceover Proportional to the Action
In a recent informal test at a conference for instructional designers, the audience started waving and yelling "Stop! Stop!" after less than two sentences of voiceover text was read for one PowerPoint slide. Now granted, that second sentence was a doozy, weighing in at more than 47 words, but still. Two sentences? How short is our typical learner's attention span these days, after all? Probably much shorter than you think.
The learners we address with our eLearning projects are bombarded with information, often in the form of movies, videos, and television. Scenes change in modern movies approximately every minute and a half. But in a movie, even during that short time, something is continually moving on the screen.
On many kinds of eLearning products, there may be nothing moving at all, as a still slide rests on the screen or a still screenshot sits waiting for the next interaction. So with absolutely no motion on screen, how long can the audio drone on?
At the conference, the elapsed time was less than 12 seconds before the audience became impatient.
To some extent, the type of lesson will determine how much voiceover is proportional to each action. On a software demo video, a lack of action for as little as 7 seconds can have the learner shaking the mouse to see if the video is still running-even if the audio voiceover is continuing. During compliance training, on the other hand, the learner may expect relatively longer voiceover descriptions and recitations of rules.
But that doesn't mean learners will like it. Consider aiming to have something move on the screen, illustrate the point, or change in some way about every two sentences. You can achieve the right proportions by either adding visual elements or shortening the voiceover script.
Use Plain Language and a Conversational Writing Style
The writing style of your voiceover text will greatly affect how "listenable" it is. Long, academic-sounding, repetitive sentences will have your learner eager to move on quicker than short, plain-language sentences.
Test yourself: try reading each of the following paragraphs. Which one makes you want to stop reading sooner?
Example A: The capability for the creation of user-defined functions has been instituted with the current version. This capability is not entirely new but was previously available via pass-through to and from a custom module, which is a function of most programming languages. However, these modules did not allow this functionality to be embedded directly within another function, and this inherent limitation was a source of frustration to users.
Example B. In previous versions of the program, you could create a custom function, but only within an entire custom module. Now, you can embed your own custom functions directly inside another function. This means there are now countless ways you can use custom functions within your own applications.
With little change in the technical terminology and content, Example B will seem easier to focus on for most learners. The best writing style for a voiceover uses shorter sentences, addresses the learner directly, uses plain language when possible, and uses active rather than passive voice.
Instead of "The capability for the creation of user-defined functions has been instituted..."
Try this: "Now, you can create your own user-defined functions."
Instead of "This was previously available via pass-through..."
Try this: "Before, you had to pass your custom functions through a..."
Instead of "These modules did not allow this functionality"
Try this: "You can now do x"
Remember that the voiceover for a lesson is written for a voice. Make that voice conversational rather than academic in style. Make it proportional to the amount of action on screen and you'll keep your learners clicking painlessly through the lesson while remaining focused.
Take the Text Caption shown below for example. The arrow in the upper left of the caption is known as a callout.
You can control a few attributes of the callout (you can use the Properties Inspector to select from a list of pre-determined positions and you can elect not to show the callout). But if you want to fully adjust the callout (perhaps move it a bit to the left or right, or make the callout a bit longer), you're out of luck.
Many Captivate developers, tired of the limitations of standard Text Captions, have forsaken Text Captions altogether for Smart Shapes. In the image below, I'm using a Rectangle Smart Shape. The shape looks much like a Standard Text Caption. I can control its appearance via Object Styles. However, check out how I am able to drag the shape's callout by dragging the yellow square. You can't do that with a Text Caption.
Because Text Captions are really bitmap images, I'm not able to fully control how the captions look unless I edit the bitmaps using an image editing program. With Smart Shapes, you can control just about every aspect of the way the shape looks by combining options found on the Properties Inspector with Object Styles.
While there is much to love about Smart Shapes, a perceived downside to Smart Shapes is that you can't use them to automatically get captions when recording a Software Simulation. You'll be happy to learn that you can, in fact, use Smart Shapes instead of Text Captions during the recording process.
Display Captivate's Preferences (Windows users, choose Edit > Preferences; Mac users, choose Adobe Captivate > Preferences). Choose a recording mode and, from the Captions area, select Use Smart Shapes instead of Captions.
I also discussed the use of assistive devices that provide a way for people with seeing, hearing, or dexterity challenges a way to communicate and train using technology. People who have visual impairments use assistive devices such as Jaws, Window Eyes, and HAL. They also use screen magnification and braille displays/keyboards. People with hearing impairments need visual representation of auditory information such a closed captions and graphic displays. People with mobility impairments may need alternative methods to moving through your eLearning content, such as keyboard shortcuts.
The goal of creating accessible eLearning is to enhance your lessons by ensuring that all learners can master the instructional material and meet the learning objectives. When learning is accessible to all types of learners, you are not only complying with regulations, but you are reaching a larger audience.
Designing eLearning to Include 508 Compliance Standards
Most learners retain information through seeing, hearing, and doing. Keep that in mind when creating eLearning courses. It's relatively easy to ensure that a person who cannot see can hear your course content by adding narration and using accessibility text for images (also known as ALT text). However, the more challenging component to eLearning is keeping the lesson interactive.
When creating interactive eLearning, it's important to include accessibility that all learners can use. All learners need to be able to easily identify and select interactive screen objects. You should ensure you are using a tab order for any interactive components. And you should always provide meaningful feedback in your lessons... and offer remediation if necessary.
Here are a few general tips to Instructional Designers to improve effectiveness of accessible eLearning:
Watch for my next article which will cover a step-by-step accessibility eLearning plan.
If you'd like to take a 3-hour deep-dive into the best practices for creating accessible eLearning, check out Anita's live, online course.
Unless you've been deliberately avoiding them, it's a good bet you've come across images similar to the one below.
Looking for instructor-led training on Adobe FrameMaker? Check out our live, online, instructor-led FrameMaker classes.
There are many reasons you may want to globally change every instance of a font in a PowerPoint presentation. Maybe you inherited a presentation from someone else and it needs a little work. Maybe you've had a change of heart about your own design choice. Maybe a client would prefer a different font. Whatever the case, manually changing every occurrence of a font could become a time-consuming task. Luckily, PowerPoint comes with a quick and easy tool to handle the heavy lifting for you. Here's how to use the Replace Fonts tool:
Just like that, you've replaced every instance of the original font!
If you are sending your PowerPoint presentation off to be viewed on another system that is not yours, you may be concerned that this other system won't have the same fonts. No need to lose any sleep over what your final design will look like. If you've used TrueType fonts, you can embed them into your presentation and send them along with it.
TrueType fonts can be identified by a TT next to the font name in the font drop-down menu of PowerPoint. The fonts outlined in red below are all TrueType fonts.
Here's how to embed TrueType fonts in a PowerPoint presentation:
Now you can rest assured that your fonts will survive the trip to another computer system.
Here's a quick tip you may not already know that could save you some serious time with unit conversion. By default, PowerPoint measures in inches. But, if you're using PowerPoint as a design tool you might wish to work in pixels or centimeters. It isn't rocket science to Google your way to proper unit conversion, but there's an easier and faster way right there in PowerPoint.
For example, let's resize a shape using pixel dimensions. We want our final shape size to be 600 pixels high and 800 pixels wide.
The same method can be used for centimeters. In the Height and Width fields, type your desired size followed by cm and press the [tab] key. Presto! Automatic conversion to inches!
Last week I told you about the great enhancements you'll see in Adobe Captivate 8 when it comes to image buttons. This week, I'm going to show you a few more improvements that I think you'll love.
One grammar and punctuation rule that is violated left and right is the use of a colon after an incomplete statement. The rule states that a colon must be preceded by a complete sentence, like this:
We discussed the following topics:
However, in every place I teach, I find people routinely using colons like this:
This week, I'm looking for your opinion. Should we continue to hold out for that complete sentence? Or is this a rule we should drop from the books? Post your comments below.
Answers to the challenge on possessives with identifiers are brought to you by Katrina Del Vecchio. I have also included alternative answers by other respondents, as noted below. Thanks everyone! The variety of rewrites is fun to see!
Over the past few weeks I've been writing about the hot new features you'll find in Adobe Captivate 8 such as the new, easier to use, interface and responsive projects. Those two features are arguably the top changes you'll see if you're upgrading from Captivate 5, 5.5, 6, or 7 to Captivate 8.
As a brief review, variables can contain information that occurs frequently in your project, such as a product name, company name, or copyright notice. After creating the variable, you can insert it into any RoboHelp topic or onto a template by simply dragging and dropping. Now here's the cool part. Assume your company name now appears throughout your project and now you want to change it. Without the variable, you would have to search your entire project and update the company name. Thanks to variables, all you will need to do is update the definition of the CompanyName variable, and you will change the displayed company name project-wide in just a few seconds.
One issue you'll come across when inserting variables within a topic is that, by default, the variable text looks like regular topic text. In the picture below, I challenge you to locate the variable.
Did you find the variable text? I'm betting that the answer is no. So what's the big deal? This can be particularly frustrating if you need to replace regular text with a variable. For example, you can highlight regular text in a topic and convert it to a variable by dragging the variable on top of the text. That's an awesome feature. Before I begin however, I need to be able to tell, at a glance, if the text I'm looking to replace is already a variable. As it stands, I have no idea since I cannot tell the difference between a variable and regular text.
Luckily, RoboHelp has a handy feature that allows you to distinguish between variables and regular text in topics. To enable this feature, simply choose View > Show > Fields.
Voila. All variables in topics are now shown as green text. Best of all, variables only show up green in your project... when you generate a layout, the green color will not be visible to your users.
Creating eLearning for mobile devices was high on the wish list a few years ago when Adobe asked users for the top features they'd like to see added to Adobe Captivate. It wasn't long before Adobe responded by adding HTML5 as a publishing option. HTML5 allowed developers to create interactive content that can be used by mobile learners who have a device that does not support Flash.
Desktop user: 1024 pixels wide.
Tablet user: 768 pixels wide.
Mobile user: 360 pixels
Once you're done laying out each canvas, all you need to do is publish and post the lesson to a web server or LMS just like always. When the lesson is accessed by your learner, the lesson will automatically detect the learner's screen size and the correct canvas will be displayed. Awesome!
A frequent reader of this column, Michael Stein, sent in an interesting question about the possessives we have discussed here recently:
Perhaps you could address possessives again in an upcoming column. Specifically, how should a qualifier be added concerning a person in a sentence who possesses something. For example, "We played with John's, the kid who lives in the white house, ball." Is this correct?
Here are my thoughts on this gnarly problem. In his email to me, Michael observed that in the spoken language, we would say,
We played with John, the kid in the white house's ball.
And in fact, there is a sound grammatical grounding for that.
A description in commas right after a name is called an "appositive." The Gregg Reference Manual, my favorite guide for such things, says to add the possessive to the end of the appositive and omit the trailing comma that would ordinarily belong there. The examples, however, are short, as in these:
Washington, DC's streets
Joe the plumber's bill
But I think that in a professional writing context, or with longer appositives, this falls apart and becomes awkward and possibly even confusing:
We saved the file in Tim, the manager for the project's shared folder.
Yech. And is it the project's folder, or Tim's folder? And the way this comes out, it actually means that Tim is not the manager of the project but just of the project's folder. Even the Gregg says to rewrite such sentences to avoid the awkwardness.
So we pretty much have to go for the re-write in order to both identify the person and make the person clearly possessive:
We saved the file in the shared folder belonging to Tim, the manager for the project.
We saved the file in the folder shared by Tim, the manager for the project.
Or (and I don't dislike this one as much as Michael does)
We saved the file in Tim's shared folder. Tim is the manager for the project.
Long-time readers may sense a pattern here: for many of these awkward, confusing grammar and punctuation conundrums, my solution is to rewrite the sentence. No sentence is sacred. Every sentence can be rewritten. Keep rewriting until everything is correct and works smoothly.
Challenge: Rewrite Around Awkwardness
As always, please post your answers as comments below.
Answers to the challenge on single quotation marks are brought to you by Jenny Zoffuto. Her clean-looking examples for numbers 1, 4, and 5 come from not giving special treatment to the defined word when the sentence is clear without it.
Alternative correct answers came in from Kay Honaker. Notice what she did with the Wicked Ale example (no. 4). The single quotes are not the British usage, but are in fact what happens to double-quotes when they occur inside of an already double-quoted sentence. Nicely done!
Correct answers also came in from Ginny Supranowitz. And I missed one from last time: Ginny should have been listed as a winner on the British spelling challenge. Thanks for letting me know!
Flipped classrooms are gaining in popularity. If you've never heard of the flipped classroom, here's a definition courtesy of the Flipped Learning Network:
"The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions."
From the Flipped Learning White Paper:
"A teacher stands at the front of the classroom, delivering a lecture on the Civil War and writing on a white board. Students are hunched over desks arranged in rows, quietly taking notes. At the end of the hour, they copy down the night's homework assignment, which consists of reading from a thick textbook and answering questions at the end of the chapter. This dramatic, defining period in our nation's history, which left questions unanswered that are as relevant today as they were then, has been reduced to a dry, familiar exercise. The teacher is acutely aware that many students do not understand the day's lessons, but he/she does not have the time to meet with them to help during the 50-minute class period. The next day the teacher will collect the homework and briefly review the previous night's reading assignment. But if students have additional questions there won't be time to linger; the class cannot fall behind schedule. There is a lot of material to cover before the test at the end of the unit.
"Although it conflicts with decades of research into effective practices, this model of instruction remains all too common in American K-12 and post secondary classrooms. However, more and more educators now recognize that the learning needs of students, rather than the curriculum pacing guide, should drive their instruction. Educators are developing ways to personalize learning, using technologies such as video, digital simulations, and computer games. However, unless the traditional teaching model is altered, technologies such as these will have limited effects. One alternative model gaining attention and advocates is called Flipped Learning. In this model, some lessons are delivered outside of the group learning space using video or other modes of delivery. Class time, then, is available for students to engage in hands-on learning, collaborate with their peers, and evaluate their progress, and for teachers to provide one-on-one assistance, guidance, and inspiration."
How hot is flipped learning? Check out these factoids:
Many events in Egypt's history have had an impact on tourism, but your business needs may still require training and development in Egypt. Let's explore some common cultural facts about Egyptians and their expectations when it comes to training and development.
Test Your Knowledge of Egyptian Culture:
Quick Tips for Training & Development in Egypt1:
Answers to Trivia:
Adobe last week announced Adobe Captivate 8, a significant upgrade to one of the top eLearning development tools in the world.
Over the past few years I've repeatedly heard a couple of complaints about Captivate. First, it was perceived as difficult to use. There were so many panels, pods, and toolbars it didn't take too much effort for the Captivate workspace to get cluttered. Sure it was possible to create a custom workspace, but that didn't seem to matter. The fact that a panel could be accidentally moved from one part of the screen to another was causing all kinds of drama.
Another major complaint was Captivate's lack of support for mobile users. You could publish a Captivate lesson as HTML5, but the way a lesson looked when viewed on different screen sizes wasn't something a developer could control.
Captivate users will be happy to learn that both major pain points have been addressed with Captivate 8. Shown below is the Welcome screen you will see when you first start Captivate 8. There are two tabs, Recent and New. After selecting New, you'll find the usual suspects including Software Simulation, Video Demo, and From PowerPoint. You'll also see a brand new... and very awesome... option for creating Responsive Projects (something I'll cover in a future post).
If you're a veteran Captivate user, you'll notice right away that in addition to the Welcome screen getting a nice redesign, there is no longer a check box in the lower left to permanently hide the Welcome screen. This may not seem like a big deal, but I can't tell you how many times I've heard from people using Captivate 7 and older who tell me that the Welcome screen is missing. It turns out that they've accidentally hidden the Welcome screen. And while it's easy to bring it back, I'm delighted to see that since it cannot be hidden that issue is gone.
The lecturer told us, "John F. Kennedy once said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.'"
Small punctuation marks--the period or comma--are placed inside of any and all of the quotation marks. Questions and exclamation points go on the inside of the quote they pertain to.
In British publications, single quotes are used to introduce new terms that are being defined a certain way. In American style guides, we are advised to use double quotes or italics to introduce terms.
Take a look at these examples, and give them the correct and American punctuation. (British and international readers--feel free to give them the appropriate treatment for your writing.)
As always, please post your answers below.
Answers to the British versus American English spelling challenge are brought to you by Susan Czubiak. Other correct answers came in from Deb Gilchrist, Karyn R. Smith, David Zimmerle, Barbara Kennedy, Geri Moran, Nichole Gladky, Lisa J. Stumpf, and Vera Sytch (in no particular order). Also, I received a couple of responses where I could not discern the choices (color coding or highlighting may not have come through), so I apologize if yours were correct and I have not given you the credit you are due. Please let me know, and send your answers again in a different format.
Last year the sale of smartphones exceeded the sale of traditional phones; the sale of tablets exceeded those of desktop computers. This trend has led to a need for eLearning developers to create courses that can be accessed from both mobile and desktop devices.
The size of the screen that learners use to access eLearning lessons can vary widely. Consider the size of a typical mobile phone compared to the various shapes and sizes of tablets such as the iPad, Microsoft Surface, and Amazon Kindle Fire. You could develop several Captivate projects that contain the same content, but are sized to work on specific devices; however, the problem is that you’d have to edit and update several projects! Who wants to do that? Additionally, who could possibly consider every screen size for every device? Even if you could build lessons for every screen size known today… what about the screen sizes for devices that have yet to be invented?
As an alternative to managing multiple Captivate projects, with Adobe Captivate 8, you can now create a single, responsive project that provides optimal viewing, and an effective learning experience, across a wide range of devices and screen sizes.
Responsive design is an approach to development that allows for flexible layouts and flexible images and assets. While the word responsive was traditionally used for building web pages, now with Adobe Captivate 8, responsive design can be used to develop online courses that detect the learner’s screen size and orientation, and automatically change what the learner sees.
This class covers how Adobe Captivate 8 uses responsive design features. You’ll learn how to navigate the new Captivate interface, how to create responsive projects from scratch, and how to incorporate responsive training demos, simulations, and question slides into your eLearning courses. Additionally, you’ll learn about multi-device previewing and publishing methods.
Who Should Attend This Course?
When it comes to eLearning, I develop content for many government and education organizations where Section 508 Compliance is required. Section 508, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, requires all Federal agencies to make electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.
If you want to make your eLearning courses accessible for everyone, it's a good idea to think about people who are hearing, visually, and dexterity (motor skills) impaired. Additionally, it's important to consider the elderly population and people who speak English as a second language.
Assistive devices provide a way for people with disabilities to communicate and train using technology. People who are visually impaired or blind need devices such as:
People with hearing impairments need visual representation of auditory information such as:
People who have mobility impairments may need:
Although creating accessible eLearning can feel like an additional task, the goal is to enhance your eLearning courses by ensuring that all learners can master the instructional material and meet the learning objectives. When learning is accessible to all types of learners, you are not only complying with regulations, but you are reaching a larger audience, upholding social responsibility, and increasing your effectiveness as an eLearning developer and instructor.
Note: This is the first in a series of articles covering accessible eLearning from Anita. Stay tuned for more! And if you'd like to take a 3-hour deep-dive into the best practices for creating accessible eLearning, check out Anita's live, online course.
I received an email from a new Captivate developer who was having a hate-hate relationship with the click sounds he was hearing in his Adobe Captivate demonstrations and simulations. He told me that in his demonstrations, the mouse was making an obnoxious click sound when a click occurred. In his simulations, the same click sound was heard every time the learner clicked a click box.
If you've created a software simulation with click boxes, you can easily get rid of the click sound for a single click box, or all of the click boxes in the project. First, select a click box on any slide. Then, on the Properties panel, Options group, select Disable click sound.
If you'd like to see a demonstration showing how to remove the mouse click sound from interactive objects and the mouse, check out the video I created on IconLogic's YouTube channel.
Documentation projects are usually time limited, but the products they create need regular, ongoing attention to work correctly without becoming obsolete.
In many organizations, the project team, which has seen the project through to completion, may continue to have responsibility for the final product post delivery. What is the impact of such maintenance projects on planning documentation activities? And how should the project team approach such documentation maintenance projects?
We always get to hear or read about how to create documentation from scratch, where we have the freedom and capacity to change anything, and we have little dependency on the technical team. None of these perceptions are true when we deal with documentation maintenance projects. Many times, such projects need to be completed in a very short time. They generally need immediate action, quick revisions, and quality output that satisfies the customer.
We need to realize that documentation is an integral part of the post delivery phase of a project, and keep in mind that we must do the following:
Maintenance projects can involve any or all of the following:
The documentation maintenance process should be viewed as iterations of any development effort.
Maintenance Release Types
Error correction: correct faults in a delivered system. Documents need to reflect change requests from customers or from the testing group.
Enhancement: improve performance or add new functionality. Document activity needs to begin very early in these types of changes since it will involve planning and deployment of additional resources. This includes roll-forwards from previous maintenance releases.
Mixture: a combination of error correction and enhancement.
Adaptation: adapt the system to a new environment.
The documentation may need to reflect error correction, enhancement, or a mixture of these. It is likely that more time will be spent on enhancement releases than on error corrections. It is always vital to plan the next documentation release so as to maximize the efficiency of resources and also improve quality of the document. Thus, it is very important that the documentation team is involved from the initial phase of maintenance releases.
I'm happy to report that the first meeting for the "Adobe eLearning Community: Maryland, DC, and Virginia" on the books: July 9, 2014 at Adobe HQ in McLean, VA.
Address: 7930 Jones Branch Drive Suite 500, McLean, VA 22102
Time: 7-9 p.m., Eastern.
I'm really excited to meet all of you in person (and online... we will be running virtual sessions for all of our meetings).
¡Hola! Let's journey down to South America and explore some common cultural facts about Ecuadorians and their expectations when it comes to training and development.
Test Your Knowledge of Ecuadorian Culture:
Tips for Training & Development in Ecuador1
If you'd like to see a demonstration on adding a preloader to a Captivate project, check out the video I created on IconLogic's YouTube channel.
It doesn't quite sound believable, but it's true. In 21st Century Australia, there isn't a standard national rail gauge. (Gauge is the gap between railway tracks.) In some states, narrow gauge is used, in others broad gauge, and ironically in just one state, standard gauge. This means that rail cars and locomotives can't travel between states.
This schmozzle started in 1847, before the independent colonies of the Australia continent became states in a federated nation in 1901. It was in 1847 that the first railway lines (in South Australia) were built. It started well, with a decision by the British Government's Secretary of State for the Colonies that all colonies should adopt standard gauge.
But what does this obscure historical anecdote have to do with technical communication? Let's think standards, and how standard adoption by an industry can go horribly wrong with enormous, long-term financial consequences.
A private company building a railway line in New South Wales lobbied for the standard to be changed to broad gauge. Broad gauge became the new standard in 1854. A year later, the chief rail track engineer in New South Wales was replaced, and the new chief convinced the New South Wales government to unilaterally change the NSW "standard" back to standard gauge. And the same pattern continued until there was no standard left.
You may be awestruck by these decisions, but in context, having a standard made little difference. Australia is a big continent, and the mooted railway lines were short and were contained well within the colony. There were no plans for railway lines to cross borders, so as long as all lines within a colony used the same gauge, there would be no problem.
There are many standards in technical communication, and their adoption is haphazard and parochial, to put it kindly.ISO/IEC 82079 is an international standard for technical communication, covering all types of product, software, and service related instructions for use. ISO/IEC 26514 provides requirements for the design and development of software user documentation. Both these standards arouse very little discussion in online forums or at technical communication conferences.
The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, OASIS, approved the DITA standard in 2005, and although its adoption is growing, it is still nowhere near widespread in technical communication. Are technical communicators generally reluctant to adopt standards? It is undeniable that technical communicators love some standards, such as spelling and grammar, and argue strongly for the benefits of such language standards and conventions. But it seems to me that beyond language standards, we collectively show the same attitudes as the late 19th century colonial railway engineers.
The consequences of the Australian railway gauge decisions are still being felt, and paid for, 130 years later. Interstate tracks are slowly being changed to standard gauge, often by duplicating tracks. Blame for the decisions of the late 1800s is often sheeted to "politics." Rivalries between companies and colonies and even individuals, power struggles, and deep-seated prejudices were the cause. We have to be non-standard because our requirements are special. These same arguments are used by some technical communicators to avoid adoption of standards and as an excuse to implement a custom solution. Perhaps we, as a profession, need to move beyond the politics of standards and work together in a standard way.
First, I verified (via Wikipedia) that Ruth did indeed buy a steakhouse previously owned by Chris. The name of that steakhouse? Chris Steakhouse. Why not Chris's Steakhouse or Chris' Steakhouse? Was the owner grammatically challenged? Or was there possibly a method to his madness?
One clue is that there is a tradition in English of sometimes using a name as an identifier or label, instead of treating the name as the owner of an item. Thus, the Joneses' house may be called simply the Jones house. You may especially notice this in historic houses, such as the Calvert House Inn, located in College Park, Maryland, or the Warfield Building at the hospital where my mother worked, or the Stephen D. Lee Home Museum in Columbus, Mississippi. Thus Chris's Steakhouse becomes Chris Steakhouse (although without the word the. Hmmm. And Chris was his first name.)
Another related fact may be this one. I recently read an article on Merriam-Webster.com about why we may sometimes say "probly" instead of "probably." The article said that in the spoken language we tend to omit duplicate syllables. So "prob-bob-ly" becomes "probly." In the same way, "Chris-es Steakhouse" may become "Chris Steakhouse."
So the reason for the single apostrophe in Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is not from any particular grammar rule about two apostrophes. But now that I 've said that, what is the rule for compound possessive? Are we allowed to say something like this?
The dog's collar's buckle is broken.
Maybe we would change dog's collar into dog collar[identifier instead of possessive] or revise the sentence:
The dog collar's buckle is broken.
The buckle on the dog's collar is broken.
But I don't see any need to change this one:
Cathy's mother's name is Sue.
In 10 pages of rules about possessives, my grammar book does not seem to address this question either way. So I put it to you, dear readers. Which way shall we go on these examples?
As always, please post your answers below as comments.
Answers to the Challenge on Which versus That
The winners of this week's challenge, with all answers correct, are (in no particular order) Jay Herman, Kay Honaker, Trudy Dave, Gail A. Kelleher, Geri Moran, Christine Larson, Jenny Zoffuto, Julie Sharma, and Lorna McLellan.
These answers to which versus that are brought to you by Lorna McLellan and Kay Honaker:
*I had already decided number 3 could go either way, depending on whether joggers had used their shorts at the indoor track all winter, when I found Julie Sharma's perfect explanation in the next email message I opened:
"This could go either way: which, meaning the weather was so bad that no joggers' shorts or tank tops were worn all winter; that, meaning those shorts and tank tops that languished in closets--some might have been worn to the gym, for example, even in the winter."
Krista Allen made another interesting comment on number 2:
"My main reason for selecting "which" was to eliminate the double usage of "that." I'm not sure if that's the grammatically correct answer, but "That snow that had..." sounds clunky and desperately in need of a thesaurus."
You are right about the fact that the word that is redundant here--not because it is duplicated, but because the specific snow has already been precisely identified by the first use of that, so a second one is incorrect. But it is sometimes correct to use two thats in a row:
From Lincoln's Gettysburg address:
"We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live."
A few weeks ago I showed you how you can use master pages to control the headers and footers of a generated Microsoft Word document. But setting a single header and footer for your entire Word document may not be what you need. The Table of Contents may need a different header and footer than the actual content. Perhaps the even and odd pages require different headers and footers. With RoboHelp 11 you can use different master pages for different sections of your Microsoft Word output.
After you have created multiple master pages, you assign these master pages to different sections of the document:
Even though Halloween is months away, you can still inject a bit of terror into your eLearning. Head over to NuggetHead to download free zombie eLearning characters. Not only are these zombie characters fun, but with some creative imagining they could be ideal for a range of professional eLearning circumstances.
Here are a few that come to mind:
Here's a little something I put together using the characters:
For more on eLearning characters:
Today's foray into cultural insights takes us to the Scandinavian nation of Denmark. Let's explore some common cultural facts about this kingdom (Hint, hint!) and its citizens' expectations when it comes to training and development.
Test your knowledge of Denmark's culture:
Quick Tips for Training & Development in Denmark1:
1Morrison, Terri, & Conaway, Wayne A. (2006). Kiss, bow, or shake hands (2nd ed.). Avon: Adams Media.
I received an email from a fellow Captivate developer who really liked creating eLearning using Video Demo mode but was lamenting the slow speed of the mouse.
"I was previewing the project. You could hear my voiceover audio and could see the mouse moving from point A to B," she said, "But the mouse was moving really, really slowly. The speed was fine a few days earlier but now it's so slow it's distracting."
The developer was sure she'd done something to the video to mess up the mouse tracking speed but was stymied to explain the exact cause of the trouble.
I asked her if she had trimmed the video.
"Why yes," she replied. "I watched your video on YouTube to learn how."
And with that, I had the reason for her troubles and the solution.
For whatever reason, when you trim a Captivate video, the mouse speed shown in the video after the trim point often reduces to a crawl. While I don't know why this happens, I do have a solution.
Choose Edit > Edit Mouse Points. On the Timeline, select the first mouse point after the trimmed section of the video.
On the Properties panel, deselect Smoothen Mouse Path (Smoothen? Anyone think the option should be named Smooth instead of Smoothen?).
If you preview the video, you'll see that the mouse speed returns to its pre-trimmed speed. While you may need to repeat this process every time you trim a Captivate video, at least it's fast and painless.
It you'd like to see a slow mouse in action and how deselecting Smoothen Mouse Path fixes things, check out the video I created on IconLogic's YouTube channel.
Smartphones have sparked a huge, new software segment – the mobile app. They have also changed how traditional desktop software is being designed and developed. This creates an important pair of questions for user assistance professionals: What is our role going forward in mobile and how can we prepare to take that on? User Assistance does have a role in supporting mobile apps. As the mobile market continues to expand, this is becoming the next frontier for user assistance professionals.
This half-day, online workshop is designed to provide an introduction to key topics and also to foster discussion on the best ways to design UA for this new paradigm.
Registration includes an ePub copy of the book Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps, PDF copies of slides and handouts, and access to a recording of the workshop.
Essential: People who wear glasses should not throw punches.
Nonessential: Our waiter, who was the son of the restaurant owner, spilled a glass of punch right on my head.
Although the word who can be used either with or without commas, the word which requires commas and the word that does not. After making the comma decision, make sure the correct word is used.
Challenge: Commas with who, that, and which
The hapless writer of these sentences (based on a real text) has evidently been told always to use a comma before who. See if you can help him out.
As always, feel free to post your answers below.
While HUDs may seem like something you'll find only in fighter jets or the movies, they are actually creeping into everyday life. For instance, HUDs are now installed as standard equipment in many cars displaying speed, distance, and messages onto the windshield. Drivers don't need to move their head up or down to read the text; they can keep looking straight ahead.
If your car isn't equipped with a HUD, you can use your smart phone, download a HUD app, place the phone on the dashboard, and reflect an inverted readout onto the windshield. And you can purchase HUD navigation systems (such as the unit shown below from Garmin).
There's a new type of HUD that's attracting lots of attention: Google Glass. Glass isn't the only product of its type on the market (there are dozens), but it attracts the most publicity. These wearable technology products display text in a tiny HUD in a pair of lens-less spectacles. The text displayed depends on the application; it could be the current time, an appointment, alerts... but it could also be procedural information, checklists, or product descriptions.
What does HUD technology have to do with technical communication? HUDs will provide innovative new ways to deliver technical information. For instance, Virgin Atlantic is currently testing Google Glass at Heathrow Airport. According to CNN, "The airline is conducting a six-week experiment with the wearable technology for passengers in its Upper Class Lounge at London. With data flashing before their eyes, staff can update customers on their latest flight information, as well as weather and events at their destination."
If the Virgin Atlantic tests prove successful, the opportunities for technical communicators are endless. Beyond simply documenting HUD devices and applications, technical documentation and eLearning content could actually be displayed on a HUD. There will be challenges of course. Writers looking to create content for HUDs will need to embrace writing techniques such as minimalism and separation of content and form. Nevertheless, it will be possible for technical communicators to one day deliver to this new media... a layer above reality.
April 25, 2014 in Adobe's Technical Communication Suite, Documentation, Help Authoring, iOS, mLearning, TCS5, TechComm, Technical Communications, Technical Writing, Technology, training, UA, User Assistance, User Experience, UX, Web/Tech, Writing, Writing & Grammar | Permalink | Comments (0)
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You can create the best-looking, most well-written eLearning lesson anyone has ever seen. But for the lesson to be effective, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that more does not mean better. If your lesson plays too long, you run the risk of losing the attention span of your learner and lowering the effectiveness of the lesson in general.
So how long is too long? The answer is directly tied to the average attention span of an adult learner. According to Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish, Indiana University, "Adult learners can keep tuned in to a lecture for no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time."
In their excellent article, The 'Change-Up' in Lectures, Middendorf and Kalish found that after three to five minutes of 'settling down' at the start of class, a lapse of attention usually occurred 10 to 18 minutes later. As the lecture proceeded the attention span became shorter and often fell to three or four minutes towards the end of a standard lecture.
I have been teaching classes for nearly 30 years (both online and in-person). Keeping my students engaged (and awake) has always been a top concern. Here's one final quote from the Middendorf and Kalish article (and it's something to which any trainer can relate). One of their colleagues attended a class and observed the following:
"I sat in the back of the classroom, observing and taking careful notes as usual. The class had started at one o'clock. The student sitting in front of me took copious notes until 1:20. Then he just nodded off. The student sat motionless, with eyes shut for about a minute and a half, pen still poised. Then he awoke and continued his rapid note-taking as if he hadn't missed a beat."
In the 1800s, people had very good attention spans. In her article, Keeping Pace with Today's Quick Brains, Kathie F. Nunley cited the Lincoln-Douglas debates which were literally read from paper and lasted for hours. Nunley said that "people stayed, listened, and paid attention."
Back in the Lincoln-Douglas days, there was less competition for the attention span of the debate attendees. But what about today? Why are attention spans getting shorter? More likely than not the culprit is the distractions and experiences of modern daily life.
"Today's mind, young or old, is continuously bombarded with new and novel experiences. Rather than novel opportunities every few days or weeks, we now have novelty presented in micro-seconds," said Nunley.
eLearning and the Common Goldfish
So eLearning lessons can last anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes and still be effective, yes? Ummm, no. The 15-20 minute range was for an in-person classroom with a live trainer. The times are just a bit different when it comes to asynchronous eLearning lessons that will be accessed over the Internet.
According to the article Turning into Digital Goldfish, "The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with an attention span of a goldfish."
Granted, a learner accessing your eLearning lesson will have a greater attention span than a typical web surfer--or even a goldfish. However, in my experience developing eLearning, I put the attention span of an adult learner at 15-20 seconds per slide or scene. If the slide/scene plays any longer, your learner will begin to fog out.
I know what you're thinking: 15-20 seconds is not enough time to teach anything. If your slide contains some voiceover audio, a text caption or two, and an interactive object controlling navigation (such as a button or click box), 15-20 seconds is perfect. Your student will have enough time to understand and absorb the content before moving on to the next slide.
I encourage students who attend my eLearning classes to try to chunk a one-hour eLearning course into several short eLearning lessons. That would translate into 12 Captivate eLearning lessons (if you use the 5 minute-per-lesson timing) for the 60-minute course.
What do you think? Is 3-5 minutes the right amount of timing for an eLearning module? I'd love to see your opinion as comments below.
April 23, 2014 in Adobe Captivate, Adobe's Technical Communication Suite, Articulate Storyline, Camtasia, Captivate, e-learning, eLearning, Online Training, Storyline, TCS5, TechComm, Technical Communications, Technology, TechSmith Camtasia Studio, training, UA, User Assistance, User Experience, UX | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Frequently ruled by outsiders in its history, the Czech Republic now faces happier times. Let's take a jaunt over to Central Europe and explore some common cultural facts about the Czech people and their expectations when it comes to training and development.
Test Your Knowledge of Czech Culture:
Quick Tips for Training & Development in the Czech Republic1:
Knowledge Test Answers:
1Morrison, Terri, & Conaway, Wayne A. (2006). Kiss, bow, or shake hands (2nd ed.). Avon: Adams Media.
Frequently ruled by outsiders in its history, the Czech Republic now faces happier times. Let's take a jaunt over to Central Europe and explore some common cultural facts about the Czech people and their expectations when it comes to T&D.
Test Your Knowledge of Czech Culture:
Quick Tips for Training & Development in the Czech Republic1:
Knowledge Test Answers:
1Morrison, Terri, & Conaway, Wayne A. (2006). Kiss, bow, or shake hands (2nd ed.). Avon: Adams Media.
Most computer programs offer multiple ways to accomplish any one task. For instance, in Microsoft Word you can make a selected word bold using a menu, a toolbar button, pressing a keyboard shortcut, or by right-clicking the text.
What's your take on right-clicking? Do you use it? If not, why not? Feel free to share your opinions here.
Want more free images for your eLearning or PowerPoint presentations? How about over a MILLION more? In December of last year, the British Library released into the public domain a huge collection of scanned images from more than 65,000 books spanning the 16th to 19th centuries. Yes, that's right, I said public domain. That means these images are free to use, share, and modify in any way that you see fit. The library asks only that you help to populate the metadata for the images to help make them more easily searchable--and to help spread the knowledge.
The project is called the Mechanical Curator and is housed on a tumblr page that purports to post a randomly selected small illustration or ornamentation from these antiquated books. All of the images can be found on the British Library's flickr feed.
Think these images are a little too old school for anything you'll be designing? Think again. Just for funsies I threw together a little eLearning layout by using the British Library's free images. Here's what I came up with:
The great thing about these images is that most all of them go together cohesively. And that "B" I used? I was able to find every letter I searched for, in a variety of styles. That could lead to endless designs... for free! Design on, friends.
April 11, 2014 in Adobe Presenter, Adobe's Technical Communication Suite, Camtasia, Captivate, e-learning, eLearning, Microsoft PowerPoint, Online Training, PowerPoint, Storyline, TCS5, TechComm, Technical Communications, Technical Writing, Technology, TechSmith Camtasia Studio, training, UA, User Assistance, User Experience | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Electronic ink technology (eInk) is one of the most overlooked inventions in publishing. eInk has been around for a decade, and by rights should now be far more prevalent than it is today. But things may be about to change as innovators are starting to use eInk to make amazing new products, including some that may cause big changes in technical publications.
eInk is the technology used in most dedicated eBook readers, such as Kindle and Nook. While some consider eInk to be a "screen" technology, it is closer to a "paper" technology. In Australia, as in many other countries, "paper" bank notes are actually made of a plastic (polymer). The polymer notes include clear panels containing holograms. These polymer bank notes have nothing to do with eInk, but they help illustrate why eInk can be viewed as a new type of "paper," rather than a new type of computer screen.
eInk is a coating of tiny particles held between two sheets of plastic. These eInk particles are like microscopic ping-pong balls and are white on one side and black on the other. When sensitized, they can roll over to display their white side or their black side. For all intents and purposes, a sheet of plastic coated with eInk behaves like paper, except that the words on the page can dissolve and reform as new words. Although work is going on to perfect color eInk, at the moment it's effectively only black and white. That happens to suit publications that are text-based, such as novels. That is why eInk has been successfully used within eBook readers.
eInk sheets are light-reflective (like paper), not light-emitting (like screens), so they can be read in direct sunlight. Tiny amounts of power are required to roll the ping-pong balls over; but once a page is displayed, the balls stay in that position without using any power. This is what gives eBook readers their long battery life. eInk is better than paper in many respects as the text can be resized and a single page can be re-used over and over (making it lightweight).
Believe it or not, eInk is cheaper than paper. A single sheet of eInk plastic can display hundreds or thousands or millions of pages. A sheet of paper can display one. A sheet of eInk costs a few dollars at the moment but will eventually cost a few cents. Even an eBook reader, which includes a computer, data storage, dictionary, audio reader, touchscreen interface, and USB connection, costs around $50.
Innovators are hard at work re-thinking printing. Some supermarket shelf price labels are now eInk plastic with an embedded RFID microchip, allowing the prices to be updated with a handheld scanner. (The radio frequency emitted by the scanner provides enough power to roll the ping-pong balls.) A number of manufacturers are selling eInk watches. A second (eInk) screen on the back of smart phones is becoming a standard feature (interestingly, connected to the phone by Bluetooth rather than wire!).
Consider for a moment how eInk can affect technical communication and user assistance:
The possibilities are endless, and it's up to us to turn these possibilities into realities.
Bookmarking a lesson provides the learner an opportunity to continue viewing a lesson from the exact spot where they left off. If you've uploaded your eLearning lesson into a Learning Management System, bookmarking is enabled by default in every lesson that you publish.
By enabling Self-Paced Learning, you have basically activated Captivate's bookmarking feature. You can test the bookmarking by publishing the project and then opening the HTML file with any web browser.
Move through a few slides in the lesson and then close the browser window. Reopen the HTML file and instead of the lesson simply starting over from the beginning, you (and your learners) will see the "Continue from where you stopped last time?" message shown below. How cool is that?
If you'd like to see the Self-Paced Learning option in action, check out the video I created on the IconLogic YouTube channel.
IconLogic's Kevin Siegel has been named the manager of Adobe's eLearning Community supporting eLearning developers living in or around DC, Virginia, and Maryland.
Kevin and the IconLogic team will be hosting regular meetings featuring tips and tricks on creating effective eLearning using such tools as Adobe Captivate and Adobe Presenter.
Join the group on LinkedIn to keep up to date on meetings and share your experiences with other developers.
The roadside was sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and however you look at it, that bird's luck had finally turned.
As you all determined, the comma after breadcrumbs is required. Placing another comma after and is optional, but according to the late William Sabin, of the Gregg Reference Manual, the preferred usage is to omit that extra comma. His reasoning is that a comma after and makes the following introductory element appear as though it is nonessential, when actually it is essential.
If you read the sentence aloud, you will find that your voice does not drop on the clause however you look at it, as it would if this were a truly nonessential interruption in the sentence.
Read this aloud: The roadside was sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and, however you look at it, that bird's luck had finally turned.
Compare it with this truly nonessential interruption:
Read this aloud: The bird, by the way, was a chickadee.
I'm guessing you found that your voice definitely dropped in pitch and loudness on "by the way" but did not drop on "however you look at it." Having commas both before and after the clause indicates that your voice should drop because the part surrounded by commas is parenthetical, or nonessential. Here, we have just experienced that the clause is not parenthetical.
"But I want a pause there!" I can hear you thinking. Well, I sympathize. I have previously discussed the tendency in training videos for the speaker to pause gratuitously but meaningfully after the word and, like this:
Spoken: "Select the text you wish to format, and [pause] choose 14 from the Font Size drop-down menu."
The pause in speaking draws the learner's attention to the next instruction, "choose." However, putting a comma after and to indicate that pause is ungrammatical. What to do? What to do? Perhaps it is time to make the leap to "literary" punctuation, where the commas indicate pauses rather than grammatical structures. If I accept literary punctuation, with that extra comma, I need to add the following names to the list of winners: Alicia Grimes, Michelle Duran, Alisha Sauer, Gail Kelleher, Joanne Chantelau, and Vera Sytch.
Correct answers to the Puppies challenge on Apostrophes are brought to you by Kay Honaker.