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Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Meeting Tool Match Up

Does your meeting tool do what you need it to?  I was recently asked to review the features of the top three ranking virtual meeting software providers: Citrix Go to Training, WebEx Training Center and Adobe Connect.

The question: 

Do we have the right tool?

The Answer: 

WebEx Training Center was the obvious choice.  It boasts multiple platform sharing, robust video, clear audio and anyone who has used the software can attest to the ease of "passing the ball".  In general it had more tools, chat options, and an easier to use whiteboard and polling system.  One of the major bonuses is the ability to record, edit and save you meetings within the software in an easily post able format while maintaining quality (MP4).  It has the easiest to use Mobile App and is the best in class for use on an iPad. It was the easiest to use, learn and was technically sound.

So the question is, what are you using? Does it do everything you want? Feel free to comment below or tweet me (@jvalley0714).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Free Download: Color of the Year (2015) - Marsala (and Flowers) PowerPoint Template

Bonus blog post! That's right.....I'll be back again on Thursday!

For challenge #63 we were asked to create something using Pantone's Color of the Year (2015) -Marsala.  Here's a "Wine and Flowers" PowerPoint I created that is free to view, download and use.  Let me know if you like it in the comments below or on twitter (@jvalley0714).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Survive the Holidays (Challenge #62)

This week's challenge over on the Articulate eLearning Hero's community is How to Survive the Holidays.

The challenge:

"This week your challenge is to help your fellow community members survive the holidays. You can create anything you like this week. Want to keep things simple? Create a typography poster. Want to take things up a notch? The sky’s the limit."

The result:

I decided to participate and due to limited time made an inforgraphic with my top 4 tips

Tip #1: Hang Lights

There's something about decorating that calms my nerves. Lighting candles, putting angels out and best of all decorating the tree as a family. Just be careful hanging outside lights!

Tip #2: Enjoy Nature

Whoever said there's nothing to do in the winter is a real bah humbug.  Get out there! Hunt, ski, snowboard, have a snow ball fight, create a snow angel, or just enjoy the snow coming down. One of my favorite things to do is to walk the streets of a downtown area at night and enjoy the lights or take a drive checking out everyone's decorations.  

Here's one of my favorite snow photos:

Tip #3: Cozy up to a Fire

Or radiator, furnace or Youtube video. Taking the time to warm up after hanging outside lights or enjoying nature will help you relax and reflect on things that happened this year and the things yet to come.

Tip #4: Lose the 'Tude

One of my favorite things to tell my kids when they're getting a little cranky is to lose the 'tude (attitude). No one likes a Grinch or Scrooge so try to enjoy the season.  If you're not religious or happy about the season then be thankful for the life you have and the things to come.  You'll help make everyone's holiday season to be a bit brighter.

What things do you enjoy doing during the holiday season? We like to watch movies (my favorite is Jingle all the Way and The Year Without a Santa Clause while my children enjoy The Polar Express and The Santa Clause series.  It's not the holiday season without some hot cocoa and snuggling under the blanket as well. I'll be posting next week but probably take the week of Christmas off.  In case I don't get to tell you, Have a Great Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

Don't forget to follow me via email, Twitter or Bloglovin' to stay up to date on what I post during the coming year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vacation, Fun with Storyline 2, and Challenge #60

I'm back! I took a much needed vacation to Michigan to visit with friends and family. I thought it would be nice to share a couple photos from the trip. So here you go!


My niece thought this dress was HILARIOUS. I wanted it because it reminded me of TGIF.

Light Saber Son


Brain Fart

Ginger (My in laws dog that our whole family loves)

If you want to keep up with me even when I'm not fully plugged into the internet follow me on Instagram :) I'm never far away from my phone (which has a camera)!

This week I've been playing around in Storyline 2. I knew I wanted to participate in Challenge #60 - Progress Meters but I also wanted to try out Markers. My original idea was to have a game like interaction where if you picked a nasty food your "person" started looking sick. The goal was going to be healthy. I abonded the idea after I realized how much research I was going to have to do and not being able to find free vectors. I ended up going with a mini module that focuses on what to look for in the prepartion of food at a resturant that makes it healthy. I incorporated the progress bar on the slide where you click through the menu items to learn more. Check out the demo below:

Friday, November 21, 2014

End User < 100

Taking hints from the eLearning Uncovered eLearning Tips in 140 character or less Twitter campaign and HubSpot’s (In Under 100 Words) blog series here is my definition of an End User in under 100 words.

An End User is the resulted person(s) who will use a product; also known as your customer, audience, a sales persona, or a target market. In eLearning an End User should be identified at the beginning of the consultation period. Identifying a specific person or set or characteristics can help drive the assumed level of understanding, presentation techniques, usability and design. For example, if your end user is a doctor you can assume they have a high level of understanding medicine, want their information presented quickly and without flaws, and desire extremely usable and functional design.

**I'll be on vacation next week and probably won't be posting anything.  If you want to stay connected please come say Hi on my Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn. Happy Thanksgiving!**

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Challenge #58: Digital Magazines and Interactive E-Learning

I decided it was time to brush off my Articulate Storyline skills and see if I still go it. It was like riding a bike except the newer Storyline 2 features which I researched. It felt good to get back into a software that is so user and rapid development friendly. I’m excited to see what other challenges or portfolio pieces I can create before my 30 days are up. I really wish I had the funds to just keep it forever but since my current employer is stuck on Lectora and I haven’t started freelancing/contracting yet I guess it will just half to wait. This weeks challenges was to to design a digital learning magazine.

I found some major inspiration and my creative juices are definitely flowing this week! It feels good to feel invigorated and excited to create something. Hands down the best side effect of these challenges! My inspiration came in the form of some cute pins with coffee sayings and coming across an infographic that talks about how your personality matches the coffee drink you purchase. I decided to combine it all into an article explaining what four types of coffee are and their associated personalities. That turned into a coffee related magazine complete with fake ads, and a "Seventeen" magazine style quiz. I wanted to create a sense of flipping through pages without the page curl or whooshing noise so I went with some chunky arrows. I like the end results and hope you do to!

Comment below or tweet me (jvalley0714) your favorite coffee drink and if you were surprised by the personality description. I'd love to put the data together. Check out this venn diagram!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Asynchronous Learning < 100

Taking hints from the eLearning Uncovered eLearning Tips in 140 character or less Twitter campaign and HubSpot’s (In Under 100 Words) blog series here is my definition of Asynchronous Learning in under 100 words.

Asynchronous Learning is the method of using online resources to present learning material. This allows for easier access to material and the ability to self-reflect. However, it reduces the ability to curate learning experiences and relies on the learner to be in charge of their own learning experience often making it less arousing. This type of learning is often associated to virtual libraries or repositories, email, discussion boards, social networking, wikis and DVDs.

Don't forget to follow me on Pinterest to get additional resources like this one:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

10 Things Instructional Designers Don’t Like to Hear

Instructional Design and eLearning in general is a varied business. There are different sectors like business and education and purposes like sales and product training. The people can come from different backgrounds like SMEs, college taught IDs, teachers, department heads and graphic designers. It's no wonder that we can clash sometimes! What I find quite funny is that even if we're miles apart, working for completely different companies and have oppositely structured learning departments the complaints are still the same. So, this week the eLearning Challenge was to identify 10 things Instructional Designer don't like to hear. On top of things we don't like to hear we also have a knack for identifying a potentially troublesome client. Here are 10 examples of sayings, the people that say them and make me groan (while on mute of course) and remedies for the situation.

1. Deadline Diane

Deadline Diane is under stress to complete a project.  She got a late jump on this eLearning course and knows nothing about Instructional Design. So she asks for everything to be done in a week.

To deal with Deadline Diane break down the Instructional Design process into comprehensive chunks.  Explain the benefits of going through the evaluation and design process now instead of later and go over realistic expectations and follow up with Diana so she trusts the system. If not a gentile push back or compromise explaining company policies should do the trick.

2. Middle Man Mark

Middle Man Mark is in mid level management where he's in charge of directing people and initiatives. Instead of opening up the lines of communication between you and the SME he clogs the pipes with incorrect information and missed points. His worker just can't be bothered and he has to be involved in the project anyways, right?

Explain that once you have a kick off meeting with the SME that communication and conversations will become as minimalist as possible. Also explain that an SMEs knowledge and way of explaining a topic is invaluable and can make or break a project. Offer to carbon copy him on communications so he can monitor the amount of time needed to get the project completed and also be used as a gauge during later projects.

3. Outdated Oakley

Not only does Oakley love big hair, neon and MTV (the way it use to be) but she also loves her training nostalgic. Her design choices are obviously dated and anything presented that is modern she knocks down immediately.

Try offering main stream alternatives that can still offer a little flair to the project (fun neon accent color) or choose a theme for the project that brings out the learners inner rock star. Check out this article about doing a makeover on your course to include Heavy Metal. If all else fails include others in your meetings to drive home that her ideas will need to go to the wayside.

4. Linguistically Challenged Louie

Poor Louie has been thrown into course translations and doesn't know the difference betweet Inglés and English.

Working on a course doesn't necessarily mean that you need to be able to read the language it's written in.  Have a copy of the master open and take cues from it so that effects match.  Rely on the native speaker to differentiate language mistakes and misplaced content.

5. PowerPoint Pat

Can't you just make my PowerPoint pretty? questions PowerPoint Pat.

Explain to Pat that content comes in many shapes and forms (course, job aid, email blast, video). It needs to be analyzed, developed and designed to fit the need for the learner and department. If content will truely need to be in PowerPoint offer to jazz it up  and maybe chunk it down depending on length.

6. Control Freak Carl

Control Freak Carl doesn't want you to touch a thing.  He's irritated that his project has been handed over and loves the way his 100 slide PowerPoint captures the essence of the danger of food poisoning.  He doesn't want "animation", "fancy fonts" or "flashy images".  He just wants his good ol' original.

Carl is probably my least favorite contact. This type of person usually requires more time invested and more resistance during the process. Try to explain that not all learning is in PowerPoint's (see PowerPoint Pat). Make sure he's comfortable with all the changes you make and contently keep him in the loop. Small changes slowly will hopefully win him over.

7. Template Hog Taylor

Template Hog Taylor has grand plans for the course and wants to include social sharing, a marketing tactic and over sized logo to the screen not realizing she's taking up the whole space!

First and foremost, be sure that your company will allow these additions. If you get the go ahead, be sure to go over why Taylor wants to include the additions. Offer a sleeker version of the template that includes her elements with more working space for developing. If you don't get the go ahead, direct her to the person in charge and continue on as needed.

8. Design Freak Darrel

Design Freak Darrel loves making things in Paint and always has a funny video or clip art to add at the end of email.  He wants control over the design right down to the last detail because his "ideas are funny" or "imaginative".

While having design input during the process is very important it can also be counter productive if the choices don't add value to a course.  Sit down with Darrel and explain the reasons for choosing a font (better readability?) and pictures (clearly conveys the subject matter). Offer up a style guide to get the full picture of what you both want to achieve.

9. Clip Art Carol

Clip Art Carl and Design Freak Darrel like emailing each other in only emoji's. She loves looking for images using a Google or Bing searchs but doesn't know what copyrighting is. Eeeck!

Briefly give Carl a lesson on copyrighting.  Not many non-design professionals know that some images can't be used in every instance. Gently explain that the images she provided won't be used but the general idea of them will be. You can also point her to free non copyrighted material to get ideas and for presentations and resources in the future.

10.  Surprise Me Susan

What do you mean you don't know what you want?.....Surprise you?....Surprise Me Susan hasn't thought out her training and doesn't have a clear direction so she wants a surprise.

Surprises (in most applications) are not a good thing is eLearning. Can you imagine a course with one of those creepy rocking chairs and then the person pops onto the screen to tell you about compliance? Revisit the necessary steps for analysis and explain that in order for the project to be successful you both need a solid plan.

Shout out to Tricia Ransom and my favorite entry so far! This one bring back a lot of memories:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Zombie Zip Code

This week Articulate eLearning Hero challenge (#55) is to "design a training interaction, job aid, or mini-course to help learners prepare for and survive the Zombie Apocalyps". My brain immediately started thinking how to save your brain or dress a wound.  In the end I decided that to survive the Zombie Apocalyps you need one thing...LUCK! So I created the basic beginnings of a board game using PowerPoint called Zombie Zip Code!

Premise and Rules:

Town has been overrun by zombie while you were at work! Run through the streets to find your way back home. But watch out! Zombies can be found at every turn including your co-workers. Roll the dice to determine who goes first (highest roll). Turn order is in counter clockwise motion around the board. Roll the dice moving along the board. The number on the square you land on determines how many game cards must be drawn and completed. If a player lands on another player they're turned into a zombie. Swap your person for a zombie playing piece and your objective is to now land on other players to infect them. Once you’re a zombie, game cards no longer apply. The three red corners are zones which have been infected.  Land in one and you automatically become a zombie. Winner is the first regular playing piece to reach the finish line. If all players are zombies then the first zombie to the finish line wins.

The pieces:

Instructions template found on Google drive (

The playing board was created using an image found on and a table.

The characters and dice were also found on

The cards are provided in template format to create your own custom game (image from  Have players answer questions about work related topics or just create zombie based scenarios for hours and hours of fun.

Some examples include:
You tripped! Go back one space.

Your shoe is untied! Go back two spaces.

You’re a Zombie! Switch your playing piece.

You found a gun! Hold onto this card and thwart any zombie attacks. Good for only one use. Not usable if you are already a zombie.

You found an energy drink! Sprint ahead three spaces and do not pick up any playing cards.

You found an antidote! Turn back into a regular playing piece or hold on to it in case you get infected. Good for only one use.

Thanks for stopping by! Now leave me alone to eat my brains!!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Is Clip Art Dead?

I made a resolution after falling in love with Articulate's eLearning Hero challenges that I was going to try and complete as many as possible. After scrolling through the current list and checking off the ones I have already done (See my examples here). I decided to take a stab at #8. I think the reason why it struck my interest the most is my current interest in vector images (I'm really liking the flat trend) and the fact that previous employers had a strict No Clip Art rule.  But is that really fair?

Clip art began in the early 80s with the introduction of personal computers.  It quickly became a wide spread trend for programs to include some type of "quick image" option. The most notable in my mind would have to be Microsoft's which was introduced in the mid 90s. Mostly because around that time my family got our first personal computer (Who remembers Clippy!!). They were quick, easy to use and could represent almost any topic. Around this time Adobe introduced and reinvented some of its products making it easier for the common joe (with money to burn) to create personalized material. As modern day graphic design began to gain momentum the use of clip art slowly declined as it was seen as a outdated method.

Is there anything wrong with clip art? No! As a matter of fact some of the offerings are quite modern and useable (check out 1280 and 1568).  It's also a fun task to manipulate the images to work in your restraints as well. So that's exactly what I did.

The Challenge:
Show and share your clip art-inspired template using one or more clip art objects:

  • Objective: Create one or more e-learning template slides using free clip art objects.
  • Tools: You can use Articulate Storyline, Articulate Studio, Word, or PowerPoint to create your template.
  • Notes: Please include the clip art file you used for inspiration.  
I began by looking at the suggested styles. Up until the moment of reading the challenge post I didn't even know styles existed.  It only makes sense but not knowing has kept me from utilizing this search tactic for the last 10 years! One thing I had discovered is the free download from Microsoft called Silverlight.  When used with clip art it gives you the option to pull together images that are similar in style and subject matter.  I find it easy to use and worth the free download (find it here). I ended up finding a group of people with similar faces who ironically didn't have a style and what prompted me to add Silverlight to my current work computer.

Elements and Background:
I started fishing through the images and couldn't find a solid topic I liked. I thought about family therapy training but my limited knowledge on the subject matter immediately had me running for the hills.  It wasn't until I noticed I had a couple images of the people cooking that I decided to create a prototype of a training about basic cooking skills.  I started looking around for what I would need to represent a kitchen and food and found style 599 to be of my liking. I wanted something that would stand out to my background which I planned on being flat so the curvey unfinished lines were a great addition (this wasn't going to turn into a Where's Waldo!). I knew that I didn't want to use them as is so I went through the easy but annoying task of removing the background color, making sure it was PNG and filling in a color I wanted the way I wanted it. I also looked around for a background kitchen image to base my recreation and found inspiration in one off Shutterstock. I figured sticking with the food theme I would come up with a somewhat dark color scheme after seeing an image of tomato soup (inspiration comes from every where!).


Mid Edit


Color Scheme:

I decided that the training would be a basic course on three relatively simple tasks; scrambled eggs, salad and a fruit smoothy.  I quickly started creating my background image and cooking elements.  I then realized I had an excellent opportunity for a gate screen where the user can pick what to cook and it checked off challenge #3 requirements! I decided that the end goal was for the user to gather items on a supplies list and then complete the necessary tasks to make the food.

During and After:
I got so lost in creating things that by the time I realized it I had WAY more hours into this project then I ever expected.  I had to cut myself off from developing it further (Work *sigh*) so right now it's just a representation of gathering the supplies for one cooking task. Ideally I would have added other items into the kitchen as distractors and considered making it a timed task. If I was working out of an actual course development software program instead of PowerPoint I would of liked to create the actually cooking element as well. Even with my time restraints I feel like I still ended up with a really great example of how to incorporate clip art into a training project.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Get your Gaming On

Have you ever sat on your couch just trying to beat that one last level..... All you need to do is this one last thing and something keeps you from putting down your phone/tablet/computer/controller. The next thing you know it's late at night and the "congratulations" music sounds. A huge wave of accomplishment washes over your body and you can finally continue on with your day or go to sleep!

A properly built game is addicting.  It has intrigue, interest, mystery or relate-able characters that wants us to keep coming back or download the next edition.  Trust me I can relate. I love my Xbox and can easily get sucked into playing video games way later than I anticipated. So naturally a recent trend in the eLearning community grabbed my attention; Gamification, the practice of using game elements and processes to enhance a learning experience with high levels of engagement.

I recently sat down with my old trusty PowerPoint slides and a piece of paper to finally get an idea for a game out of my head. My currently employer is a health software company and our primary focus is on product training. I had these ideas of grandeur for creating a game that would provide entertainment all while reviewing the product. A super hero comes swishing on the screen asking for you to help save people across the U.S. All you have to do is accurately complete a simulation of the software. It combined a lot of things I like to do (games, super hero's, graphic design) with something I deal with daily (my job lol).

 Let me tell you! There is some serious analysis and development (both graphically and software wise) that goes into a game.

So, to make it easier on everyone else I complied a list of things you need to know and understand before you get started and during the development phases. Since this topic is extraneous and I could go into a whole bunch of different tangents (neuroscience, engagement training, etc) I'm going to focus on the elements that you need to get started.

1. Identify a Goal

This goal will help drive you learner and should be the main focus of your training.  Like a course this could include elements of a learner objective but will definitely need to be more robust in order to account for the different angels a game can take.

2. Develop a Situation/Story

Now that a goal has been established you can either tie the situation in with the game (HR policy game with bad employee) or create a situation completely separate to create the illusion of fantasy. The situation should be created like a simulation that asks the who, what, when, where and why. Your situation/story should have a beginning, middle and end as well as a climax to help drive the learner. Conflicts really help to pull in the learner and establish a driving goal to complete the task.

3a. Develop a Character

Your character should have characteristics, thoughts, feelings and certain attributes.  How will they handle defeating the bad guy? Do they speak in a certain way? Does it matter if it's male or female? What does the character look like?  Why does he/she dress that way? Adding all these elements creates a multidimensional character that is both realistic and relate able. Certain character choices can also help carry themes through a person with ratty clothes and dirty skin to show poverty. You should always have at least one character in a game but can include as many as you feel fit into the goal you've established.  Creating a villain offers the opportunity to put good against evil and create opportunities of struggle and triumphs.

3b. Develop the World

Similar to the character a world should take into account the specific characteristics, thoughts, feelings and certain attributes you wish to convey. Where is this world? What is it's history? Where are we going? Why do people act a certain way?

3c. Develop the Interface

This is where I have been struggling lately. A beautifully designed interface means different things to different people so establishing the specifics can be a bit tricky.  I've been researching this topic and honestly can't find a common ground.  Sure some have timers while others have progress bars.  You might have your characters collecting coins or lives.The only solid advice I was able to take away from my fact finding mission is to take into consideration the story, goal and final output.  If you have any comments or article suggestions please feel free to post them below or tweet me @jvalley0714.

4. Establish rules

Rules help to establish a certain level of understanding while playing the game.  Showing how and why you'll recieve points, lose a life or advance to the next level. You rules should help drive the goal, simulation and character while working in your particular world and interface.

Do you like playing games?  What system or game? Do have a great example of eLearning game? Share below or tweet me @jvalley0714 :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

SME < 100

Taking hints from the eLearning Uncovered eLearning Tips in 140 character or less Twitter campaign and HubSpot’s (In Under 100 Words) blog series here is my definition of an SME under 100 words.

Subject Matter Expert (SME) is a person who is considered knowledgeable on a topic or procedure that is consulted during the analysis and development process of elearning. SME's are usually employees holding a position within the company that is volunteered or chooses to help in learning projects. SME's should NOT be used for a typically brain dump. Instead, a meeting should be held to pull out the scope, audience and elements of the process or topic. The most important question to ask is "Why do we need this training".  The need should drive all decisions.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Her Favorite Font is.....

Ask someone their favorite font and you'll most likely weed out the left brains from the right. A left brainer will see the font as a vessel for communication and not think much about which one is chosen. On the other hand a right brainer will see font as a way to express feeling and style. No matter which side of your brain is dominant or you identify with here are three basic rules that everyone should know.

Style Matters

Fonts come in many shapes and forms however they can be classified into distinct styles; Serif, Sans Serif, Slab Serif, Handwritten, Script, Decorative and Modern. See the definitions below for more information.

Serif: A font containing a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol.

Sans Serif: A font with the lack of small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol.

Slab Serif: A type of serif typeface characterized by thick, block-like serifs.

Handwritten: A front in the style of a person's writing created with a writing utensil such as a pen or pencil either printed or cursive.

Script: A font based upon the varied and often fluid stroke created by handwriting.

Decorative: A font used decorative or ornamental purposes usually created for a specific theme or idea.

Modern:  A font marked by high contrast between thick and thin strokes.

And NO Typeface, is not the same as a font. Typeface is the combination of one font into many styles (bold, italic, narrow, semi bold, etc.).

Each font is built up of specific characteristics that when combined make the look unique. Check out the anatomy of font below:

ArcAn arching stroke is called a shoulder or sometimes just an arch, as in h n m.

ApertureThe aperture is the partially enclosed, somewhat rounded negative space in some type characters such as n, C, S, the lower part of e, or the upper part of a double-storey a.

ApexA point at the top of a character where two strokes meet.

AscenderAny part in a lowercase letter that extends above the x-height.

AxisAn imaginary line drawn from top to bottom of a glyph bisecting the upper and lower strokes is the axis.

BarThe horizontal stroke in the A, H, e, t and similar letters.

BaselineThe imaginary line upon which the letters in a font appear to rest.

Cap HeightThe height from the baseline to the top of the uppercase letters.

CounterThe enclosed or partially enclosed circular or curved negative space (white space) of some letters such as d, o, and s is the counter.

Crossbar - The horizontal stroke in letters.

DescenderAny part in a lowercase letter that extends below the base line.

Dot - A small distinguishing mark, such as an diacritic on a lowercase i or j.

EarTypically found on the lower case ‘g’, an ear is a decorative flourish usually on the upper right side of the bowl.

EyeMuch like a counter, the eye refers specifically to the enclosed space in a lowercase ‘e’.

Finial - A tapered or curved end.

HookA curved, protruding stroke in a terminal.

LegShort, descending portion of a letter.

LobeA rounded projecting stoke attached to the main structure of a letter.

LoopThe enclosed or partially enclosed counter below the baseline of a double-story g.

Stem Vertical, full-length stroke in upright characters.

Tail - A descending stroke, often decorative.

TerminalThe end of a stroke that does not include a serif.

X-Height The height of lowercase letters reach based on height of lowercase x; does not include ascenders or descenders.

Font Expresses Feeling

Each font family is known to creating specific feelings or a generalized perception.

Serif is known for being traditional, respectable and reliable often being used in association to professions such as lawyers and doctors.

Sans Serif is seen clean, universal and modern making it ideal for web viewing.

Slab Serif is seen as bold, strong and solid making it ideal for statue placques and statement aspects of advertising.

Handwritten is seen as childish and personable making it idea for toys or companies based on a person.

Script is seen as elegant, friendly and even feminine making it ideal for beauty products.

Decorative is seen as a novelty and should be used sparingly unless a strong sense of the theme needs to be conveyed.

Modern is seen as exclusive, stylish and sharp so it's best used for textiles and niche companies.

Along with the specific font being used the color, size and typeface can also effect the way a reader perceive the written words. For example purple is considered to be a color of royalty, large size fonts demand attention and the bold typeface forces readers to stop and pay attention.

Application is Key

Ask the right questions. What kind of message do I need to convey (subliminal or out right)? How do I want the reader to feel? What is important? What colors would work well with this style? Knowing the message that needs to be conveyed or the feeling which should be elicited can help guide the choices that are made. Applying the previously knowledge is definitely the biggest step in successful use. Font is also one of the easiest things to alter in order to add an extra level of pizzazz so play around until you find something that works and you feel proud of.

For more information on font check out these resources: (Great resource for helping to pair fonts) (Fun game on visually be able to tell the different between serif and sans serif) (Fun game teaching techniques on kerning) (See how other designers use font in their creations) (Tool to help identify a font being used that is not specifically named)

My favorite font is....well I have a couple!  It depends on what feeling or message I'm trying to convey, remember! My top five are Cabin, Dancing Script, Adobe Garmond Pro, Harry P, and Segoe Print! Don't forget to comment below or catch me on Twitter (@jvalley0714) to tell me what's your favorite font!

Monday, September 15, 2014

eLearning Challenge #6

The problem:

For elearning Challenge 6; using the source files provided, create a clean, flat, medical design theme. Try to work within the provided color requirements (included in the forum thread and the source files) and comp out 2-3 slides for this design.

The solution:

A flat designed course using the required color palette.  I started reading over the content trying to get a better idea and felt the need to rearrange, group and otherwise mess with the content.  It actually got to the point where I had to tell myself to stop because I was getting far too in depth lol I don't claim to know anything about GPO's or IDN's so there's a good possibility that the content is not correct.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Should your LMS include an Org Chart?

"Who does (insert name of random person at your company) report to?"

How many times have you heard that question?  If your company structure isn't properly outlined or even transparent then it may not be a simple question to answer. An organization chart is usually the quickest and easiest fix when information lacking in this area. But are organizational charts beneficial? Here's a list of four pros and four cons to consider before creating and posting an organization chart onto your companies intranet or LMS.


  • Transparency
  • Controlled structure
  • Explains Relationships
  • Shows reporting


  • Slow decision making
  • Reduces cross department collaboration
  • Less flexibility
  • Silo effect


This example was created in response to a previous eLearning challenges. eLearning Challenge #43 asked us to create an interactive graphic to introduce an organization’s team members or key players. I decided to venture outside my normal design aesthetics (geometrical, block colors) and do something I normally wouldn't in a regular every day project. (Enter the cheesy spagehetti western trumpet laced music). This PowerPoint theme uses wood, cowboys and a simple chart including what my ideal learning team would include. The background is an image I got off a free stock photo site and filtered using the paint brush effect in PowerPoint.  The cowboy graphics were found on a free vector site. The wanted poster was an open clip art I found while Googling. The fonts used are Bleeding Cowboy and Gunslinger.  Both downloaded from dafont.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

That Was Refreshing

Julie, a real estate agent at Fake Real Estate, is sitting at her desk trying to figure out what to include in her real estate flyer for a new property. She remembers taking the course but that was more than a year ago and everything seems fuzzy. "I wish there was something to refresh my memory" she says. Well Julie you're in luck because there's a (drum roll please) refresher course/training/document for that!

A refresher, by definition, is a training object acting as a review of previously learned material and in my opinion one of the under used tools an Instructional Designer has. This refresher or mini module acts as a light version of previous material where only the pertinent material is presented and it can be used in almost every application of eLearning (if done right).  So how and when do you include a refresher?

A refresher course should be used when material is no longer new in a learners mind but still pertinent for run the business purposes. One of favorite ways to use refresher material is in a guerilla type learning plan. The learner may get a course here but then a poster comes up or an email blast. Something to keep them on their toes and constantly learning.

So Julie, from Fake Real Estate, here your refresher training.

As a bonus (to me) it includes two of the characteristics of previous eLearning challenges. eLearning Challenge #2 asked us to use Tab layout training.  Taking notes from an awesome template and finding graphics on and I create a quick refresher PowerPoint which discusses the five things Julie should include in her flyer.  For some reason I felt the need to be an over achiever this week so I also included the elements of eLearning Challenge #14; incorporate Pantone's color of the year (radiant orchid) into a training piece.

Thanks for reading all the way through! Here's a bonus bit of information.  I'm super obsessed with home renovation and decoration shows. My Pinterest board "Home is Where the Heart is" has over 800 pins. Do you have a constant source of inspiration and passion from your home life that creeps into other sectos?  Tweet me at jvalley0714

Monday, August 25, 2014

E-Learning Challenge #48: Storyboard Templates for E-Learning

This weeks eLearning challenge is all about storyboards. I really enjoyed this challenge since my current job is pretty cut and dry on the options we have for presenting material. The same software is used, the same audience attends and the goal is usually pretty similar. So I put on my thinking cap and dusted off some old resources.

I always love when there is questions to answer. I feel like I'm getting interviewed. So, here we go:

Q: How do you define scripting, storyboarding, and prototyping? Which method do you prefer?

A: I define scripting as the pre-work related to audio and video elements.  I feel storyboarding is more for spelling out a course such as the content, branching and assessment.  A prototype is very rough draft example made similarly to a storyboard but including loosely based examples of content.  I prefer to storyboard (Download) and script (Download).  I usually do both separately so I can go into more detail on each.  

Check out my blog posts on audio/scripting and video.

When I use my storyboard I start by asking questions which will help me determine what the client needs.  eLearning is not always the answer and creating ineffective training is the bane of all Instructional Designers existence.  I use the method of asking the 5 w's; who, what, when, where and why. I find that it gets me exactly what I need and opens the conversation up for more in-depth conversations. I like to go into more detail if the client wants a video, audio or scenario since these take the most time to develop. Since not all training is linear I like to include the opportunity to talk about branching and since not all training can be delivered at once I have a spot to talk about chunking as well. I have an area for resources such as images, fonts and color samples and a section if an assessment is necessary.

Q: Do you use different types of storyboards? When do you use each? 

A. I use two different types of storyboards. For a more complex problem that I'm meeting with a high end SME or group I like to bring out my fancy pants PowerPoint.  It offers the feeling of a formal meeting and includes all the basic information to analyze the problem and come up with a game plan. The other type I have is literally a notebook and pencil or pen. I use this for most of my projects and while it's not my most preferred method it's the quickest and easiest way to launch a project.  I'll ask questions and jot down the answers, write down references to internal and external material as well as examples mentioned and create a quick outline of the project.

Q: How do you storyboard interactivity?

A. I storyboard interactivity by taking good notes.  Most of the time I'm completing the development and know know what to write down so I remember. Scenarios are a little bit more in depth because I'll ask for specific ideas on what characters to use or what the feeling/tone of the scenario or voice will be used.

Q. What are your top three storyboard tips for new course creators?

1. Courses are not always the answer.
2. Take the extra opportunity to practice and find the method that works the best for you.
3. Be prepared to vary your method depending on employer, SME or working situation (virtual).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Call Center Challenge

This past week's eLearning Hero Challenge (#47) was to create a call center interaction and I gladly answer the call with a simple plot, pics and PowerPoint (my favorite P's!). I figured I would do quick post on how and why I did what I did. 

What I wanted:
  • Create a simple interaction in between an incoming sales rep and a customer
  • The customer is happy and compliant to show how smoothly a first level of interaction can go (hey a girl can dream, right?)
  • Capture employee's basic "need to know information"
    • Proper introduction
    • What client information to collect
    • Follow up (Plugins/Upgrades?)
  • Use characters and background images to differentiate in between roles and locations (Credit
  • Go between characters and questions in a logical manor

What I came up with:

Did you submit something? Would you have done something differently?  Don't forget to comment, find me on Twitter (@jvalley0714) or Google+. Sharing is caring!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Scenarios < 100

Taking hints from the eLearning Uncovered eLearning Tips in 140 character or less Twitter campaign and HubSpot’s (In Under 100 Words) blog series here is my definition of a scenario (in relation to eLearning) under 100 words.

A scenario is a realistic situation in which a learner can relate to a character in a familiar setting that is presented with a problem and is required to find a solution. The learner is presented with information (the set up) and then is asked to make a decision (the crossroad) on how to handle the situation. Feedback is given (the result) which tells the learner if they are performing the actions correctly or explains what tactics and information should be used correctly work through the problem.

Keep your eye out for a post on a call center scenario for the eLearning Hero's challenge of the week.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Free (or cheaper) eLearning Tools

While working on a recent project I found myself going on a frantic search for just the right picture.  Having the right resources at your disposal can definitely make or break the amount of time you spend on a eLearning project.  So, I decided to update my toolbox and possible solutions with some resources that are free or lower cost than the mainstream product.  The items marked with asterisk are ones I've personally used for one project or another.  

Do you have an "I can't live without" website or service? Please feel free to add any resources I missed by commenting below or tweeting me (@jvalley0714).


Course Authoring



Image Manipulation








Other  - Not near Excel….have no fear * - Because who doesn’t need help spelling * - To help you pick the right word - Check your website before it goes live - Speed test for your computer - Free annotation creator - Keep everything you need together all in one place


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