Microsoft is constantly updating the applications that make up Office 365. After a recent update, I was delighted to see that PowerPoint (and Word and Excel for that matter) not only include icons, the icons can be modified (change colors at will), ungrouped, and then edited as needed.
I'll be focusing on using icons in PowerPoint during this article, but the same functionality exists if you're using the other Office 365 tools.
First, create a new PowerPoint presentation (or open an existing presentation). Working on any slide, select the Insert tab on the Ribbon. You'll find the Icons tool in the Illustrations group.
After clicking Icons, the Insert Icon dialog box opens.
I was specifically looking for a crab icon so I selected the Animals category from the list at the left. I selected the crab icon and then clicked the Insert button. (You can also double-click an icon to add it to a slide.)
Once the icon was inserted onto the slide, changing its Fill color was as simple as right-clicking. (In the image below, I've changed the color from its default black to red.)
I also needed to modify the crab's claws (I wanted each claw to be a bit longer). I ungrouped the icon by right-clicking it and choosing Group > Ungroup. (I clicked Yes to the alert that appeared.)
I right-clicked the icon again and chose Edit Points.
I zoomed closer to the slide and then dragged the points making up the claw until I had the length I wanted. How cool is it that you can easily edit these icons?
Note: If you don't see an Icons icon on the Insert tab of the Ribbon, or you're unable to ungroup/edit the icons, check your PowerPoint version (it's possible that your version is older than mine). To check your PowerPoint version, click the File tab and then choose Account. Click the About PowerPoint button. The version number is listed at the top of the About dialog box.
Do you need help with your PowerPoint presentation? Bring an existing PowerPoint deck to an open-forum style live, online workshop where AJ Walther, our Chief Creative Officer, will help you get moving in the right direction toward a fresh and modern design for your presentation.
When I work with scenes in Articulate Storyline, I like it when the number that accompanies each scene is logical. Take the three scenes below for instance. I'm creating an eLearning project for a zoo, so naturally I have scenes for Big Cats, Elephants, and Exotic Birds.
Because I created the Big Cats scene first, it was automatically tagged as my Starting Scene (as indicated by the red flag in the image above).
Next, I created the Elephants scene, followed by the Exotic Birds scene. Notice in the image above that in addition to having appropriate names, the scenes are logically numbered (1, 2, and 3).
The scene numbers are based on their creation order. While logical, the numbers do not indicate the order in which any scene might be seen by my learners. In fact, I can make any scene the Starting Scene and, using Triggers, I can make the third scene appear before the second scene.
I created a fourth scene and named it Home. On the Home scene, I added three buttons to a slide. Each of the buttons were given Triggers that jumped to a different scene in the Story.
I then made the Home scene the Starting Scene (this is easy to do with a simple right-click on the scene via the Story View).
After making the fourth scene (the Home scene) the Starting Scene, the drama started. In the image below, notice that the pesky Home scene is positioned correctly (above the other scenes). And you can clearly see the arrows indicating the button jumps between the Home scene and the other scenes.
But do you also see the horror in the image above? Look at that number 4 to the left of the Home scene's name. Noooooo! The Home scene is my first scene, and as far as I'm concerned, it should be numbered with a 1, not a 4. Of course, Storyline doesn't agree with me... a numbering sequence of 4, 1, 2, 3 is perfectly fine!
At the end of the day, the scene numbers don't truly matter. Learners will be able to move freely around the zoo, they'll never see the numbers, and won't ever know that the scene numbers are out of order.
But I'll know the numbers are out of whack... and so will you!
Fortunately, while not obvious, the fix is easy.
While in Story View, select the scene that's out of order and cut it to the clipboard. Without selecting anything, immediately paste the scene back into Story View.
And that's that. If you're like me, you'll be delighted to see that the scenes are numbered logically in the Story View (which is truly the only way to go, right?).
Adding a hyperlink to an interactive object in Adobe Captivate has never been a problem. Select the object (click box, button, or text entry box) and, on the Properties Inspector, Actions tab, change the On Success to Open URL or file.
Type the web page address into the URL area and that's it.
Hyperlinking text within a text caption isn't quite as straight forward. After adding text to a caption, there isn't an Action tab on the inspector (therefore, no apparent way to create a hyperlink).
There is a way to accomplish the task, however. From within the caption, select the text you'd like to be clickable (you have to highlight the text, not just select the caption) and then, on the Properties Inspector, Character area, locate and click the Insert HyperLink icon.
From the Link To drop-down menu, choose Web Page and then, in the field below, type the web address you'd like to use.
In the image below, I've linked a single word to the IconLogic website. The appearance of the text can easily be changed via the Character options on the Properties Inspector.
If you need to learn Adobe Captivate, we've got you covered with an awesome number of live, online classes. If you need help developing your next eLearning project, or if you just need some quick one-on-one mentoring, we've got you covered there too.
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Perhaps you imported HTML content into RoboHelp that contained one or more links. It’s possible that some of the links in the document were broken in the source file. If there are broken links in the document before you import the document, they’ll remain broken in RoboHelp when the imported content becomes a RoboHelp topic. And of course, there are all kinds of ways you can break a link all by yourself from within RoboHelp (it’s as simple as deleting a source topic or, when editing a topic in HTML view, deleting an important tag).
In the image below, a topic in my RoboHelp project contains a link (the link is supposed to go to a topic about the corporate policy on the consumption of alcohol during work hours).
While the link looks fine, it’s actually broken (the name of the target file is different than what is referenced in the HTML code). Anyone clicking the link is going to see the following page (instead of the information about alcohol).
Regardless of how a link gets broken, it’s great to know you can fix the problem easily. To begin, check your project for the existence of broken links by choosing Edit > Fix Broken Links.
If the Fix Broken Links box that appears is empty, awesome… you don’t have any broken links. In the image below however, you can see that I have a broken link in one of my topics.
After clicking the Replace button, all I needed to do was find the target topic (Alcohol Policy) and click the Link button.
Adobe just released update 5 for Adobe RoboHelp 2019. To get the free update, choose Help > Updates. You'll see that version 14.0.5 is available for immediate download. All you'll need to do is click the Update button. Depending upon your internet speed, the update should only take a few minutes (you'll need to close RoboHelp while the update is in process). Adobe is planning to update RoboHelp regularly (the updates fix bugs and add features so it's a good idea to check for updates about once per month).
While attempting to apply a Theme to a Captivate project I received the alert shown below.
My only option was to click the OK button and try again. Of course, no matter how many times I attempted the task, I received the same failure message.
When Captivate misbehaves, the first thing I always attempt is to reset the program’s Preferences. There’s a handy utility for this located in the program’s application folder within a subfolder called Utils. With Captivate closed, browse to the Utils folder and open CleanPreferences (there’s a version for the Mac and PC).
Upon restarting Captivate, the cleaned Preferences file usually puts Captivate back in working order.
If resetting the Preferences file doesn’t work, plan B is to clear Captivate’s Cache folder. This option is found by opening Captivate’s Preferences dialog box (Edit menu for PC users; Adobe Captivate menu for Mac users) and, from the General Settings category, click the Clear Cache button.
Every once in a while, one or more of the theme files (they are .cptm files) get corrupt. When that happens, Captivate simply refuses to apply the themes and you’ll get the "Cannot apply..." error message shown in the first image above. While I cannot help you prevent corrupt theme files (if I find out what causes the corruption, I’ll be sure to share), I can show you how to replace the corrupt theme files with new files
First, with Captivate closed, go to Users > Public > Public Documents > Adobe > eLearning Assets > Layouts > 11_0. Copy the en_US folder and paste it in another location on your computer (this is going to be a backup copy of the en_US folder's contents, so I suggest giving it a name such as en_US_bk).
With Captivate still closed, go to Documents > My Adobe Captivate Projects > Layouts > 11.0 > en_US. Select and copy all of the .cptm files in the en_US folder.
Go back to Users > Public > Public Documents > Adobe > eLearning Assets > Layouts > 11.0 and open the en_US folder (this is the folder you backed up a moment ago).
Paste the .cptm files on your clipboard into this folder (replace the existing .cptm files when prompted). Restart Captivate and you’ll be able to apply the supplied Themes as before.
One of the more common questions that I get from new eLearning developers is how much time does it take to produce published content. The answer depends upon a couple of factors. For instance, which eLearning tool are you going to use? Is it Adobe Captivate? How about TechSmith's Camtasia? Or maybe you're going to use Articulate Storyline?
Here's another factor: how many minutes of eLearning playtime are you looking to produce? Are you creating a 30-minute course? 60 minutes?
I have extensive experience using Storyline, Captivate, and Camtasia. In my experience, it will take you approximately 2 hours of labor to produce 1 minute of eLearning playtime if you use Captivate or Storyline. If you use Camtasia, your labor will go down a bit (1 hour or perhaps 1.5 hours for every 1 minute of video playtime).
The production times mentioned above do not include the following:
Writing an eLearning script or developing a storyboard
If you’re creating a software simulation, you’ll need a step-by-step recording script. If you’re creating soft skills content (lessons such as conflict resolution or onboarding), I've found that it could take between 1-2 hours to write a single minute of content.
Rehearsing the Script
Once you're written the software simulation script, you'll likely need to run through it multiple times to ensure it's accurate.
Writing an Audio Script
If you're going to include voiceover audio (and I highly suggest that you do since audio has been shown to improve the learner experience), you should create an audio script. It could easily take you 40 hours or more to prepare an audio script.
Recording the Software Simulation or Video Demo
Once you've written a script, recording screen actions in any of the eLearning tools is simple and shouldn't take more than the actions detailed in the script. For instance, if the script has you recording a 3-minute process in Microsoft Word, it should only take 3-minutes to record the process. And while recording screen actions doesn't take a lot of time or special skills, if there are a lot of simulations to record, you'll need to factor the time in your budget.
Developing Assets Externally
I mention below that you can save production time in your eLearning tool by creating as much of the course assets as possible outside of the eLearning tool. Many people create the content in PowerPoint and simply import the content into the eLearning tool. While that means there will be less content to create in the eLearning tool, don't overlook the fact that the content still needs to be created in that other tool. In my experience, creating content in PowerPoint is easy. However, it still takes time. In fact, I'd put the development time in PowerPoint at about the same development time as working within Camtasia (1-1.5 hours for every minute or presentation play time).
The production clock begins ticking after you create a blank project, open a project containing previously-recorded content, or import external content such as a PowerPoint presentation.
Production includes, but is not limited to:
Adding/editing text content such as callouts/captions
Looking to save time? You can trim production times significantly by following these tips:
Create Just In Time eLearning
If creating a software demonstration in Captivate or Storyline, record the lesson and simply publish it without going from screen-to-screen and tweaking any of the timing or the text. When an eLearning developer simply records a lesson and publishes it without much post-production, I call those kind of eLearning modules "just in time eLearning." Depending upon your audience, "just in time eLearning" may be perfectly appropriate. Why spend the production time creating a highly-polished lesson if it's not necessary?
Use Microsoft PowerPoint
If creating a soft skills lesson, create the bulk of the content in Microsoft PowerPoint. All three eLearning tools mentioned above allow you to take existing PowerPoint content and quickly create eLearning out of it. In my opinion, Captivate and Storyline handle the PowerPoint content more elegantly than Camtasia, but the bottom line is that you can re-purpose existing content. Assuming you are satisfied with the original PowerPoint content, and you don't need to add additional content (beyond possibly a quiz) in the eLearning tool, the production time for converting PowerPoint to eLearning should be no more than 1 hour of production time for every minute of eLearning playtime.
If you start a project with a well-conceived and implemented template, each of your projects will have a consistent look and feel.
Depending on the Tool, Go Demo or Sim
If you use Camtasia, I suggest creating software demonstrations instead of simulations. If you add interactivity (hotspots) to a Camtasia project, you will need to post the lesson to a server to test the interactivity. That kind of back and forth simply takes too much time. However, creating software simulations in Captivate and Storyline is so quick and easy, I think it's actually faster to produce simulations over demonstrations. The pesky mouse pointer that is typically included in a demonstration always need a significant amount of production attention (you'll likely need to adjust the pointer position, pointer path, click effects, and click sounds). Since simulations don't typically include a mouse pointer, those production issues go away.
What's your experience with eLearning production times? I'd love to see hear about the eLearning tools you're using. How much time it takes you to produce each minute of eLearning. Feel free to share your thoughts below.
We've created an online tool that will help you calculate how long it can take to develop eLearning (the tool supports Captivate, Camtasia, Presenter, and more). Check out the tool on the IconLogic website.
IconLogic has deep experience developing eLearning. If you need assistance with your next project, we can help!
Adobe just released update 5 for Adobe RoboHelp 2019. To get the free update, choose Help > Updates. You'll see that version 14.0.5 is available for immediate download. All you'll need to do is click the Update button. Depending upon your internet speed, the update should only take a few minutes (you'll need to close RoboHelp while the update is in process).
Adobe is planning to update RoboHelp regularly (the updates fix bugs and add features so it's a good idea to check for updates about once per month).
I was teaching Storyline recently and one of my students wanted to put a check mark image into his project. Before I could blink, he was on Google, had searched for a check mark image, found a ton of them, downloaded the one he liked, and added it to his project. Done and done!
Of course, the image was copyrighted (as are most images you'll find via Google searches). Given that he is a Storyline 360 subscriber, I showed him a better way to icon-glory that's not only cost-free but copyright-free and royalty-free.
From the Storyline 360 ribbon, select the Insert tab. From the Content Library section, click Icons.
In the Search Icons area, he typed check mark and pressed [enter]. The result was more check marks than he could possibly ever use. Better still, he was able to quickly change the color of the shape once it was loaded onto his slide (something he would have been unable to do with a checkmark image lifted from the Internet).
Similarly, you can use the Search feature to find anything from puppies to kittens to boats. And again, everything you find is free to use and/or modify in your Storyline project.